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Welcome to my blog

 

Hello, my name is Christine, I am French and have been living here in England since 1986. For most of this time I have been privately tutoring French.

 

I have now decided to write a blog focusing on tips for English people travelling to France; as I have now lived both sides of the channel for so long I hope I will have some good insight for you!

 

As well as tips, we will talk about the wonderful French language and culture. Famous for Paris and our beautiful sunny south, we also have snowy mountains and wooded valleys, a country where you really can get it all. Home of delicious wine and cheese, The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame and luxury shopping – our topics are sure to be broad and fun.

 

I hope you enjoy!

 

Christine x

By Christine, Nov 2 2017 12:16AM



French comes in handy all around the world not just in its original corner of Europe!

Though my love of French comes from my origins in France, there are in fact many other countries which speak French. So, if you are interested in seeing the world and expanding your cultural views, seeing new continents and generally getting out for some adventures, French is useful in a lot more countries than just France.


Francophone Africa


There are 50 French speaking African countries, with 25 of them having French as an official language, the list below contains some of the best of those for holidays and adventures in terms of safety and interest.


Algeria

Cameroon

Comoros

Madagascar

Mauritius

Morocco

Seychelles

Togo

Tunisia



Each of these countries is of course unique, but they are famous for their uniquely African feel, the buzzing markets, tranquil beaches, fierce deserts, Mediterranean coastal towns, huge nature reserves, wild array of animals, ancient buildings and much more. Just click on the countries above to learn more about what they each have to offer.


French Canada


We can’t talk about French speaking countries and not mention the wonderful Canada. It is the only French speaking country in North America and it contains a host of beautiful places to visit. Here are just some suggestions:


Banff and Jasper national parks are full of beautiful snowy mountains, glaciers, forests and other beautiful natural places. If you want to get out of the city and see some of nature’s finest pieces of work, you couldn’t go wrong with these splendour-filled national parks.


We can’t talk about French Canada without mentioning Quebec! It is one of the oldest European cities in Northern America and actually still has intact its city wall. Within Quebec you can’t go wrong taking a wander around the old streets, soaking in the feel and enjoying the many restaurants and cafes. It is also home to over 100 parks, so just like in Paris, though you may be in a city you can get your fill of nature, with beautiful walks and even bird watching.


There are many other French speaking nations around the world, here in Europe as well as islands in the Caribbean and Pacific, so we will take those up in our next blog.

I hope you spruce up your French and head on out into the world for some adventures!


By Christine, Oct 27 2017 05:35AM

Where are the Best Places to Live in France?


Many Brits dream of retiring to France, for the change of scene, the weather, the food or the culture but France is full of gorgeous spots – where should you choose?


The best places to live in France all depend on what you are looking for:


For the weather - Aix-en-Provence


Aix-en-Provence is not a very famous city but a wonderful place for retirement due to its spectacular weather. It is sunny and mild throughout the year, not experiencing boiling summers or chilling winters.

On top of the lovely climate it is a delightful place to live if you want to enjoy the vineyards, wine and olive oil tasting and a host of cultural options such as beautiful monuments, stately homes and art galleries.

There is also a nice bonus of a Eurostar train station right in town, making it easy for family to visit you, or regular trips back to England.


For exploring- Lyon


If you are not quite sure what you are looking for and love all aspects of France, Lyon may be the place for you. Only three hours away from the coast, one hour away from the Alps and Switzerland only a 4 hour drive away you have a lot to explore! Big walks and even mountain hikes are quite a common weekend activity.

Lyon is not an international city, which could be a potential drawback depending on your level of French fluency, a good level of French is vital but if you want to immerse yourself truly in France then Lyon is ideal.


For the price - Normandy


Normandy is not often mentioned as a top place to live in France as many people move out of England for better weather, and unfortunately the weather in Normandy is much the same as in England.

There are some wonderful sides to Normandy though. It is home of delicious seafood, picturesque fishing villages, an impressive array of cheeses, apple orchards and some much-loved cider.

Of all of France it is really the best place to live in terms of what you get for your money, prices are low and you could find yourself with a spacious house and garden, for the same price of an apartment in Paris.


For the culture - Paris


Now of course I cannot ignore Paris, the capital and central hub of France. Putting it bluntly the cost of living in Paris is considerably higher than anywhere else in the country, but if you want a thriving social and cultural scene, then you can’t beat Paris.

It contains over 100 museums and galleries, over 200 theatres and cabarets, over 400 parks and gardens, not to mention the impressive range of restaurants, cafes, shops and high-end fashion outlets.

It is also the easiest location if you want to be able to visit England, and family and friends back home, with the Eurostar, Eurotunnel and ferry all within easy reach.


For the schools: Bordeaux


The sunny south is popular with many brits, and the wonderful port town of Bordeaux fits the bill. It is about half the price of living in Paris and yet has a thriving ex-pat scene, beautiful architecture and wonderful restaurants and cafés.

If you are looking at relocating with your family, rather than retiring, Bordeaux has some of the best schools France has to offer and a big student population, from primary school right up to university.

Often known as the little Paris, you may find this the best of many worlds, a good night life yet on the sea, beautiful architecture yet affordable homes and a host of restaurants and vineyards to always keep you happy.


And so…


I hope that when you do make the move to France, you find your perfect spot! And don’t forget if you want to brush up on your French before you go, you know where to find me.

By Christine, Oct 16 2017 02:05PM

Are you an ex-pat struggling to fit in with the locals of France, or are you thinking about making the move and wondering how best to go about it?

Having done it the other way round, leaving everything behind in France to start a new life here in England, I understand how hard it can be. It is an adventure, it is exhilarating but boy it can be tough. All the little nuances to life, the etiquette, the norms, the social interactions seem to be different. It feels a little like being a child trying to learn all the ins and outs of life all over again.

Don’t be put off though, nothing can be more exciting than learning a new language while wallowing in the culture of a new country. If nothing else it will be an experience to remember, or hopefully it will be the beginning of a totally new and exciting life.

Knowing just how hard it can be, I thought of a few tips I can give you as a native French woman to help you enjoy your time in France:

1) Get out and explore France.
Don’t stay at home, get out there and enjoy France. It may seem daunting but the train system is great. Even if you have moved for a job or partner, don’t miss out on truly getting to know the country. Not just Paris, remember France is a country of beautiful hot beaches and the snowy Alps too!

2) Use your French.
No matter what level your existing French is when you move to France, don’t be afraid to use it in life. The more you practice the more you improve. The more you use your French, the more you integrate into society and find you don’t have to worry about simple things like a trip to the shops.

3) Join an Expat community

No matter how much you work on becoming French, don’t try and forget about or dismiss your own culture and habits, they are too fundamental to ignore, and trying to do so can make you miserable. Having other ex-pat friends will help keep you grounded and happy.

4) Make French friends
Though I recommend having your ex-pat community, make sure you don’t use this in place of befriending the locals, you need both! Friends in the local community will help you integrate, help you pick up the local customs and really make you feel you are living the French life. This could be neighbours, people from clubs, an exercise class or whatever works for you.

5) Participate in local customs
Try and pick up on some basic customs fast, it will help you fit in and feel more natural. Some basic ones include: kissing on the cheeks when you meet, don’t shake hands. Don’t ask what people’s jobs are it is considered rude, on the other hand talk of politics is very common.

6) Accept that things won’t be magical from the beginning
You won’t suddenly speak fluent French, be a master French cook or have hordes of French friends. Don’t get disappointed, just be realistic and keep working on it. Take things step by step, and don’t beat yourself up if you feel things are progressing slowly, take a win on your small achievements.

7) Improve your French
Continuously working on improving your French fluency is vital. No matter what level you start at, the more you improve the happier you will be in France. Your level of French may have been OK to start with but if it doesn’t change after living there for a couple of years you may start to feel embarrassed. So, pre-empt this problem by ensuring you keep up your French language classes.

I hope you find this advice helpful and have a lot of fun putting it into practice in your time in France! Don’t forget I give private French classes if you want a French language boost now.

By Christine, Oct 13 2017 05:15AM

The French language has pervaded many aspects of international life, and cooking is certainly one of them. Not just in haute cuisine circles but directly in our day to day cooking as well.

Did you know that purée, broil and marinate all come directly from French? There are in fact hundreds of French culinary words in the every-day English vocabulary.

The French certainly didn’t invent cooking, but they did invent restaurants! In the 1600’s haute cuisine was all the rage both within the royal kitchens and a huge guild system of chefs. In the 1700’s this workable culinary system got turned on its head, along with everything else during the French Revolution. Thousands of chefs lost their jobs, as the royal circles and tightly run guild system collapsed. These highly trained chefs spread through the kitchens of Europe and thus so did the French culinary language!

Here are some common French words that are just the same in the English language:

Blanch: To put fruit or veg in boiling water so the skin can be removed more easily.

Brule: To caramelize the sugar on a foods surface.

Escalope: A thin, boneless slice of meat.

Frappé: Something that is iced or set in a bed of ice.

Gratin: An oven-baked dish on which a golden crust of bread crumbs, cheese or creamy sauce is formed.

Julienne: To cut into thin strips.

Pâté: A paste made of liver, pork or other meat.

Purée: To blend into liquid.

Sauté: To cook quickly in oil.

Discovering and learning words that are the same or very close between the French and English language is a clever way of increasing your French vocabulary. If you don’t realize they are the same word then of course you won’t use them, so in just a short study session you may find you can get quite a vocabulary boost! Don’t forget to also look for words that are not identical, but very similar, learning these is still a lot easier than trying to memorize completely new words.

Do the above and you will be speaking French like a chef in no time, and so, I wish you all a bon appétit!

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