Why is it called? Part 3: Foods

Why is it called? Part 3: Foods Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Why are certain mushrooms called champignons de Paris? How do foods get named? There is often a story. Here is a short list of someFrench foods or dishes that are well-known in the Paris area and how they got their names. We invite readers to add their own favorites or ask about other foods for which they would like to know the origin in the comments. Champignons de Paris The first mushrooms in France were grown in 1670 by Jean de La Quintinie, gardener to Louis XIV. (You may still visit the King's garden in Versailles, it's called the Potager du Roi and it is a fascinating history of gardening and early techniques.) Under Napoleon I, mushrooms were grown in Paris in areas protected from sunlight, notably in the catacombs. Later in the XIXth century the majority of former quarries and grottos under Paris, which had the perfect constant temperature of 17°C were used to c…
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Christmas in Paris – oh the lights!

Each year business associations get together with town halls to illuminate our holiday season evenings. A large portion of the budget comes from the businesses on the illuminated streets. On rue de Sevrès and Saint Placide this is quite clear as the names of the businesses are actually suspended in luminous red letters as part of the decoration. Most of the other displays however are simply for the beauty of the lights and the gaiety that they provide to shopping areas. Nearly all are done with LED technology to keep costs and energy use to a minimum. There are about 100 streets and many monuments which are illuminated in Paris. The lights will be on through the first week in January. Here’s a few of our favorite displays. Christmas in Paris Light Trails Lumières en Seine One of two new light display this year comes to Paris from Germany. It's a new concept called a light trail or Christmas garden. It's titled Lumières en Seine and is on display every night at the Parc de …
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A Bon Speak Easy is a good Speak Easy

A Bon Speak Easy Why make a bon Speak Easy? One of the most used words in French must be bon. It is used is wish everyone a good day, week, weekend, trip, courage, luck and more. It also has a negative meaning at times. This puzzle includes as many bon phrases as we could find while not repeating the ones we all know from the get go such as bonjour, bon anniversaire, bonbon. I once heard a server in a restaurant wish someone a bon début de fin de soirée. And just yesterday was reminded of another good "bon" phrase when an exasperated mother said "bon sang!" to her kids. Post your translation of bon sang in the comments below this article. The best translation will win a copy of Volume 3 (from which this puzzle is extracted) of the Speak Easy Puzzles book (contest ends 31/12/2021). Bon Speak Easy! This puzzle is included in the new Speak Easy book. Volume 3 is now available with fifty new puzzles to challenge your French and English. Copies may be purchased at the FUSAC …
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Laughter in France

Laughter is the best medicine they say. Reflections on laughter in France, the land of La Vache qui rit! La Vache, by the way, has her own maison and museum in Lons-le-Saunier and she just celebrated 100 years in 2021.

The city of Bordeaux seems to be the center of laughter in France

One might say Bordeaux likes to laugh more than elsewhere in France. The city is host to the Festival Les Fous Rires de Bordeaux 19-27 March 2022 http://lesfousriresdebordeaux.fr/ and even presented an exhibition "Rire!" at their science and nature Muséum. But Bordeaux doesn't own the market there are many other spots are also holding festivals in 2021-2022, for some funny reason most are in March!

Festival d'Humour de Paris https://festivaldhumourdeparis.com/ Le Printemps du Rire in Toulouse 11 March - 10 April https://leprintempsdurire.com/ Festival Mont-Blanc d'Humour https://www.saintgervais.com/activites-et-evenements/les-grands-evenemen…
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The Prix Goncourt, France’s prestigious literary prize

The Prix Goncourt, France's prestigious literary prize The Prix Goncourt is a French literary prize given each year to an outstanding work in prose. Usually, novels are preferred. It is the most prestigious literary award in France and in literary circles it is considered the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize and it was awarded on November 3rd this year.  The prize is named after the Goncourt brothers, Edmond and Jules, known as art critics and writers of novels and diaries in the 19th century. Their relationship was quite unique, they not only never spent a day apart in their life, called themselves Juldemond and claimed to be twins (although they were born eight years apart) but they also wrote together all of their novels and non-fiction and even their journal, which they wrote using the « dual dictation » technique, where one brother dictated to the other. Their style of writing was so similar that it was impossible to tell which brother wrote a particular passage. T…
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Why is it called? Part 2: French place names

Why is it called… Part 2: French place names or toponyms Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Place names are also called toponyms. We've learned Paris was named for the Celtic tribe the Parisii who lived in the area (why the Parisii were called that is still up for discussion), that the Seine was named for the nymph Séquana. Here are some other topoynms from the Paris area. Feel free to add your town in the comments. Versailles: The most likely origin of the name Versailles, first mentioned in 1038 as land belonging to a person named Hughes, comes from the Latin word versare which means to turn over (verser, reverser in French) and probably referred to Hughes’s agricultural efforts of clearing and preparing his land for planting. “Un versailles” or “versail” in old French refers to cleared land. Stains: The name of the town of Stains, a town north of Paris, rings strangely in anglophone ears because we hear a noun that means "a mar…
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