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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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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Paris Apartments: Glossary of French-English terms

Paris Apartment: Glossary of French-English terms To help English speaking renters and owners to wend their way through contracts, leases and advertisements as the hunt for the Paris apartment moves along, FUSAC has compiled a glossary of terms for Housing. accusé de réception: receipt that is signed by the recipient of a letter and sent back to the sender as proof of reception acompte: advance payment, down payment agence immobilière: estate agency [UK], real estate agency [US] ancien: built more than 20 years ago appareils électriques: appliances appartement vide: unfurnished flat [UK], unfurnished apartment [US] armoire: storage cabinet assurance habitation: homeowner's or renter's insurance. Note: it is obligatory for renters to have an insurance policy. bail, contrat de location (plural = baux): (rental) lease / contract bien immobilier: property box: enclosed parking space with a locked door cage d'escalier: stairwell canapé: sofa, settee canapé-lit, ca…
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Spring Speak Easy

I have a "spring in my step" and want to do a Speak Easy!

Speak Easy puzzles are matching games of French and English idiomatic expressions. It's a great way to learn French or English and put some spring in your language skills. Spring doesn't refer to just a season, it is also a noun, adjective and a verb. There are all kinds of ways to use this word.

Answers - Réponses: 1l; 2o; 3b; 4e; 5u; 6n; 7j; 8p; 9r; 10q; 11m; 12d; 13h; 14s; 15f; 16i; 17t; 18g; 19k; 20c; 21a This Speak Easy Puzzle is available in a collection of 68 puzzles, order on Boutique FUSAC 
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Valentine’s Day – When Cupid’s bow is fired…

Valentine's Day - When Cupid’s bow is fired… As far back as the early fourth century B.C., the Romans had celebrated an annual rite of passage for young men in honor of the god Lupercus. The names of willing young women were placed in a box and drawn at random by the young men. From this lottery each man was matched with a woman companion to share in mutual entertainment and pleasure (often sexual). In a year’s time a new lottery was drawn with new partners.  Needless to say the early Catholic Church fathers were determined to put an end to this practice. They decided to find a « lover’s » saint who could usurp the popularity of Lupercus. They found Valentine. In Rome in A.D. 270, Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, had performed the sacrament of matrimony for lovers in secret. Valentine was violating a law issued by the mad emperor Claudius II who believed that married men made poor soldiers because they were loath to leave their families for battle. Since the Empire needed s…
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Ma langue au chat, Tortures et délices d’un anglophone à Paris

Mon petit accent récit extrait de Ma langue au chat, Tortures et délices d'un anglophone à Paris (Seuil/ Points Editions, October 2017) Vous avez un petit accent, me dit-on. Tout le monde a un accent. Mais pas forcément un petit accent. D’ailleurs, s’il était si petit que ça on ne dirait rien du tout. On ne fait pas remarquer à une dame qui se promène avec un chihuahua Vous avez un petit chien, madame. On dit plutôt : Qu’est-ce qu’il est mignon, votre chien. Ou bien : Il me fait les gros yeux, celui-là. Quelque chose comme ça. C’est que le chihuahua a la taille conforme, alors que mon accent est hors norme, il n’a pas grand-chose de mignon, je ne sais pas s’il a des yeux, mais il est assez dur de la feuille. C’est une espèce de créature, de corps étranger enfoui en moi. Normalement, mon accent devrait rapetisser avec le temps à force d’imiter les sonorités françaises, se camoufler comme un phasme contre une branche, complètement disparaître. Mais c’est l’i…
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Why is it called? Part 1: French Pastries and desserts

Why is it called … Part 1: French PASTRIES and DESSERTS Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Why are croissants, pain aux raisins and pains au chocolat called viennoiseries for example? How do things get named? Here is a short list of French pastries and desserts and how they got their names. We invite readers to add their own favorite pastries and desserts to the comments. Viennoiserie A pastry was created in Vienna in celebration of the end of the Turkish siege of 1683 in the shape of the Turkish crescent (croissant). An Austrian army officer named August Zang and his associate Ernest Schwarzer, a nobleman from Vienna opened the Boulangerie Viennoise at 92 rue de Richelieu in Paris in 1838. They were the first to make the pastries which were to become known as viennoiserie. Ironically even though the French name viennoiserie makes a reference to Vienna which is the origin of the pastries, in English these baked delights are called D…
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Paris Quotes (France, La Seine …)

Paris Quotes (France, La Seine too) To be Parisian is not to have been born in Paris, but to be reborn there. — Sacha Guitry ... here's what Paris is: it is a giant reference work, a city which you can consult like an encyclopaedia: whatever page you open gives you a complete list of information that is richer than that offered by any other city. Take the shops... in Paris there are cheese shops where hundreds of cheeses, all of them different, are displayed, each labelled with its own name, cheeses covered in ash, cheeses covered in walnuts: a kind of museum or Louvre of cheese... Above all this is a triumph of the spirit of classification and nomenclature. So if tomorrow I start writing about cheese, I can go out and consult Paris like an enormous cheese encyclopaedia. -- Italo Calvino in Hermit in Paris Two days and three endless nights later we arrived in Paris... Paris looked much bigger than Bordeaux, but much uglier. The bread tasted flat. Everything, even the sun…
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Learn French! Speak Easy puzzle: Grin and bear it!

Speak Easy puzzle: Grin and bear it! Learn French! Enjoy this Speak Easy puzzle of expressions in English with the words BEAR in them. The word Bear refers not to just the animal, it is also a verb meaning to carry a weight (to bear, past tense bore). Then there is the homonym bare an adjective or verb for being naked. See if you can match the English expressions up with their French equivalent. It's a fun way to learn French and  some new idiomatic expressions to enrich your vocabulary. This Speak Easy puzzle comes from volume 1 of a series of three books of 48 puzzles available on : https://store.fusac.fr or at the FUSAC Book Room (a new place you just have to discover!) 42, rue du Chemin Vert, Boulogne, M° Porte de Saint Cloud Hear the story of how John and Lisa encountered a grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park. Bonus Vocabulary Grizzly is a large North American species of bear also known as a silvertip bear. French = Grizzli Grisly means disgusting and b…
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