7 tips-Comment ‘draguer’ avec les francais

1. Flaunt your foreign accentvxcvcxvxcvx
The French love accents so don’t be embarrassed if you have a strong one or if your French is limited.  I felt self conscious with my french accent, noticing how different the pretty words come out of mouth in comparison to the Parisiens, no matter how hard I tried. A french friend told me to pretend like I was ‘singing’ over the french language to improve the harsh Australian accent.
But whilst I was self conscious, others apparently found it attractive!

2. Know your restaurants
The Frenchies love to talk about where to eat, what what they will eat, talk about what they just ate and where they would eat next, so talking about food is a safe topic!  In fact, the French are now recognised by Unesco for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of gastronomy in their country.  The cultural signifigance  of meal time in France is massive, from the tradition of setting the table, matching the food to the wine, and the many traditional recipes that are favourites for the French.   Most Frenchies could easily spend a couple of hours discussing cuisine/gastronomy, so having some good restaurant chat up your sleeve is sure to impress!

3. Spend a while on the wine lists
Frenchies consider themselves wine conossieurs and rightfully so.  So don’t by any means, just ask for a house white! ‘Quelle horreur!’  Spend at least 15 minutes looking at the wine list; use emotive words such as woody, fruity to describe the wine flavours and you can easily pass this one.

4. Pretend to smoke
The health warnings don’t seem to have registered with the Frenchies yet! Nothing more French than sipping a wine in a bobo bar, whilst puffing on a little cigarette.  The French still do smoke quite a bit, so hide your looks of surprise if you see alot of chain-smoking around you.

5. Get a makeover at Maje
I wandered into a Maje store in a pensive mood on a Sunday in May, the weather starting to get nice.  I was casually dressed in comparison to the glamorous Maje assistants of course, when a sales assistant descended on me, intrigued to find an Australian living/working in Paris.  She felt the need to educate me! “Fashion is very important in Paris,” she started, “you have to look sexy, but elegant,” she stressed.

So she asked what colours I liked, and I couldn’t help but participate. I walked out with a black leather mini skirt, boots and came back another day for the pink jumper.  The gay shop assistant assured me I would meet someone in that outfit!

6. Know a little about politics
The French enjoy talking about politics and tend to have strong opinions, potentially more so than Australians, so make sure you know something or form some kind of opinion in case asked!

7. Remember some key phrases
‘Enfin, bref’, this is used alot.  Translation, “you’re not getting this and I cannot be bothered explaining it either.” Use it in that situation!
“Bon, bah,” it’s an in between word, like “so” or “well”  Great phrase in a nice French accent.
‘Putain,’ a swear word, but really can be used to express anything, from good to bad. Check different uses  here.
Enjoy!

A Paris diary

Melbourne-From a Frenchy’s point of view

My friend Tifany moved to Australia from Bordeaux, France.  Read her story on how she adapted to life in Melbourne as school teacher. [English and French version].

Ma vie a Melbourne

« Un étranger qui vient dans le nord pleure deux fois : quand il arrive et quand il repart. » – Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis !

Personnellement, je ne suis jamais allée dans le nord ( il y fait trop froid :-s ), mais cette expression s’applique tout de même à moi ! En effet, Melbourne est un peu comme notre nord français ( il y fait plus froid qu’ailleurs, après la Tasmanie), mais ce n’est pas pour cette raison que l’on pleure avant d’y arriver. Partir à l’autre bout du monde est une expérience extraordinaire, mais cela demande un courage énorme. Cela faisait plusieurs années que j’y pensais : partir en Australie, où il fait toujours beau, où tout le monde est toujours bronzé, mais je voulais surtout y aller parce que je suis curieuse et aventureuse !

C’est donc le 24 janvier, après quelques difficultés à obtenir mon visa à temps, et avec un pincement au cœur que j’ai décollé pour Melbourne. Le voyage a duré environ 24 heures et était très fatiguant, mais j’étais tellement excitée d’arriver dans ce nouveau pays et de commencer une nouvelle vie que j’en ai oublié la fatigue. J’ai attéri tard le soir et suis allée me coucher après être arrivée à l’auberge, mais je n’ai pas beaucoup dormi  tellement j’étais excitée à l’idée de visiter ce nouveau pays.  Je me suis rapidement fait des amis à l’auberge, des amis que j’ai continué à voir, même après avoir quitté l’auberge. Je pense que mon arrivée en Australie n’était pas stressante car j’avais déjà trouvé un travail avant d’arriver à Melbourne, cela enlevait donc la pression financière ! Je n’ai eu aucune difficulté à trouver une colocation (c’est beaucoup plus facile qu’en France), et mes colocs étaient plutôt sympas et m’ont présenté d’autres personnes !

Tout s’est très bien passé, peut être trop bien passé, jusqu’en juillet quand mes colocs et moi avons du libérer la maison.  En effet, j’ai trouvé une autre colocation, avec des colocs géniaux mais qui restaient dans leurs coins, et à ce moment là, je me suis vraiment sentie seule ! Mes amis que j’avais rencontrés quand j’étais arrivée étaient tous soit de retour dans leurs pays ou, ailleurs en Australie et mes anciens colocataires ne me donnaient plus de nouvelles… Ca a été un véritable obstacle mais j’ai réussi à le surmonter ! En effet, j’ai commencé à faire du bénévolat, ce qui m’a permis de rencontrer des personnes, mais surtout, je me suis inscrite sur Meetup, qui est un site très utile pour rencontrer des personnes avec les mêmes centres d’intéréts ! J’ai donc rencontré des gens extras, mais cela n’a pas été si facile.
Une autre difficulté que j’ai eue, était de m’adapter à la nourriture…et oui, j’ai bien grossi en Australie et ca joue pas mal sur le moral aussi, mais cela m’a permis de me mettre au sport ! Moi qui ne faisais jamais de sport, j’ai bien changé… Finalement, je n’ai pas eu tellement de difficulté à m’adapter à ma vie dans ce nouveau pays, j’ai eu des hauts et des bas, mais j’en aurais eu aussi en France.
Cette expérience m’a en tout cas était très bénéfique : d’une part, j’ai amélioré mon anglais, et d’autre part,  d’un point de vue caractériel, j’ai muri, pris de l’assurance et j’ai réalisé que rien n’était impossible.

Cela m’a pris environ un an pour prendre mes marques, mais maintenant que je les ai, je veux les garder ! Ce n’est donc pas demain que je vais partir !!!

I moved to Melbourne in January ! Pretty scary to go on the other side of the planet by yourself, without knowing anyone over there…But I had been thinking about it for a while, and this is a great adventure I would have regretted if I had not done it! So, it is on the 24th January that I left France, for what should have been one year. I found the job while I was at uni, I submitted an application to an organisation in charge of an exchange program and was part of the 25 persons selected to come and teach in Australia which made the preparation for the trip less stressful. I landed 24 hours later and was so excited to visit this new country that I barely slept that night! I quickly met great people in the hostel, and I continued to meet with them, even after having left the hostel!


One week after the landing, I started my job. I loved it, meeting my colleagues, visiting my workplace, getting acquainted with the Victorian school system. I was pretty busy as I had to find an accommodation as well. Finding an accommodation is different here in Australia, and much easier than in France, but much more expensive! I found a house after 2 inspections, with two housemates who seemed great! I met their friends and was not alone at all, and I adapted rather quickly to my new life in Australia.


In July, I had to move house and separated from the other housemates. This was a difficult moment as I was alone! My new housemates had their friends and were not mingling that easily, my friends I met when I first arrived were either back in their country or in another city, and my previous housemates seemed to have forgotten me, so I decided to do some volunteering to meet people. But it is not that easy to meet people when you are not staying in a backpacker… So I signed up for Meetup, and met great people!


Another difficulty I had was to get used to the food! It might seem stupid, but I have put on weight a lot, and this is rather depressing to see your body changing like that.  But a bad thing leads to a good one: I started exercising (which is surprising as I have never been very active!).


This adventure has been very beneficial for me : I have gained some maturity, I stopped smoking, I became active, I visited amazing places, I learned more culture and languages, I developed my teaching skills and I volunteered. And even if it took me time to settle in, I am now really happy in this new life, and like Philippe Abrams in Bienvenue chez les ch’tis!, I want to stay. 

Parks and Gardens of Paris

Jardin de Tuileries is situated between Le Lourve and Place de la Concorde

A favourite place for strolling in summer weather; take a book or a picnic, find a reclining chair, and relax beside the many fountains.  It’s easy to let hours go past in this park…

Jardin de Tuleries, Parks of Paris
Jardin de Tuileries, Parks of Paris
Jardin de Tuileries, Parks of Paris
Jardin de tuileries, parks of Paris
Jardin de tuileries, parks of Paris
Jardin de tuileries, parks of Paris
Jardin de tuileries, parks of Paris
Buttes Chaumount, 19th arrondisement

My local park to go running.  The park is unconventional by design, with great rolling hills that lead to a huge lake and waterfall.  A rikkety, old bridge leads to one of the highest lookouts in Paris and the park, giving a great view on Sacre Coeur and surrounding arrondisements.  An unusual park  and a real pleasure to explore.

There are two restaurants and a pub with a beergarden inside the park.  The pub always has big lines in Summer.   I imagine it would be nice to eat there overlooking the park.
Parc de Buttes Chaumont , Paris
Parc de Buttes Chaumont , Paris
Jardin de Bagatelle
In the Bois de Boulogne, the forest to the west of Paris, is the Jardin de Bagatelle.

There is a spectacular rose garden, where each individual rose is named after someone…
Jardin de Bagatelle
Jardin de Bagatelle
Jardin de Bagatelle

Chateau de Vincennes

The chateau de Vincennes is in the forest to the east of Paris, the Bois de Vincennes.  The chateau was constructed in the 14th century by Charles V.  Whilst the Lourve was the main residence, the Royal family used this chateau for marriages and other important events.
Chateau de Vincennes
Chateau de Vincennes
Chateau de Vincennes
Chateau de Vincennes
Parc Monceau

Not far from the Champs Elysee, and from one corner of the park, you will see a great view of the Arc de Triomphe.  Beware though, appearances can be deceiving, it may look close to you but it is actually a fair walk.

Parc Monceau

parc monceau, park of paris

Moving back to Melbourne

I left Paris 4 weeks ago, stopped past New York for an amazing ten days. I joined meetup.com to keep practising French and I’m amazed by the wide range of people I have met already. I started my own French meetup group  in Melbourne, for french nationals or Aussies wanting to improve their language.  It has been a rewarding experience so far.  I met a French girl from Bordeaux and together we brainstormed to do a French cuisine teaching workshop for the French foodies out there on Meetup.com.

I imagine Australians would be excited to learn about French cooking, from a French girl of the south-west, a region famous for its gastronomy. Attendees should just be charged a small fee to cover the cost of the kitchen hire, the food and a nice couple of glasses of wine. The first theme for the meetup may be appropriately cuisine of the south-west. So dishes of foie gras,  nice red wine and perhaps a chocolate tart…

French movies. I was pleased to watch Les Intouchables again in Melbourne with English subtitles, for the first time. This was the third time watching it, however the other times were in France. I understood most of it the first time, the second time was better as someone explained details for me. The third however, revealed a couple more intricate details that I initially missed.

The movie was a success at the box office, with the highest number of box offices sales in France, after Bienvenue chez les ch’tis.   It’s a timeless story that can appeal to all, how an unlikely friendship forms between two men from completely different walks of life. A millionaire paraplegic and a poor man from the Parisian suburbs, who by some stroke of his luck, creates a lasting impression at a job interview and ends up working with this man.

Monsieur Lazar, another great film originating from Quebec this time. The story of how a classroom comes to learn and react about their classroom teacher committing suicide. There is a twist to watch out for, only revealed towards the end of the film. This sad and beautiful story is sensitively told.

I miss Paris, meeting French people and immersing myself in the French language. But, it’s nice to know that I can keep exploring the culture and language from Melbourne, and in better weather!

Getaway to Annecy

A 3.5 hour train ride from Paris, Annecy is an easy weekend escape from the stresses of Paris. One of the most charming, small towns in France, this ancient town backdrops onto a sparkling lake and surrounding mountains. The old town of Annecy is preserved, you will feel transported back to the 12th century here, as tourism has not spoilt the charms of the town. 

It’s worth walking through the old cobbled streets and canals of the old town, where you may stumble up on the old prison and chateau (built in the 12 century) as well as traditional local shops specialising in charcuterie and lace. With colourful flowerbeds spilling over the canals, it’s a nice to have a coffee or drink, enjoy some people watching and great views of the Annecy Lake and the surrounding Alpes. Annecy would make a nice, romantic weekend away, in fact.



To do
Go swimming in the gorgeous, crystal clear lake, where the summer temperatures are warm at 24 degrees. Or take advantage of the water sports on offer such as kakaying, wakeboarding, water skiing or sailing.
There are plenty of walks in the mountains or for the more adventurous, there is a hang gliding where you can enjoy breath taking views over the lake. Or if that is not your cup of tea, walk to the top of the mountains to view the launch pad of the parachuters, like I did. The views over the lake are really worth it, plus you can watch all colourful parachuters run to take off, and then float over the mountain ranges.


Eating

Try the Hotel L’Imperial Palace. The service is excellent; try to be seated on the terrasse to enjoy a great view over the lake.

Marche Aux Puces

If you love markets, especially for vintage and antique goods, visit Marche aux Puces; an extraordinary market with an interesting origin.

History
The flea markets, as the name translates was started in the late 19th century by rag and bone men, who scoured the Paris streets and bins for items to sell to the public. Hygiene and petty crime forced their business to settle in the north of Paris, and St Ouen become the famous area in Paris for the Marche aux puces.

By 1920, the vendors sold their goods from enclosed stalls and by 1945, the markets become more upmarket, as bric a brac dealers were replaced by second hand clothing and furniture dealers.

Nowadays, the markets sprawls over 2,500 stalls of new to vintage clothes, antique to modern furniture, catering for low end to high end shoppers; the market has something for everyone. Window shopping here is an inspiration. Can you imagine looking through old collections of Coco Chanel’s jewellery, to art deco furniture that you get up close and inspect to lace lingerie and hats from a bygone era…?!
Don’t deny yourself this experience, put the Marche aux Puces on your list for a leisurely Saturday afternoon.

Tips
Be prepared to bargain a bit, the dealers will appreciate some French for a good negotiation, some show respect for the goods by talking time to talk to the dealers. Be careful with your personal items as the markets are normally crowded areas.

Practical information
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 10am-6pm
Monday 11am-6pm
Closest metro is Porte de Clignancourt, line 4









Culinary delights of Corsica


Hiring a car is normally a great way to see the island of Corsica, however, not hiring a car due to an expired license, actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Been stranded between cities, enabled us to focus in on the one important goal of finding the best restaurants, Michelin starred if possible!

Porto Vecchio
Taking the over night ferry from Marseille to Bastia, we easily found the bus to go south of the island. We needed to get to Bonifacio but the bus only went as far as Porto Vechio. So stranded between villages, we decided to taste the cuisine of the south… Situated on a large terrasse, over looking the beach, Le Bistro is decked out like you could be on an old, luxurious boat, with opulent wood decor and an old ship wheel.

The food was exceptional, good enough to go back another time. Foie gras with raspberry sauce was my entree. A nice mix of sweet and savoury, the lightness of the raspberry balancing the richness of the foie gras. The main was a local fish on a bed of black quinoa -making for an original presentation. Wine was a Corsican local,Domaine Fuimicicoli. I’m no wine connoisseur, but I loved this one and found the same in a local charcuterie shop so I could buy some bottles for Paris.



Bonifacio
For dinner, we found ‘Chez Ange’ by random, as the restaurant of choice (with the Lonely Planet French equivalent creds) was closed. In the old town located on top of the cliff, the newly opened ‘Chez Ange’ proved to be the surprise restau of the trip. The waiter and owner impressed us with a detailed menu, red by heart. You sensed his expertise in the manner he spoke about the courses, taking care to explain every detail. An old boucherie-converted- restaurant, we also felt the owners’ dedication and passion that all his customers’ enjoy the simple pleasure of fine cuisine and good service.

As entree, we ordered mussels in a garlic sauce and an impressive avocado roll stuffed with prawn mixture-both great with exceptional presentation.


Chez Ange is known for fish, I tried the local fish recommended by him, which was excellent.

We tried another local white wine and had a strawberry fraise cake for dessert.

‘Excellent rapport qualite prix,’ great value for money at 50 euros each. I doubt finding the same price in Melbourne for full service dining.

Both accomodation in the mountains and by the beach are pleasant. It was suprisingly nice staying amongst the mountains, you get the feeling you could be lost or deserted, as there is just wild bush and mountains surrounding you. It’s peaceful. The nature is really wild; the masses of brightly coloured flowers and over grown cactuses caught my attention.


Trekking would be great to see the stunning natures of Corsica; the island that is actually the most mountainous of all Mediterranean isles. The GR20 is the name of a reputable 2 week walk from the south to north of Corsica. For more information, see fact sheet

Corsica has a lot to offer for a holiday, in terms of beautiful nature, great gastronomy, waters sports and culture. For more information see the official tourism site.






Château de Villandry

If you have a spare day in Paris, why not consider a day trip to a château? There are numerous châteaux in the Loire region, only 1.5 hrs by train from Paris. After arriving in Tours, I rented a bike relatively cheaply and rode 20 km along the Loire to reach the Château de Villandry.

It’s worth spending the majority of your time in the gardens. Be sure to see the aerial view of the gardens from the castle to see the perfect geometrical formations. Walking through the garden is also a pleasure…


The garden here symbolises “passionate love,” the positioning of the hearts represents dancing.
The garden behind is “tender love,” the red between the hearts are flames. In the center are masks, as worn at balls.



A weekend in Cassis

If you are a lover of the South of France, why not consider a little break to Cassis. A small, charming and pictoresque town located just 30 minutes from Marseille, Cassis is easily accessed by a regular train services, costing just 5 euros.  The TGV from Paris to Marseille takes only 3.5 hrs and prices are normally affordable.

TO DO
Book a Calanque tour, the toursim office nearby the port is helpful or you can simply find the boats at the port to get your tickets. Suggest buying them 20 mintes before the tour starts. 20 euros buys a boat tours of around 1.5-2 hrs. You will see amazing, gigantic rock formations, be able to admire the turquoise shades of the Mediteraean, as the boats weaves in and out of the Calanques.

Model shoot in the Calanques

TO EAT

‘Chez Gilbert’ is at the port front and specialises in seafood.  Entree, main, dessert plus wine should cost around 65 euros per person. The seafood is good and the atmosphere around this small fishing port is really pleasant at night, and makes for good people watching during the day.

For night time activities, there is a casino walking distance from the port, or if you are feeling energetic climb to the top of the castle and check our the view over the port.

The Top 5 Day Trips from Paris

Guest post written by Jo Turnbull, for more great travel related posts check out her full blog

Paris is the city of love and attracts millions of tourists every year, but have you ever visited the towns outside Paris? There are many towns and destinations just a short train ride from the city. Here are just 5 recommended day trips next time you are in Paris.

Versailles

Versailles is one of the most tourist destinations outside of Paris. It is located approximately 10.6 miles southwest of the city which is accessible by road or train, the RER C which takes just under an hour. The Palace of Versailles was the home of Louis XVI and Maris Antoinette who were imprisoned here after the storming of Versailles. Arrive early so you can take one of the many tours around the palace and wonder through the 250 acres of landscaped gardens.

Monet’s Gardens at Giverny

Monet’s private gardens have been open to the public since 1980 and allows visits to visit his home and gardens where he painted his famous water lilies. Head to Gare Saint-Lazare station to Vernon and from there, take a shuttle bus to Giverny. It is best to visit in the spring when the flowers are coming out in bud and before the peak tourist season.


Fontainebleau

The 16th century palace was a favourite hunting residence for French kings, which was surrounded by beautiful forest. You can spend an afternoon hiking in the dense forest, just bring your hiking boots. The chateau was the primary residence of Napoleon and in 1814, in the central courtyard, he signed his abdication and said goodbye to the Empire. Fontainbleau is a 40 minute train ride from Gare de Lyon and then a further shuttle bus service to the castle.


Disneyland

Treat the kids and head to Disneyland Paris for the day. In 2012 it is now celebrating its 20th birthday and there are up to 40% discounts on hotels. It can still work out rather pricey, so it is best to rent one of the many short term holiday Paris apartments with your family and go for the day. There are two theme parks, so make sure you prioritise what you want to see.

Chartres

Chartres is located just 60 miles south of Paris beside the Eure river. The town is famous for its Cathedral which dates back to the 12th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chartres is a picturesque French town but everything closes for lunch, so make sure you either arrive early or in the afternoon. There are two English tours a day which are very popular or you can pick up a walking tour map from the old town tourist office and wander round Chartres at your leisure.

When heading over to Europe, there are a wide range of accommodation available to suit any budget. Instead of staying in expensive hotels, why not state in your very own short term rental apartments in Paris. You can feel like a real Parisien and be in the heart of all the action.