Bonne fête ! Happy Name Day!

Did you know that in France, every day of the year has one or more saint’s name(s) assigned to it?

The custom originated with the Christian calendar of saints. In the past, a child would be named (either first name or middle name) after the name of the catholic saint of the day when they were born.  Every day of the calendar has a saint’s name or more assigned to it.

Today, it is still traditional to mark the day by giving a small present or to just say « Bonne fête! ». My saint/name day is on the 11th of May and living in Australia today where this is not a custom, I must say I do miss this little custom and still love receiving presents from France on that occasion and love people remembering it and sending me messages! Any excuse for presents is a good excuse I say!

So let’s go back to our calendar! For example, on the 25th of April, we celebrate the Marcs (La Saint-Marc). If referring to the saint’s day, you use the feminine and a hyphen as opposed to referring to the saint himself (le saint Marc or Saint Marc).
The French are reminded of the saint that is celebrated the following day at the end of the evening news (Le journal), after the weather forecast. Several expressions can be used, such as: « Demain, nous souhaiterons la bonne fête à tous les Maxime ! or Demain, nous fêterons les Maxime, or Demain, nous serons la Saint-Maxime ».

Note however that if you hear someone telling you « Ça va être ta fête! », they might actually be threatening you!!! (see vocabulary section below).

Every year, La Poste prints their own calendar named L’Almanach du facteur* (= the postman’s calendar) or Almanach des Postes (since 1810).
It is a French tradition for the postman to come to your door at the end of the year to sell a copy of next year’s calendar: there are various styles and versions to choose from and you give whatever you want (it is an opportunity to say thank you for the postman’s services and possibly improve them if generous!) and is part of « les étrennes » (New Year’s gift; Christmas box given to private and public workers such as rubbish collectors, firefighters and postmen/postwomen) .
As an average, the postmen/postwomen get €10 per calendar and can sell up to 600 copies. Between 15 and 18 million calendars are sold every year!

Want to see what day is your name day? Click on the links below:



Un almanach (pronounced [almana]) : « Calendrier accompagné d’observations astronomiques, de prévisions météorologiques, de conseils pratiques relatifs aux travaux à faire selon la saison » (Le nouveau Petit Robert, 2010) = an almanac
Une éphéméride : « Ouvrage indiquant pour l’année à venir les évènements astronomiques ou météorologiques sujets à calcul et à prévisions ; Calendrier dont on détache chaque jour une feuille » (Le nouveau Petit Robert, 2010) = ephemeris ; tear-off calendar.
*Un facteur / Une factrice = A postman / A postwoman
P&T = Postes et Télégraphes


Bonne fête ! Happy name day!
Ça va être ta fête! You’ve got it coming to you!
Attendre jusqu’à la saint-glinglin To wait forever
C’est une sainte nitouche She looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!
La Saint-Sylvestre New Year’s Eve



La bise 101


Most people know or have heard of “la bise” as a French form of greeting. But what is “la bise” exactly and most importantly, how does it work? If you are one of the many people left discombobulated by the mysterious Gallic custom, read ahead!

First things first, who on earth came up with such a silly idea?

Well, apparently, it is all the Romans’ fault as they would be the ones who started this curious business! They used to have three different types of kisses: the romantic kiss (saevium), the religious or friendly kiss (osculum) and finally the greeting kiss (basium – word at the origin of the French word “bise”) which they would use in a very similar manner the French do today.

And though kissing was actually banned in France during the Plague for obvious health and safety reasons, the “bise” resurfaced during WW1 to never leave again!

These days, “faire la bise” is pretty much a social convention.

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Le retour des bons points !!!

Ah les bons points, que de bons souvenirs….

C’était le siècle dernier (eh oui, cela ne nous rajeunit pas), mais comme je les attendais avec impatience ces bons points quand j’étais à  l’école primaire. Même s’il est vrai que je passais plus de temps sous le bureau de la maîtresse qu’à trier ma collection de points, je me souviens encore du bonheur procuré par ces petites images sans prétention ! Une simple vache dans un pré ou un chaton coquin, aucun texte, mais la fierté de l’obtenir n’avait aucun équivalent!

Et je me rends compte en enseignant le français à des élèves de l’école primaire, que la carotte, mes amis, ça fonctionne toujours! J’aime pouvoir récompenser et encourager mes élèves et surtout je préfère célébrer les réussites plutôt que de sanctionner les erreurs. Et le côté ludique des bons points me semble convenir parfaitement à l’âge des apprenants.

Et plutôt que d’essayer de trouver un fournisseur local (eh oui, je suis en Australie!!), j’ai découvert qu’il était possible de tout simplement créer ses propres bons points. Tout ce dont vous avez besoin est d’un ordinateur, d’Internet, de Word, d’une imprimante et si possible d’une plastifieuse!

Et pour vous faciliter encore plus la tâche, il y a de nombreux modèles prêts à l’emploi en ligne.

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Ted-Ed: on the difficulty in translating “you”!


When asked about difficult words to translate, “you” would most certainly not top your list! However…

As you will hear in this excellent video from Krystian Aparta, translating the simple pronoun “YOU” is not always as easy as it sounds!! It’s actually often impossible to accurately translate “you” without knowing more about the situation where it’s being said. Krystian describes the specific reasons why it can be difficult, citing examples from many different languages.

Watch this 3mn47 video to learn more!


Lost in Trumpslation…


As you may have read in the news, translators around the world are struggling translating and interpreting Donald Trump’s speeches.

The cause? Run on sentences, disjointed syntax, repetitions and well, let’s face it, limited vocabulary.

According to professional translator Bérengère Viennot, “For translators, Trump is an unprecendented and desolating struggle”.
And as the French say, Bérengère “n’y va pas par quatre chemins” (she does not beat around the bush – no pun intended) by adding bluntly: “When it comes to speaking of something other than his victory, he clings desperately to the words contained in the question put to him, without succeeding in completing his own thought.”

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Discover Paristique!


Paristique’s beautiful watercolour interactive map

If you are planning a trip to Paris or just want to learn more about the City of Lights’ history, head to the very cool website called Paristique!

Paristique is an interactive online map where each dot represents an urban element: a street, a square, a boulevard or a parvis (6,840 places in total).
If you want to learn about the origin of a place’s name, all you have to do is click on it and a box explaining the origin and history of that place will open.

Note: the site is exclusively in French!

Paristique Map example

An example of a street description on Paristique

Guillaume Derolez, a Google engineer and creator of Paristique, carried out an impressive amount of research about Parisian streets on the no less impressive City of Paris’ Open Data website.

The result is pretty impressive with its gorgeous watercolour map, colour-coded points of interest (white for streets, yellow for squares, pedestrian streets in blue).

So if you have some time to check it out, do not hesitate! A good way to practise your reading skills in French!


Source:;; 20minutes;fr;

Don’t miss the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2017!

AF Film Festival 2017
The biggest  festival of French films outside of France!

Now in its 28th year, the AF (Alliance Française) French Film Festival is the biggest film festival in Australia but also the biggest festival of French films outside of France.
Last year, the AF offered 2,450 sessions nation-wide with  a programme comprising 48 movies!

This festival is an opportunity to see the best of contemporary French cinema.
This year, it will be screening from the 7th to the 30th of March, opening with “The Odyssey” (Directed by Jérôme Salle / Starring Lambert Wilson, Audrey Tautou & Pierre Niney) and closing with the movie “A bun in the oven” (Directed by Nadège Loiseau / Starring Karin Viard, Philippe Rebbot & Hélène Vincent).

The festival will be presenting no less than 45 different movies in total from directors such as Emmanuelle Bercot, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Nicole Garcia, Benoît Jacquot and Mia Hansen-Løve, Philippe Lioret, Martin Provost, Jérôme Salle, Bertrand Tavernier and Roschdy Zem.

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