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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The deliciously and politically incorrect french-bashing Mr Taylor

Let me introduce you to Paul Taylor.


Paul is English. He grew up in France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
He now lives in Paris and quit a job at Apple in order to perform stand-up comedy in both English and French.

He created, wrote and starred his own show on Canal+ called “What the Fuck France!” (excuse my French…). And if you have not heard of it yet, then you really should! In these short and funny videos, the popular youtuber dissects French habits with typical British humour.

His first video “La bise” (“The kiss on the cheek”) hit over 2 million views!!

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Off the Beaten Track: 8 cool things to do with kids in Paris

With  my boys in Paris in 2015

With my boys in Paris in 2015

My friend Andrea called me last week to “pick my brain” about places of interest that she could visit and activities she could do with her three boys when visiting Paris next July. But not just the usual stuff! Something a bit more off the beaten track…
As I started to browse the Internet finding some really fun activities to do with children, I realised that this information might actually be of interest to travelling families. So, here is a list of 8 cool things to do in Paris with little people! And no, we are not talking EuroDisney… Continue reading

40 useful French text message abbreviations


Call me old(-fashioned) but I just cannot get into abbreviating what I type! So, yes, it takes me for-e-ver….

When I see my kids’ texts, I am just amazed at this whole new language they seem to be using with such ease!

And I feel very very old(-fashioned)…

So here is a list of common French text abbreviations you (and I) might find useful:

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The 11th November in France: le jour du souvenir

In France, the 11th of November is a major national day and a remembrance day.

This public holiday actually commemorates the Fête de la victoire which is when the Armistice was signed on the 11th of November 1918. And though it was originally a day to honour those who had served during the First World War, it has become a day to remember and honour all who served to defend France during wars.

The commemoration is observed by all municipalities, with a blue, white and red wreath being placed on each war memorial.

11novemberwreathThe Bleuet de France (cornflower) is the flower that was chosen by the French to commemorate that day as this is the flower which was on the battlefields and as it is the same colour as the soldiers’ (les poilus) uniform.

At 11 o’clock, of the 11th day of the 11th month, the country also stopped for two minutes silence. The first minute is dedicated to all the soldiers who died and the second minute, to the living left behind.

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Poisson d’avril !

Poisson d'avril

Every year, on the 1st of April, it is a common joke in France amongst children to try and stick a paper fish on their friends’ back without them noticing. When discovered, the person pulling the prank shouts: “Poisson d’avril!”

Grown-ups’ “poissons d’avril” consist in making up fake news or practical jokes. Even the media have a go!

This tradition dates back to 1564 when Charles IX changed the calendar year from the 1st of April to the 1st of January. At first, many people did not accept the change and carried on celebrating the new year on the 1st of April. Those who had embraced the new calendar started to mock the reluctant ones by playing tricks on them.

So, why a fish?

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