Monday, 19 October 2015

Give Me A Pause

For years now (if not decades), English-language slogans have been a common feature of advertising in France. I've always found it a bit weird, but I guess it's a similar phenomenon to listening to music where you don't understand the lyrics - the style is more important than the substance.

However, French law decrees that if an advert contains foreign language content, it must be translated. Often it's fun to see how much of the original meaning is kept, or lost - it makes you realise how much advertising contains untranslatable wordplay.

In the case of this advert, however, it was the irony of the translation that made me laugh:

Translation: Un break, un Kitkat

As an example of the translation being even more redundant than the English-language slogan, ça prend vraiment le biscuit.* **

*As no French person said, ever.
** I am quite proud of my bad pun though.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Learning New Words at the Fête des Vendanges

With happy memories of last year's Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, (even if the vine I bought in a pot turned into a dead stump rather than the beginnings of my own personal vineyard), I was looking forward to this year's. I'm not sure how "authentic" the event really is, but given that it's an opportunity to sample wine, cheese and saucisson in one of my favourite parts of Paris (with the added bonus the past 2 years of some gorgeous early-autumn sunshine), I'm not sure I really care.

Understanding Frenchman and I started off with a glass of St Emilion and a glass of Lalande de Pomerol, which we drank on the steps of the church. (Somehow in France this doesn't seem too sacrilegious!) Deciding that the wine was too heavy to be drunk on its own, UFM went off to find some saucisson to accompany it. Unfortunately, we didn't have a knife, so we had to peel off the skin and just bite into it, which wasn't very elegant, but it still tasted good.

After that, we set off for a wander around the rest of the fair, which turned into a bit of a vocabulary lesson for yours truly:

"Tartempion" means a person who's name you can't remember, normally because you haven't bothered to make the effort because you don't care that much.

I asked UFM to explain the names of some of these drinks to me and they were so rude that he translated them into English instead of explaining in French. When I pointed out to him that we were surrounded by American tourists, so this wasn't exactly the height of discretion, he replied, "I know - I did it because they're more likely to be shocked than French people!"

I made a point of turning up to the Fête this year with an empty stomach, because everywhere you go, there are delicious things to eat being produced in vast quantities. There was giant tartiflette:

Giant barbecue:

And, for less subtle wordplay than the bottles in the second photo:

I was determined to have something I was unlikely to eat elsewhere and finally settled on a sandwich buttered with foie gras, filled with magret de canard and sprinkled with sel de Guérande.

By this point the fair was starting to get really busy and it was hard to wander around any more, so we strolled back through the quiet streets of the 9th to the metro and went home to have grated carrots for dinner!

Saturday, 3 October 2015


I was expecting coming back to Paris, and more significantly, work, after a long holiday and the small matter of a wedding and honeymoon, and experience a massive, empty sort of comedown.

In the event, I actually just felt tired.

Really tired.

I like my job a lot, but it can be draining, especially when coupled with 2.5 hours of commuting every day. And so it turned out that when I was expecting post-wedding blues, it was more post-holiday blues that I experienced, and specifically, resentment at the lack of time for my own projects and at the fact that when I did have any free time, I was too exhausted to enjoy it.

Another thing I've been thinking about recently is how for a natural introvert, I have developed a very busy social life over the past few years. When I was at school, I spent a lot of my free time alone, reading, writing, drawing and daydreaming. I was lucky enough to have a few close friends who were similar, so I wasn't ever lonely, but we didn't exactly have a buzzing social life either. University was a bit the same - I had good friends, but the subjects I studied left plenty of room for time alone as well.

And then I started working, and moved to Italy and then France, and discovered travel and the joy of socialising that doesn't always centre around getting very drunk and ending the evening in a scruffy nightclub, with people with similar interests and worldviews, and I met Understanding Frenchman and we moved in together, and suddenly there wasn't so much time for reading, writing and daydreaming anymore.

So that has been my goal over the past few weeks: to minimise time spent at work and make good use of my commuting time to either finish job-related things or get on with reading some really good books, and to use the time left over for quiet, introverted activities. I'm still going out and meeting lots of friends, but only for the events I really want to go to. If I'm too tired, I say no.

Because if you're too exhausted to enjoy the free time that you have, what's the point in having any?

Unfortunately, this doesn't make for very interesting blogging material, so for now I'll leave with a photo of the flowers I planted in our window boxes, which make me happy every time I look up from the book I'm reading to gaze out of the window and daydream.