My intention was to post once a week but I realise how ambitious and frankly unrealistic that was, so my revised expectations are monthly-ish posts. Here's what I listened to, watched, read and did this month in French.
- RFI Revue de presse française – 3-4 minute daily roundup of French press. First thing I listen to on French Mondays as I get ready for the day, and bite-sized episodes make it easy to catch up on the whole week.
- France Culture Grand Reportage
'Crise humanitaire en Afghanistan : la détresse des enfants de Kaboul’ (1 April, 2022, 58 mins) – as the title suggests, this is a very distressing report about the terrible situation in Kabul. Young boys obliged to earn a few cents by washing cars or cleaning shoes so that their parents and siblings can eat. Absent fathers, either dead, maimed or addicted to drugs, unable to support their families. Women and girls helpless to contribute financially. Amongst all this, the boys interviewed have aspirations to become pilots, doctors, dentists...
'La "Fast-Fashion" est-elle passée de mode ?' (8 April, 2022, 58 mins) - surprisingly interesting piece on not only buying less and better quality (and Made in France) but also on how discarded clothes (jeans, t-shirts, underwear) which are no longer reusable are recycled. I was amazed to hear that there are 30 stages to recycling material, with one machine per stage! Lots of new vocab in this one, such as... éffilocher (unravel, fray); déchiqueter (shred); placage des poches (cladding?); ourlage (hemming) and many more!
- French Voices
Podcast hosted by Jessica, a French teacher originally from the Champagne region but now living in Melbourne, Australia. She has a huge back catalogue of episodes that I am working through and the people she interviews are from all walks of life and professions.
'FV 110 Interview: Working as an interpreter’ (21 May, 2020, 21 mins) – Jessica talks to Aurélie, a native French interpreter, about how she started and the sort of interpreting she does. Surprising that Aurélie advises against study at French institutions for wannabe interpreters, although I suppose that only the totally dedicated survive the process, so maybe it's a good filter... Interesting stuff for anyone keen on entering the profession.
French Song/Artist of the Month
My song for May is:
Il est mort le soleil, by Nicoletta – hugely popular in France in the 60s and 70s, Nicoletta is probably best known internationally for 'Mamy Blue'. 'Il est mort le soleil' was also covered by Ray Charles and Tom Jones. You can listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE05qVhLXTY
I managed to finish the first season of last month's series Il était une seconde fois\Twice Upon a Time. I imagine there will be a second given the ending. Netflix now very usefully provides me with suggestions for French language series and films. So this month's viewing (dis)pleasure consisted of:
Maître du Monde/Master of the World (2011, I hr 12 mins). Film about a 40-year old broker, disillusioned with society, who leaves everything behind (apart from his red wine, caviar and cigarettes, a little cocaine and pressed white shirts wrapped in cellophane). Very French... mature themes, symbolism, metaphor and juxtaposition. If you want action, go elsewhere. The pros: beautiful photography (gorgeous shot of the moon 'gliding' up the mountain), rousing music (Brahms' Alto Rhapsody and Mozart's Requiem Introitus and Lacrimosa), and the sole actor - Boris Beynet - with his chiselled good looks (and a profile that reminds me of Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley) and pert bum! The cons: protracted scenes which challenge even the most patient viewer, sans dialogue, other than voicemail messages (not a great film for keeping up your French), and no real plot to speak of. I might have appreciated this film more when I was younger with lots of time on my hands, but with the meagre minutes of daily TV I get, I have become ultra selective and must confess that I ended up using fast-forward on this one...
Iris/In the Shadow of Iris (2016, 1 hr 39 mins). Adaptation of Hideo Nakata's 2000 film Chaos (which I haven't seen, might look it up). Kidnapping gone wrong. Crime and passion, with a good dose of fetishism thrown in, all in the name of improving my French, of course... Who's guilty, who isn't?
I've decided to put Sade's Les Crimes de l’Amour to one side for the moment, as although I've managed to get through 43% of it (yes, I have a reading app which gives me this info!), I really am struggling and, for me at least, it is definitely not a page-turner... So, I have started another, more contemporary book:
L'amour dure trois ans, by Frédéric Beigbeder. I've had this on my Kindle for a couple of years, so it was high time to 'take it off the shelf' and dust it off. For the protagonist and narrator, the three years of a relationship go through a metamorphosis before expiring: first year - passion, second year - affection, and third year - boredom! Probably not a feel-good read, but I'm interested to see how the story develops. There's also a 2012 film adaptation of the book, by the same name.
Working out, language exchange, all things French...
French Mondays monthly movement included:
- P4P Français – 7 minutes workout - Votre entrainement quotidien pour brûler la graisse rapidement. Animated guy doing 30-second sets, 12 exercises - jumping jacks, wall sit, push ups, ab crunches, step ups, squats, tricep bench dips, plank, high knees running in place, forward lunges, push up with rotation and side plank. I wish they'd use the French terms for these exercises...
- SYMPA – Un entraînement de 4 minutes. Actually, slightly more than 4 minutes, but who's counting? Just five exercises,1 minute each: squats, push-ups, mountain climbers, lunges and jumping jacks. Who says they don't have time to exercise...?!
- MYF Move your Fit – 10 minutes d'exercise pour perdre du ventre sans aucun saut. A mix of cardio with a running commentary, singing and jokes...
- Delphine Marie Yoga – Yoga du matin: Energie (tous niveaux). Definitely one of the more energetic sessions of the month but I did feel energised and properly stretched, twisted and opened by the end of the 30 minutes.
- Delphine Marie Yoga – Libérer son yang: booster son énergie et aller de l'avant. 25-minute dynamic flow interspersed with Kapalabhati breathing to generate heat and energy.
- Elle Yoga – 15 minutes de yoga pour bien commencer la journée. For when you think you can't fit any yoga in, this is a nice quick flow to give your body and brain a boost - ready for anything!
- Delphine Marie Yoga – 15 minutes pour étirer son corps. A gentle session of Hatha yoga with lots of time to breathe into those juicy stretches!
Although I have regular French chats with my mum who lives just around the corner from me, we inevitably end up speaking franglais. So I'm looking into finding other opportunities and there may be just the thing on LinkedIn. Watch this space...
Word(s) of the month
This was from L'amour dure trois ans, 'a quel moment me suis-je fourvoyé?'
Larousse: Prendre un mauvais chemin, se perdre, s'égarer
Origin: from the Latin foris, hors, and via, voie : aller hors de la voie.(https://www.littre.org/definition/fourvoyer)
English: to lose one's way, go astray, stray, go wrong, go off the track
That's all folks! I'm always on the lookout for new content and ways to use French, so please share any activities you're doing...