Exploring a new land means getting to grips with its climate. It took me a few days to acclimatise to the July heat of Périgord. I became frustrated with how little exploring I could do, but the weather is a master you must obey. In the South of France, in July, my Parisian hyperactivity wasContinue reading “Climate changes, or seeking shade in Périgord”
Somewhere between Montluçon and Limoges, I drove past a sign informing me I was entering the “pays d’oc”. As a linguist and an explorer of France, I got very excited. First of all, entering a new country is always exciting. The French language has the word “dépaysement”, for the feeling of being in a newContinue reading “Home abroad”
Driving through France is like taking a road-trip through Europe, on fast-forward. Such is the variety of its landscapes. But each terroir has its unique identity, too. Setting off South from Paris, once out of the tangle of ring roads and suburbs, I hit the south of the Bassin Parisien. Huge cereal fields fill theContinue reading “France down the middle”
On Friday we revived an old tradition, the day-long family outing to a Parisian museum, and we visited the Musée d’Orsay. We had been there many time before, but this time was special. The pretext for our outing was a temporary exhibition, called “Les origines du monde” (“The origins of the world”). The title isContinue reading “Musée d’Orsay or the spirals of art”
The French are famous across the world for their love of debate (some say, their love of arguing). So let me explain how to think (and argue) like the French. Let us start with an example of how the French take a compliment. Person A says to person B “Your hair looks lovely today”. PersonContinue reading “The French art of conversation”
Wine is France’s most iconic food export, but bread and cheese are the other two staples of French diet. One day I will write about the cheeses of France, and the wines of course. But today I want to celebrate bread. It is the main source of carbohydrates in a typical French diet. Un gagne-pain,Continue reading “Let them eat bread”
On 21st June, it is the summer solstice, the longest day. In France, the traditional festival of Saint John (the Baptist), featuring fire, music and dance (“les feux de la Saint-Jean”) has been replaced by the modern Fête de la Musique. In 1981, the newly-elected Minister for Culture, Jack Lang (my mother definitely has aContinue reading “Fête de la musique – 2021 edition”
After three months roaming through Brittany, it is time to go home. Home for me is a leafy suburban town, between Paris on the one hand, and the beautiful forêt de Rambouillet on the other. Mid-June, and spring has built up to a beautiful summer. Swifts whizz high in the sky; in the evening, theyContinue reading “Hometown revisited”
La côte d’Emeraude, the “coast of Emerald”, is between Cap Fréhel and Saint Malo, on the North-Eastern coast of Brittany. This part of Brittany is less typical, less of a picture-perfect postcard than many of the places I have visited so far. The local stone is pink sandstone, not granite. The local dialect was Gallo,Continue reading “Cap Fréhel and the coast of Emerald”
As I progress West along the North coast, I grow more and more aware that I am reaching the end of my tour of Brittany. I have gone back to my roots and met my spiritual ancestors; the painter Paul Gauguin and the writers Victor Segalen and Jack Kerouac, who travelled the world the worldContinue reading “We are all made of stories”
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