Bayonne and the Basque coast

We often say France is the most beautiful country in the world, because of the variety of its landscapes, its fabulous food culture, and its stylish lifestyle. Frankly, the Basque country could say the same. This pocket country, a picturesque and characterful kaleidoscope of coast, mountains and cities, packs quite a punch. The Basque country,Continue reading “Bayonne and the Basque coast”

Home abroad

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”

The French art of conversation

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”

Huelgoat and Bretons d’ailleurs

Eventually I tired of the wind along the coast. I was near Roscoff,and it was blowing from dawn to dusk, kicking up the dust and driving off trains of thoughts. I headed both inland and inwards, to Huelgoat. Huelgoat, “the upper wood” in Breton, is pronounced “U-èl-go-a-t”. It is a quaint village in the centerContinue reading “Huelgoat and Bretons d’ailleurs”

Plage des trois moutons – low tide

Thankfully there are no signs left of the Amoco-Cadiz’s marée noire (“black tide”) on the Plage des trois moutons, “beach of the three sheep”. Puzzling name. One possible explanation is that in French, white horses are called “sheep”, moutons. But there are thousands of “sheep” on the sea, as I take a walk on theContinue reading “Plage des trois moutons – low tide”