Departing the départements

Yesterday was the first day of my road-trip through France, and I broke the only rule I had fixed myself – no more than one département per day. The idea was to travel slow, to give a chance to all the “drive-through” places of France, those with not much tourist attention, the deep France (“laContinue reading “Departing the départements”

Simple comme bonjour

Literally “As simple as “Hello”, this phrase is the French equivalent to “as easy as one, two, three”. Except greetings in French are actually quite hard to navigate, and you often feel awkward at first. Trust me when I say, it isn’t because of your inadequacies in French. It’s true for French people too. Let’sContinue reading “Simple comme bonjour”


This week, I will try and explain laïcité, a very French concept, very current, and one often misunderstood abroad. In short, laïcité is the principle of absolute separation between state and religion. Religion is seen as a matter of opinion, strictly private. As such, the State protects its citizens’ freedom of conscience, and forbids anyoneContinue reading “Laïcité”

“Such a romantic language!”

I have been told numerous times that French was the most romantic language, and, to be frank, it has always puzzled me. Let me explain. When it comes to the language, it is clear that French has given English, and other languages for that matter a plethora of words relating to romance and sex. “Affair”,Continue reading ““Such a romantic language!””

My favourite accent

As a teacher of French, I should not have a favourite accent. It is almost like confessing to having a favourite child, it is not socially acceptable. But I do have a favourite. Let me celebrate accents in general. One of the main barriers when learning French as a foreign language is the seemingly tenuousContinue reading “My favourite accent”


“Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un long voyage”“Happy who like Ulysses has had a long trip” Many French people won’t know the end of this sentence, but I would hazard a guess that most have heard it some time. It’s the first line of a poem by Joachim du Bellay, a sixteenth century poet,Continue reading “Home-coming”

Le covid or la covid?

For everybody around the world who struggles to speak French correctly, by which they tend to mean “accurately”, hope is out there. And no, I am not selling a piece of code that magically helps you jump through the hoops, twists, turns, quirks and exceptions of French. What I have found out, upon my returnContinue reading “Le covid or la covid?”