Friday, May 31, 2013


We've just discovered that famous French cat Pompon has a weakness for Calissons d'Aix, a traditional provençal confection made from a fine paste of melon confiture (or other fruits) and ground almonds, flavored with orange water and glazed with icing on a thin biscuit. Its diamond shape represents a weaving shuttle.

veritable:  real, genuine
avoir une faible pour les sucreries:  to have a sweet tooth
une navette:  here, a weaving shuttle; a shuttle (as in transportation--and not to be confused with un navet or turnip)

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Il est difficile d'attaper un chat noir dans une pièce sombre, surtout lorsqu'il n'y est pas. 
An old Chinese saying translated into French: it's difficult to catch a black cat in a dark room, especially when he isn't there.

This superbe photo comes  from friend Sylvia in the south of France.

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


A marketplace array of typical provençal purées: red bell pepper, garlic and black olive. To be spread on croutons or to serve as an accompaniment for main dishes. Made in Marseilles.

"Purée!"  is a widely-used and mild expletive said by those who wish to refrain from voicing a naughtier invective, which I hesitate to mention--but will for pedagogical purposes, however, without translatation, "putain!"

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Monday, May 27, 2013


A few of the some 50 murals in trompe-l'oeil in Avignon featuring actors and actresses who have left their marks through the years at the international performing arts festival held there. The works are painted by by Dominique Durand and Marion Pochy.

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Friday, May 24, 2013


Laissez-le mariner
For comfort and emphasis famous French cat, Pompon, poses on an oven mitt to illustrate another great French colloquialism, laissez-le mariner. Let him stew in his own juice.

mariner:  to marinate
laisser mariner:  in cookery, leave to marinate; figuratively, leave to stew in one's own juice
une manique:  an oven glove or mitt

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


On the way back from a paint store we did a double take when we passed by this well-executed trompe l'oeil in the suburb of Levallois, northwest of Paris, and hurriedly snapped a photo from the car window. 

devoir y regarder à deux fois:  to do a double take
dû y regarder à deux fois:  did a double take

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, May 19, 2013


A few choice uses of the word bleu

un casque bleu:  a United Nations soldier  (un soldat de l'ONU--l'Organisation des Nations Unies)
un col bleu:  a blue collar worker (un ouvrier)
une colère bleue:  a violent anger (un colère violent)
un conte bleu:  a deceitful speech (un discours mensonger)
du gros bleu:  poor quality red wine (vin rouge de mauvaise qualité)
un bleu: a bruise (un hématome)
être dans le bleu: to be up in the air (être dans l'incertitude, être dans un rêve)
faire le bleu: skip classes (sécher les cours)
l'heure bleue: just before dawn (le moment qui précède l'aube)

Photo taken in Amiens in the Quartier Saint-Leu

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Mieux vaut têtard que jamais...
Actually, the expression is "mieux vaut tard que jamais," or "better late than never." This is a photo of kind-hearted friend Sylvia's makeshift nursery for the pollywogs she recently fished out of her swimming pool in the south of France. 

un têtard:  a tadpole, a pollywog
avoir bon coeur:  to be kind-hearted
une femme au bon coeur:  a kind-hearted woman
une garderie:  a day-care center
une crèche:  a nursery
élever:  to nurture, to raise
un tantinet:  a tad; a tiny bit

See also: The Frog Came Back and A French Toad, of which the above tadpoles are likely the progeny.

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Vous me croirez si vous voulez
These are tulips, not peonies
Let there be no mistake about it, these beauties growing in sheltered planters in a small neighborhood shopping center in Versailles are tulipes à fleurs de pivoine, a large double late tulip variety which has peony-like petals.  
se méprendre sur:  to be mistaken about
une pivoine:  a peony

vous me croirez si vous voulez:  believe it or not
détrompez-vous:  think again; make no mistake

Fo more on peonies and what they say in French, click on: Flower Language

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Monday, May 6, 2013


Famous French cat Pompon--and backseat driver--keeps an eye on traffic coming from the right.

Upon complaining about all of the unmarked intersections in France and the priority to the right rule, I was countered by two Frenchmen who claimed that the driving system was très logique...that the rule keeps drivers vigilant about what is to their right. I take this to mean the direction from which a car would most likely be hit in a collision. Of course.

la priorité à droite:  priority to the right
la pédale de frein:  the brake pedal
ralentir:  to slow down
un donneur de leçons:  a backseat driver, literally a giver of lessons
tirer les ficelles:  to be a backseat driver (to give unwanted advice); literally to pull the strings

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, May 4, 2013


What? Is that the famous French cat Pompon metamorphosed into an ornamental chicken? No, but this fancy white silk collector's chicken, the Gallus Gallus on sale at our favorite country garden store, does bear a striking resemblance to our favorite feline star, below.
une poule de luxe:  pejorative for a courtesan or mistress

Pompon's fans click more: 
Long Like a Day Without Bread
Learn French with Pompon
The Perfectly Appropriate Word
A Taste for Luxury
En Tête-à-Tête with Pompon
Tell It Like It Is

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Qui s'y frotte, s'y pique.
"Touch me who dares" is a satisfactory translation for the devise of Louis XII, who reigned as king of France from 1498 through 1515.

While a crowned porcupine was Louis XII's emblem, the animal is not exactly the friendliest of figures to use to greet visitors at the front door. This one in faïence is on a lintel of a maison en meulière built by the turn-of-the-20th-century Versailles architect, Léon Bachelin.

un porc-épic:  a porcupine
frotter:  to rub
se frotter:  to cross swords with or to come against someone
piquer:  to prick; to sting; to sew; to pinch (steal)
une devise:  a devise, motto, watchword, slogan; also a currency
faïence:  earthenware

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Muguet or lilly of the valley in bloom just in time for the first of May. The tradition in France is to give a sprig of the pretty and fragrant plant to friends and family on the first day of May to bring good luck. For more photos and to read a little more about it, see May is Here and It's May! 

This dramatic smartphone photo is of a stand growing in friend Sylvia's garden in the south of France. Merci!

©2013 P.B. Lecron