Friday, March 28, 2014


Royalists do figure on the political scene in France, but are more of a curiosity than they are controversial. Photo taken in Versailles, where else...

en plein figure:  in the face

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Fact and fable
Renowned and brilliant seventeenth-century fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine, watches the exchange between the crow and the fox in the Jardin Ranelagh, Paris. The fox, who sees a crow with a piece of camembert cheese, flatters him by telling him that he surely must be the greatest of all songbirds. With his ego sufficiently inflated, the proud crow opens his beak to demonstrate his beautiful caw and the camembert falls to the feet of the wily fox.

La Fontaine, a master of turning phrases, reworked Aesop with a spirited and complex use of the French language. Nary a pupil in France has not memorized one of his fables.

un corbeau:  a crow
to caw:  croasser
un renard:  a fox
flatter:  to flatter
une tournure de phrase:  a turn of phrase
remanier:  to rework, to revise

Le Corbeau et Le Renard
Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l'odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
"Hé ! bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois."
A ces mots le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie ;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s'en saisit, et dit : "Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute :
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute. "
Le Corbeau, honteux et confus,
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu'on ne l'y prendrait plus.

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Ce n'est point parce qu'il y a une rose sur le rosier que l'oiseau s'y pose: c'est parce qu'il y a des pucerons. -- from Journal by Jules Renard (1864-1910)

It's not because there is a rose on the bush that the bird alights on its branch: it's because there are aphids.

Wrought-iron cats stealthily stalk their prey, a bird perched on the branch of a rose bush. The Art Nouveau work embellishes the entrance to the 1912 award-winning façade at 9 rue Louis Boilly, Paris. The building was designed by architect Charles Labro.

un puceron:  an aphid

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This carved lion-head embellishment on an 18th-century Versailles door has a pull-handle in the guise of a tongue.

bavard(e):  loose-tongued
sous l'apparence de, sous prétexte de:  in the guise of

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Monday, March 17, 2014


Notice the rounded slate tiles on this Versailles roof; the form is commonly called tuiles plates en queue de castor.  An interesting touch.

une tuile:  a tile
plat(e):  flat
une queue:  a tail
un castor:  a beaver
une toiture:  a roof
une ardoise:  a slate

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, March 16, 2014


View from a stairwell window inside the Château de Maintenon. At the end of the garden are the remnants of an abandoned aqueduct, part of the Canal de l'Eure project which was originally intended in 1686 to transport water from Pontgouin to Versailles. Designed to feed the fountains of the Château de Versailles, the ambitious and costly project's original plans were for a three-tier aqueduct that would surpass even the Roman Pont du Gard.

The ruins impart an incredibly romantic quality to the Renaissance château's grounds.

aller crescendo: to go higher and higher (figuratively)

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Friday, March 14, 2014


Quand l'abricot est en fleur, jours et nuits ont même longueur. 
We haven't quite reached the March 20th vernal equinox, but it's approach is signaled by stunning apricot blossoms from friend and contributor Sylvia's garden near Uzès in the Gard. The French dictum tells us that when the apricot is in bloom, days and nights are of equal length.

©2014 P.B. Lecron