The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

Yesterday, we met up one of my high school friends that I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years! Kate and her family were in Paris as part of a 5-month European adventure that, from all accounts, promises to be one of the best vacations I’ve ever heard about. We talked about their plans over dinner, then splurged on some decadent ice cream for dessert, and strolled through the city under a gorgeous full moon, reliving old memories from our high school days and laughing all the while. It was great catching up with Kate and her husband Jeff, but the icing on the cake was when I got to tell their seven-year-old daughter that …

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THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY! Continue reading The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

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The Thin, Wet Line of Khaki

Saturday, I took a day trip to Normandy. Although I’ve lived in France as an American expat for more than three years and I’ve commemorated D-Day twice on French soil, I’d never before visited the D-Day beaches. When my in-laws invited us to go to Colleville-sur-Mer to visit Omaha Beach and the American cemetery there, I heartily accepted. I’d seen photos and read accounts of the débarquement — I’d even written an article about it for this blog — but I didn’t know how moving the experience would end up being. Continue reading The Thin, Wet Line of Khaki

franecdote 1670 : Mission Impossible

Detail of a portrait of King Charles II of England
by Thomas Hawker

It’s time for the next “franecdote” — an interesting fact or story from “THAT year in French history“ where “THAT year” is this year minus the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 11.07.00 PM

Today’s franecdote is from August 1,
when je parle américain had 343 Facebook fans.
So …

The year 2013 — 343 fans = 1670

I’ll never forget from my South Carolina history classes how important the year 1670 was: it’s when England first settled the Carolina colony at Charles Towne, now known as Charleston. Carolina had been named for King Charles I, but Charles Towne was named for his son, Charles II. And it’s that King Charles who figures prominently in today’s franecdote. “But this is about French history, right?” Indeed it is, because the franecdote for today involves not only King Charles II of England, but also King Louis XIV of France. It’s …

Usually there’s a <drumroll> here,
but today this is more appropriate:

The Secret Treaty of Dover Continue reading franecdote 1670 : Mission Impossible

Saturday Afternoon Gardening

© 2013 Michel Denis Pouradier, all rights reserved

Photo credit: © 2013 Michel Denis Pouradier,
all rights reserved

Yesterday, Babydog proposed an impromptu outing to escape from La Courneuve for the day. Given the way I generally feel about my neighborhood, I was all in favor! We initially planned to take the train to Beauvais to see the cathedral, but then decided to make a less expensive excursion to Versailles. Because of early closing hours this weekend, though, we finally settled on an afternoon at France’s chief botanical garden …

Le Jardin des Plantes Continue reading Saturday Afternoon Gardening

franecdote 1681 : Digging Ditches

It’s time for the next “franecdote” — an interesting fact or story from “THAT year in French history“ where “THAT year” is this year minus the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 11.07.00 PM

Today’s franecdote is from July 25,
when je parle américain had 332 Facebook fans.
So …

The year 2013 — 332 fans = 1681

There were a lot of interesting things that happened in 1681: King Charles II of England granted a land charter to William Penn, who went on to found the colony of Pennsylvania, a woman was flogged in London for “involving herself in politics,” and the last dodo bird was killed … maybe.

Dodo

But, since this is about France, the franecdote for today is …

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The Grand Opening of
The Canal Royal de Languedoc Continue reading franecdote 1681 : Digging Ditches

American Sauce

I remember the first time I came across “American Sauce,” too. It reminded me of a less chunky Thousand Island dressing. In any case, as soon as I read this, I ran to check the ingredients in our jar to make sure this vegetarian hadn’t been slathering lobster stock on his sandwiches. Whew! Our supermarket brand doesn’t use it. Check out the story behind the name in this article by a fellow expat blogger: Cheese FC. Bon appétit !

franecdote 1684 : La Salle’s Last Hurrah

The image is a painting by Theodore Gudin depicting the
the entry of La Salle’s expedition into Matagorda Bay in 1684.
The ship on the left is La Belle, in the middle is Le Joly,
and
L’Aimable is to the right.

It’s time for the next “franecdote” — an interesting fact or story from “THAT year in French history“ where “THAT year” is this year minus the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 11.07.00 PM

Today’s franecdote is from July 18,
when je parle américain had 329 Facebook fans.
So …

The year 2013 — 329 fans = 1684, and the franecdote is …

<drumroll>

The Final Expedition of
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle Continue reading franecdote 1684 : La Salle’s Last Hurrah

Mon époux

Last Friday, I celebrated my third wedding anniversary! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since that magic day. We shared a wonderful evening of fun and food to celebrate, but this article isn’t about that at all. Those of you who know me well won’t be too surprised to learn that my anniversary celebration eventually turned to a discussion of linguistics and etymology. “Etymology on your anniversary?!” Yes, yes … I know. I’m a geek. I admit it. That’s the real testament to our marriage, after all: that my incessant droning about language and history hasn’t resulted in divorce proceedings!

So how did this subject even come up? Well, it has to do with the French word for husband. (See? There is a connection!) The French have a couple of ways to say the word — mari or époux — and it’s the latter that sparked the idea for this article. You see, while the English word “husband” doesn’t come from French (like “wife,” it’s from Old English), the general term for the person you’re married to (your “spouse“) does.  Continue reading Mon époux

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Le Petit Parisien, Willy Ronis (1952)

Even though I’ve lived in France for almost three years, I’m still pleasantly surprised every now and then by cultural discoveries like …

A Baguette Bag! Continue reading The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

franecdote 1685 : I Won’t Tolerate It

Detail from a 1701 portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud

It’s time for yet another “franecdote” — an interesting fact or story from “THAT year in French history“ where “THAT year” is this year minus the number of Facebook fans je parle américain has every Thursday.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 11.07.00 PM

Today’s franecdote is from July 11, when je parle américain had 328 Facebook fans. So …

The year 2013 — 328 fans = 1685, and the franecdote is …

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The Edict of Fontainebleau Continue reading franecdote 1685 : I Won’t Tolerate It