Archive for the ‘French’ Category

This sign hangs outside a Chambres d’Hôte or B&B on the Ile de Ré. What I love most about this is the name:

La Maison du puits sans fond

Roughly translated, that means The House of the Bottomless Well. It sounds like a fairy story waiting to be written. Sadly, when you look up a dictionary definition, the term ‘puits sans fond’ is far less romantically translated into ‘bottomless pit’.

There are also songs called ‘Puits sans fond’.

Here’s one by a group called Vulgaires Machins. I’m not so sure about their name but their Puits sans fond gets 5 stars on You Tube, so here they are:


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The world is certainly not short of francophiles, as can be seen by the number of books under Amazon’s FRANCE category. Quite a few of those books have made it onto my shelf at times, but none of them satisfactorily answer the question: what’s it like to date a French person? Perhaps I’ll end up writing that book myself.

One book that has helped me to understand a lot more about the French and their culture is Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong. Written by a pair of baguette-loving journalists called Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, it seeks to answer many of the questions we foreigners have about France: how the French government works, what happened in Algeria, and how France remembers World War II. Among the many topics discussed here, Nadeau and Barlow explain the education system, the importance of food and language, and why the French strike so much.

Nadeau and Barlow, who are both Canadian, based themselves in Paris for two years to research this book. They write openly about their experiences (ordering pigeon in le Marais, joining a caveing club) whilst imparting interesting facts such as why it is illegal to reduce the price of an item outside of national sale dates and what caused farmers to destroy a McDonald’s in Millau in 1999.

Now that we’ve entered the Sarkozy era, there are some things that might need updating in this book, but on the whole it is a highly informative deconstruction of the French psyche. I recommend it to any Anglo-Saxon with an interest in what makes the French tick.

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