You probably already know, France has a terrible reputation when it comes to taxes: les impôts! Yes all the terrible things you’ve heard about French taxes are true and we are officially le pays d’Europe où l’on paie le plus d’impôts… Yikes! You can practice your French with this article from Le Figaro revealing France as the European country where we pay the highest taxes.
However, if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I can’t be negative and I always need to find a positive outcome, that’s just how my mind functions. So here’s one of the things I tell myself every time I make a giant payment to the French state: “Virginie, tu étudies gratuitement! Si tu étudiais aux États-Unis, tu aurais tellement de dettes! Et avec des montants bien plus élevés que ces chèques!” (Virginie, you study for free! If you studied in the United States, you would have so much debt! And with amounts much higher than those checks!)
And then suddenly last week…
I remembered something very, very exciting!
As I was listening to a program broadcasting a Literature class from one of France’s most prestigious schools on the radio station France Culture (another brilliant thing paid by nos impôts français, merci les impôts!) I suddenly remembered something crucial about that school called le Collège de France… not only is it one of France’s top schools founded in 1530 by French King François Ier, but, and here’s the beauty of it, are you ready for this???
It is open to ANYBODY and yes, it is completely FREE. You just pick whatever class you want to attend, you can do so every day if you want to, and you go listen to the most renowned French and International professors teach you about Science, Literature, and Art, in this beautiful setting:
Here is how they present themselves on their site:
“Le Collège de France est un établissement public d’enseignement supérieur, institution unique en France, sans équivalent à l’étranger. Depuis le XVIe siècle, le Collège de France répond à une double vocation : être à la fois le lieu de la recherche la plus audacieuse et celui de son enseignement. Voué à la recherche fondamentale, le Collège de France possède cette caractéristique singulière : il enseigne le savoir en train de se constituer dans tous les domaines des lettres, des sciences ou des arts.”
I plan on going once a week. I would happily go every day but well there’s French Truly work, Uni work, gym work, plus now that I no longer live as a hermit in the middle of the forest I have a social life with… you know… people! So I must pace myself a little even though I don’t want to! Anyway, I will for sure let you know how the classes are and what fascinating characters I meet there!
Et voilà pour la petite histoire… en français:
The finest men in Paris…
Since it’s still the summer however, le Collège de France is closed, therefore in the meantime, I decided to spend time with some of the finest men in Paris, so I could learn from them. Ok fine, they’re all dead, and so what? Et alors?
Last Saturday, after hanging out at the Collège de France, la Sorbonne, and reading in le Jardin du Luxembourg (which I couldn’t do for long because those chairs really hurt my butt! Note to self: must bring a cushion next time.) I began walking back to my part of town going through Saint Germain des Prés before crossing the Seine and finding myself in the heart of the Louvre.
1- Saint Germain des Prés: Vous connaissez la rue du Bac? I had never actually walked all the way down it before and when I saw it last Saturday I suddenly remembered that one of my heroes (yes I have many and they’re all completely fabulous!) lived on 108, rue du Bac.
And a close up so you can read la plaque. And if you can’t, I wrote down what it says underneath this picture:
“Ici vécut Romain Gary, Compagnon de la Libération, écrivain et diplomate de 1963 à sa mort, le 2 décembre 1980.”
It was quite emotional for me to stand there, where he had both lived and committed suicide. I imagined him walking on the same sidewalk as me, coming in and out of the door I was staring out, I felt his energy & his genius. In fact and in case you missed it, here’s the blog post I had written about him last June. Ooooh just look at that face!
Romain Gary is one of the greatest French writers of the 20th century and a personal favorite. I love his books and I love the man. Throughout his life he built himself quite the résumé… He was:
– A writer who received the Prix Goncourt… twice! (French equivalent of the Literature Nobel Prize)
– A World War II aviator and hero who joined the French résistance in 1940. He was decorated for his bravery and received many medals including Compagnon de la Libération and commander of the Légion d’honneur.
– A diplomat in Bulgaria and Switzerland, the secretary of the French Delegation to the United Nations, and the French Consul General in Los Angeles, where he became acquainted with Hollywood. Oh yes, he was also a film director and he married the American actress Jean Seberg.
Watch the below French video with French subtitles:
After my little visit to Romain, I started walking back toward home… down rue du Bac, arriving on quai Voltaire, crossing le pont royal, and boom! Here I was, in front of the Louvre. So I walked right in and it doesn’t matter how many time I see these buildings, every single time they simply take my breath away. No matter how much I love animals and how much people infuriate me sometimes, when I am faced with such beauty and such genius, I cannot help but be in complete awe of mankind.
It was the end of the day, the light was warm and somewhat orange, adding to the magnificence of the scene before my eyes. So I took pictures (thinking of you and my next blog post of course) and looked all around me with my eyes and my heart wide open…
I looked at all the statues until I saw… qui?
I recognized his face before I saw his name engraved underneath his statue, looking down toward me! (that’s him in the middle)
I checked and he is the only statue looking down! Is this a subtle reference to his immense arrogance? I don’t care, I love the man! One of the most interesting, intriguing, and revolutionary philosophers of the 18th century: le siècle des Lumières. Un philosophe de la Liberté who worked his whole life refusing patronage from the Aristocracy, which is what everyone else did back then so they could focus on their area of expertise. He mastered topics such as Literature & Philosophy of course, but also Politics, Economics, Sociology, Theology, Education, and Music. Pas mal Jean-Jacques, pas mal.
Here’s a short video in French with French subtitles explaining you why it’s important to read Rousseau today:
Also known as mon grand amour, mon âme soeur, l’homme qui a complètement changé ma vie, and in fact, the reason why I live in Paris today. Talk about versatility. Reading À la recherche du temps perdu taught me more than anything else I’ve ever read or studied my entire life. Why on Earth don’t they make everyone read it at school? Why isn’t there a Marcel Proust class throughout the years I honestly can’t say.
He explores and masters in the most profound possible ways Human Psychology, Poetry, History, Sociology, Philosophy, Literature, Art, Esthetics, Mythology, Philology. He somehow manages to connect with the human heart with both singularity (every time I read him I feel his words are coming out of me only I don’t have the talent to express myself with his elegance) and universality.
Last Sunday, on my quest to learn every single street name in Paris, I decided to walk to the Père Lachaise cemetery. I had been there only once back in May after my exams to meet Marcel. It took us for ever to find him. This time I arrived from the main entrance on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant:
Vous avez déjà visité ce cimetière? Il est absolument magnifique! So huge and peaceful, its own little planet of refinement and spirituality. Tellement romantique!
Something uncanny happened that reinforced my connection with Marcel. As I said, I entered the cemetery via a new entrance (new for me that is!) but refused to try and figure out where he was. I decided I was going to walk right to him, without hesitation, and that’s exactly what happened. And believe me the place is big! I just walked and walked and walked, soaking all the beauty in, taking pictures, enjoying the peaceful Sunday. Suddenly I felt I was getting close, remembered one little detail from my last visit (a dog decoration on a grave), made a turn there, and found myself in front of him. Glorious!
Another French video with French subtitles for you! Watch Céleste Albaret, Marcel’s housekeeper, who played a crucial role in the completion of his masterpiece, his “cathédrale” as we say in French, the 3,000 pages longest book in the world: À la recherche du temps perdu:
That’s it for this week but more to come in the next weeks’ blog posts! I love this new Paris theme, what do you think?
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What inspired me to create this French Immersion Course? C’est très simple: how best to improve your French conversation skills than by being in France, surrounded with French culture and French people who will ONLY speak French to you? Yet so many times I have heard visitors express their disappointment at not really being given the chance to practice their French. Why? Because more & more French people, especially in big cities, speak English fairly well and are just so excited to practice their new skills with you! This ends up being nice and comfortable for you but not so satisfying or helpful for improving your French speaking ability! So to fix this and make sure you have the most enjoyable, and at the same time profitable, French learning experience, I decided to create the perfect environment for you by organizing this hands-on French Immersion Course.
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This is the reason why I have created this 7 DAY FULL FRENCH IMMERSION COURSE for you, filled with daily classes & enriching adventures with French people who will only speak French with you. No English! It’s amazing how much you can learn and retain in such a conducive atmosphere in as little as 7 days. Mornings will be dedicated to French language classes and afternoons will be filled with interesting activities such as: visiting local artists or entrepreneurs workshops, meeting with local wine makers and farmers, guided hike in nature, cooking class, painting class, cinema, & museum… all in French!
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Join French Truly’s online school, either by buying the French online course(s) of your choice or by becoming a monthly member. See more details about the membership at the bottom of this page
Each French online course is packed with video & audio files along with written material, to make it as fun, easy, and user friendly as possible for you! Come and learn French online with me!
In this course, you will find 15 videos (+ 10 bonus ones) to help & accompany you every step of the way through the course + for each word, each sentence, each expression, each conjugated verb, I have created an audio file of my voice, slow and slightly faster speed. Your French language learning experience has never been so easy, fun, and fruitful. You can learn French online and benefit from the flexibility working at your own pace offers, while having me with you the whole time.
Did you know…
You can converse (speak + understand) in French with only 600 WORDS?
The average French person only uses between 300 & 3,000 WORDS?
This means that if you can master a relatively short list of words, you’ll be able to express yourself like the average French person! Plus you’re much more likely to understand the French when they talk back to you!
This course will teach you…
1- How to speak French
2- How to pronounce French
3- How to make French sentences
4- How to conjugate all the most common French verbs
5- How to polish your results
6- How to self evaluate your French
More info HERE
- It should take you about 30 hours to complete this course, which is made up of 10 lessons
- This course is designed for a beginner / intermediate level. If you are intermediate but feel like you could really reinforce your foundations, you will love it.
- You can join whenever, either by buying the course or by becoming a monthly member giving you access to my French online courses from $10 / month. See more details about the membership at the bottom of this page
In this course you will find 11 videos + 150 audio files + 92 pages PDF format to help & accompany you every step of the way throughout the course. In some parts of the videos, my face will appear close up and profile so you can easily see how I make these sounds with my mouth. The 150 audio files are composed of the 100 most popular French words and the 50 most common French phrases. They are recordings of my voice, speaking slowly enough so you can easily grasp every syllable. Your French language learning experience has never been so easy, fun, and fruitful. You can learn French online and benefit from the flexibility working at your own pace offers, while having me with you the whole time.
NB: if you are the proud owner of my previous French online course 600 WORDS, don’t worry, this is not a repeat as we are now exploring 1 letter words and up, whereas in 600 WORDS we began at 4 letter words and up.
Combine knowledge with confidence…
For you to be able to have a pleasant and efficient conversation with a French person, one thing is key… can you guess what it is? Confidence! How well do you think you will communicate in French if you don’t feel confident about your accent? If you are scared that people won’t understand you? Or even worse if you think someone might make fun of you? Without a minimum of confidence there is no room for communication. Yet if you feel confident, you can afford to make a few mistakes here and there because people will still understand you. What prevents a conversation from happening isn’t just a lack of knowledge, it’s also a lack of confidence. You need to have both to make it work, not to mention, to make it fun!
This course will teach you…
1- How to pronounce every letter of the alphabet
2- How to pronounce every digraph & trigraph
3- How to make every French sentence flow
4- How to pronounce the 100 most popular French words
5- How to pronounce the 50 most popular French phrases
6- How to avoid the pronunciation mistakes everyone makes
More info HERE
- It should take you about 20 to 2 hours to complete this course, which is made up of 11 lessons
- This course is designed for a beginner level. If you are intermediate but lack confidence when it comes to talking and feel like you could really benefit from focusing on pronunciation, you will love it.
- You can join whenever, either by buying the course or by becoming a monthly member giving you access to my French online courses from $10 / month. See more details about the membership below
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