Voilà un petit moment que je n’écris pas de nouveau blog, mais puisque j’ai une excellente raison, j’espère que vous me pardonnerez… Je suis partie en voyage. Un long voyage, lointain, mystérieux, quasi extra-terrestre!

 

To tell you the truth, je suis revenue en France dans ma belle ville de Chartres, le 19 novembre. But I guess I needed time to settle down and dive back into my marvelous aventures américaines avant de pouvoir les partager.

 

Et puisque j’ai tellement fait et tellement vu pendant mon voyage, I should probably share it all en plusieurs épisodes. Disons que mes pérégrinations se sont déroulées en trois parties:

 

1- Du 8 octobre au 1er novembre : Los Angeles – chez mon amie Liz

 

Puis commence le Road Trip!

 

2- Du 1er au 8 novembre : Death Valley et Las Vegas – avec mon amie Paola

 

3- Du 8 au 18 novembre : Zion et Bryce Canyon (Utah), Grand Canyon et Sedona (Arizona), and back to LA – avec mes amies H et Jennifer

 

Dans chacune de ces étapes, I felt like I was living a movie, mais un film différent à chaque fois. When asked : “Quel fut ton moment préféré du road trip?” je réponds toujours la même chose : each step was complètement magique for various reasons. However, the most visually, emotionally, and esthetically overwhelmingly striking will have to be Death Valley.

Peut-être que si j’avais commencé par le Grand Canyon I would have answered the Grand Canyon?

Peut-être que si Death Valley n’avait pas été mon premier désert ever experienced it wouldn’t have hit me so hard?

Je ne sais pas.

Toujours est-il que pour cette raison, je vais commencer cette série de blogs sur Death Valley. Je sais ça n’est pas très logique car pas chronologique, mais c’est mon désir du moment alors voilà.

 

Le 1er novembre, je suis allée récupérer ma rental car (we used Turo, which is like Airbnb mais pour les voitures, vous connaissez? C’est très cool, je vous le recommande!) puis direction LAX (l’aéroport de Los Angeles) pour aller chercher mon amie Paola who flew from Seattle. Ensuite, nous sommes allées à Venice (je crois que c’est officiellement mon quartier préféré à LA!) pour boire un délicieux smoothie called “7 minutes in heaven”. Très approprié pour quelqu’un qui s’appelle Paradis, n’est-ce pas? Certainement assez de calories pour trois jours dans cette boisson but hey.

 

Après ça, nous avons fait le plein de nourriture à Whole Foods because we were heading to le milieu de nulle part and had no idea what kind of food we were about to encounter. And since nous sommes toutes les deux quite picky eaters, better be safe than sorry. Safe et un peu plus pauvre qu’avant car Whole Foods est très cher oh la la oops!

 

When preparing for this Road Trip, nous avions trouvé un super blog avec plein d’informations parfaites pour notre projet et nous avons suivi beaucoup des conseils de l’auteur. Nous voilà donc parties, direction Lancaster pour explorer Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. Paola & I both love to take photos so nous nous sommes bien amusées, qu’en dites-vous?

 

Followed by Red Rock Canyon State Park near Ridgecrest where our 2nd Airbnb awaited us :

 

Ensuite, Alabama Hills and Lone Pine Lake :

 

The matin suivant, nous nous sommes réveillées avant l’aube pour profiter du lever du soleil on a crazy, slightly ambitious, not to mention slightly dangereux hike, that was going to take us up 10,000 feet : une randonnée steep et audacieuse. We went from hot to snow in a couple of hours, une drôle d’impression! Nous étions déterminées à arriver tout en haut de la montagne, where the tiny little lake nous attendait, freezing its little lake butt’s off…

 

Un Road Trip serait-il un Road Trip sans un pneu dégonflé? Would a Road Trip even qualify as such without at least one flat tire? Dans notre malchance, nous fûmes extrêmement chanceuses the low pressure tire light came on while we could still do something about it!

 

Can you imagine if this had happened en plein milieu du désert? Ever wondered why it’s called “Death” Valley? Pas cool. Turns out there were two nails in that tire! Quand j’habitais à Seattle, that happened to me plusieurs fois et je n’ai jamais compris pourquoi… pourquoi y a-t-il des clous dans les rues américaines?! Si vous connaissez la réponse, feel free to enlighten me parce que vraiment c’est frustrant. We had also nicknamed our temporary car Achilles, only to come to the conclusion that perhaps ce nom nous avait porté la poisse… so we changed it to Ulysses! Vous comprenez? Moving on.

 

Lancaster, Ridgecrest, and Lone Pine are all on the way from LA to Death Valley… so… finalement… nous sommes arrivées dans le coeur du désert tant attendu, tant désiré, tant fantasmé…

 

Dans ma première phrase, j’ai décrit mon voyage avec le mot “extra-terrestre”. Et non I didn’t mean that I boarded Jeff’s rocket… je suis restée sur notre planète Terre, et pourtant souvent je me suis demandée si c’était bien vrai, si tout cela autour de moi était bien la réalité. Je pense que mes photos vont vous aider à comprendre what I mean, yet I also realize that, no matter how good they may be, je dois avouer que they don’t do “it” justice. Malheureusement (ou heureusement?) il est tout bonnement impossible de traduire this feeling d’immensité, d’infini, de vide, de silence. The human eye is just no longer used to seeing that far without any visual obstacles qui cassent le paysage. Et que dire du silence? I have never heard (ha ha) anything quite that overwhelming. C’est le désert. Il n’y a rien. Rien ni personne.

 

J’avoue que quand nous avons commencé de conduire à l’intérieur de Death Valley, je regardais sans cesse avec inquiétude the dashboard waiting for the moment this darn light might come back on. How can we know for sure the mechanic did a good enough job? Que se passerait-il si son travail ne tenait pas? Je me sentais vraiment angoissée. Puis nous nous sommes arrêtées à Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, et là j’ai oublié notre problème de pneu…

 

Après un coucher du soleil parfaitement spectaculaire, nous avons conduit jusqu’à notre quatrième Airbnb, which was… roulement de tambour… a trailer. Hilarious. I didn’t realize that. And the owners were… mmm… interesting! We actually stayed on the Nevada side of Death Valley. One morning, alors que Paola était encore au lit, la propriétaire et son frère sont venus frapper à notre porte car ils avaient un message très important pour nous… her brother had just dropped off his dog named Sammy, et apparemment il était vital de dire bonjour à Sammy officiellement otherwise he would simply bite us! Imagine that, you’re minding your own business in your rented facility when two very enthusiastic people accompanied by three very agitated dogs come and shout in your early morning face (they didn’t mean it badly that’s just how they talked) :

Woman : “Oh you’d better say hi to Sammy now otherwise he will bite you!”

Man : “Oooh he will bite you, he will!”

Moi : “Ok… thank you… hi Sammy…” cough cough je ferme la porte.

Plus tard, la pauvre Paola qui a peur des chiens a décidé de rejoindre la voiture with a frying pan in her hand, au cas où. Mais Sammy ne nous a pas mordues! Hallelujah!

 

Et maintenant, direction Natural Bridge Canyon :

 

Followed by Badwater Basin :

Below sea level oh la la nothing but a giant crusty layer of salt!

 

Zabriskie Point :

 

Artist Palette :

 

And last but not least, Dante’s View :

 

A tad windy. Nous voulions y voir le coucher du soleil et la voie lactée, the sunset and the milky way. Une expérience d’une rare intensité et d’une folle beauté. Pao et moi nous sommes séparées pour apprécier une solitude tranquille bien que sachant que l’autre n’était forcément pas loin. J’ai marché assez longtemps, sur une crête, de plus en plus étroite. Je me suis retrouvée 5500 feet high with nothing but emptiness all around me and underneath my feet, apart from the small rock I was barely standing on because the wind was so strong it was hard to remain debout. I can’t believe I even did that, it was so reckless. But I couldn’t help myself it felt beyond amazing. Je me suis sentie si vivante et puissante. J’aimerais pouvoir refaire exactement la même chose là tout de suite maintenant! Death Valley is so raw and vibrant and scary and stunning.

 

J’aurais dû avoir peur, I should have been scared. You suddenly find yourself in this bizarre dystopian end of the word setting avec rien ni personne around. And 0 internet connection so forget about the GPS! I worry about everything all the time. Mais ironiquement, apart from the introductory nerve-wracking post-tire episode, je n’ai jamais été inquiète. Je n’ai jamais eu peur. Même quand je prenais des risques en grimpant dans des endroits insensés. Pourquoi? Je crois parce que ce qui m’angoisse est toujours obligatoirement lié à la réalité. However there and then I was so completely disconnected from reality que plus rien ne comptait. Why worry about something unreal? Can something unreal harm me? La seule chose pour me rattacher à la réalité était la route. Une route goudronnée avec les traits de peinture habituels pour démarquer les deux voies accessibles aux voitures. Tout le reste était étranger. But not foreign from another country. Foreign from une autre planète. Une autre galaxie. Et bien j’ai découvert avec joie que dans une autre galaxie, mon angoisse disparaît!

 

And then there was Vegas, and as we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…

 

Voilà c’est tout pour aujourd’hui, je continuerai bientôt! J’espère que vous avez aimé l’histoire et les photos? Êtes-vous maintenant inspirés pour aller découvrir ces endroits incroyables? Ou peut-être les avez-vous déjà visités? Ou alors vous avez exploré des endroits similaires? Si oui, j’aimerais beaucoup que vous partagiez ça avec nous dans les commentaires!

 

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Learn French online with Virginie

Join French Truly’s online immersion course and 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!

 

French online immersion à Chartres

French online immersion course

Come to France again!

2022 April 04 – 10 : Sold out
2022 April 20 – 26 : Sold out

2022 August 1 – 7 : Beginner SIGN UP
2022 September 5 – 11 : Intermediate SIGN UP

If you’re unsure which level you are, contact me to schedule a free Skype call

 

Benefits

  • Improve your French conversational skills in a completely safe & friendly environment with me and my amazing French guests who I am selecting because they represent true Chartres landmarks : art historians, chefs, entrepreneurs, artisans, pâtissiers, etc. all passionate experts in their own fields.
  • Practice speaking & listening to French while learning about the French culture. This will ensure a rich discussion as well as expand your French vocabulary.
  • Learn French grammar & conjugation in a natural way thanks to a practical context.
  • Relax knowing that I’m here to manage our time together and make sure everyone gets a fair opportunity to participate.
  • Discover Chartres, my new gorgeous city, with me! I very recently moved to this little piece of heaven and I am beyond excited to explore and share all I can with you!
  • Bask in French traditions & history in medieval Chartres, an endless source of fascinating stories.So, if you’re feeling a strong “OUI” for this, just click on the appropriate sign up button right below!

French online book club

french book club

Currently in progress but new groups opening in January 2022.

 

Benefits

  • Improve your French comprehension skills in a completely safe & friendly environment avec moi.
  • Practice reading, speaking, and listening to French while bursting out laughing at every page. This will ensure a rich discussion as well as expand your French vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Learn French grammar & conjugation in a natural way thanks to a practical context.
  • Relax knowing that I’m here to manage our time together and make sure everyone gets a fair opportunity to participate.

 

French online course #1: 600 WORDS

learn french online

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 🙂

 

Online course # 2: PERFECT PRONUNCIATION

Learn French online

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 🙂

 

Online course # 3: FRENCH DICTÉES

French online course dictées

 

In the FRENCH DICTÉES online course you will find 20 videos + 10 audio files to help & accompany you every step of the way throughout the course. Why 20 videos? Because there are 10 dictées in total, each focusing on one particular topic, and for each dictée I have prepared 2 videos. Let’s say the video focuses on both French past tenses called imparfait & passé composé. The first video will go though the grammar, the conjugation, and all the tips on these two past tenses to help you understand and remember how and when to use them. The second video will be the actual dictée, a short story written by me, describing everyday life situations conveniently packed with imparfait and passé composé verbs! Boom! Efficient! The dictée will also be read by me, slowly first and then a little faster, with a close up on my face so you can more easily recognize the words and copy the shapes I make to improve your own pronunciation.

 

Become a French language expert

How do you become an expert at anything? By focusing on one thing at a time.

I’ve made sure to categorize and isolate either a verb tense, a verb group, a grammar or vocabulary topic per dictée, so you can effectively focus and interiorize concepts separately, which makes it a lot easier to remember them.

 

Here’s what you’re going to learn

What grammar & conjugation points will each dictée focus on?

Dictée # 1: Present tense

Dictée # 2: Past tenses – imparfait & passé composé

Dictée # 3: Future tenses – futur proche & futur simple

Dictée # 4: Conditional, imparfait, asking questions

Dictée # 5: Imperative form

Dictée # 6: First group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 7: Second group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 8: Third group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 9: Numbers

Dictée # 10: Prepositions

Each dictée is a short story written by me about practical everyday life situations. This means that not only do you get to work on conjugation & grammar drills, but you also improve your conversational skills at the same time: a magic combination for your next trip to France!

 

Grow your confidence talking about practical everyday topics

The dictées will refer to common topics that you are very likely to hear or very likely to use to express yourself such as:

-Traveling to France

-Socializing

-Childhood memories

-Family dynamics

-Everyday life routines

-How to express your ideas, opinions, and dreams

 

Two videos per dictée

First video: key grammar and conjugation reminders explained very clearly so you feel prepared and confident entering each dictée.

Second video: the actual dictée. I’ve made sure to categorize and isolate either a verb tense, a verb group, a grammar or vocabulary topic, so you can effectively focus and interiorize concepts separately, which makes it a lot easier to remember them.

 

And for you challenge lovers over-achievers?

Yes I have prepared something just for you! I have also made 10 audio files, 1 per dictée, so that if you wish to, if you want it extra difficult, if you want to test yourself more deeply, you can solely rely on sound. Indeed there are many occasions in life where we hear a language but we don’t see it: speaking to someone on the phone or listening to the radio for instance.

 

20 videos? 10 audio files? What else?

This new FRENCH DICTÉES online course also comes with written files with both the French text along with the English translation, so that you can evaluate yourself when you’re done taking notes.

To summarize, you’ll be able to use video, audio, and written material.

 

Dictées worked for me, they’ll work for you!

Let me tell you, I LOVE dictées because THEY WORK. And clearly you realize this too and that is smart of you. So now let’s see how something as simple as a dictée can truly help you become a little bit French! 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.

 

Become a monthly member!

Learn French Online

My goal is to transform your French language learning experience. This is why I’ve decided to offer you a new way to learn French online and gain access to the French Truly Online School! Actually, more than 1 new way, you’ll have 3 plans to choose from so come and learn French online with me!

 

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