I recently went to Paris for a couple of days, it was my first time there and I loved it. My friend and I booked last minute plane tickets and stayed in an air bnb studio.
We managed to accomplish quite a lot, here is a list of the fabulous things we saw and did:
- Went to Balzac’s house and saw how complicated the family trees in his books were
- Walked underneath the Eiffel tower and looked upwards
- Went to the famous Notre Dame de Paris and saw some of French mass, and blessed ourselves with Holy Water
- Walked around the Latin Quartier and through some beautiful jardins and posed in front of the Sorbonne
- Got the bus, and saw the Parisian school pick-up (all the kids do actually carry those huge but really cute French rucksack/wheeley schoolbags)
- Walked up the Champs Elysée and saw the Arch de Triomphe– we wanted to pretend that we were an army and go underneath and come out the other side singing La Marseilleise, but unfortunately the subway which would have allowed us to do this was closed.
- Went to the Musée d’Orsay and viewed some interesting statues, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and Monet’s water lillies
- Got the metro, where I promise I saw Parisians young and old carrying baguettes
- Went to Sacré Coeur, where we blessed ourselves with Holy Water again, lit a candle, saw some nuns singing and got an amazing view. We also got annoyed with some tourists (less sophisticated ones shall we say) but were calmer once we were inside the Church
- I bought French exercise books and wine, Anshel bought wine and cheese
- We met up with a friend of Anshel’s who will be studying the violin at a Parisian conservatoire and went for a ‘demi’ of beer (mine was un demi de Pitchfork) , then went for dinner where we shared a ’bouteille de vin rouge’ and ate snails (which mostly taste of delicious garlic butter)
- Went to the boulangerie a couple of times, where we realised that staying in to eat is much more expensive! However we had delicious café au laît and my baguette was great, so was Anshel’s croissant
- Got the train through ‘les banlieues’ on the way to the airport. We saw that unlike the centre of Paris the suburbs are a grim sight, a mass of ugly tower blocks
I must say that I absolutely loved Paris and that my first impressions have made me want to live there. I love the fact that it is still bustling but everything is closer together and a bit smaller than London. I also like the fact that being out is not that much of a big deal, lots of people of all ages seemed really happy to relax in bars drinking and chatting. The café culture is a plus in my book, call me boring but I don’t like jumping up and down to music I don’t like underneath headache inducing neon lights. Also I am sorry, but in Paris the majority of people are stylish and most people are not tacky. You find less people in unflattering outfits, in any case.
Ok, I know, I shouldn’t judge too quickly, I was only there for two days, but it seemed much more ‘Scarlettian’ than London.
“Podrán morir las personas pero jamás sus ideas”
Ernesto Che Guevara
People can die but never their ideas.
The quote comes from the novel La Peste by Albert Camus
Quand une guerre éclate, les gens disent: ,<< Ça ne durera pas , c’est trop bête.>> Et sans doute une guerre est certainement trop bête, mais cela ne l’empêche pas de durer.
When a war breaks out, the people say “It won’t last, it is too stupid”. And undoubtedly a war is too stupid, but this does not stop it from lasting.
(Warning: do not accept my translation as particularly useful or accurate, it is just a rough guide)
Language teachers repeat themselves a lot. Some of the things they advise, like: learn your vocabulary and do grammar exercises, can be dull. Others are incredibly simple and helpful, here are the 5 golden-rules that you ACTUALLY need to obey to cope with GCSE and A-level.
- NEVER, EVER, EVER use google translate. Language teachers repeat this, and students think, “yeah, whatever..” but seriously, google translate is wrong 99% of the time- and at A-level especially, you absolutely will not get through by exploiting this tool. In place of it use word reference.com, which is an online dictionary- and learn to write yourself (it is much more useful after all)
- ABSOLUTELY DO IMMERSE YOURSELF. Another thing that teachers say a lot is ‘read newspapers, listen to the radio and immerse yourself in the language”. At first this can seem unhelpful because you do not get immediate reward but it really is worth doing, and eventually pays dividends. It is also fascinating to see what the foreign press says about events that happen in your own country.
- FOR BEGINNERS AND REVISION Use sites like duolingo and babbel. It seems silly, but these websites use an interactive method that keeps you engaged. It won’t cut it for A-level students, but if you want to learn some basics or revise a specific grammar rule the technique can help.
- MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION Learning a foreign language WILL inevitably involve blood, sweat and tears. You will definitely feel like giving up at times and think “I am not even good at this anyway, this is so difficult!”, but plough through the pain. The rewards are amazing!
- CHECK using a PROPER DICTIONARY When you write in a foreign language it is very easy to make stupid mistakes, you will look at some mistakes and think “How on earth could I have been so dumb!”. This is precisely why you should check every piece of work you ever do with a proper dictionary. For GCSE students this is less important, but for A-level students have a big dictionary- it will widen your vocabulary and more importantly will have great verb tables!
So in short the 5 golden rules are: No google translate, immersion, interactive learning, motivation and checking
Hello!, ¡Hola!, Bonjour!
I am Scarlett, an eighteen year old who will soon be starting an undergraduate degree in French and Spanish at the University of Bristol. I have just finished studying A-levels in French, Spanish and Religious Studies at Camden School for Girls Sixth Form.
I will be blogging about all things cultural and linguistic.
- For tips on websites where you can learn more about French,Spanish and South American language, culture, history and current affairs read my blog (it will hopefully become more informed as you read through).
- For interesting discoveries and accounts of trips and events, read my blog.
- Or, just for some very simple language-learning tips, read my blog.
So, I have given you three reasons to read my blog (as an added extra you will get some funny rants and anecdotes, that is just me), my first post is complete!