zeldathemes
Real insight on French culture from a French native point of view.
Mostly run by Em, 26, living in Paris.
Welcome to AwesomeFrench !
Liberté, Egalité, Croque au Comté

Allez viens boire un p’tit coup chez oncle Picsou, y’aura du blanc, du rouge et du saucisson…

Presidents of the French Fifth Republic in their office, the Salon Doré, at the Elysée Palace. 

  1. Charles de Gaulle 
  2. Georges Pompidou 
  3. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
  4. François Mitterrand
  5. Jacques Chirac
  6. Nicolas Sarkozy
  7. François Hollande
Le Pont des Arts, Paris, 1910. 
Without locks !

Le Pont des Arts, Paris, 1910. 

Without locks !

"Café Français" 
Em Clouzet // Do not remove credit. 

"Café Français" 

Em Clouzet // Do not remove credit. 

Titre aguicheur (que j’ai changé sur ce lien), mais de réelles bonnes informations sur qui a voté quoi, qui n’a pas voté, pour arrêter les fantasmes. 

Hello, I was wondering : is french culture just Parisian culture? That spread and imposed its culture to other regions of France? When has that happened? I'm really interested in that but can't find any pleasing answers on the internet. Maybe you have some links (even in french)?

Anonymous

Gosh, Parisian culture is actually non-existant. Media sell you a fantasy that makes the tourists wet their panties. People created this dream to make people come here and spend a lot of money like you’d go to Disneyland. We have pretty frontages for the tourists, and then there’s the real world that is meant to be kept away from the tourists. 

What is Parisian culture… Cafés and museums? When you get there, you’ll see that both are 80% filled with tourists. We have history, that’s true, we have architecture, but you won’t find this romantic and artistic ideal that is known to be “Parisian” anywhere. I honestly can’t define what a Parisian culture would be. For a culture to happen, you need traditions, in terms of languages, of customs, of gastronomy even. Paris is (to me) the place in France which has the less lively “culture.” History yes, culture, no. 

Truth is that the real French culture doesn’t interest anyone but the real French people. When you look closely, our cultures (plural because we have so many) are everything but “Parisian”. Where I come from, we eat tapas, we have fun at férias and we drink “Moscatell” (and not “Muscat” which is the real French word). There’s nothing “romantic” at selling the image of a French culture that is so Spanish-like. If you go to the west, you have all the celtic culture, the “breizh” culture (“Brittany” in Breton). If you travel east, you have all this rich german-north-influenced culture. French culture is also overseas, with l’outre-mer, with the Créole languages, and much more. This is the French culture. It’s the culture that is lively today as we speak. Every région has its traditions, its slang, its gastronomy, its customs… that all are perpetuated by younger populations. 

To give you few examples…. About the favorite French dessert/candy, if you ask the tourists, they’ll say the macarons of course! If you ask the French, it’s the caramel au beurre salé that comes from Brittany that is our very number one. If you ask tourists what they want to eat, they’d say “La blanquette de veau obviously, it’s French! Parisian!”. Our favorite dish is actually the magret de canard, which comes from the South. If you ask the tourists about singers, “Edith Piaf obviously!”. If you ask the French, they’d ay Goldman, Renaud, Barbara, Aznavour, Cabrel, Farmer, Bruel… Anything but Edith Piaf. Why is she so famous worldwide, because she did the nasty at Carnegie Hall and the Americans decided that she was the incarnation of France. These are very simple examples of what people try to sell you and what we, French people, truly like and perpetuate.

If you want to know more about French culture, you have to take a big plunge on Wikipedia and let yourself drift in French history. I’d doubt you’d find any general content about “French culture”. It’s so different, with so many aspects, with so many influences… It’s hard for me to summarize it with a few links. Just start by checking each région’s wikipedia maybe? And get books about the ones you’re interested in? 

Do you ever think that French people are a bit harsh on tourists coming to France and trying to speak French? I know obviously this is a generalisation but whenever I'm tried to converse in French they'll just look amused and reply in English.. okay I mean maybe I'm just bad at French (likely) but this happens to a lot of English people I know! How are we supposed to learn?

Anonymous

Few facts : 

  • Inhabitants in Paris : 2 millions
  • Tourists in Paris : 27 millions/year
  • Tourists in Ile-de-France (the group of départments Paris is the capital of) : 44 millions/year. 
  • Paris is about the size of Manhattan. 
  • NYC is about twice bigger than the whole Ile-de-France
  • Tourists in USA : 47 millions/year. 

Now imagine : Tourism in Ile-de-France is as if all the tourists of the entire United States met up in half of NYC. All of them. All of time. In only half of the city.

How does it affect Parisians’ everyday life : you’re slowed down by tourists and stopped by them to get directions constantly. And since they are a lot, there’s a sort of competition between them about who will stop a Parisian first to get their question answered. They don’t care if you’re in a rush or if you’re having your music on. They physically stop you by stepping in front of you to make sure you won’t escape. Tourists are also selective, they tend to stop people who are alone, thinking they’re more available than groups. But that’s just plainly wrong. People alone are people going somewhere, to their job, school, appointement… Parisians are rarely the kind to stroll for the pleasure of walking. So when I’m being stopped, that means I’m taking time on my already short schedule to help you out. If I see you butcher French and that it’d probably take a few times for you to understand what I have to say, I go straight to English because I know that if I tell you the info you need in English, you’ll understand it right away, in less than two seconds. I can afford 2 seconds when I’m on my way to work, I can’t afford spending 10 minutes on trying to understand you and explain you how to say it better. It’s cute, I wish I could teach you something, but I simply  can’t. I don’t have time.

Also, tourists are insanely rude. Not only they stop you at all costs, but they also interrupt. I run a gallery in a touristy place. Everyday, I have tourists coming in my gallery only to get directions. When I’m alone, it’s fine. But when I’m with a customer that I’m trying to convince to spend a lot of money on a painting, the LAST thing I need is a rude tourist interrupting me, physically coming at me with all kinds of “excuse-me, help me” and completely ruining all my work on the customer. Because this is exactly what tourists do most of the time, they require your attention, they don’t ask for it, they simply require it. 
I understand that when you’re in a country you don’t know and you’re lost, you need help. So I answer the best I can to help you, but I also answer the fastest possible so I can go back to my agenda the soonest possible. When tourists say Parisians are rude for not being all ears all the time, they’re actually impervious to the effects of tourism on our life, they don’t care and they consider that we should be personal guides or personalFrench teachers. Maybe you think I’m rude for saying this like this, but from my point of view of a Parisian being constantly bothered, I think tourists should be satisfied that we even take time to answer them.

If you want to practise French, go to place where French people take time to communicate, like bars and cafés. This is where they are available and have time for you. Stopping them in the streets for something else than directions is just plainly disrespectful. It’s as if I was jumping down your throat asking “Can you help me, what is this SuperBowl thing?” You’ll think I’m completely crazy and you’ll walk away. Well here, it’s that, 256245636 times a day. 

so you once wrote that in France, it's normal for women to have an active sex life. Does that mean that there's less "slut shaming"? I'm just curious to know the difference between French and American culture in this aspect (:

Anonymous

I don’t think there’s less slut shaming since the assholes are the ones slut-shaming and we have pretty much the same amount of them. So no matter what women do or think, there will always be the same amount of assholes treating them like shit.

However, I feel like French society system puts less pressure on the women’s shoulders to be the “perfect wife” incarnation. In the US (from what I understand with my European point of view…), it seems like women are raised to be perfectly virgin, then perfectly devoted to a man, then perfectly trained to harrass their kids with unecessary and exhausting activities in order to fit this idea of family perfection. When they take another path, they’re outcasts.

Here, there’s no perfect family. There’s no perfect wife. We know that everyone has their own right fit, that every kid is different and that we all have our own special needs. We don’t try to dictate a way to act or a way to live. And most importantly, we don’t care at all about what people do with their lives. If a woman likes to go out every night and fuck with different men, it’s fine. The only “thing” we ask women to do is be themselves. In a way, we kinda live like in a real life “Sex and the city” show, minus the fact that we don’t feel outstanding or amazingly revolutionary for having sex. It’s part of life, like eating and breathing : people have needs, sex is one of them, period. 

American conception of sexuality is very aggressive to me. American’s obsession of perfection even dictates how you should have sex. The positions, the people you’re having sex with, even what kind of pleasure you should get. When I read or see on tumblr what Americans “like” about sex, I’m seriously concerned. I don’t do this often because I think it’s sort of bad to say one country gets it better than another because cultural differences are meant to be respected, but on this one, I truly think France does it better at educating people about sex. And when I say educating, I don’t mean Sex Ed (even though I also think we do it better..), I mean the pleasure of sex, the pleasure of feeling good with your body. When I see people’s fantansies, honestly, I think they don’t know a thing about pleasure and that their sexual life is boring as fuck… 

I’m gonna give you a very simple example. When I was 16, I went on a school trip, two weeks in Italy. When I opened my luggage at the hotel the first night, I found out a pack of condoms in my bag. I didn’t have any crush and I was miles away from having sex, but my parents have been young too in a past life and they knew what could happen when there’s only four teachers to watch 45 kids locked in hotel rooms. So instead of confronting me and saying I shouldn’t have sex because I’m too young, my parents thought that if I wanted to have sex, I’d have sex anyway with or without their consent, because this is how it works. And if I happened to want to have sex during this school trip, I needed condoms. What’s the message : do what you like, you don’t have to talk about it, just be responsible. Honestly, I was so embarassed to pull that condoms pack out of my suitcase in front of my friends, but I was also very glad to see that my parents were totally down with me “having fun”. 
And this example goes along many others, like the fact you can get condoms from your school nurse or automatic machines at every street corner. People distribute them in parties, also regardless of your gender because we feel being responsible is a shared task between men and women. There’s no shame for women to have condoms. It’s basic here, but when I read what some people say here, I’m really starting to worry this might not be “basic” to everyone…

Hey, ive been reffered to your blog by french-problems, Do you mind giving a break down of each arrondisement of Paris, be brutally honest! :)

Anonymous

Not sure if that’s what you expect but well : 

  1.  Museums and Asian tourists
  2. Cheap clothes and youth
  3. Contemporary art and design, gay-gay-gay-giddy-gays but only male and rich
  4. idyllic architecture, hotels particuliers, treasures at every corner
  5. Jardin des Plantes, Politics wanabees, strollers, TONS of strollers
  6. American tourists, Saint-Germain, rich people that like to think they’re hipsters 
  7. Catholic minefield, illegal street-sellers, Eiffel Tower
  8. Catholic Extremists, Offices, lively during the week, dead on saturdays & sundays
  9. Ancient art, second-hand artefacts, ramen, japonese and korean 
  10. La Bohème, small bars, cute nights on the Canal Saint-Martin, Little India
  11. Binge drinking. A LOT. 
  12. Lesboland, huge concerts at Bercy, fun to stroll around
  13. Residential, nuns, cute parks, Chinatown
  14. EXTREMELY residential, travellers shifting
  15. Nonexistant
  16. Sarkoland (rich and right wing people), housebreaking, 6€ for a fucking can of Coca Cola
  17. Pretty and representative
  18. Tourists, stree-sellers, a bit of romanticism
  19. The worst, like, I don’t even know where to begin
  20. Ultimate fav’ place in Paris aka Père Lachaise Cemetary, underground places, artistic, popular
Do you know anything about the city of Grenoble? I might spend my summer there working as an au pair for a family and don't know anything about it. I don't know if it's lively, if there's nightlife, etc. etc.

Anonymous

Anyone?

Anon said :To the anon going to Grenoble : I live close from there and I’ve been there quite a lot. It’s a very young town, there are many students so yes it lives at night and there are many cool places to hang out. It’s definitely not the prettiest city in the world and it’s either super cold in winter or super hot in summer bc there’s no air 8D I wouldn’t recommend anyone to go there but quite frankly, it is not that bad.

Robedepourpre said : I’ve lived in Grenoble for three years, being a student there. The center of the city (around the train station and place grenette) is pretty nice and lively, quite a lot of bars and restaurants to go to. There’s a big park in the center of the town that is quite nice too, and you can go to the Bastille (the ruins of a castle above the town) : the walk is nice, the view up there too. 

However, I don’t know quite well the rest of the city so it depends where you’ll live exactly. Also, most of the nighttime life is due to the many students living in Grenoble, and they’re not usually around in the summer. I suppose it must be less fun during those months.
Anyway you can ask me anything and I’ll try to answer the best way I can.

Bien que je sois d’accord avec le fait que les logements vides ne devraient pas l’être -c’est moralement indécent qu’ils soient vides compte tenu du contexte actuel-, je me pose quand même la question de la logistique du truc…

Comment convaincre un particulier ou investisseur qui brade déjà son bien cause crise, d’accepter qu’il soit réquisitionné à titre quasi-gracieux pour du logement social ? Car :
1- aucun gouvernement n’a les moyens de racheter comptant tous les logements vacants,
2- aucun proprio n’acceptera de “prêter” son bien, même momentanément, même si remboursement des charges par l’état, car un logement loué est par définition hors-marché,
3- même si on considère les occupants comme des locataires “fantômes”, donc biens récupérables par le proprio sans préavis, comment justifier l’expulsion des locataires/comment les reloger? Est-ce que c’est légalement - et moralement- acceptable de créer un circuit fermé de relogement où ces locataires-fantômes seront expulsables hic et nunc ?
4- qui paye pour les dégradations? Déjà que ça vend mal, le bien doit être remis à l’état neuf pour avoir la moindre petite chance d’être vendu, or un logement utilisé est usé de fait et on sait tous que l’état ne paiera pas pour refaire les peintures. Donc à la charge du SDF sans ressource de les refaire ?(!!!)
C’est quand même un sacré casse-tête..

hey i was wondering if you knew anything about gender neutrality in french? i'm in ap french at my school so we do a lot of talking, but i'm genderqueer and binary pronouns trigger my dysphoria. do you guys know any way around that, or should i resign myself to starting each day with an hour of major dysphoria?

Anonymous

Someone told me that Belgian LBGTQ associations use “iel” as a gender neutral pronoun, which I think is indeed a great “compromise” of both gendered pronouns and simple to understand. However, it is definitely not mainstream in France so you’ll probably have to explain. I personally wasn’t aware of it until a few days ago, even though I pretty much read every French content I could on the subject. Also, second problem with adjectives, is that they are gendered by nature (masculine by default if not specifically made feminine). The most common way to do, since you can’t have neutrality in grammar, is to actually mention both separated with dots so everyone’s represented. That works this way : 

Il est joli. 
Elle est jolie. 
Iel est joli.e. 

Ils sont jolis. 
Elles sont jolies. 
Iels sont joli.e.s. 

Even if it is quite simple for adjectives which are pronounced the same regardless of their ending (Joli.e.s will always be pronounced “jo - lee” no matter how many e and s you all), it gets more complicated with adjectives which endings change with gender. Example: 

Il est mignon. 
Elle est mignonne. 
Iel est mignon.ne. 

For this example, the “neutral” pronunciation will still sound like the feminine form. It’s sort of fixed when written, but it still is an issue for speech. And for that, I have no solution to provide :(

A gender neutral pronoun is a great first step, but if we truly want a gender neutral way to speak, that respect people as human beings, technically, we have to invent a complete new set of pronouns, adjectives, agreements… We still could, but as we mostly refer to objects in a gendered way, a non-gendered way would feel (at least to me) as if “neutral” human beings’ existence mattered less than objects’. For example, we have the neutral pronoun “ça” that we could still use, however put in context, it sounds like this : 

C’est qui, lui ?  > Who is he?  
C’est qui, elle ? > Who is she ?
C’est qui, ça ? > Who/What is that ? > offensive. 

In this case, we’d need a completely new pronoun, as “luel” maybe, to replace “ça”. But that just an example to see how delicate it is and why it is so complicated for a gender neutral way to speak to truly break through here. Hope it helps anyway. 

The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.
The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( “To the great men, the grateful homeland”). By burying its great men in the Panthéon, the Nation acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for “National Heroes”. Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.
Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. Marie Curie is the only woman interred based on her own merits.

The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.

The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( “To the great men, the grateful homeland”). By burying its great men in the Panthéon, the Nation acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for “National Heroes”. Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.

Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. Marie Curie is the only woman interred based on her own merits.

En faire des tonnes

"To make 3 tonnes of it."
To exaggerate, to obviously make a big fuss 

"Il en fait toujours des tonnes avec elle car il veut la séduire." 
He always exaggerates when she’s around because he wants to seduce her.

Also possible : En faire des caisses, en faire trois tonnes.