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

A little help about books…


A follower asked me to recommend her some general French history books, that wouldn’t focus on a special period but would present a broad and general summary of French history. 

I’m unfortunately not familiar with these kind of books in English so I’d like to ask you for help: do you have any books to recommend ? 

Thank you :)

Black death in France


I was asked a post about the plague in France. I’m not a medievalist or a specialist about the epidemy, so if anyone has remarks or wants to add something, feel free to do so.

Bibliography :

The plague arrived in France in November 1347, in Marseilles. The Kingdom was already dealing with some hardships at that period: the harvests around 1310-15 were disastrous because of a large amount of rain, and since 1337, France was at war with England.

The epidemy spread following the rivers : between February and May 1348, Narbonne, Montpellier, and Carcassone were touched, Toulouse in April 1348, Agen a month later; between June and August, the plague reached Bordeaux, Lyon, and Paris, then Burgundy, Normandy… Close to France, some region were spared : Navarre, and some in the actual Belgium.

Touching indistictely children and adults, it is estimated that the epidemy caused the death of around half of the European population. But that number varies, depending of the regions. In Normandy, Dauphiné, or Provence, the estimation is around 60% of the population. In Burgundy, in the town of Givry, the priest noticed that instead of burying around 30 people per year as he was used to, he registered 649 deaths in 1348. In the parish of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, the biggest in Paris, 3116 deaths were registered between the 25th of April 1349 and the 20th of June 1350. The epidemy also touched any social class : for exemple Bonne de Luxembourg, wife of the future King Jean II le Bon died in 1349.

The epidemy came back later in the century (1360-62; 1366-69; 1374-75; 1400; 1407…)

Doctors were unable to find the cause of disease. Some blamed it on the corrumption of air, provoqued by a conjonction of the planets (according to the Paris Consilium, a comittee from the University of Paris, when asked by King Philippe VI). The will to find culprits aroused attacks against foreigners, clerics, or even beggars. The image of beggars changed : from the ones living as Jesus commanded, they became responsible from spreading the disease and were evicted. Jews suffered persecutions. I know Strasbourg wasn’t French at the period, but for exemple, around 900 Jews were burnt in the city on the 14th of February 1349. 40 Jews were burnt in Toulon in April 1348.

Technics to prevent the spread of the diseased appeared (quarantine, desinfection) but since rats were the vector of the plague, it wasn’t enough. Some people fled their home to avoid the epidemy; complete desertion of villages/towns occured for 2000 villages in France.

To protect themselves, people increased their devotion to protective figures of the Saints, such as Saint Sebastian, Saint Louis or, after the 15th century, Saint Roch, but also of the Virgin Mary. Prayers, processions, or supplications increased. In Rouen, gaming, alcohol, and swearing were forbidden. The fear of death increased, and this preoccupation was reflected through art. For exemple, the Danse Macabre embodies equality of men in front of death as well as the anxiety it caused. The relationship with death changes : before the Plague, the dead would be mourned by their family; now they could be buried in common graves without any one to accompagny them.

The epidemy transformed the society. The death of farmers enabled some lords to increase the size of their own lands. Livestock farming also increased. The population in towns didn’t lower as much as in the countryside as they welcomed refugees; and the death of workers increased the salary. The moving of population provoked a rise of violence and delinquency.

What is your favorite time period in French history?


The Age of Enlightenment (Siècle des Lumières), by far. I’m particularly fond of Diderot and his Encyclopédie. It was one of the most glorious periods in French History and it included many “topics” I love: feminism (there were many intellectual women “allowed” in the social and political life), philosophy and art. 

Hi! I'm planning to move to France in the fall for school (maybe somewhere in Lorraine or Normandie) and I was wondering if you know of any sites where I can find housing/apartments for rent? Thanks :)


you should post random french passages and read them out loud so i can learn french pronunciation better (unless some other blog/website does this already) :3


I’ll see… If it’s something important for a lot of followers, why not…

Je voudrais regarder des programme television francais. Quels sont les bons programmes?


Qu’est ce que tu appelles “bons” ? C’est très subjectif ! 
Personnellement, j’apprécie beaucoup “On est pas couchés”, “Des Racines et des Ailes”, “Enquête Exclusive”, “Complément d’Enquête”, “Faites Entrer l’Accusé”.  

Aimez-vous Le Fresh Prince de Bel-Air?


Oh oui, je regardais tout le temps quand j’étais petite !

Y a-t-il des acteurs ou actrices français(es) qui sont ouvertement gay et qui sont bien réçu(e)s par le public?


En France, on a une culture du secret assez présente. Ça n’a rien avoir avec un “Don’t ask, don’t tell” par contre !
Hétéro ou gay, les personnalités françaises préfèrent préserver leur intimité. On les voit beaucoup moins dans les tabloïds que leurs homologues anglo-saxons, que ce soit à propos de leurs problèmes (alcool, drogues…) ou de leur vie privée (mariage, enfants…) On est vraiment adeptes du secret de Polichinelle, tout le monde sait mais personne n’en parle ouvertement. 

Au niveau des personnalités gays, du coup nous en avons très peu -voir pas- qui le clament haut et fort.
Les seuls acteurs auxquels je pense sont Muriel Robin et Pierre Palmade, deux humoristes/acteurs qui ont laissé plané le doute très longtemps avant de confirmer. Nous avons quelques présentateurs et autres petites personnalités mais pas de grands acteurs, et encore moins faisant partis de la jeune génération. 

Have you ever read the book " Dirty French" It's a book with slang,curse words, daily expressions, etc. It's a great book because in school they teach us such generic French and it's too proper thats why i cant understand shows because they dont use the very proper french that we learn in school. I bought it, and it really helps a lot!!!. I learned many many things like " Ho, tu te ramenes avec ton gros cul!' haaha. Do you find this to be a helpful book, google it!


Hahaha! Slang is always useful to know… One of my best English teachers was Urban Dictionary xD 

Que pensez-vous de Marc Levy?


Pourquoi pas pour de la lecture estivale. Ça peut être un bon auteur pour ceux qui apprennent à parler Français, ce sont des histoires d’amour relativement basiques qui sont faciles à lire et suffisamment prenante pour les terminer rapidement. 
Par contre, je ne recommanderais pas du tout Marc Levy aux aficionados de littérature. Pour moi, c’est simplement de la lecture, ça n’a pas de valeur “artistique”, mais ce n’est que mon avis…

Vous aimez de One Direction?


*Vous aimez One Direction?

Je ne sais pas, je n’ai jamais écouté aucune de leurs chansons…

Helloooo ! I have a question. In French (yes I'm French but I like to speak English) when we say "une personne", it's always feminine. But is that the same in English or it depends according to the gender ? For example, "a person told me that I was too old to be here, ??? asked me to go away". Is "he" or "she" instead of the ??? ?


For questions about English, check Awesome Anglais ;)

I see your point about Marion Cotillard. :) I approve of broadening the pool of French actresses to crush on!


Tonight’s French actress to crush on : Laura Smet. 


Léa Seydoux comme actrice française est chouette. Y'a bien eu Midnight in Paris comme film transatlantique. Après c'est personnel mais ses performances dans Les Adieux à la Reine ou La Belle Personne étaient impressionnantes. Et j'ai envie de croire qu'elle mérite sa place aux côtés de Cotillard =)


Je suis tout à fait d’accord ! C’était bien la seule actrice “valable” dans “Les Adieux à la Reine” ! (Quel navet…) Je pense aussi qu’elle est une des plus belles étoiles montantes du cinéma à l’heure actuelle. 
Personnellement, j’ai un gros coup de coeur pour Mélanie Laurent.  

Can I just say that I've been looking forward to seeing Marion Cotillard on this blog? Finally! Haha <3


But you know, I’m anti-cliché. If I keep posting Marion Cotillard, Audrey Tautou and Edith Piaf as if it was all we had here in France, that wouldn’t be realistic at all ;) Here, she’s an actress as any other and even, we don’t see her that much nowadays.