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The Beginner’s Guide to Parisian Neighbourhoods

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Paris, like every city worth visiting, cannot be defined by any single neighbourhood. There are 20 different officially named neighbourhoods, or arrondissements, each with its own personality and flair. Here’s an introduction to some of Paris’s most notable arrondissements, which are sure to win a spot on your itinerary:

 

Avenue des Champs Élysées

Avenue des Champs Élysées / Josh Hallett via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

8th Arrondissement

This neighbourhood is one of Paris’s most famous, thanks to the presence of the Champs Élysées boulevard, which is 1.9 kilometers in length and is home to many well known shops, cafes, and theatres. Even if you’re not planning on splurging on a luxury purchase, walking along the boulevard and arriving at its end at the Arc de Triomphe makes for a lovely afternoon. Élysée Palace, the residence of the president, is also located here.

 

Montmartre

Montmartre / Cyberjunkie / CC BY-SA 3.0

18th Arrondissement

The artists mecca of Montmartre is located in the 18th arrondissement and has a dramatic history that involves some of Europe’s most celebrated painters, like Monet, van Gogh, and Picasso. Today, thousands of visitors come to tour the Basilica du Sacré-Cœur, which holds the title of highest point in the city and offers incredible views of the skyline. If you have free time on a Saturday morning, pay a visit to the so-called “African market” in Goutte d’Or.

 

6th Arrondissement

If you’re looking for the quintessential Parisian feeling, wandering down a crowded street, lunching in a chic cafe, making a seemingly unplanned stop at a small museum or gallery, and perhaps buying a few trinkets to take back home, come here. Known as the “St.-Germain neighbourhood,” there is no shortage of things to see and do. You’ll even find Paris’s oldest cafe here–Le Procope–though it hardly seems right to call this upscale restaurant a cafe. After enjoying the company of other walkers out on the streets, find a peaceful spot to rest your feet and admire the passersby at the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg.

 

Tuileries

Tuileries / Uploadalt / CC BY-SA 3.0

1st Arrondissement

Located on the Right Bank of the River Seine, the 1st Arrondissement is one of Paris’s oldest. Few tourists come to Paris without spending time in this neighbourhood as it is home to one of the city’s most famous attractions and the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre. While a daytime visit is essential to tour the museum, stick around as the sun goes down–the plaza around the glass pyramid is majestic at night time. The Jardin des Tuileries make a wonderful place to take a peaceful stroll as you admire statues and water fountains throughout the park. Even if just for a day trip, be sure to visit the two beautiful islands, Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis, which are connected to one another by a bridge.

It’s nearly impossible to be uninspired while exploring Paris! These are just a handful of the highlights that make this city a not-to-be-missed destination. For help with your French skills, we invite you to contact us at Easy French. Our qualified instructors will help you reach your language goals so your next holiday in France will be your best getaway yet.

Top Things to do in the Canal Saint-Martin Neighborhood

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood is one of Paris’s trendiest destinations. From strolling along the canal, to admiring centuries-old architecture, to enjoying a meal at a chic cafe, there are plenty of ways to spend a day–or several days–in one of France’s most visited arrondissements. Here are some ideas to inspire you as you plan–or just dream about–an upcoming holiday in Paris:

Enjoy some Fancy Drinks – Like other cities around the world, craft cocktails have officially made their way onto the menus of many upscale French eateries. While visiting Canal Saint-Martin, find a bistro with a cozy seating area and carefully select a cocktail or two that will excite the senses. Ask the server for recommendations based on your favorite drinks back home and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Buy an Unexpected–and Practical–Souvenir – No getaway is complete without finding a trinket to take home as a memento. And while many tourists are content with the standard t-shirt or coffee mug, do yourself a favor and find something a little more practical. Visit a few of the eclectic shops here to peruse the home goods. You may just find a set of measuring cups, a serving platter, or a candelabra that will fit in perfectly with your collection at home and will remind you of your Parisian holiday every time you use it.

Espresso Machine / jimmyweee via Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Espresso Machine / jimmyweee / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Eat your Fill of Viennoiserie – One could live on bread and pastries alone while on holiday in France. You will come across a variety of baked goods in the viennoiserie family–that’s sort of a puff pastry, if you will–to try during your travels, including croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche, pain aux raisins, and chausson aux pommes, among others. Good luck choosing just one when you stumble upon a charming Parisian bakery.

Splurge on a French-made Accessory – Investing in an overpriced shirt or handbag may be a bit of a stretch, especially when you consider the fact that it could be out of style in just a few months, or at best, a year or two from now. Smaller accessories, on the other hand, are often worth the splurge since you’ll wear them for ages. Check out the shops in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood to find a belt, necklace, or tie that catches your attention.

Drink some Coffee – You’ll have your choice of coffee shops from a growing number of options while wandering along the canal and through the surrounding streets. Naturally, these places serve up plenty of great food as well.

Canal Saint-Martin / Mbzt / CC BY-SA 3.0

Canal Saint-Martin / Mbzt / CC BY-SA 3.0

Take a Boat Ride - If you need to give your feet a break, there’s no better way than by hopping on a boat and gliding through the canal. You’ll get to watch the locks in action, go underground, and admire the energy of the area while comfortably seated.

Our teachers are ready to help you reach your goals when it comes to speaking French. We have a proven approach that will help you achieve fluency on your schedule and at your pace. Contact us to learn more about our French lessons for individuals and small groups.

4 Things You Should NOT Do During Your Parisian Holiday

Posted on April 12th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s easy to pour as many hours and days into planning your holiday to Paris as you’ll actually be spending there. From visiting the Eiffel Tower to walking along the Canal Saint-Martin to eating half your weight in fresh bread, the list of things you won’t want to miss doing is long. But before you pack your bags and go, spend a few minutes learning from those who have gone before. Start here with these 4 things you should not do during your time in Paris:

Eiffel Tower / Schlaier / GNU Free Documentation

Eiffel Tower / Schlaier / GNU Free Documentation

1) Plan on ascending the Eiffel Tower without pre-purchased tickets.

Without pre-purchased tickets, standing in queue to go up into the Eiffel Tower is a guaranteed way to waste several hours of your Parisian holiday, especially if you’re visiting during the busiest tourist periods. You can easily buy tickets online in advance, selecting a time and the level you’d like to reach. As an alternative, you can also walk up the stairs and skip the elevator altogether. You can’t buy those tickets in advance, but chances are that the queue will be significantly shorter since much fewer people have the energy or stamina to climb 704 steps.

2) Miss your chance to ride the Metro.

You may have considered hiring a car or depending on taxis when you travel, but you’ll be missing out on an integral part of Parisian life if you don’t learn to use the Metro instead. And that’s not to mention the fact that driving a car–not to mention finding and paying for parking–is a huge hassle here. It’s not hard to get started: Visit the information booth at just about any station, grab a map and a 10-ticket carnet, and you’re all set to go.

Galeries Lafayette / Wouter Hagens / Public Domain

Galeries Lafayette / Wouter Hagens / Public Domain

3) Do all of your shopping in the Grands Magasins.

A visit to one of these grandiose “big stores” more closely resembles a trip to a museum than to your local department stores back home. And while you most certainly won’t want to miss your chance to visit the Le Bon Marché or Galeries LaFayette, don’t plan on doing all your shopping there. Admire the architecture, peruse the goods, and perhaps buy a few mementos or high fashion items, but save the bulk of your shopping for the boutiques and quaint shops where you’ll get to mingle with shop owners and clerks and have a more personal experience.

4) Eat only at expensive restaurants.

Paris is home to hundreds of upscale dining establishments, and, naturally, you’ll want to try a few during your holiday. But if you have any kind of budget at all–and we all do–be cautious about how much spending you want to do at these places. It’s not hard to drop several hundred euros on a dinner. At the other end of the spectrum, it can be just as rewarding to grab a baguette and some fresh cheeses or spreads from one of the many local épiceries and enjoy a picnic at the feet of the Eiffel Tower or in another park space.

From navigating the metro to reading street signs, your French language skills will be put to the test time and time again during your holiday in Paris. Contact us to learn about private and small group lessons with our native-speaker French teachers. You’ll be glad you did!

Get Your Caffeine Fix at These Fabulous Parisian Cafes

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s not hard to find great food in Paris. If you’re planning a vacation there, you’ve probably already spent hours online, gawking at photos of elegantly served food and drooling over menus. But have you put any thought into where you can go for a great cup of coffee? If not, don’t fret–we’ve got you covered! From American-style corner coffee shops to upscale coffee-focused cafes, here’s a list of some of Paris’s best places to enjoy a superb espresso, café au lait, or café noisette.

Double Espresso [Photo Credit: Coffeegeek, PublicDomain]

Double Espresso / Coffeegeek / Public Domain

Coutume Café – If you enjoy the science behind creating the perfect cup of coffee, you will enjoy this relatively new coffee shop where patrons can choose from a variety of brewing methods. These guys have literally won awards at major brewing competitions, so you can bet they’re serious about doing things right. You’ll also find plenty of options for a sweet treat to accompany your coffee and can enjoy a full breakfast or tasty lunchtime sandwich here as well.

KBCafeshop – This casual coffee shop is the perfect place to opt for a sweetened coffee-infused drink, settle down into a corner, and watch or chat with the locals–all while putting your French language skills to use, of course. Things really pick up on Sundays here thanks to their decadent brunch platters that offer the perfect balance of salty and sweet.

Soul Kitchen – Friendly staff, inviting decor, and a unique, vegetarian-based menu set this cafe apart from others in the area. You can get a great cup of coffee here, but those looking for a cooler refreshment are sure to enjoy the fresh fruit juices. Kids will like the bright colors and casual atmosphere, while parents can rest easy knowing the whole family is eating a healthy meal.

Le Rocketship – You may come for the coffee, but chances are you’ll leave with a few additional purchases in hand as well. The cafe/boutique has all kinds of trinkets, mugs, and home decor, in addition to a full coffee menu.

American Corner – As you can almost decipher from the name, this is the place to go if you want an American staple–the bagel. But this isn’t any plain old bagel. Opt for any of the dozen or more bagel sandwiches on the menu to accompany your cup of joe and you won’t be disappointed.

Latte Art [Photo Credit: Takeaway, CC BY-SA 3.0]

Latte Art / Takeaway / CC BY-SA 3.0

Café Verlet – Step back in time by paying a visit to this historical cafe that dates back to 1880. While the seating area may be tiny, the exquisite coffee selection–to enjoy there or to take with you in bean form–more than makes up for a lack of space. A menu of cakes and pastries and a daily quiche-and-salad lunch offering make it hard to leave without trying something of a little more substance as well.

If you’re planning a vacation to France, now’s the time to brush up on your French skills. Contact us today to sign up for language lessons and you’ll learn how to order your café and pain au chocolat with confidence in no time at all!

Fantastic French Wineries That Offer Tastings and More

Posted on March 14th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Anyone who is a fan of wine will want to be sure to visit a winery or two while vacationing in France. Whether you’re staying in Paris, the rolling hills of Bordeaux, or the Loire Valley–or just about anywhere else in this bountiful country–you can rest assured there is some fantastic–and fantastically affordable–wine nearby. It’s quite easy to find a superb bottle of wine for $15 or less, which means you’ll be tempted to not only drink a glass or two with dinner each evening, but you’ll certainly want to buy a few of your favorites to make the journey back home with you, or perhaps a few cases to have shipped directly. Consider these 3 lovely wineries for a tasting and tour while vacationing in France:

Chàteau Moncontour

No reservations are required at this historical winery that overlooks the famous Loire River and surrounding hills. Make a day of exploring the area and stop in at your own leisure for a tasting with your travel companion. The chàteau boasts an onsite museum with more than 3,000 items on display, which you can visit free of charge. Get information on their hours of operation at their official website.

Lynch-Bages Label / Arnauddevial / CC BY-SA 3.0

Lynch-Bages Label / Arnauddevial / CC BY-SA 3.0

Chàteau Lynch-Bages

Plan your visit well in advance–reservations are required, choosing between the standard 1-hour visit with 2 wine tastings or the enhanced “Esprit de Lynch-Bages” visit that features 5 tastings. Those who are here between May and October are in for an extra treat–each year during this time a contemporary artist is invited to display his or her artwork in the vat-house. The collections share a common inspiration in that each artist draws up on his or her experience with wine when creating the works. Admission is free for winery guests; find the details on planning a visit at their website.

Chàteau du Taillan

The most devoted wine enthusiasts would be wise to plan their trip to France based on the various activities offered by this impressive winery. Workshops focus on specific areas of wine making, such as blending and harvesting. The gourmet visit, as listed on their website, pairs wine tasting with a cheese sampling and tour of the cellars, while another option provides guests with a picnic basket filled with a baguette, camembert, paté, and other delicacies to enjoy with a glass of wine in the garden.

Burgundy France Wine Region / Megan Mallen / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Burgundy France Wine Region / Megan Mallen / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

While Paris is the main attraction for many French visitors, don’t overlook the wonders of this country’s wine regions. Tastings seem to be increasingly popular, thanks to the demand presented by American travelers. And, lucky for you, a visit to these wineries, and so many more, doesn’t start and end with a tasting. Plan your visit accordingly and you may be able to tour the cellars or the vineyards themselves, take in an art show, or join a private tasting event.

For more tips on planning your wine tasting tour of France, check out this blog post that highlights 3 picturesque wine-producing regions. And if you need to learn how to say “Another glass, please!” or “I’ll take a case of the 2012 Merlot” in French, be sure to contact us at Easy French today. We would be honored to pair you with an expert instructor for private or small group lessons to teach you how to speak this beautiful language.

3 Parisian Spas that Will Relax Your Body–And Blow Your Mind

Posted on February 26th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Paris has a reputation of elegance, refinement, and extravagance. It should come as no surprise, then, that the French capital is full of incredible spas that take the idea of self pampering to a whole new level. Whether spa treatments are a part of your routine at home or not, you’ll most definitely want to splurge on a facial, massage, or body treatment while vacationing in Paris. And while you’ll find dozens of appealing options, these 3 spas are known as being the crème de la crème in an undeniably indulgent city.

 

Champs Elysees / Benh LIEU SONG /  CC BY-SA 3.0jpg

Champs Elysees / Benh LIEU SONG / CC BY-SA 3.0

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris

Located just off the Champs-Elysées, the Four Seasons Hotel George V is considered one of the city’s best hotels and, naturally, is home to one of its finest spas as well. Combat any fatigue you’re feeling after a day of traveling from the States with the Jet Lag Recovery Treatment, which includes body brushing, a purifying mask, and a facial. Drawing on the history of the region, the spa also offers “A Stroll Through Versailles,” a body scrub, massage, and facial package inspired by Marie Antoinette. Guests are encouraged to take advantage of the saunas, steam rooms, and lounge with complimentary refreshments.

Le Bristol / Grenouille vert / CC BY-SA 3.0

Le Bristol / Grenouille vert / CC BY-SA 3.0

Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie

The prestigious Le Bristol Hotel is home to a spa by the same name which features products from renowned anti-aging pioneer La Prairie. A Russian Room, Turkish bath, saunas, spas, and 8 treatment rooms are spread across 3 floors, giving guests an appreciated sense of privacy during their visit. With its onsite child care center, Spa Le Bristol is ideal for parents who could use a few hours of pampering on their own. Rooms feature private terraces where you can enjoy a glass of champagne or a light meal after your treatment.

The Peninsula Spa

Though everything they offer at The Peninsula Spa sounds tantalizing, their 4-hour combo packages are prime fodder for daydreaming between now and your Parisian vacation. The “Half-Day Spa Journey” starts with a salt and oil body scrub, which is followed by a deep muscle massage, foot massage, and facial. The “Heaven and Earth” offering includes a full-body exfoliating treatment, Balinese massage, eye treatment, foot massage, and more. You won’t want it to end–and with access to a sauna, ice fountain, spa shower, and more, there’s no reason it shouldn’t keep going for at least a few hours after your scheduled session.

Be sure to arrive early for your appointment in order to get the most out of your spa experience. In addition to out-of-this-world treatments, there are many extra perks to visiting these luxury spas. You may be invited to drink some tea or sparkling water in a relaxation room, engage in a private consultation with a skincare expert, detox your system in a sauna, or enjoy other onsite amenities. To prepare yourself for your Parisian holiday, take some time to brush up on your French skills. We invite you to make an enquiry to learn more about our online, private, and small group lessons.

10 Things to do in Paris–For Free!

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

You probably know Paris as the City of Lights, or perhaps as the City of Love. But, on a less official note, it’s also known as the City of Expensive Outings. Exclusive restaurants, attractions with high entrance fees, and world-class hotels can all put a serious strain on your budget, and some travelers skip the trip altogether because they think it would be too costly. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the city at little to no cost. Yes, you read that right–Paris is full of fun activities that will cost you next to nothing! Interested in getting the inside scoop on these Paris freebies? Oui, s’il vous plaît!

1) Jardin du Luxembourg

Beautiful flowers and trees are complemented by a large collection of statues and fountains at this centuries-old park. As you wander around, keep an eye open for the original model of the Statue of Liberty.

2) Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

It’s not uncommon to see hundreds of people lounging in the shady lawns or on the steps leading up to this picturesque church. And while you’ll have to pay to climb to the tower or visit the crypt, you can easily get some gorgeous pictures of the building itself from ground level.

3) Canal Saint-Martin

A stroll along this scenic canal will give you a chance to unwind after lots of sightseeing during your Parisian vacation. Watch the boats meander by, go window shopping, and enjoy the slower-paced rhythm along the water.

Montmartre [Photo Credit: Serge Melki, CC BY 2.0]

Montmartre [Photo Credit: Serge Melki, CC BY 2.0]

4) Montmartre

Known for its Bohemian feel, the highlight of any visit to Montmartre is the chance to view all the beautiful artwork set out. Paintings and drawings are displayed for sale and you can watch artists at work, sketching passers by and the scenery around them.

5) Parc de la Villette

While you can visit this park for free at any time, the best time to go is on movie night during the summer. The park is also home to an excellent science museum and an IMAX movie theater.

6) La Promenade Plantée

This attraction is an old railway line transformed into a pedestrian-only walkway around–and often above–the city. What a lovely idea! Strap on your walking shoes and embark on the 4.5km journey to see some less tourist-centric spots in the city and get a peek into the lives of the locals.

Rue Mouffetard [Photo Credit: Flickr User besopha, CC BY 2.0]

Rue Mouffetard [Photo Credit: Flickr User besopha, CC BY-SA 2.0]

7) Rue Mouffetard

In all fairness, you’re likely to spend some money while visiting this charming street lined with gourmet shops and bakeries. Go on a Saturday, when the street is transformed into a giant market, to stock up on fresh produce for the remainder of your trip.

8) Parc du Champ de Mars

It’s practically mandated that you check out the Eiffel Tower while vacationing in Paris, but a visit inside will cost you. Grabbing a spot on the well-manicured grounds at the base of the monument, however, won’t cost a thing. The tower is illuminated by 20,000 lights for 5-10 minutes of each hour, so be sure to time your visit accordingly.

9) Institut Curie

Not yet an expert on radioactivity or the discovery of radium and polonium? Learn about the incredible work done by esteemed physicist and chemist Marie Curie at this free museum. Not only will you learn about the work that led to the development of x-rays and earned this remarkable woman two Nobel Prizes, but you’ll also get to see her scientific instruments and other equipment in a recreated lab.

Albert Gleizes Painting "LesBaigneuses" 1912, [Public Domain]

Albert Gleizes Painting “Les Baigneuses” 1912, on display at Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris [Public Domain]

10) Musée d’art Moderne de La Ville de Paris

There is no entrance fee to visit the permanent collection at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, which is home to sculptures, oversized paintings, and dramatic architecture. The collection is divided into two sections–the history section and the contemporary section–which means there’s something for every type of art fan.

There’s one area of your budget that you will not want to forget when it comes to planning a trip to Paris, and that’s the language lessons you’ll need to take in advance. Don’t make the mistake of showing up without knowing a word of French. Contact us today and we’ll get you started right away.

 

7 World Heritage Sites that You Should Visit on Your Trip to France

Posted on January 26th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

To many, France is the land of chic cafes, world-class art, and an undeniable presence of love in the air. But what lots of people don’t realize is that it is full of World Heritage Sites as well. In fact, there are some 39 World Heritage Sites, and nearly the same number of properties that have been submitted to the tentative list. Of these, there are 35 cultural attractions, 3 natural attractions, and 1 mixed. You can’t go wrong with visiting any of these incredible destinations, but here are 7 of my top picks for France’s most impressive World Heritage Sites:

Lascaux Cave Painting [Photo Credit: HTO, Public Domain]

Lascaux Cave Painting [Photo Credit: HTO, Public Domain]

Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley - The valley is home to 25 caves and nearly 150 total sites that have been recorded for their archeological importance. The noteworthy Lascaux Cave has a brightly colored hunting mural that depicts over 100 animals in great detail.

Palace and Park of Versailles - Lavish gardens and water fountains are just two of the features at this grandiose property that was home to France’s royal families for many years. The Palace is open to visitors daily and hosts rotating exhibitions, like the current one titled, “The 18h Century, the Origins of Design.”

Lagoons of New Caledonia – The world’s third largest population of manatees resides in the waters off New Caledonia, along with turtles, whales, and other threatened marine species. The coral reefs and ecosystems here are considered some of the most extensive on the planet.

Amiens Cathedral [Photo Credit: Dag Nilsen, Creative Commons 3.0]

Amiens Cathedral [Photo Credit: Dag Nilsen, Creative Commons 3.0]

Amiens Cathedral - Dating back some 700+ years, the Amiens Cathedral has a distinguishable Gothic design that makes an immediate impact on visitors. The original building was destroyed by a fire in 1218, and a rivalry among neighboring cities led to the creation of this stunning cathedral in Picardy.

The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes – The river Loire is in itself a beautiful attraction, and it adds noticeable charm to the historical towns it runs along, like Chinon, Saumur, and Blois. The Château de Chambord may be the area’s most famous attraction.

Lyon [Photo Credit: Jack, Creative Commons 3.0]

Lyon [Photo Credit: Jack, Creative Commons 3.0]

Historic Site of Lyon - Since being founded in 1 B.C., Lyon has continued to be relevant in European affairs, which means the city is rich with architectural designs that reflect the changing trends of the last 2,000 years. It is a visual feast for anyone who enjoys architecture.

Gulf of Port: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve – This nature reserve is located on the island of Corsica, within the Regional Natural Park of Corsica. The scrubland vegetation and dramatic white- and red-colored rock cliffs are set against clear ocean waters that is home to abundant wildlife.

If you’re planning a trip to France, don’t forget to study the language before you go. It will help you immensely as you travel around the country, exploring its many centuries-old attractions like those listed here. Contact us to learn more about small group lessons, online courses, and even self study options. We look forward to hearing from you!

10 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About France and the French Language

Posted on January 12th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If someone were to ask you what you know about France, you might have no trouble listing off a slew of facts and data. Some would be based on its geography, others on its cuisine, others related to the country’s famous landmarks. But despite being the most visited country in the world, there are lots of lesser known facts related to its cultural attractions, customs, and language. Here are just 10 interesting facts you may not have known about France:

1) Five overseas departments and regions are part of France. These include French Guiana, located in South America; Guadeloupe, a cluster of Caribbean islands; Réunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean; Martinique, a Caribbean island; and Mayotte, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

2) Mainland France borders eight other European countries, including Spain, Monaco, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Andorra.

3) French people kiss each other on the cheeks up to 4 or 5 times as a greeting! This varies greatly depending on where you are in France.

Mona Lisa (Public Domain)

Mona Lisa (Public Domain)

4) The Louvre is home to one of the world’s most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa, and is the most visited art museum on the planet.

5)  France is home to 39 World Heritage Sites, including 3 that are natural attractions, 35 cultural attractions, and 1 mixed.

6) The French that is spoken in Quebec, Canada is a different dialect than that spoken in mainland French and can be confusing to French people.

7) France follows daylight savings time, just like the U.S. They shift the time one hour forward on the last Sunday in March each year and shift it back on the last Sunday in October.

8) Starting in the late 1800s, seaside destinations throughout France were renamed with romantic and exotic sounding names. Ruby Coast, Azure Coast, Opal Coast, and Emerald Coast are a few of these popular destinations.

9) France is home to Europe’s largest canyon, Verdon Gorge.

Réunion [Photo Credit: B.navez, GNU Free Documentation]

Réunion [Photo Credit: B.navez, GNU Free Documentation]

10) France has the record for most precipitation in a 24-hour period–but, not mainland France. The island of Réunion received over 73 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period in 1966 and holds this record.

And did you know that French is the second most studied language in the world? If you’re ready to join the estimated 400 million people who study or speak French as an adopted language, be sure to contact us!

 

3 Romantic French Destinations (Besides Paris!)

Posted on December 26th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

For many people around the world, there’s no greater city for romance than Paris. Spending your mornings in chic cafes and afternoons strolling through cobblestone streets, or perhaps visiting the Eiffel Tower and shopping at flagship stores of luxury brands. Whatever your definition of romance is, chances are quite good that you’ll find it while vacationing in Paris.

But the notion that you’ll only find romantic settings in Paris while vacationing in France couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, as you get a bit of distance between you and the hustle of the big city, you’ll find more opportunities to spend quality time with your partner. Here are a few top picks to consider if you want to get away from it all and rekindle the flame with the one you love:

Annecy [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Sergio]

Annecy [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Sergio]

Annecy

Located in eastern France, Annecy is a sizable city that’s just beyond popular destination Geneva. Thanks to the canals that run through the city, some refer to this place as “Little Venice.” Centuries-old buildings line the canals, with sweet terraces overlooking all that happens down below. The Palais de l’Isle is a famous castle that was built among the canals in the 1100s. It’s certainly worth a visit while taking a scenic boat ride through this charming city. Naturally, you’ll want to take a stroll over Pont des Amours, or “Lovers Bridge” while exploring the area.

Eguisheim [Photo Credit: GNU Free Documentation]

Eguisheim [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, Wikipedia user Mschlindwein]

Eguisheim

If you’re looking for a picturesque town that feels as if it belongs in a fairytale, be sure to pay a visit to Eguisheim. This colorful town has a unique circular layout that makes exploration by foot fun and unique. It’s part of the famous Alsace Wine Route, which means there is no shortage of wine bars and wine cellars to visit. A word to the wise–expand your tasting horizons beyond the wines you usually drink. Ask the sommelier what recommendations they have and don’t miss your chance to try some unique varietals here that you’re unlikely to find back home.

Rochefort-en-Terre [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, Selbymay]

Rochefort-en-Terre [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, Selbymay]

Rochefort-en-Terre

This quaint town is the perfect destination for those who like to wander and take in local life at a leisurely pace. Architecture aficionados will find plenty to admire with ages-old homes and shops lining the streets. Leave your worries and need for speed at home. In Roche-en-Terre you can spend your time browsing antiques, visiting farmers markets, and eating local fare that will warm the soul.

Truth be told, Annecy, Eguisheim, and Rochefort-en-Terre are just 3 of many smaller cities and towns where you can enjoy European charm in a less rushed or crowded setting than you may in Paris. If you’re planning a trip to France with your partner, be sure to do some research and find a special getaway for the two of you, in addition to visiting all the must-see attractions Paris is known for. And, of course, don’t forget to learn some French before you go so that you’ll be able to make the most of your visit. Contact us to inquire about learning opportunities near you and you’ll be speaking the language of love in no time!