Easter Round-Up: Easter-themed language practice

Happy Easter and Joyeuse Pâques, mes amis! 

pastel easter eggs

I hope you are all having a lovely day with people you care about. I wish you the same even if you don’t celebrate Easter at all. We, of course, didn’t get to spend time with our families, but we did get to Skype them. Aside from Skyping, nous nous sommes promenés (we went for a walk) in the neighborhood of Westmount.

I have also been cooking. After preparing my liste d’épicerie (grocery list) yesterday morning, j’ai fait les provisions (I went grocery shopping) along with every other person in notre quartier(our neighborhood). For Easter breakfast, we had a broccoli and gruyere quiche with an apple crisp for dessert. (Breakfast has a dessert on Easter Sunday). For supper, we will be having saumon et asperges (salmon and asparagus). Photos will surely be on the Instagram feed on the right of the webpage.

Broccoli and Gruyere Quiche

This post will be my last on the theme of Easter, but before going, I thought I would share a few more interesting French and English articles are videos to help you get used to some of that Easter/Pâques vocabulary we learned on Monday.

First, for the French learners and French speakers. 

Le brunch de Pâques found in Montreal’s La Presse. The article links to good brunch recipes, but also tells about the origins of the chasse aux oeufs.

And a video showing us how hollow chocolate Easter eggs are made. This video will be interesting to watch even if you’re not interested in learning/listening to the French.

And now for the English learners and speakers.

I enjoyed looking through the Guardian’s Easter in Pictures album. All photos have brief captions in English.

The video is a clip from a popular morning news show in the U.S., which features peeps, marshmallow and sugar creations which are extremely popular. Sadly, (or maybe not-so-sadly), this was my first Easter without any peeps! Enjoy the video.

See you tomorrow with a new, non-Easter-themed post!

Easter in the News

pastel easter eggs, easter in the news

I use various methods of adding to my French vocabulary or reinforcing the words that I already know. One of these ways is reading newspaper (okay, usually online) articles, blog posts, and online forums. I decided to stick with the Pâques/Easter theme when choosing my articles this week. I found a short and interesting event to share with you. Since I’m already doing the work of looking up new vocabulary words when reading articles, I thought it might be handy to point out useful French expressions fellow French learners.

pastel easter eggs

 The article was found in Paris’ LeMonde newspaper, and is a quite light-heartedGo have a read about La Grande Chasse aux Oeufs Colette. Colette is the name of a Parisian boutique hosting the event. You’ll remember from yesterday’s post that that means a large Easter egg hunt. The post reads:

Surprise ! Rendez-vous le mercredi 27 mars à partir de 15h dans un lieu encore tenu secret (restez aux alentours de colette), pour une grande chasse aux œufs avec Colette et À La Mère de Famille! Le lieu sera dévoilé mercredi à 14h sur les réseaux sociaux de Colette. Tenez vous prêts et venez remplir vos paniers avant pâques! Suivez les indices et consignes sur le facebook colette paris, Instagram et Twitter coletteparis #chasseauxoeufscolette.

My humble translation is as follows:

Suprise! Rendez-vous on Wednesday, March 27th, starting from 3 PM in a placed still undisclosed location (stay around Colette) for a big egg hunt with Colette and À La Mère de Famille! The location will be revealed Wednesday at 2 PM on the Colette’s social networking ages. Get ready and come fill your baskets before Easter! Follow the clues and instructions on the Colette Paris Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

New vocabulary expressions:

  • Tenez vous prêts: Get ready! (imperative form of tenir)
  • tenu secret: held secret (in this case, we are describing a place, so it is more likely to be described as an undisclosed location) 

Joyeuses Pâques and Happy Easter

joyeuses paques, happy easter, bunny ears

Good morning all!  Yesterday, as you may know, was Palm Sunday. Many people could be seen walking through the streets with palm branches in hand. Easter lilies are filling the entryways of every pharmacy. Chocolate bunnies are taking the place of candy bars near grocery store exits. Though many Quebecois are not practicing, Catholic holidays are still very culturally important here. I will certainly be discussing the holiday at least once in the next week, because I cannot resist asking my conversation partners what their holiday traditions are. Often, with these cultural exchanges, we end up recalling the origin of these traditions.  And so, although it is not vendredi, I am making myself a themed vocab list to prepare. Francophones and Anglophones, join me in studying. As always, not everything is a direct translation.

  • la Pâque*: Easter
  • semaine sainte: Holy Week
  • le dimanche des Rameaux: Palm Sunday
  • le rameau de palmier: palm branch
  • l’âne: the donkey
  • le jeudi saint (le jeudi précédant Pâques): Maudy Thursday (Thursday before Easter)
  • la Cène (le dernier repas de Jésus-Christ): The Last Supper (Jesus’ last meal)
  • trahir: to betray
  • le vendredi saint (le vendredi précédent Pâques): Good Friday (Friday before Easter)
  • la crucifixion: the crucifixion
  • la croix: the cross
  • la résurrection: the resurrection
  • la messe de Pâques: Easter Mass/Service
  • l’angeau pascal: the Easter lamb
  • le printemps: Spring
  • les oeufs de Pâques: Easter eggs
  • décorer: to decorate
  • teindre: to dye/color
  • lapin de Pâques: Easter Bunny
  • le panier de Pâques: the Easter basket
  • cacher: to hide
  • la chasse aux oeufs de Pâques: Easter egg hunt

*La Pâques is also the word for the Jewish holiday of Passover. In French, if you need to make the distinction between Passover and Easter, you would say la Pâque juive and la Pâque chrétienne.

Francophones, I welcome any corrections/additions to the list. Now…

….je vais décorer des oeufs et planifier mon menu de Pâques. Je serai de retour demain.



Threats to Your Safety in Montreal

yellow danger tape

I feel as though all of the city looks like a crime scene. A crime scene covered in slush. Though Montreal is generally one of the safest large cities on the globe, there are specific threats to your safety that you have to consider if you are going to live here. Especially if you’re planning to go/live/walk downtown, in the alleys between the [mini] sky-scrapers. Especially in the winter.

Snow and ice melts.

chute de glace falling ice sign

No kidding, these signs are all around the centre-ville, and many buildings are wrapped in yellow caution/attention tape so that people do not stand underneath melting icicles.

Why should you opt for “Danger” tape instead of “Caution” tape in Montreal? No need for a translation. Danger=danger.

Would You Rather….?

….be blind as a bat or être aveugle comme une taupe?

blind as a bat, aveugle comme une taupe

Okay, I know the English speakers out there are probably thinking that a taupe is some sort of anthropomorphized dog. Nope, a mole. I tried, okay?

In English you might be blind as a bat, but in French you are blind as a mole. Eat those carrots and wear those sunglasses. Well, there’s really no need for sunglasses in Montreal today…we’ve been gifted with another blanket of snow…J’ai hâte de printemps!




I’ll definitely keep your secret for a jug of good French wine: Pot-de-vin and other Fun French Compound Words

The five-month winterWhile I am [almost] completely over our five-to-six-month winter, language is absolutely amusing me lately (while of course challenging me as well). I very well know that I should still be spending some time on learning some more basic vocabulary, but I cannot resist the rabbit holes of language expressions and compound words. These are where it’s at. If you have been with me since the Knoxville and Pearl Project blog days, then you absolutely know I love word games and puns. (I love them to they extent that I’ve shared the 7-8-9 joke in one of my classes). Sometimes, I can control myself, keep my pun silent, and je ris dans ma barbe ou sous cape.

Today, I bring you some of my favorite compound words in French. Some make sense.

  • tourne=turn, sol=sun; tournesol=sunflower

Some are less straight-forward. For example, let’s assume you know the word pot (jar/jug) and the word vin (wine). So logically, a pot-de-vin would be a jug of wine, right? Silly you, of course not.  A pot-de-vin is a bribe. I’m assuming people were being bribed with wine in the early days of French language?

Others I love:

  • montagnes=mountains, russe(s)=Russian; montagnes russes=rollercoaster
  • nid=nest, poule=hen; nid-de-poule=pothole
  • cerf=deer, volant=flying; cerf-volant=kite
  • chauve=bald, souris=mouse; chauve-souris=bat

I’m certain I will come across more and more of these as I learn. I also intend to write soon about some of my favorite expressions.

Any French-speakers or French-learners have any to add?

Bon week-end à toutes et à tous!





An Almost White Night: Nuit Blanche 2013

Nuit Blanche Montreal

I stand by what I said a few posts ago. Quebec has turned winter into a reason to celebrate. They do not seem content to wait around until the [late] spring and summer roll around. Festivals abound.

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche, for those who might not know, means White Night…meaning a night when you don’t see the black of your eyelids. You’re supposed to stay up all night, or at least until a solid 2 A.M. Nuit Blanche takes place in Montreal, at the end of a week-long festival called Montreal en Lumiere. More correctly, I might say that Nuit Blanche takes place all over Montreal, not just in Montreal. Sure, there is the epicenter of activity in Place des Festivals and Place des Arts, but there are activities reaching from the Old Port to Olympic Stadium to the Plateau. Food specials, art exhibitions, interactive art projects, shows, free concerts, fireworks, etc.

There’s a lot to do at Nuit Blanche. The program is huge, overwhelming, and just barely helpful. I must have spent nearly two hours on the website, trying to determine what activities were the “main” activities. The program and the website seemed to be so egalitarian that I couldn’t make heads or tails of anything. So we made no real plans except to show up to Place des Arts, eat something less-than-healthy, and find some subterranean art (Art Souterrain). Maybe, just maybe, if we had it in us, we would go to a beer tasting over on the Plateau.

We started early, heading out around 6:30 PM toward Place des Arts (an easy walk from our place). I did quickly notice that we were still among children and families at this hour, but it was still less crowded than it would be later. Place des Arts/Place des Festivals was filled with food vendors, oddities, stages, and fire pits. Though I almost always succumb to the most cheesy tourist activity, (to truly complete your Nuit Blanche experience you must roast a marshmallow!), even I could not be convinced to spend 3.50 (especially now that the Canadian dollar has dropped again–time to save) from just one guimauve. I’d rather eat a sandwich for the price of two marshmallows.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal Ferris Wheel

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal F Bar

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal

This year’s theme city was Buenos Aires. Think tango, think generically delicious reds, thing over-prized and under-size homemade jars of dulce de leche. Think hearty sandwiches. While waiting in line I took the opportunity to eavesdrop on the French and Spanish speakers that surrounded us. Shortly after the pit stop in Buenos Aires, we ate what I thought was my first real Belgian waffle. It was too good and too small. I later received a food history lesson from a French conversation partner, who exposed the Belgian waffle as a misnomer. Giggle.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Argentine Food Stand

Nuit Blanche Montreal Nuit Blanche Montreal

Nuit Blanche Montreal Argentina Food Stand Nuit Blanche Montreal Belgian Waffles

We waited in line twice to enter the RBC Dome, but didn’t make it in time for the show/exhibition, which apparently ended at 9 PM. Waiting in line did, however, afford us a great view when the fireworks display began.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Fireworks

Nuit Blanche Montreal Fireworks

After the fireworks, we headed underground to avoid the snow and the cold. Montreal has over 20 miles (32 kilometers) of Underground City, which was virtually covered from one end to the other with art for the event. Each art installation was manned by a smart, enthusiastic, oh-so-intriguingly-sophisticated artist or volunteer, dressed in head-to-toe black of course, so you could learn more about whatever mind-boggling art piece you are staring at. We walked for nearly three miles underground, wandering from fountain, to clustercuss of yarn, to texting hamburger, etc.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Ten points if you can tell me what the medium for the above piece is.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Beef can be vulgar, you know.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

Though I don’t have many photos of the interactive art activities, they could be found throughout.

Nuit Blanche Montreal Art Souterrain

We decided to pop out to join the Eloi of the world in Old Montreal. Notre Dame is so adorable at night.

Notre Dame Montreal

At this point, we confessed to each other that:

  • a) our dogs were barkin’
  • b) we were just generally tired as well.

Thanks to the combination of good conversation and a less comprehensive night-time public transportation system, we had a later than expected night the night before, so our Nuit Blanche was more of a [what I might refer to as] a “gray night.” We ended up in bed by midnight. I had the intentions of a youngin’. It was going to be epic. I thought this ole gal had an all-nighter left. Nope. I guess I’m old already.