Hey guys! Today we’ll be talking about the French language. French is a Romance language but that doesn’t mean it’s more romantic than other languages. It just means that it’s Latin-based. Although it’s Latin-based, French was also influenced by Celtic and Germanic languages as well. French-speaking people or nations are often referred to as “francophones.” French is an official language in 29 countries, and is the fourth most widely spoken language and second most taught language in the European Union. That said, I’ll cover some basic words and phrases in this blog post.
First, let’s start with pronunciation. This video does a good job of explaining how to pronounce French consonants and vowels:
Here are some basic French phrases (Please feel free to plug them into Google Translate to listen to them: https://translate.google.com/. But keep in mind Google translate might be a little off on translations.):
My name is _____.
Je m’appelle _____.
What is your name?
Comment vous appelez-vous?
How are you?
Thank you very much.
S’il vous plait.
I don’t understand.
Je ne comprends pas.
I don’t speak French.
Je ne parle pas français.
Do you speak English?
Where are the toilets?
Où sont les toilettes?
An app that I love to use and is free (even better!) is Duolingo. I took French in high school and college but I never use it so my French still sucks. However, I like to practice what little French I did retain with Duolingo. When I remember to use it anyhow. The best advice I can give to anyone who’s learning French to visit France is to pay attention to French etiquette. It’s a BIG DEAL in France. I went to France when I was 15 with my friend who was also 15. She had a bad habit of using the informal while talking to people much older than us. Don’t do it! That’s very rude and they became visibly offended by it! Also, try to speak French. Even if it isn’t perfect. They’ll be more accommodating if you speak French versus English.
A good article to read if you plan on visiting France:
Before I begin, France has A LOT of history. I can’t cover it in detail (this is, after all, only one blog post), but I’ll do my best to do it justice. This will be a very brief sum up of France’s history. If anything interests you, I encourage you to look deeper into it. I encourage it in general. And please, if you feel like anything in this post needs a follow up, post it in the comments below! I would love to read it!
During BCE (before common era), France is split into several groups: the Gauls, the Aquitani, the Greeks, and the Belgae. The Romans, under Julius Caesar, conquered the Gallic region of France in the Gallic Wars. The war lasted from 58-51 BCE. France went through several wars in which they gained and lost land under several leaders. One of the more significant conflicts is the Hundred Year’s War, a series of wars that lasted from 1337-1453. It began after Charles IV of France died, leaving no blood heir other than Edward III of England. Edward III was Charles IV’s nephew and Phillip IV of France’s grandson which made him the last living male member of the House of Capet (aka House of France). Edward III’s Mother Isabella of France was unable to claim the throne due to a principle established in 1316 that made it impossible for women to succeed the throne so Isabella claimed it for her son. The French rejected this claim, stating that Isabella didn’t have the right to assert a ruler of France. The French wanted the House of Valois to control France, and so the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet went to war to decide who would rule over France. Joan of Arc entered the war in 1429, helped retake the city of Orléans, France, inspired the takeback of several other cities, and then was killed by the English in 1430. In the end, the French won, and Charles VII (aka Charles the Victorious) remained King of France. The most notable changes that came from the Hundred Year’s War were: the democratization of the French army, the modernization of weapons and the creation of French nationalism. During the Hundred Year’s War, the Black Death broke out (between 1348-1353). The Black Death is one of the most catastrophic pandemics; a plague that resulted in the death of something between 75-200 million people (worldwide).
More wars over land and religion ensued. One of those was a war with Italy, the First Italian War (over land and power), in which they lost but became inspired by the Italian Renaissance so they came home and started the French Renaissance. The French Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in France between the 15th-17th centuries. Most notably what came from the French Renaissance was the spread of humanism, exploration of the “New World,” the development of art, an elaboration of etiquette and the urbanization of Paris. More wars happened. Louis XIV created the idea of an absolute monarchical rule, known as the divine right of kings, which made the monarch more powerful than everyone, except for God. This means he was better than, and therefore didn’t have to listen to the people, the aristocracy, or even the church. More wars followed that made France the primal power in Europe.
In 1754, conflicts over territories in North America with the English led to the Seven Year War. The English won in 1763 which led to the French losing “New France” which consisted of territories in North America, Spanish Florida, several islands in the West Indies, the colony of Senegal on the West African coast, and superiority over the French trading outposts in India. This loss also meant that France was no longer the primal power in Europe anymore. Upset about this, the French assisted the Americans in their upheaval against the British in the American Revolutionary War. They did this hoping that it would help them gain back some of the land they lost in the Seven Year War, however it left them in further debt, and they gained very little from it.
After the recent wars (Seven Year War and American Revolutionary War) left the French bankrupt, a highly inefficient tax system screwed over the poor, years of bad harvests lead to increased food prices, malnutrition, and hunger, the rich couldn’t give a damn about the majority of France’s problems. All of which led to the French Revolutionary War. Notable events that occurred during the French Revolutionary War were: the storming of the Bastille (will cover in greater detail later), the curtailment of the church powers (this law reorganized the French Catholic Church, made it so the salaries of the priests would be paid by the state, abolished the Church’s authority to levy a tax on crops, and again cancelled some privileges for the clergy), and the creation of a constitutional monarchy (the King has to share power with an elected legislative assembly). Napoleon Bonaparte was a military and political figure that came to rise during the French Revolutionary War. Napoleon did a lot, however, the biggest impacts he had were: he shifted more power to Paris so that all decisions about France would be made in Paris, decreased hostility between the government and the church, came up with a modernized, more efficient tax system, made it so any man could serve in the army rather than the aristocrats choosing for them, and most importantly, helped create the Napoleonic Code (According to Wikipedia: “The Code recognized the principles of civil liberty, equality before the law, and the secular character of the state. It discarded the old right of primogeniture (where only the eldest son inherited) and required that inheritances be divided equally among all the children. The court system was standardized; all judges were appointed by the national government in Paris.”). After Napoleon died, France became politically unstable with the government changing every few months (even during peaceful times).
And you know what happened next! More wars over land and religion! Eventually the French railway system became popular which led to the modernization of French rural cities, and helped facilitate the rise of the industrial revolution. In 1869, the French said “NON” to the possible candidate to the throne of Spain, Prince Leopold von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. The war over that (the Franco-Prussian War) ended with the Treaty of Frankfurt which meant the newly formed German Empire could keep Alsace and Lorraine (previously French provinces). Franz Ferndinand, an Austrian archduke, was shot and a shit ton of countries went to war with each other (World War I). Eventually France joined in, partly out of obligation, partly because they were hoping to get the provinces back that they had lost in the Franco-Prussian War. The Great Depression finally hit France around 1931, though not nearly as hard as it hit some other countries.
Germany invaded Poland in 1939 which forced Britain and France to declare war on Germany even though they REAAAAAALLLLLLLYYYY didn’t want to. In 1940, Germany defeated and occupied France but the Allies (the side France was on) won in 1945. After World War II, France was financially and socially messed up. Charles de Gaulle stepped up to put France’s shit back in order. He founded the fifth republic (France’s current system of government), initiated the “Politics of Grandeur” which stated that France shouldn’t rely on other countries for national protection and prosperity, withdrew the French military from NATO, and restored Franco-German relations.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union lessened tension in France leading to the reduction in their nuclear arsenal. Although nuclear threat went down, terrorism became more prevalent. To this day, terrorism in France remains a highly controversial topic. But when it does happen, the French remain strongly unified. Vive la France!
Or if watching videos is more your thing, check out Suibhne’s sum up of French history! It’s magnificent!:
And if you want to hear more about World War II, feel free to watch Eddie Izzard’s bit about it (he curses a lot):
Largest Religion: Christianity (Majority are Roman Catholic)
President: Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister: Edouard Philippe
France is a country located in Europe. To most, France is known for its food, fashion, culture and language. It is the most visited tourist destination in the world, and maybe by the end of the month you’ll understand why. France is a leader among European nations, and holds an influential role globally. According to the BBC, there’s about 63.5 million people living in France. Their national motto is “Liberté, égalitié, fraternité” which translates into “Liberty, equality, fraternity.”
The French culture is considered by many to be very relaxed. Although the average day for a French person isn’t super different from that of an American. Though a couple of the biggest differences are: On average, the typical French person will work 35 hours in one week. A lot of businesses close between 12PM-2PM for lunch. Those young enough to be in school are also given a two-hour lunch in which they can either go home or eat at school.
Here’s a well-made video of a few girls documenting a usual Tuesday at school:
Hey guys! I know I said I was only going to post articles on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so already I’m straying from my word. I’m sorry, and this is not going to replace Monday’s post. However, the 104th Tour de France begins today! The Tour de France is a multi-stage bicycle race held in France (though they occasionally pass through neighboring countries). Over 12 million spectators come to see the Tour de France each year, making it the largest sporting event in the world. 3.5 billion people watch it on TV each year. Typically, the race is held every year in July. The race has been held every year since 1903, except for the years 1915-1918 and 1940-1946 because of World Wars I and II.
In 1903, the year of the first ever Tour de France, long distance bicycle races were a popular way to sell newspapers. Some of the employees at the newspaper L’Auto decided the best way to promote their newspaper was by hosting a bicycle race. And so, it was announced on January 19th, 1903. The original plan for the race was to start and end in Paris, and stop in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes on the way. They had planned the race would last from May 31st to July 5th (making it the longest cycle race ever attempted). However, this didn’t generate a lot of excitement. They only had 15 people enter to compete, while everyone else found the race too daunting. They shortened the race to only 19 days, switched those days to July 1st – July 19th, offered to pay for those who averaged at least 20 km/h (12.43 m/h) on all the stages (equivalent to what a rider would have expected to earn each day had he worked in a factory), lowered the entry fee from 20 francs to 10, and offered 12,000 francs to whoever wins first place. The number of competitors entering the race jumped from 15 to somewhere between 60-80. After the race, L’Auto doubled in circulation, and the Tour de France was started!
The format of the race has changed significantly over time. Night-time riding was dropped after the 1904 race due to excessive cheating since the judges had a hard time seeing. When it first started, there were no teams like in today’s race. They’ve since added more classifications to the race: mountains, points, and young rider. Doping eventually became an issue. Lance Armstrong is the most famous athlete that used drugs in the Tour de France, and as a result has had his seven consecutive victories stripped from him.
Hi! Thanks so much for giving this site a chance! I greatly appreciate it and I hope you end up enjoying the content. This first post is to introduce you to the concept of this blog, as well as explain what to expect if you continue to read this blog. Feel free to comment on any post or email me if there’s anything that you would like to see me write about. It could change later since I’ve never done a blog like this before. For now, every month I will focus on a different country. I will explore the culture, history, food, folktales and more in each country I cover. My first post is going to be Monday, July 3rd. And this month is FRANCE! I’m very excited for this one! I studied a few years of French and love learning about France! Hopefully you lot get as excited as me. That’s it for this post. Until next time, fellow adventurers!