Monday, 25 March 2013

Casino, Chouquettes and Cliffs

And apparently it’s Sunday again. It seems to be forever the weekend at the moment. Normally this wouldn’t be a bad thing but at the moment it just serves to emphasise how fast time is going by. Three weeks today, I’ll be back at my family home in England – it’s scary how quickly my months in France have passed.

On Tuesday night I and my assistant friend Sam 1 went to a hotel in Le Havre to help one of my colleagues film some videos for a hospitality class. It was really fun filming all of the dialogues between a customer and a receptionist but my favourite without a shadow of a doubt was the rude receptionist one. My customer service is really something I pride myself on and I would never dream of being rude in real life. As an acting exercise and a way of training people what NOT to do, however, it was great fun.

Following this, we went back to Sam’s apartment where we were joined by fellow assistants Grace and Alex. We started watching Les Intouchables which is one of the most popular French films ever to have been made. The movie is very interesting; I can understand why it has been so popular. We ordered pizza whilst watching the films, Grace and I attempting to tackle the ‘burger’ pizza topped with all manner of salad and condiments. It was OK but I think we agreed that the parma ham half was much nicer.

On Wednesday I had a lovely lunch at the house of one of my colleagues. One of my favourite things about the year abroad as averse to a holiday is getting to see people’s everyday lives. I think it’s really important to observe people’s daily lives if you want to understand a country.

In my 2-hour break between classes on Friday, Natalie, Sam 2 and I decided to go for lunch at the casino in the centre of town. I like the casino restaurant because it’s cheap (especially at lunch) but there’s a lot of choice and the quality of the food is good. The menu has recently been updated (probably for the summer) and now includes moules-frites which is one of my favourite French meals. When it’s 10,50 for a main, a drink and a coffee, it’s difficult to complain. After my second class, Sam 2 and I saw Warm Bodies, which we both really liked. Funny in places, it's clever and cute without being too long. I’d recommend it.

Saturday morning saw me at school bright and early (well… 9am) for the portes ouvertes (open day). In what was easily the best decorated room in the school, we spoke to parents about the English part of the Bac and got to show off the great stop motion movie that the 1ère students made last term. Also, there were pastries (chocolate chouqettes and other mini-viennoiseries) and it is a well-known fact that the best kind of work is work where a free breakfast of pastries is provided.

After the portes ouvertes had finished, I went to meet with my friend Céline to carry on helping her with her hospitality class (the one we filmed the videos for) and visit Étretat. The town, famous for its cliffs, is very pretty and I was really glad to have finally got the chance to explore it. On the day that we went there was a carnival in the town and, try as we might, we just could not avoid the thing. Every time we turned a corner, we seemed to end up back in the path of the parade. After working on the English lesson, we walked the steep path up to the top of the cliffs to take pictures before climbing back down and grabbing a waffle in one of the cafés lining the streets.

On Saturday night we found out that the restaurants on the seafront have reopened for the summer season. Sam 2 and I walked along the beach checking out the menus and I think it’d be fair to say that there’s a few that we need to sample before we go home.

I was really happy with how much French I managed to speak on Saturday – I spoke very little English at all throughout the entire day. It’s always nice to feel like you’re managing to hold your own in a foreign language over a longer period.

One of the week’s fun discoveries was a British section in the Super-U at the beach. It was expensive but they had all kinds of exciting British products including Marmite, Hartley’s jelly, McVitie’s Gingernuts, Fox’s Cookies and Heinz Beans. I absolutely love eating French food and I’ll certainly miss it when I return but sometimes it just helps to have that taste of home.

Yesterday afternoon Sam 2 and I watched Jack the Giant Slayer. I found it pretty average, definitely a case of style over substance. It’s harmless enough to sit through once without much of a problem but I certainly wouldn’t rush back for a second helping. Other films coming up this week include Promised Land, Les Amants Passagers and (most excitingly) The Croods.

I’d like to finish with a vocab section. There are two different reasons for this. Firstly, I haven’t done one for ages and that’s silly because I learn new words almost every day. Secondly, Sam 1 (author of Letters from Le Havre) has a fantastic vocab section in each post of her blog but she was out of action last week in Germany so I feel the need to pick up the gauntlet. The first ones are expressions to replace common sentences which I know I have a habit of getting wrong and there’s also a couple of random expressions tacked on at the end.

Avoir du mal à faire quelque chose (to struggle to do something, to find something difficult)
This is one which I need to start using. I always say ‘je le trouve difficile’ which I’m fairly sure isn’t French. If I’m wrong and it is, I never hear it in real life.

Mettre du temps (to take time)
Again, I’ve often put together very clumsy expressions when this was all I would have needed to say.

Est-ce que ça se dit? (Does that make sense? Is that said?
I love this expression – it’s a language learner’s dream. Whenever I’m speaking French with a French person and I want to check if my sentence is right, this is what I now use. I had been using ‘est-ce qu’on peut dire ça?’ but that just isn’t very good French.

Être dans le coin (To be around/about/nearby)
p. ex. ‘Est-ce que Céline est dans le coin?’ Very useful when you’re looking for someone!

Entre guillemets (Literally: between quotation marks. So-called, so to speak)
This is one of those phrases that you ignore until you see it written down or find out what it means. After that, you suddenly start hearing it everywhere.

Et quoique vous fassiez/tu fasses… (And whatever you do…)
Little bit of movie vocab! This was in Jack the Giant Slayer earlier and I liked it so I thought it was worth making a note of. I’m not sure when it’ll come in useful but maybe there’ll be a day when I really want to stress that something is to be avoided at all costs.

No comments:

Post a Comment