Thursday, April 30, 2009

Answer To Yesterdays Guess Who

Simone Thérèse Fernande Simon (April 231910 (some sources say 1911) – February 22,2005) was a French film actress who began her film career in 1931.

Simon made her screen debut in Le Chanteur inconnu (The Unknown Singer, 1931), and quickly established herself as one of the country's most successful film actresses. After seeing her in the 1934 film Lac Aux Dames (USA title: Ladies' Lake), Darryl F. Zanuck brought her toHollywood in 1936 with a widespread publicity campaign.

However her films for 20th Century Fox were only moderately successful. Among others, she was cast in the Janet Gaynor role in a remake of the beloved silent classic Seventh Heaven, which co-starred James Stewart and flopped. She also appeared as an eager child/woman in Ladies in Love, which starred Gaynor, Constance Bennett, and Loretta Young, a heavyweight lineup in which Simon's role left her little chance to compete effectively. Simon returned, dissatisfied, to France. There she appeared in the film La Bête Humaine (The Human Beast) in 1938.

With the outbreak of World War II she returned to Hollywood and RKO Studios where she achieved her greatest successes in English language cinema with The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), and thehorror films Cat People (1942) and The Curse of the Cat People (1944).

These films, however, did not lead to greater success and she languished in mediocre films until the end of the war.

She returned to France to act, and appeared in La Ronde (Roundabout, 1950). Her film roles were few after this and she made her final film appearance in 1973.

She died in Paris, France on 22 February 2005, aged 94, from natural causes. The BBC mistakenly reported her age as 93,[1] by using the wrong year of birth (1911). A few days later, French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres issued a statement in which he extolled Simon's "charm, her irresistible smile. . . With Simone Simon's passing, we have lost one of the most seductive and most brilliant stars of the French cinema of the first half of the 20th century

Chidren's Word of the Day - Toast

Kids, when you want some toast, say "du pain grillé".

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

French Film For People Who Don't Like Subtitles

How To Steal A Million (1966)
How to Steal a Million is a 1966 heist comedy film, directed by William Wyler and starring Peter O'TooleAudrey Hepburn, and Hugh Griffith. It is set and filmed in France, though the characters speak entirely in English.
O'Toole appears as Simon Dermott, caught by Audrey Hepburn sneaking through her house clutching a forged painting. Hepburn plays Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of genius art fraud Charles Bonnet (Griffith). The central theme of the movie is the recovery from a Parisian museum of a fakeCellini committed by Bonnet's grandfather, before its discovery and exposure as such, and is enlivened by the romantic angle between the characters played by O'Toole and Hepburn.

Children's Word of the Day - Newspaper

Kids, when you see a newspaper, point to it and say "un journal"

Monday, April 27, 2009

La Promenade des Anglais

Before Nice was urbanized, the coast at Nice was just bordered by a deserted band of beach covered by large pebbles. The first houses were located on higher ground well away from the sea.

Starting in the second half of the 18th century, the English took to spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the panorama along the coast. When a particularly harsh winter up north brought an influx of beggars to Nice, some of the rich Englishmen proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along the sea.

The city of Nice, intrigued by the prospect of a pleasant promenade, greatly increased the scope of the work. The Promenade was first called the Camin dei Anglès (the English Way) by the Niçois in their native dialect Nissart. After the annexation of Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais, replacing the former Nissart name with its French translation.For the local inhabitants, the Promenade des Anglais has simply become thePromenade or, for short, La Prom. On Sundays, bicyclists, babystrollers, and whole families can be seen out for a stroll along the Promenade. It has also become a favorite place for skateboarders and in-line skaters.

Aside from numerous events such as the annual Carnival, the Battle of Flowers, etc. that take place along the Promenade, the Promenade has its blue chairs (chaises bleues) and cabanas perfect for a lazy time along the Mediterranean and for contemplation of the azure blue water of the Bay of Angels (la Baie des Anges).

Children's Word of the Day - Dream

Kids, when you have a dream, say, "un rêve"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and confirmed as part of the Ordre National du Mérite by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

French government guidelines provide that citizens of France must be at least thirty years old,

 respect French civil law, and must have, "significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance."

Members are not, however, limited to French nationals. Recipients have 

included numerous foreign luminaries.

Foreign recipients are admitted into the Order, without condition of age.

George Clooney was decorated in 2007

The Order has three grades:

  • Commandeur (commander) — medallion worn on necklet; up to twenty recipients a year.
  • Officier (officer) — medallion worn on ribbon with rosette on left breast; up to sixty recipients a year.
  • Chevalier (knight) — medallion worn on ribbon on left breast; up to 200 recipients a year.

The médaille of the Order is an eight-point, green-enameled asterisk, in gilt for commanders and officers, in silver for knights; the obverse central disc has the letters "A" and "L" on a white enamelled background, surrounded by a golden ring emblazoned with the phrase "République Française." The reverse central disc features the head of Marianne on a golden background, surrounded by a golden ring bearing the words "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres." The commander's badge is topped by a gilt twisted ring.

The ribbon of the Order is green with four white stripes.

George Moustaki -French Singer/Songwriter

Yussef Mustacchi, known as Georges Moustaki, (born in AlexandriaEgypt May 31934) is a singer
and songwriter from France of Greek Sephardic origin, best known for his poetic rhythm, eloquent simplicity and his hundreds of romantic songs. He has written songs for Édith Piaf (including "Milord"),Dalida (including Gigi l'amoroso), BarbaraBrigitte FontaineHerbert PaganiFrance Gall, and Cindy Daniel.

Chidren's Word of the Day -Binoculars

Kids, when you see a pair of binoculars, say "les jumelles"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Paris Postcard

The Café de Flore

The Café de Flore, at the corner of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Rue St. Benoit, in the VIe arrondissement of Paris, has long been celebrated for its intellectual clientele.

The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little sinceWorld War II. Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it has hosted most of the French intellectuals during the post-war years. It is said that Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoirwould meet here and discuss their philosophy of existentialism over a drink.

The Prix de Flore, a literary prize inaugurated by Frédéric Beigbeder in 1994, is awarded annually at the Café de Flore.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Faulkner in Paris, 1925

After he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, William Faulkner traveled to Europe in the manner of many other young writers of the day. While in France, he adopted the look and air of a Bohemian poet by growing a beard and absorbing the art and culture of Paris' Left Bank. One of his favorite places was in the Luxembourg Gardens, where he was photographed by William C. Odiorne. He wrote a long description of the Gardens, which he would later revise and incorporate into his novel Sanctuary.

Children's Word of the Day -Map

Kids, when you look at a map, point to it and say, "une carte"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paris Postcard

Quick Phrase of the Day - She Has Curly Hair

Elle a cheveux frisés (ell ah sheh voh free zay) -She has curly hair

Repeat this phrase all day long till you know it by heart.

Vocabulary word of the day:
un désordre (uhn day sore druh) - a mess
quel désordre (kell day sore druh) -what a mess

Place du Châtelet

The Place du Châtelet is a public square in ParisFrance, on the Right Bank of the river Seine on the border of the 1st and 4th arrondissements.

At plaza's centre is La Fontaine du Palmier, constructed 1806-1808 by François-Jean Bralle (1750-1832) to celebrate French victories in battle. It is a circular basin, 20 feet in diameter, from which rises a column in the form of a palm tree's trunk (58 feet tall), surmounted by a gilded figure of Victory with laurel crown in each upraised hand, and resting on a base ornamented with bas-relief eagles. Four allegorical figures byLouis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809) ring the base: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Strength. From top to bottom, circles of bronze gilt call out the following battles: Siege of Danzig (1807, Prussia), the Battle of Ulm (1805, Austria), the Battle of Marengo (1800, Italy), the Battle of the Pyramids (1798, Egypt), and theBattle of Lodi (1796, Italy). Its sphinxes were designed in 1858 by Gabriel Davioud and sculpted by Henri Alfred Jacquemart (1824-1896); they commemorate Napoleon's victory in Egypt.

Children's Word of the Day -Peacocok

Kids, when you go to the zoo and you see a peacock, point to it and say, "un paon"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Château de Roquetaillade

The Château de Roquetaillade is a castle in Mazères (near Bordeaux), in theFrench département of Gironde.

Charlemagne, on his way to the Pyrenees with Roland, built the first fortification there. Of this old castle, nothing remains but imposing ruins.

In 1306, with the permission of the English King Edward I, Cardinal de la Mothe, nephew of Pope Clement VI built a second fortress (le Château Neuf), square in plan with six towers and a central keep. This structure was restored by Viollet-le-Duc and one of his pupils, Duthoit, between 1850 and 1870. The extraordinary interior decorations, with its furnishings and paintings, were created by Viollet-le-Duc and are listed as French Heritage.

The château park includes remains of the medieval curtain wall with the barbican, the Pesquey stream and its banks, the 19th century chalet, and the Crampet pigeon loft.

The castle has served as a location in several films, including Fantômas contre Scotland Yard and Le Pacte des loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf). It has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840.

The castle has been lived in by the same family for over 700 years. It has been open to the public since 1956 and is the most visited in the Bordeaux region. Open all year round, visits in English with the owners are also possible.

Other activities at the castle include a famous production of white Graves wines "Chateaufort de Roquetaillade", and Bazadais cattle breeding.

Children's Word of the Day - Bed

Kids, when you get into bed, say "un lit"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Charles-Michel de l'Épée

Abbé Charles-Michel de l'Épée, (born November 25, 1712, Versailles; died December 23,1789, Paris) was a philanthropic educator of 18th century France who has become known as the "Father of the Deaf."

Charles-Michel de l'Épée was born to a wealthy family in Versailles, the seat of political power in what was then the most powerful kingdom of Europe. He trained as a Catholic priest but was denied ordination, as a result of his refusal to denounce Jansenism, a popular religious reform movement of the time. He then studied law, but soon after joining the Bar was finally ordained as an Abbé - only to be denied a license to officiate.

Épée turned his attention toward charitable services for the poor, and on one foray into the slums of Paris he had a chance encounter with two young deaf sisters who communicated using a sign language. Épée decided to dedicate himself to the education and salvation of the deaf, and in 1760 he founded a shelter which he ran with his own private income. In line with emerging philosophical thought of the time, Épée came to believe that deaf people were capable of language, and concluded that they should be able to receive the sacraments and thus avoid going to hell. He began to develop a system of instruction of the French language and religion. In the early 1760s, his shelter became the world's first free school for the deaf, open to the public.

Though Épée's original interest was in religious education, his public advocacy and development of a kind of "Signed French" enabled deaf people to legally defend themselves in court for the first time.

Children's Word of the Day - Bicycle Bell

Kids, when you use your bell, say, "une sonnette"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vintage Paris Postcard

Quick Phrase of the Day -I Have The Paperback Version Of It

J'ai la version de poche de celui-ci (zhay lah vuhr zhee yohn deh pohsh deh sell you ee see) I have the paperback version of it.

Vocabulary word of the day:
la brocante (lah broh kahnt) -the flea market
Je vais à la brocante demain (zhuh vayz ah lah broh kahnt deh mahn) -I am going to the flea market tomorrow

Must See French Film -L'Appartement

I watched this fim last night and found it to be a good mystery. It has a very Hitchcock feel to it. 

 is a 1996 French film directed by Gilles Mimouni and starring Vincent Cassel,Monica Bellucci and Romane Bohringer.

Max (Vincent Cassel) is a former playboy who decides to settle down and get married to his boss' sister, Muriel. By chance, he catches a glimpse of his lost love, Lisa (Monica Bellucci) in a cafe but fails to make contact before she storms out. Determined to meet her, Max cancels his business trip abroad to pursue her, finds out where she lives, and then hides in her apartment.

When a different girl returns, however, she suspects Max of being a burglar and begins to attack him. Max calms her down and is shocked at her remarkable resemblance to Lisa. The girl's name is Alice (Romane Bohringer) who claims to be a nurse and not know whom Lisa is. Though the two become romantically linked, Max is still obsessed with Lisa.

Flashbacks are intertwined with the narrative to provide the background for Max, Lisa and Alice, shedding further light on the situation. Alice and Lisa are best friends, but Alice grows obsessed with Max from a distance, restyling herself to look like Lisa while secretly engineering a breakup between them.

Lisa is being pursued by a rich older man who might have murdered his wife to get closer to Lisa. For this reason, she avoids her flat and lets Alice use it. To complicate matters further, Alice is dating Max's best friend, Lucien, who acts as the confidant for Max.

Eventually, the truth begins to unravel in front of everyone's eyes leading to dramatic and life changing consequences for all involved.

Children's Word of the Day -My Feet

Kids, point to your feet and say, "mes pieds"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Children's Word of the Day -Clown

Kids, when you see a clown, point to it and say, "un comique de cirque"

Note: Our good friend Isabelle let me know that "un clown" (uhn kloon) is a simpler way of saying this. Thanks Isabelle!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Yesterday we did a piece on the Maison Carrée. It is located in the city of Nîmes

 is a city in southern France. It is the capital of the Gard department. Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire, and it is a popular tourist destination.
The city derives its name from that of a spring, Nemausus, in the Roman village. The contemporary symbol and shield of the city of Nîmes includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree with the inscription 'COLNEM', an abbreviation of 'Colonia Nemausus', meaning the 'colony' or 'settlement' of Nemausus. Veterans of the Roman legions who had served Julius Caesar in his Nile campaigns, at the end of fifteen years of soldiering, were given plots of land to cultivate on the plain of Nîmes.

Trivia: Nîmes is historically known for its textiles. Denim, the fabric of blue jeans, derives its name from this city.

Children's Word of the Day - A Bow

Kids, when you see a bow, point to it and say, "un nœud"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maison Carrée

The Maison Carrée at Nîmes in southern France is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

It was built c. 16 BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who was also the original patron of the Pantheon in Rome, and was dedicated to his two sons, Gaius Julius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The original inscription dedicating the temple to Gaius and Lucius was removed in medieval times. However, a local scholar named Homer was able to reconstruct the inscription in 1758 from the order and number of the holes in the portico's facade, to which the bronze letters had been affixed. The text of the dedication read (in translation): "To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth."

The temple owes its preservation to the fact that it was rededicated as a Christianchurch in the fourth century, saving it from the widespread destruction of temples that followed the adoption of Christianity as Rome's official state religion. It subsequently became a meeting hall for the city's consuls, a canon's house, a stable during the French Revolution and a storehouse for the city archives. It became a museum after 1823. Its French name derives from the archaic term carré long, literally meaning a "long square", or rectangle - a reference to the building's shape.