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Jul 14

Happy Bastille Day

We at Cle France are still working ergh! but... Happy Bastille Day to everyone!

Happy Bastille day from Cle France

What do people do on Bastille day?

Many people attend large-scale public celebrations. These often include:

Military and civilian parades.

Musical performances.

Communal meals.



Spectacular fireworks displays.

There is a large military parade in Paris in the morning of July 14. Service men and women from various units, including cadets from military schools, the French Navy and the French Foreign Legion, participate in the parade. The parade ends with the Paris Fire Brigade. Military aircraft fly over the parade route during the parade. The French president opens the parade and reviews the troops and thousands of people line the route. Other people spend the day quietly and eat a celebratory meal or picnic with family and close friends.

Some Helpful french phrases.

Cette semaine on fête le 14 juillet ou la fête nationale or Bastille Day as it’s known in English speaking countries. Le 14 juillet is something like la version française (the French version) of the fourth of July.

Pendant le 14 juillet there are a few big celebrations: le défilé militaire (the military parade) during the day and then at night les spectacle de feux d’artifice (the fireworks shows). However, cette semaine (this week) I learned something about les feux d’artifice that I didn’t know before.

Au 13 juillet, while at home I suddenly heard the loud bangs des feux d’artifice going off in the distance. I thought I’d missed le spectacle!

It turns out that les spectacles de feux d’artifice are spread out over a few days. Smaller towns have their spectacles earlier so that everyone is sure to come to the bigger cities during la fête nationale.

One other way to fêter (celebrate) is, bien sûr, to have a good time avec tes amis (with your friends). Just be careful, if you have too much fun you might wake up the next day with la gueule de bois (a hangover)!

Voici un petit vocabulaire de feux d’artifice :

Black snakePharaoh’s serpent le serpent du pharaon

Bottle - rocket la fusée

Firecrackerle pétard

Fireworkle feu d’artifice

Fireworks showle spectacle de feux d’artifice

Fountainla fontaine

Roman candlela chandelle romaine

Sparkler - le cierge magique

Public life

Bastille Day is a public holiday in France so post offices, banks, and many businesses are closed. Restaurants and cafes outside of tourist areas may also be closed. However, bakeries and some stores in Paris, as well as at airports and railway stations and along major highways, are open.

Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. Roads in the centres of villages, towns and cities (particularly in Paris) may be closed for parades and other large public events.


The Bastille is a medieval fortress and prison in Paris. Many people in France associated it with the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy in the late 1700s. On July 14, 1789, troops stormed the Bastille. This was a pivotal event at the beginning of the French Revolution. Fête de la Fédération was held on July 14, 1790. This was a way to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in France.

Official celebrations were held in Paris on June 30, 1878, to honour the Republic of France. On July 14, 1879, more official celebrations were held. These included a military review in Longchamp near Paris and celebrations all over the country. A politician named Benjamin Raspail proposed that July 14 should become a holiday in France in 1880. The law was enacted on July 6, 1880. Bastille Day was a public holiday for the first time on July 14, 1880.

The military parade in Paris has been held every year since 1880, except during World War II. The Free French Forces paraded on this date in London, England from 1940 until 1944. Jean Michel Jarre held a concert in Paris that attracted one million people, then the largest recorded crowd at an outdoor concert, in 1979. Special celebrations were held for the 200th anniversary of the French revolution in 1989. The French football team became world champions on July 12, 1998. This sparked celebrations throughout France on Bastille Day.

Bastille Day celebrations are held in French communities and the Institut de France around the world. Such events in the United States are held in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle. There are festivals of French culture in Franschhoek, South Africa, and Hungary.


The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the French national flag, or tricolour, are important symbols of Bastille Day. The French national flag is one-and-a-half times as wide as it is tall. It consists of three vertical bands of equal width coloured blue, white and red. The same colours are displayed in bunting and banners of many shapes on Bastille Day. People may also wear clothing or face paint in these colours.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages. 

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Jul 13

French holidays: Bastille Day July 14th

This Friday vendredi, le quatorze juillet (July 14), is la fête nationale française, known in many parts of the world as Bastille Day.

If you are like many francophiles, you may think this day celebrates the storming of the royal prison of la Bastille on July 14, 1789, and you’d be right, but only partly so...

Cle France Blog Pages

Officially established as la fête nationale (the national holiday) by the French Assemblé in 1880, the festivities do indeed celebrate the storming of the Bastille as the start of the revolution, but perhaps more importantly the 14th is also the anniversary of la Fête de la Fédération (a celebration of the ideals of the French Revolution – la liberté, la fraternité, et l’égalité / liberty, brotherhood, and equality – and of the nation) during which Louis XVI himself (before, of course, famously losing his head later!) and other representatives of the young republic swore an oath to the constitution, promising to uphold the laws of the new nation.

The ceremonies of this first Fête de la Fédération were led by the Marquis de LaFayette (whom Louis XVI had named as commander of the troops in Paris after his return from supporting the American colonists in their recent bids to win independence from the other great European monarchy of the day, Great Britain) and took place on the Champs de mars  (named, not for the month of March, but for the Roman god of battle, Mars [Greek: Ares or Aries]) which is framed today by the Eiffel Tower at one end and Hôtel des Invalides at the other.

Cle France Blog Pages

As today, the early celebrations of the 14th July involved local dances and military parades. In 1989, year of the bicentennial celebrations, I was lucky enough to spend juillet in Paris and to participate in three days of bals, defilies, feux d’artifices, and more (balls, parades, fireworks).

La nuit du 14 (the night of the 14th), we even went out to a night club after the final fireworks, danced till dawn, and then went back to the Champs-Élysées for le petit-déjeuner au levé du soleil! (breakfast at sunrise).

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Jul 13

Bastille Day - Marianne

July 14th (le 14 Juillet), Bastille Day, is the French national holiday commemorating the start of the French revolution in 1789. The end of the French revolution led to a series of Republics, one of the symbols of which is la Marianne.

Named for the two most common woman’s names at the time, Marie and Anne, Marianne is a national symbol of France representing liberty and the importance of reason. Her image appears on stamps, on government documents, and a bust of her appears in les mairies (the town / city halls) of France.

Early images of Marianne were based on anonymous models, however since 1969 they have been based on the features of famous woman including Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, the model Inès de La Fressange, and more.

Cle France Marianne

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Apr 19

French Expressions: Pregnancy and Childbirth

If you are planning a family in France and have had pregnancy and birth on my mind a lot lately, then read on. I’ve always loved the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s use of birth and pregnancy in his writings to denote giving birth to ideas in philosophy. In one famous example, Nietzsche wrote, "What saved me then [from madness]? Nothing but pregnancy. And each time after I had given birth to my work my life hung suspended by a thin thread."

For Nietzsche, philosophy was the process of giving birth to ideas.

This got me thinking about expressions in French that similarly play on the meanings of pregnancy and birth.

In French, birth is l’accouchement and pregnancy is la grossesse. It might be somewhat easy to understand how la grossesse denotes pregnancy, as it references "largeness," or the growing belly of a pregnant woman. For the word accouchement, the term developed from women in labor being accouchée, or lying down in bed during childbirth.

Indeed, in Old French the verb accoucher just meant to lay down in bed or to put in bed.

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Here are three French expressions that play upon notions of pregnancy and childbirth:

1. La montagne a accouché d’une souris

This expression, which literally means “the mountain gave birth to a mouse,” comes from a fable by Jean de la Fontaine called La Montagne qui accouche, which goes:

Une montagne en mal d’enfant

Jetait une clameur si haute

Que chacun, au bruit accourant,

Crut qu’elle accoucherait sans faute

D’une cité plus grosse que Paris.

Elle accoucha d’une souris

A mountain in the pains of childbirth

Threw out a high a clamour so high

that everyone, with the sounds of running,

thought that she would give birth without a problem

to a city even larger than Paris.

But she gave birth to a mouse.

This expression—and the proverb it comes from, simply means when something large or impressive is expected or promised, but in actuality something small is delivered instead.

2. Accouche!

Very simply, accouche!, which literally means "give birth," is a popular expression that means "Out with it!" or "Spit it out!"

3. Accouche, qu’on baptise!

This is a Québéçois expression, which literally means "give birth, so we can baptise [the child]," means something like the French expression "accouche!" It is used when someone is taking too long to say something or to tell a story, and is used with humoir to urge someone to “spit it out.”

Like other Québéçois expressions, it is based on French Catholic belief.

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Apr 19

Counting In French

Counting In French Helped Me Remember Les Nombres.

Les nombres (numbers) are difficult for me to remember in French. If I’m not forgetting the words for chaque nombre (each number), I’m trying to figure out if we’re talking about four twenties or eighty!

I have a hard time remembering les nombres in any language other than ma langue maternelle (my native language). I think it is related to how les nombres lack any context that helps me remember them. It feels like nothing but a list of random sounds to memorise!

It is also frustrating when most of the time numbers are not written out so you can see how they are pronounced. You are much more likely to see 80 than you are eighty or quatre-vingts.

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This only gets worse if you’re dealing with des grands nombres (large numbers):

1 577 289 393,31

Un milliard cinq cent soixante-dix-sept millions deux cent quatre-vingt-neuf mille trois cent quatre-vingt-treize virgule trente et un

One billion five hundred seventy-seven million two hundred eighty-nine thousand three hundred ninety-three point thirty-one

Being able to understand a large string of numbers that sometimes use words milliard and billiard is un casse-tête (a headache). On top of that une virgule is used instead of un point for the decimal point.

C’est tellement difficile à retenir !

It’s so hard to remember!

The solution for me was to find a way to make les nombres so embedded in my brain that I knew them par coeur (by heart). I would never have to remember les nombres, I would just know them.

In order to have les nombres solidly placed in my memory I began counting anything I could en français. Les pages d’un livre, mes crayons, mes pas, etc (the pages of a book, my pencils, my steps, etc).

Where I made the most progress was during mon entraînement matinal (my morning excercise). Compter (counting) would keep my mind distracted and help me practice les nombres en français!

Un, deux, trois…

One, two, three…

It wasn’t easy and I would often get lost, repeat numbers, or skip numbers, especially with the 70s and the 90s:

Soixante-huit, soixante-neuf…. Euh… sept… soixante-dix, soixante-onze…

Sixty-eight, sixty-nine… uh… seven… seventy, seventy-one…

Eventually that daily practice made it easier to remember les nombres en français. I could remember les números de telephone and follow mes cours de comptabilité (my accounting classes) without any problem!

I wasn’t doing un milliard de pompes (a billion push-ups), but the practice made it easier to remember all French numbers!

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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