French 5 | 02.05.21

Welcome to the second edition of French 5, where I share a glimpse into what I love about France through language, places, food and drink, arts and culture, as well as a random fun fact. I will also highlight one blog or social media account that features French content. If you have any feedback or ideas of what you’d like to see or who should be featured, please leave your comment below. 

In case you missed it, here’s where you can check out last week’s inaugural edition.

01 Language || Au pif

I always thought this was a cute expression for a rough guesstimate. Even though pif, in French, is not the nicest word to describe a nose - it's an expression that comes in handy if you’re not a fan of using precise measurements. For example you could say, “au pif, je dirais qu’il a 30 ans.” This would translate to, “if I had to guess, I would say he’s 30 years old.” You can also say, “je cuisine au pif,” which means you don’t follow a recipe when cooking. 

02 Place || Honfleur

For this week’s place, I’m taking you to the charming port town of Honfleur in Normandy. This town is located on the Eastern point of the Côte Fleurie in the Calvados department. Honfleur is known for its picturesque streets and slate-covered, colourful houses which have been painted by many great artists including Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet. If you’re planning a trip to Normandy, this town is a must see. 

03 Food & Drink || Pastis

If you’ve ever had an apéro at someone’s house in France, you’ve likely been offered a Pastis. The word Pastis originates from the south of France and means a mixture or to mash up. Also known as a “jaune” after its colour or a “Ricard” after the brand that commercialized it in the 1930s, this anise-flavoured spirit definitely packs a punch. It is typically associated with Marseille in particular and is served with a carafe of cold water with which you can dilute it as much or as little as you’d like. According to some sources, 130 million litres of Pastis are sold each year, which adds up to just over a couple litres per person in France. Santé!

04 Arts & Culture || La bise

Although “la bise” is less common in our current era due to the global pandemic, it is still an inherent part of French culture. Everyone in France exchanges kisses on the cheek - from young to old, with work colleagues, at parties (even when there are dozens of people in the room to greet!). Where the great debate comes in is how many kisses to exchange. Just one friendly peck on the cheek? Two, three or more times? In order to avoid any awkward moments where someone goes in for that extra kiss, this website lists the number of bises by region and even goes as far as to rank which cheek to start with. 

05 Fun Fact || Roundabouts

France loves roundabouts! In fact, there are more than 30,000 of them in France - that’s more than half of the world’s roundabouts. Every year, an average of 500 more roundabouts are added to French streets. Some towns don’t even have a single traffic light left - only intersections with traffic circles. And while it seems to have reduced the number of accidents significantly, not everyone is happy about them

Follow Friday || @thefrancophiles

Head over to Instagram and give @thefrancophiles a follow. The beautifully curated feed features stunning images of everything French. Join the conversation in the comment section and connect with other Francophiles from around the world. 

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