French Lessons: Time

by Jackie D on March 3, 2017

Talking about age: In French, when you talk about how old you are, you don’t say, I am 28 years old. You say, I have 28 years. J’ai 28 ans. The years are something you have.

Talking about years: In French, there are two versions of the word year: an (masculine) and annee (feminine). But you don’t determine the use based on whether you need a masculine word or a feminine word. You use an if you are talking about a specific year or date, and you use annee if you are talking about everything that filled a year — if you want to say, it was a good year, you’d say c’etait une bonne annee, because you are talking about everything that filled the year and made it a good one. I think of it as: it describes a whole experience, not just a point in time, and so you need those extra e‘s to hold the weight.

It’s the same thing with a day — un jour is a day, straight and simple, but when you wish someone a bonne journee, you’re referring to everything that fills it.

I visited Paris for the first time on July 17, when I was 16 (when I had 16 years). I studied in the south of France for two months when I was 20. I’ve passed through on countless layovers; I used almost all of my meager vacation days to come here for a week by myself when I was 26.

Exactly a year ago, on March 3, I moved to Paris for three months on a tourist visa. At the time, I’d thought that maybe that was what all my other visits had been leading up to: three months living in Paris, probably the best I was ever going to get.

On November 13, I moved here permanently, and on March 15, I’ll finally receive my official resident visa.

Time speeds up in places you love, so I am trying to slow down and consciously appreciate everything about my life here. It seems unreal to me that I’ve only been here permanently for four months when I think about everything that has occurred in those four months: I moved here with three suitcases and no apartment; now I have an almost-fully furnished apartment, a regular grocery store, a regular bar, a regular commute, a few friends, a library membership, a regular volunteering position at said library, and a few weekend trips planned.

Ce sera une bonne annee.

More French Lessons:
Dejeuner
How Much

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First Paris Visitors!

by Jackie D on February 28, 2017

Jackie DesForges blogOne of the first pieces of advice I received from a fellow expat friend before I moved to Paris: get ready for the visitors.

One of the first things people would say when I told them I was moving to Paris: I’M GOING TO VISIT YOU!

It only took three months for the first visitors to arrive: my mom and sister. My sister had some time to kill before starting a new job, and my mom is not one to turn down a trip to one of the world’s foremost shopping destinations, and so about a week ago we found ourselves curled up in my adorable little apartment for about a week this month.

Jackie DesForges blog IMG_9017I showed them what the famous Paris “soldes” are (shopping is something we all love equally) and they learned how to shower the French way: with a handheld wand rather than overhead faucet*. It was my sister’s first trip here ever, so we took her to the Eiffel Tower, up to the top of the Arc de Triumph, along the Seine to the Petit Palais, into the stunning Saint Chappelle, and onboard one of those famous sightseeing cruises. She wandered through the Louvre on her own, and she and my mom took a stroll through Montmartre and discovered some cute shops and possibly the world’s best crepe spot in my neighborhood. Also they ran a half marathon because they are insane.

Jackie DesForges blog IMG_8976They brought me treasures, so many treasures, from home: Girl Scout Cookies (!), Ann Rule books (!!), and NyQuil (!!!), all of which are now my prized possessions. I will not share these with any of you, don’t ask. They also brought me a few things I hadn’t had room for in my suitcase during the move over here, including tax documents, yay.

Jackie DesForges blog 17006291_10105299074029993_1609648061_n Jackie DesForges blogI have about 34934 other people who have promised/threatened to visit me in the next several months, and it will be interesting to see a.) who follows through, and b.) how many people my tiny French apartment can hold at once.

* I bet a lot of you thought I was going to say “rarely” as an answer to how to shower the French way, right? Well, clearly I’m nicer than you.

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French Lessons: Déjeuner

by Jackie D on February 24, 2017

The French word for lunch is déjeuner. This word is both noun and verb. You can say that you have lunch (je prends le déjeuner) but you can also just say I lunch (je déjeune), which is the way most French people phrase it.

I guess this is the same in English, but it seems more common to hear “I had lunch” over “I lunched.”

In English, lunch is more noun than verb. Lunch is the thing on your plate. In French, it is the opposite: lunch is the whole action, it is the eating and drinking and talking and enjoying and everything all at once. It’s leaving your work at your desk and actually sitting at a restaurant. It’s getting a coffee and (for many) having a cigarette after the meal. Lunch is something you do, not just something you consume.

It’s not just a difference in part of speech; it’s a difference in lifestyle. I lunch, you lunch, we all lunch (je déjeune, vous déjeunez, nous déjeunons).

I’m still working on this — sometimes my American guilt still makes me feel like I should be at my desk with a sandwich while answering emails — but I’ve definitely mastered the breakfast portion of France life. French people don’t seem to be big on breakfast, but when they do eat it, they fully embrace pastries over savory foods, and I’ve had absolutely zero problems adapting to this.

Breakfast is also a sort of communal affair at the office — people will find any reason to bring a bag of pastries to share with everyone: a birthday, an anniversary, Tuesday, existence. An email goes out to everyone letting us know where we can find the pastries, and then for the next hour you’ll hear people delightedly munching on croissants at their desks, and it puts everyone in the best mood for the rest of the day. It’s so generous and lovely. I plan to bring a little treat of my own once I receive my permanent visa! In the meantime, I will be taste-testing as many different pains au chocolat as possible, for science.

More French Lessons:
Bad Days
How Much

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