Fireworks for French School?!

Well, we must have done really well at our first full day of French school yesterday… they shot off fireworks for us last night!! haha Actually, we didn’t have any other pics to post, our brains being too stuffed to think of such things, but it WAS a nice ending to a taxing day spent speaking in French only.

Not a word of English all day – even between Mark and I out on the balcony at breaks. The habit we’ve fallen into of staring dreamily into each other’s eye came in very handy… Mark just kept repeating the only French phrase he knew before we came “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir?” Go figure.

Mark says he felt like a first grader. And I guess I’m a second grader. There are eight classes of 10 students each. We are in Débutante 1 and Débutante 2. There are 4 intermediate classes, and 2 advanced classes. We’re not sure if this always the case, but the scale seems very skewed towards more experience with French than not with this group of 80. Only half of Mark’s class have had no French classes ever (including him)… the rest have had at least some college classes or other experience. In my class is the woman from Houston (who’s here for the 3rd time in the past 5 years) and the woman who has been living in Geneva (where French is the spoken language) for the past 2 years (she works at the International Red Cross, where English is spoken). Our neighbor below us, Janet who lives in NYC but is from LA, has been with her French husband for 10 years… she’s in Intermediate 4.

Our first day was almost all classroom work with our designated teachers (Aurelia for me, Peggy for Mark – both darling young French women in their early 30s), listening to dialogue, looking at pictures of a story, reading the same dialogue in successive sessions to practice understanding and speaking both oral and written French, with a heavy emphasis on oral. At lunch, our teacher sits at our table and she actually gets lots of time to eat as she makes a point of asking each person some questions about themselves and then waits as we struggle to cobble the few French words we know into coherent (if not true) information. Today we will spend one hour of our day in the “chambre de torture” (even I can understand that)…. the computer lab. We’ll see if it lives up to its nasty reputation from past students.

A couple of helpful tips I learned today:

You may know that you drop the “r” at the end of most French words: “au revoir” (goodbye) and “parler” (to speak), for example. However, there are some exceptions to the silent “r” that I for one have been saying incorrectly: “noir” (night) as in Pinot Noir. No “t” sound on Pinot, but you do pronounce the r on Noir.

In general “ll” is pronounce “l”, as in belle (sounds like bell). After “i”, however, “ll” is pronounced “y” as in “la famille” pronounced “la famēya” (or close thereto). BUT, for every exception there is an exception it seems, so in the following words, “ll” sounds like “l”: mille (a thousand), ville (a town/city) and village (uh… village). Therefore you DO pronounce the ‘ll” as “l” in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Voilà!

Off to the second day of class, but will leave you with a couple pics and a short video of last night’s fireworks… notice the reflection in the bay.

Fireworks Over the Bay

Cruiseships in the bay as seen from our window
Cruiseships in the bay as seen from our window
Fireworks over the bay from our window
Fireworks over the bay from our window


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