Two weeks down and two to go at French school. We’ve finally gotten past “Je m’appelle Shauna. Je suis Américaine.”  We’ve actually learned some simple past tense (passé composé) and future tense (futur proche).

Some of you have asked what our classes are like. We each have ten students (Mark is in Debutante 1 and I am in Debutante 2). There are also 4 intermediate classes and 2 advanced classes.

Most of our classes consisted of being asked: if/where/how/when/with whom/why we did something (last night or last weekend) or are going to do something (tomorrow or next week). Then we might be asked to say what someone else said, asked or responded. The idea is to get you using all of the different pronouns (I, You – informal, He/She, We, You – formal, and They) with correct verb conjugations (I am, You are, He/She is, etc) and correct tense (I went, I go, I am going to go).

For example:

Aurelia: “Shauna, est-ce-que vous cuisinez à Dallas?” (Shauna, do you cook in Dallas?)

Me: “No, je ne cuisine jamais à Dallas” (No, I never cook in Dallas.) Remember, this is just imaginary 🙂

Aurelia: “Claire, qu’est-ce-que Shauna a dit?” (Claire, what did Shauna say?)

Claire: “Elle dit qu’elle ne cuisine pas.” (She said she doesn’t cook.)

Aurelia: “Christine, demander à Shauna, pourquoi est-ce-qu’elle ne cuisine pas.” (Christine, ask Shauna why she doesn’t cook.)
Etc etc…. So, as you can see, the fact that I don’t/can’t/prefer not to cook, was repeated, oh, about 50 times in a one-hour setting.

We also have some joint classes where Debutante 1 and Debutante 2 are together. In these classes, we learn practicalities for speaking simply in everyday life. For example, how a conversation on a telephone normally goes. Where we say “Who’s calling?” or “Who’s on the phone?”, the French often say “Qui est à l’appareil?” … literally, “Who is on the device?”  And where we say “Hang on.” while we get the person they’ve called for, they say “Ne quittez pas.” – literally, “Don’t go away.” Mark’s comment to me after these classes is generally “WTF did they say?”

Another class covered simple conversations at a restaurant (making a reservation, ordering, asking for the bill, etc). And our favorite, where there wasn’t actually much student participation, was a little lecture on the origins of cheese, the 7 basic kinds of cheese and the recommended wine for each. This, of course, was followed by a little wine and cheese dégustation, with nearly 100% student participation.

Each student must give an “exposé” (no trench coats involved) to their class before the end of school. Advanced students must talk for 20-25 minutes without notes; beginners for 5-10 minutes. For my class, these began on Thursday. I got a pass for Thursday, because Aurelia knew how much wine was consumed at our table at the school dinner outing the night before. However, my number was up on Friday (with only a couple of hours advance warning, during which we had class). My actual “speech”, if you will, went okay. I had given some thought to what I would say, and by the time you talk about 4 kids, 2 grandkids, parents, a grandma who is 96, AND having been on Wheel of Fortune! time passed pretty quickly. I did have to ask Aurelia how to say “I was a contestant on a television game show.”… “J’ai été candidat un jeu télévisé, qui s’appelle “Wheel of Fortune!” Each classmate then asked me 2 questions. By this time my brain was a bit fried, so my answers weren’t too smooth. In English, something like this: “Before.. drove.. red Camaro cool. Won…4-door Buick. Good for baby; I prego.”… with lots of hand gestures… they got the general idea.

Our overall impression thus far is that, of course, we will learn so much more having attended this immersion school than if we had just gone to weekly classes at Alliance Française in Dallas. But still, at least for us, learning another language is not something that comes easily or quickly, and for every thing we learn, there are a thousand more to be learned. We’re having fun, though, and doing it in a most beautiful corner of the world.

Here are some pics from our weekend outings to Nice and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Sunrise from our Apartment.

Sunrise from our apartment.



Moonrise from our apartment.

Moonrise from our apartment.



We walked over the hill to Nice to visit an exhibition for Steve McCurry...which was awesome.  McCurry took his most recognized portrait, "Afghan Girl", in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan in 1985. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the National Geographic magazine.

We walked over the hill to Nice to visit an exhibition for Steve McCurry. It was stunning. McCurry took his most recognized portrait, “Afghan Girl”, in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan in 1985. The image itself was named as “the most recognized photograph” in the history of National Geographic magazine.



Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry



Steve McCurry photo from India.

Steve McCurry photo from India.



Steve McCurry photo from Peru. The caption says it is a toy gun.

Steve McCurry photo from Peru. The caption says it is a toy gun.



Steve McCurry photo from Thailand.

Steve McCurry photo from Thailand.

The downtown park in Nice reminded us of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.  The layout was similar and there were tons of kids playing in the water fountains.

The downtown park in Nice reminded us of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. The layout was similar and there were tons of kids playing in the water fountains and playgrounds.



Shauna posing at the famous Hotel Negresco in Nice.  The building contained a wonderful mix of 18th paintings and contemporary art.

Shauna posing at the famous Hotel Negresco in Nice. The building contained a beautiful mix of 18th century paintings and contemporary art.



The beach at Villefranche was a rainbow of colors.

The beach at Villefranche was a rainbow of colors.



The sand looked a little course.

The sand looked a little course.



Upon closer inspection, we realized that it is actually made up of small rocks.   Looks pretty uncomfortable if you ask us.

Upon closer inspection, we realized that it is actually made up of small rocks. Looks pretty uncomfortable if you ask us. Some of the beaches at Nice consisted of even bigger stones.



The bay at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat included a wide mix of boats - from small put-puts to large yachts.  As an aside, Cap Ferrat was named in 2012 as the second most expensive residential location in the world after Monaco.

The bay at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat included a wide mix of boats – from small putt-putts to large yachts.   The blue yacht  appeared to be well over 300 feet long.  As an aside, in 2012 Cap Ferrat was named as the second most expensive residential location in the world after Monaco.



We visited the gardens at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild which is located on Cap Ferrat. The villa, which was built in the early 1900s, is surrounded by nine gardens, each of a different theme: Florentine, Provençal, Spanish, French, Japanese, exotic, a stone garden, a rose garden, and a garden de Sèvres. The remainder of this post includes some additional pictures of the garden.

We visited the gardens at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild which is located on Cap Ferrat. The villa, which was built in the early 1900s, is surrounded by nine gardens, each of a different theme: Florentine, Provençal, Spanish, French, Japanese, exotic, a stone garden, a rose garden, and a garden de Sèvres. The remainder of this post includes some additional pictures of the garden.



We visited the gardens at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild which is located on Cap Ferrat. The villa, which was built in the early 1900s, is surrounded by nine gardens, each on a different theme: Florentine, Spanish, Garden à la française, exotic, a stone garden, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, Provençal and a garden de Sèvres.  The remainder of this post includes some additional pictures of the garden.

Classical music was playing throughout the gardens and the water fountains were synced to the music.  Very nicely done.



One of the Rothschild Gardens.

One of the Rothschild Gardens.



A view of another villa from the one of the Rothschild Gardens.

A view of another villa from the one of the Rothschild Gardens.



A view of the Rothschild Villa from one of the Rothschild Gardens.

A view of the Rothschild Villa from one of the Rothschild Gardens.



Unusual cactus specimen from one of the Rothschild Gardens.

Unusual cactus specimen from one of the Rothschild Gardens.



Another of the Rothschild Gardens.

The Rothschild Japanese Garden.



The Rothschild Spanish Garden.

The Rothschild Spanish Garden.



Final shot from the Rothschild Gardens.

The Rothschild Grotto.