Tagged: French

Loving Sabotage – A Belgian novel

Loving Sabotage, written in 1993 by the Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb, is a short novel about a young girl whose family has been posted to Peking. There, she falls in love with her friend Elena, who rejects her, and she ends up learning some life lessons at a very young age. It’s set in the Seventies, and is written from the point of view of a seven-year-old, which makes for very interesting reading. Living in an enclosed expat world, the young girl offers us an insight into her life. What makes it work is that although it’s written in the first person as a seven-year-old, the language is very sophisticated (far more so than your average little kid’s…) and the similes are though-provoking and unusual. The author has succeeded brilliantly in letting us into the mind of the girl (who we in the end find out to be the author herself)  whilst at the same time not using a patronising, juvenile style.
It has been described by critics as being “The funniest book I’ve ever read about the cruelty and delusions of childhood”, and speaking as a teenager myself (because clearly, my opinion is worth soo much), I’d have to agree. It’s sad and naïve at times, but at others, what the critics say is true: it’s laugh-out-loud funny – not something you’d necessarily expect, reading the blurb of the book.
The length of Loving Sabotage – 135 pages – makes it ideal to read during school time, because you don’t have to dedicate large chunks of time to getting into the story. The downside to this, however, is when you’re done with it, you want it to be longer… It’s worth bearing in mind when reading that it was originally written in French – something you really don’t notice when you’re in the middle of it, perhaps because the translation is so good.

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Le réveillon and Bûches de Noël – France

Although the number gets smaller every year, some French people attend Midnight Mass on the night of Christmas Eve – December 24. When they get home – in the middle of the night! – they gather with their families for a big meal called le réveillon. This name comes from the French word réveil, which means “waking”. This is because participating in the feast involves staying awake not only until midnight, for the Mass, but into the small hours of the morning, for the meal.  They usually eat oysters, snails, seafood, smoked salmon, or caviar as a starter.  As the main course, people eat a roasted bird: this is normally goose. For dessert, each family has its own tradition, but  a Bûche de Noël (like a Yule Log) is commonly eaten. People try and make these look as log-like as possible,with chocolate buttercream textured to look like bark. The bûche is then decorated with powder sugar resembling snow, berries, leaves and moss, which are often made out of a meringue-like mixture.

    

 

Loving Sabotage – a review

Loving Sabotage, written in 1993 by the Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb, is a short novel about a young girl whose family has been posted to Peking. There, she falls in love with her friend Elena, who rejects her, and she ends up learning some life lessons at a very young age indeed. It’s set in the Seventies, and is written from the point of view of a seven-year-old, which makes for very interesting reading. Living in an enclosed world, the young girl offers us an insight into her life. What makes it work, is that although it’s written in the first person as a seven-year-old, the language is very sophisticated (far more so than your average little kid’s…) and the similes and though-provoking and unusual. The author has succeeded brilliantly in letting us into the mind of the girl (who we in the end find out to be the author herself)  whilst at the same time not using a patronising, juvenile style.

It has been described by critics as being “The funniest book I’ve ever read about the cruelty and delusions of childhood”, and speaking as a teen myself (because clearly, my opinion is worth soo much), I’d have to agree. It’s devastatingly sad and naïve at times, but at others, it’s true: it’s laugh-out-loud funny – not something you’d necessarily expect, reading the blurb of the book.

Its length – 135 pages – makes it ideal to read during school time, because you don’t have to dedicate large chunks of time to getting into the story. The downside to this, however, is when you’re done with it, you want it to be longer…

It’s worth bearing in mind when reading that it was originally written in French – something you really don’t notice when you’re in the middle of it, perhaps because the translation is so good.

About The Europhiles – With teenage contributors from  all over Europe, was set up for us young people to celebrate everything we love about our continent. We post about anything at all that interests us: food/movies/books/music/foreign words/ news stories/what’s going on in Europe generally. We always love guest posts – if you’d like to contribute anything, please email us at theeurophiles@gmail.com

3 of the Best… French Singers

There are, of course, thousands of great French singers, so while these 3 might be some of my favourites, it’s very subjective…

1. ZAZ

ZAZ, otherwise known as Isabelle Geffroy, sings super uplifting jazz-styles songs. My favourite is ‘Je Veux’ – released in 2010, it was a massive hit and kinda makes you want to be her…

She has been described (in the French magazine Telerama) as having a  “sacred voice” – listen to this and see if you agree: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm88QAI8I5A

2. Gérald de Palmas

His album “Marcher dans le sable” got him the Best Francophone Album of the Year in 2002, and here’s a fun fact: Celine Dion translated his song ‘Tomber’, and sang it in English titled ‘Ten Days’.

Here’s the his and hers version… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eDGbuQ_uE

3. Carla Bruni

So France’s ex-first lady is not only famous for posing naked, being involved with Mick Jagger and being married to Nicolas Sarkozy – she actually has a really good voice (and writes her own lyrics too). Her first album  ‘Quelqu’un m’a dit’ was successful in French-speaking countries, and various songs from it have been used in other things – some in movies, and one in an H & M advert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvyMG0z0FZY

the fête de la musique – Paris

Every 21st of June or every first day of summer in Paris, there’s a really cool cultural event called « Fête de la musique ». It’s a day dedicated to music, it’s a   « music day » and its purpose is to celebrate the longest day of the year. It starts at 6pm and lasts until around 1am. During this period you can be as loud and creative as you can ! It’s very nice because the 21st of June is usually a very hot day in Paris which makes the evening just perfect. Many streets are closed to cars and are invaded by musicians, dancers and mostly young people and teens wandering around, stopping to watch and eventually dance !

It’s not only a day to play music but also to discover new artists. Music is heard anywhere you go, and it’s also very different from one place to another, some are professional, some are just a group of 5 boys having fun playing songs of their favorite bands. If you go to the Jewish neighbourhood you might see a bunch of rabbis dancing on a techno remix of traditionnal jewish music. The gay neighbourhood is quite epic too with all those men dressed as women and women dressed as men getting crazy on loud club music. I think the most romantic spot remains the quays of Notre-Dame where groups of friends gather with their instruments watching the sun set on the Seine. If you come to Paris, try to be there with friends on June 21st ! It’s a really fun way to visit the city by night.

– Mikal

“thank you” in 5.7% of Europe’s languages

Saying thank you is always nice. And it’s even nicer when you can say it to someone in their own language. Nelson Mandela once said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language – that goes to his heart”. And whilst you probably won’t be able to speak every single language on the planet (about 7,000 of them), it’s still nice/useful to be able to say a few words of Albanian, isn’t it?

There are an estimated 260 languages spoken in Europe, but here’s how to say thank you in 15 of them (that’s 5.7% of all the languages of Europe!!!):

1. French – merci

2. German – danke

3. Dutch – dank u

4. Spanish – gracias

5. Italian – grazie

6. Portuguese – obrigado

7. Croatian – hvala

8. Danish – tak, Nowegian – takk, Swedish – tack

9. Greek – ευχαριστώ (efcharistó)

10. Bulgarian – благодаря (blagodarya)

11. Polish – dziękuję

12. Russian – спасибо (spasibo)

13. Irish gaelic – go raibh maith agat

14. Turkish – teşekkür ederim

15. Albanian – falemnderit