Parlez lentement, s'il vous plaît!
This blog isn't about computers or software, so something unique is going to happen: we're going to propose a computer program. It isn't even French (it's Dutch), but it is very handy when learning French.
For those who tried learning French this problem will be familiar. You did your best to learn the words and to conjugate the verbs. You even manage to pronounce the words like the French do. Bravo!
But hey, now you have spoken to real Frenchmen and you didn't understand a word. It was way to fast... Your teacher will advise you to practise a lot. Listen to French songs, look French television. No way this will help. It's even more frustrating, since on French television they talk even faster than in real life.
Now there's a solution: BestPractice. While it plays audio cd's and mp3-files, it allows you to adjust the speed of the recording. You may also adjust the tones, so it doesn't sound too weird.
I'm sorry. There’s no excuse left not to exercise anymore. Just don't forget to gradually turn up the speed...
Posted by Peter at 07:49 AM [4 reactions]
Hitch-hiking like in the old days
It sounds like something old-dashioned: hitch-hiking. However, you can do it in a modern way. Just look for somebody who goes the same direction on the internet. In France this is called 'covoiturage'. You find a driver or a passenger e.g. at Covoiturage.com and Carstops.org.
Now this is nice and comfy, but it lacks the excitement of meeting strangers and arriving at odd places. For this, you really need to hitch-hike like in the old days. However, here too there's help on the Internet. there's a list of best places in France to stick up your thumb.
For those who forgot how to do that, it remembers you to write down your direction in very huge letters.
Voor niet meer weet hoe dat ook al weer moest, ontbreekt zelfs de aanbeveling niet om op een stuk karton in joekels van letters aan te geven waar je ongeveer heen wilt.
Posted by Peter at 07:29 AM [What do you think?]
This year, visit the republic of Saugeais
It might be fun to visit France on this years holidays, but you will certainly not impress your neighbours by telling so. Make them jealous by visiting a country that's on no map: the republic of Saugeais. Happy coincidence: it's not that far away. It lays on the banks of the Doubs riber, near the Swiss border. The country has it's own female president, the daughter of the former president, who was the wife of the president before her. The country has an army, a stamp and citizens of honour. When you're there, don't forget to visit its abby and its watch makers museum.
Big neighbour France tolerates the tiny state for nearly 60 years now. In fact, the whole idea is a French joke. When a prefect visited the village of Montbenoit, a local hotel owner asked him for his visum. The prefect answered that a country requiring a visum needed its own president. The hotel owner was sworen in inmediately. The people of Montbenoit, always a bit scared of influences from outside, still play the game as if it was a real thing.
Posted by Peter at 07:53 AM [What do you think?]
Grave monument of Pontius Pilatus was just a pub pillar
To bad lots of travellars just pass by the city of Vienne. While modern traffic speeds south, a bistory of 2.000 years remains waiting.
Apart from old churches, the city has a Roman amphitheatre and a Roman temple to offer.
But it's a smaller Roman monument that's really special. It's a pillar of twenty meters, called 'The Needle' or 'The Pyramide'. The people of Vienne used to think it was a grave monument. Such huge monuments of course were build for important dignataries. The names of Pontius Pilatus and Emperor Agust were mentioned.
The local tourist office, not afraid of marketing tricks, doesn't tell more. At the national Culture Department however, they know better. A grave monument? No way. It was just a publicity pillar for the antique circus of Vienne.
Posted by Peter at 07:25 AM [What do you think?]
No more rubbish problems for sailors
Sailing is fun. To bad you must carry your rubbish ashore every now and then.
So, the french company Obell is happy to announce it developed floating trash-collectors, that will remain in position even during heavy storms. If you're captain enough to steer a bit, you can have your sailor dump the trash while passing by.
For the time being, they're only used at sea ports. he first ones are installed at the Bassin of Arcachon(Les Landes), Corsica, Martigues (Bouches-du-Rhône), Saint-Raphael (Cote d'Azur) and Collioure (eastern Pyerenees).
Posted by Peter at 07:10 AM [4 reactions]
On the black slope, keep starboard
Okay, you might be able to ski this black slope, but only if you continue to keep starboard and lower your foresail. If you were not in the alpine ressort of La Clusaz (Haute-Savoie) this week, you might have missed this line. The ski village was dedicated to sailing...
About 30 sailing ships are exhibited around the church on the occasion of Voiles des neiges, Sailes of snow. Anyway, sportsmanlike people who were there now know what to do next summer.
If you heppen to be around, today is the last day of the event.
Posted by Peter at 07:04 AM [What do you think?]
Feel like a pope
Want to feel like a pope? Just a little bit, so you don't have to divorce? Oh, and you won't loose any luxury.
After all, the popes of Avignon lived an abundant life too. Just like the other popes in Rome, by the way.
In the 14th century, Avignon was the city of popes. The french king had persuaded the pope to move from the unstable city of Rome to the peaceful town of Avignon. When this happened, Rome decided to elect it's own pope.
Anyway, as a result Avignon still has this enormous Palace of the Popes. Till the first of june, every Saturday and Sunday there are guided tours through the hidden palace. Parts are shown that were not revealed before to modern tourists and the guides tells about the very pleasant every-day-life of the popes. The tours come with a brunch om the terrace where the popes enjoyed the pleasures of life.
This trip is not suitable for disabled, nor for people who can't afford 30 euro per person for a guided tour.
Posted by Peter at 07:44 AM [2 reactions]
Drive a horse without O-legs
You might ride a horse or a pony, but it wil give you O-legs. You might use a carriage behind your horse, but you will look oldish. You may forget about your animal and become an inline skater, but you will get tired.
Recognize this problem? Then take a look in Escrennes, 22 miles northeast of Orléans. At Chevottissimo you may do Roller Joering doen. Now you still know nothing. Bottom line is the horse or pony pulls you, while you stand on 'of the road' inline skates. Looks sportsmanlike. If you can handle the animal, it's fast too.
For the time being it's just a commercial concept for the Chevottiissimo company, but the company hopes to make Roller Joering a real sport.
Posted by Peter at 07:48 AM [What do you think?]
Women day with Toulouse-Lautrec
Ladies congratulations, it's the international women day today. In the town of Albi in the Cevennes area it's no question how to celebrate this day. You do organiza a lecture about painter and illustrator Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The painter, already famous for his posters for the Moulin Rouge which had just opened, was born here. No surprise we find a museum with his work in town.
He found his inspiration at the hookers of Paris. According to his girl-friend, singer Yvette Guibert, he felt strong compassion with them: ,,AIf he talks about them, his warm nature can be seen.''
Posted by Peter at 07:55 AM [1 reaction]
Rack-and-pinion railway for Villard-de-Lans
Suppose, your city has a nice ski area in a gorgious nature park, the Vercors. You want this resort to give your residents work and mony, of course. Problem: you've got so many snow your guests can hardly arrive over there.
That's the situation of Villard de Lans for over half a century. They've discussed all kinds of cable cars and so on, but couldn't afford one. Until now. They managed to get the old rack-and-pinion railway from Lausanne, for free. Now they just have to build a 4 miles railway from the village to the ski area.
Obviously, the city council doesn't want anybody to object anymore. So they only speak about "the little train". See the project poster, and you know it's true...
Posted by Peter at 07:45 AM [What do you think?]
A party in Bamboo Park
The Bambouseraie or Bamboo Park in Anduze reopened this week for it's 150th season. Now that's worth a party, because it was difficult enough to keep it open.
The Bambouseraie was instituted in 1856 by a tradesman from the Cevennes region, who made a fortune in spices. He was rich enough to buy bamboo, but went bankrupt from the maintenance of the park.
Luckily the park was bought by somebody who was even richer. The park has been in the hands of his family ever since. Now, apart from bamboo up till 23 meters other exotic plants are to be seen as well.
The 150th anniversary is celebrated by lectures and exhibitions of both plants and art.
Posted by Peter at 07:42 AM [2 reactions]
The bedroom of Van Gogh
In this year of Rembrandt and Cézanne one could easily forget about Vincent van Gogh. In Arles, where Van Gogh stayed for two very productive years, they did something about it.
In the shadow of the Roman amphitheatre the bedroom of the painter, well known from no less then five paintings and drawings by the master him self, has been redecorated according to the paintings. You may visit it starting today till the end of October.
However, it's not really the room Van Gogh used to sleep. That room was somewhere else at the Roundabout des Arènes, but was bombed during the Second World War.
Posted by Peter at 07:36 AM [What do you think?]