Sylvain Machefert

Mais Aux Patrons

In certain towns within the Dordogne region, you may notice a new tree planted or tree branches tacked on to the front of local businesses along with a couple of small tricolore flags and a sign annoucing ‘Honneur’. Find out what it means…

Group of people playing the game of petanque

The Game of Pétanque, a French Institution

Pétanque is one of the most popular pastimes in France and can trace its origins to Provence, where it goes hand in had with animated conversation and an apéritif. The goal is to throw steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called the cochonnet in an attempt to knock the opponent’s boules out of the way.

BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l'Armagnac)

The beginner’s guide to Armagnac

Southwest France is a treasure chest of history to be discovered and one of its oldest riches is the noble brandy Armagnac. Armagnac is France’s most time-honoured spirit that was first recognised in 1310 when Prior Vital Dufour vaunted the

La Galette des Rois

This galette is made especially for the Ephiphany to celebrate the arrival of the Magi. The custom is to hide a little charm or fève within, and the lucky guest who finds it is crowned King or Queen.

Portrait of a Frenchman

Flirt like a Frenchman

Stopping at a crêpe stand for a snack , I recently witnessed a prime example of the art of flirting. As he handed over the thin pancake sprinkled with sugar to a lady who was clearly past the first blush

The Smallest Art Gallery in Paris

The Smallest Art Gallery in Paris

Located in number 142 rue Montmartre –an address dripping with history, where Emil Zola printed his manifest “J’accuse”– lives the 1SQM art gallery, one of the smallest in the world and certainly the smallest in Paris. The building once housed

Word of the Week: “Pouvoir”

This is a double-edged word that can go to your head or put you in control of your own destiny and it has a way of always making its way to the media headlines. Let’s look at the word pouvoir

French Word of the Week: “Ennui”

For all the good intentions and inescapable cheer, the holidays can be followed by indefinable hollowness. There’s no need to fight the feeling; you can wear it with style and choose to view it as a trés chic état d’esprit.

Peak Demand for Oyster Farmers in France

It’s not a French Christmas or Réveillon without oysters, and these two weeks account for 69% of annual revenue for oyster farmers. Despite reports earlier this year of a mystery disease killing off oysters in droves, and an expected increase

Word of the Week: “Voeux”

OK, I’m cheating a little bit. We are not just going to talk about one word but several, to help us navigate the yearly minefield that is… season’s greetings in French.

Word of the Week: Relativiser

Here’s a verb that could change your life, or at least change the way that you look at it. The word relativiser offers a glimpse into the linguistic equivalent of the Gallic shrug.

Eiffel tour

Word of the Week: Tenir

A verb that can lift your soul to the heavens or put you down to the lowest depths of disdain, the word tenir has many more layers than it first appears. So many, in fact, that we are just going

Claude Monet, Camille Monet on a Garden Bench, 1873 ©WLA Met Museum

Word of the Week: Le Flâneur

“The lover of life makes the whole world his family”, said Baudelaire of the true flâneur, the emblematic Parisian urban observer. You can find them ambling on the banks of the Seine, strolling along the boulevards, or in the unrushed

French Word of the Week: Épanouissement

Épanouissement is the French word for bloom, but this literal botanical sense is only one of the many uses of the word. It also comes closest to that elusive concept that the Declaration of Independence evokes as the right of

How many names can you give a baby in France?

After the excitement about the name of the new bébé royale across the channel HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, parents in France had a renewed incentive to get creative. Earlier this week the Prime Minister’s office of legal

Too much romance in Paris

Commitment is not always a ball and chain; in Paris it’s a padlock. On the Pont des Arts, thousands of romantic couples lock their promise to the railings of the bridge creating a dilemma for the authorities.

Party like it’s 1789

Image Yann Caradec via flickr   Bastille Day on the 14th of July is the celebration of the French National Day, commemorating the oath of July 14th 1790 – exactly a year after the storming of the Bastille – the