Wines and Cheeses, what are the best pairing ?

Dear wine lovers,

Everything comes to an end, even the good things ! We are pleased to announce the last event related to the French semester that will help to answer the most complicated and controversial question in France : Which wine to drink with my cheese ?

When : Tuesday 14th June from 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Why : To pair cheeses with wines from France

Where : At the Club House (to be confirmed)

What will we eat ? : More than 12 different types of cheeses with different intensities to introduce the diversities of the french production. All the cheeses will come from the fromagerie “Les Alpages” in Grenoble, with the support of Bernard Mure Ravaud Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2007.

What will we drink? : We will propose 5 types of wines to taste depending on the cheeses.The cost of this event is 30 euros/pers.

To book tickets please send email to, we will confirm your booking and will inform you how to pay.
See you soon

The wine club

15/06 Nuit d’étoiles

The JRC French Semester in association with the with the support of JRC Associazione Culturale Europea (ACE) is happy to offer a musical evening with a classical programme of arias choices on the theme of “emotions” for soprano and piano with Soprano: Laura Scotti and Piano Angela Villa.

With pieces from C. Debussy, R. Hahn, G. Fauré, J. Massenet, F. Poulenc, E. Satie, G. Bizet

Nuits d’étoiles is a good reminder of the beauty of music and also to keep being in awe of all our constellations.

When: 15/06; — 21:00-22:15  

where: Club House Auditorium  

Registration: link coming soon

Britanny night!

Brittany will be on stage! dinner, presentations on local fun facts, and dance

Brittany will be on stage! dinner, presentations on local fun facts, and dance

There’s a lot to learn about Brittanny, where you can be away from the fast pace and life comes with wind in your hair and feet in the sand….and where food is a long tradition with the ocean in the front seat !

So why not join us for an evening of fun facts, good food,the sense of partage (sharing) and good time together..

Here is what we have in store for your evening..

  • Conference on cider by Mark Gleonec (President of CIDREF )
  • Degustation of ciders
  • Dinner based on the tradition of sea products from Brittany
    • Live comments by Pierre Ley on the tradition of conserverie in Brittany
  • and the famous dessert “Kouign Amann”
  • and of course, there will be music to dance !

Price : 25€ /person

Drinks (wines, beers, etc.) : buy your own

Where: Officine Dell’Acqua – Viale G. Garibaldi, 12, 21014 Laveno-Mombello VA (

Registrations: More details and on-line booking coming soon

Dégustation of aged “Crus Classés” of Bordeaux

On Monday May 16th  at 18:30, we shall have in the Club House a wine tasting of aged Crus Classés of Bordeaux presented by our colleague Javier Gallego.

2005 Château de Fieuzal Pessac-Léognan (Grand Cru Classé de Graves) | Vivino

The price to participate in this event is 30 €. The whole fundraising will be dedicated to an “Europa Terzo Mondo” project, except the amount due to the Club house (3e/pers).Here are the list of wines :

Férrière 2005 Margaux 3rd Cru Classé (3CC)

Fieuzal 2005 Pesssac Leognan Cru Classé (CC)

Léoville Poyferré 1995 St Julien 2nd Cru Classé (2CC)

We shall taste three wines, less than the usual number in the French Semester tasting events, because aged wines require a longer time to explore.

In parallel, there will be an auction sale of a few prestigious other Crus Classés. Again all the money will be donated to ETM.

List of bottles that be auctioned: 

Average market price
Minimum Bid(
Phélan Ségur2002St Estèphe CB304480
Grand Corbin Despagne2005Saint Emilion CC305048
La Tour Blanche2003Sauternes 1 CC4066143
Sociando Mallet2001Medoc CB507762
Camensac  Magnum2005H Médoc 5cc 60102
Ponntet Canet1995Pauillac 5cc80149219
Baron Pichon-Longueville1995Pauillac 2CC100203265
Pavillon rouge-Ch. Margaux1995Margaux100217222
Cos d’Estournel1995St Estèphe 2CC100234376
Latour1994Pauillac 1CC2005681059
Margaux1995Margaux 1CC200684820

All the bottles have been aged in a conditioned cellar (13° in summer)

We have to limit the number of participants to 50. For registration please send a message to
See you soon

FR Semester VéloMai: “a vélo” with Stendhal & friends on Lake Maggiore

It is VeloMai, and we have prepared something special for you !

NEW DATE: due to uncertainties with weather, the event will be May 22nd

We offer for the Sunday 22nd May a nice “promenade” bike ride with culture and food , the perfect combination!.

It is one-day bike ride (approximately from 10 am to 5 pm, length about 35 km), medium / low difficulty, with outdoors nature and cultural stops with reading from French authors who have written about Lake Maggiore.

The day includes a lunch stop with French products.

Costs: € 15.00 / each – possibility to rent a bike for € 5.00 (electric bikes € 10.00)- departure and arrival in Piazza San Martino in Ispra.


Lake Maggiore fascinated and inspired great French artists, who discovered these places in the wake of Napoleon Bonaparte or during the “Grand Tour” and other travels during the 18th and 19th centuries. The pedaling itinerary starts from Ispra and touches the municipalities of Angera, Ranco, Cadrezzate with Osmate, Brebbia, Monvalle, touching Lake Maggiore and crossing the hinterland. We will observe the landscape from various points of view and during the day we will heapassages by Stendhal, Flaubert, Dumas and others. The lunch break will be in the form of a picnic and will have French products as its theme.

  • Date: Sunday 22 May, 2022 (10.00h), register by 19 May
  • Registration: Bicycle Shop Romeo, piazza san Martino 63, 21027 Ispra.
  • Phone and WhatsApp: +39 348 8516 760
  • Email:

Huge thanks to Jean-Michel TERRES for the idea ad the organisation !

Bouillon Chartier Restaurant in Paris

Created back in 1896 with a concept of providing hot wholesome French food at a reasonable cost, this still stands true today within a building that has been classed as a historical monument where you can get a main course for only around €10

About the Bouillon Chartier Restaurant

The Bouillon Chartier was first founded back in 1896 by two brothers, with a very simple concept of being able to provide a decent meal at a reasonable price for local workers, where the patrons would come back time and time again.

And along with its ornate architecture and the unique Belle Epoque interior, which has remained the same and been preserved over the years, this building became recognised as an historical monument in Paris in 1989, and to date, well over 100 years later, there have still only been four owners who have all kept the same philosophy as the original founders of the restaurant.

Having a wooden frontage, glass roof and very high ceilings supported by columns, along with exceedingly large mirrors adorning the walls, there is also a mezzanine area for dining.  And with paper tablecloths, which is what your order is written on, along with paper napkins that are used to write out your bill, this is a very traditional restaurant in Paris that still carries on the original quirky features from all those years ago.

Cuisine at the Bouillon Chartier Restaurant

You will find traditional French cuisine with a wide variety of dishes served at the Bouillon Chartier restaurant, still with very reasonable prices and you can have a three course meal for around €20, plus the wines are also very good prices.To give you an idea, for starters you could have snails, tomato salad, vegetable soup, hard boiled egg or prawn mayonnaise, Foie Gras, grated carrot vinaigrette or a lettuce salad with bacon to name a few choices.

Main courses could be grilled rump steak and French fries, roast chicken, spaghetti bolognaise, Sauerkraut from Alsace, baked sea bream, duck confit with new potatoes and many others.

You could then opt for a choice of cheeses such as Camembert, Goats cheese, cottage cheese etc, but even having a few will not break the bank.  But there is also a fantastic selection of tempting desserts to choose from such as peach melba, prunes in wine with vanilla ice cream, sorbets, rum baba, fresh pineapple, and many others you could choose.


French expressions – April 2022


Porter le chapeau (literally ‘to wear the hat’):

This expression means to be held accountable for something (a crime or failure).

Hats have been associated for centuries with social status, as looking at somebody’s hat one could usually determine their profession or social class. For example, aristocrats would often wear distinctive top hats.

In the 17th century, ‘putting a hat on someone’s head’ implied changing the hat they originally wore and therefore slandering them or ruining their reputation.

In the 20th century, the expression we hear today, ‘to wear the hat’, evolved with the meaning of being guilty or accused of something.

You may also hear faire porter le chapeau à quelqu’un (‘to make someone wear the hat’), which means to make someone responsible for something.

Sur les chapeaux de roues (literally ‘on the hats of the wheels’): 

This expression is often used with the verbs commencer (to start), partir (to leave) and démarrer (to start up/kick off).

It means to move off very quickly.

Les chapeaux des roues (‘the hats of the wheels’) was a term used to describe the hubcaps of a car – the decorative metal or plastic disks we find on wheels. When a driver took a turn too quickly, it would look like the hubcaps touched the ground and the expression evolved to refer to any activity that starts quickly.

Travailler du chapeau (literally ‘to work from the hat’):

This expression refers to someone who is perceived as delirious or a little bit crazy.

In the past, hat-makers in factories were exposed to mercury in the felt used to make the hats. They would therefore suffer from symptoms such as slurred speech, memory loss, insomnia and delusions.

To the outside eye, they would appear to be crazy, which inspired the expression.

In English, a saying of similar origin is ‘mad as a hatter’.


Un homme de paille (literally ‘a man of straw’):

An ‘homme de paille’ is somebody who presents themselves as someone else, often in a dubious affair.

In the 17th century, the expression was used to describe somebody of low social standing, with little financial means – they were seen to be as worthless as straw.

It is said that an association was made with someone who covers for others by lending their identity – his morals are worthless, again like straw.

However, another theory is that the expression was inspired by the straw mannequins used in combat training, which took hits instead of a real person.

Homme de main (literally ‘a handman’):

A ‘handman’ is someone who carries out (often violent) actions for another. An English equivalent might be ‘henchman’.

The hand in this expression represents action and is synonymous with combat. The ‘handman’ carries out the orders of someone else.

Comme un seul homme (literally ‘as a single man’):

This expression means ‘unanimously’, ‘together’ or ‘in agreement’.

It has its origins in the Old Testament, in the Book of Judges where ‘all the people [of Israel] stood like one man’ to demand justice for a crime that had been committed.

The image of ‘one man’ represents unity and is employed multiple times throughout the Bible, including in the Books of Samuel and Ezra.

One of its first recorded uses in the French language was in 1832 by the writer Balzac in his novel La Femme de trente ans (A Woman of Thirty). 

The “Tour de France” of the French Wines

Dear wine lovers,

The JRC Ispra Wine Club together with the French Semester Committee are pleased to organize the Tour de France of the wine tasting which will be done with a dinner.

When : Friday 6th May from 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Why : To discover the large variety of wines from France

Where : At the Nuova Mensa (through the external gate, so open to everyone)

What will we eat? : some french specialties, including appetizer, Aligot and saucisses from Aubrac region, Comte cheese from Jura and dessert.

What will we drink? : To not interfere with your tasting, that will stay a surprise but we will propose 6 different wines. Of course, each one will be presented and discussed during the event.

The cost of this event is 30 euros/pers.

For technical reasons, we have to limit participation to about 130 persons. First come, first serve !

To book tickets please send email to, we will confirm your booking and will inform how to pay.
See you soon

The wine club

French Wine Event March: Under the sun of the Rhone Valley…

Dear wine lovers,

We are extremely pleased to announce new events related to the french semester.

The wine club together with the french semester committee will organize a series of 6 events. Four of them will be held at the club house and will focus on the most famous French appellations, and two large tastings will be held at the Mensa (one to present French wines and the second on wine and cheese pairings). We will come back to you for the other events.

Let’s start with the first one:

Monday 28th March from 6.30pm to 8.00pm, at the club House:

Under the sun of the Rhone Valley, 2 whites and 3 reds from Lyon to Avignon

To book tickets please send email to 

The cost of this event is 15 euros/pers.

For technical reasons, we have to limit participation to about 40 persons. First come, first serve !

See you soon

The wine club

What languages and dialects are spoken in Alsace-Lorraine (Grand est region)?

“You will not have Alsace or Lorraine! “. This expression, popularized by the film of the same name, you have already heard it at least once. And for good reason: Alsace and Lorraine have crystallized the main disputes between Germany and France over the past 400 years.

Beyond the torments of history, these conflicts have nevertheless bequeathed to us a rich and singular linguistic heritage. For centuries, Alsatians and Lorrainers alternated between German and French, in addition to their dialects


Alsatian or Alsatian German refers to the Upper German spoken widely in Alsace, in particular the Alemannic and Franconian dialects. Alsatian is not a linguistic dialect group in and of itself, but rather a collective geographical term for the Upper German vernaculars that are spoken in the Alsace region.

In Alsace, the German dialects are generally more widely spoken than in Lorraine, where the French language and its dialects remain dominant. In a survey commissioned by the Office for Language and Culture in Alsace, 43 percent of residents in the Alsace region answered that they spoke Alsatian German, 33 percent answered that they had a basic knowledge of it and 25 percent had no knowledge of the Alsatian dialects. 

The Lorraine Dialects

Similar to the Alsatian, the Lorraine dialects refer to a collective geographical term for the Central German dialects spoken widely in Lorraine, in particular the Rhine Franconian and Moselle Franconian dialects, to which the Luxembourgish language also belongs. The Lorraine dialects shouldn’t be confused with the Lorrain language, which is sometimes considered a dialect of French and sometimes considered its own language (dialects and languages don’t always have hard boundaries).

The southern, central and western regions of Lorraine traditionally belong to the French-speaking world. The northwest region, on the other hand, has traditionally been part of the German-speaking world. The German-Lorraine dialects, however, have been in decline since the end of the Second World War and are threatened with extinction.

A Historical Overview Of Alsace-Lorraine

Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Celtic language was established in Alsace-Lorraine around 600 BCE. This was supplemented or replaced by Latin during the Roman period (ca. 60 BCE to ca. 400 CE). With the migration of peoples, Germanic dialects also entered the region and spread. In the Middle Ages, Alsace in particular was a predominantly German-speaking area. These Germanic dialects — particularly Alemannic and Franconian — are grouped together today under the term Alsatian.

Early Modernity

The present-day regions of Alsace and Lorraine belonged to the East Franconian Empire (later the Holy Roman Empire) after the Treaty of Meerssen in 870. The regions remained German for almost 700 years until 1552, when the French king obtained sovereignty over the diocese and the city of Metz with the Treaty of Chambord.

About 100 years later, in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, the areas finally became a part of France. At the same time, France was granted the former Habsburg territories in Alsace. Most of Alsace-Lorraine was gradually annexed under Louis XIV in the second half of the 17th century. While the region had gradually become French, at least politically, it remained culturally influenced by German. The majority of the population continued to use German or their respective Germanic or Romance dialect in everyday speech. French, however, was the official language of administration, business and diplomacy.

The 19th Century

Despite the defeat of Napoleon, Alsace and Lorraine remained in France. The German-speaking inhabitants of the country — who in spite of French rule had largely remained connected to German culture before the French Revolution — increasingly oriented themselves towards France and Paris. Given that there was no general requirement that school be held in French, however, German remained the vernacular language in Alsace and German Lorraine.

The modern era was linguistically turbulent in Alsace-Lorraine, because language was now being used as a political means to mark one’s affiliation with France or the German Empire.

After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, parts of Alsace-Lorraine were annexed to the German Empire. The demarcation essentially followed the language boundary. That is, where it was strategically convenient. Suddenly, 200,000 people who spoke French as a native language — some 15 percent of the population of Alsace-Lorraine — found themselves belonging politically to Germany, just as the German-speaking residents of the same region had once suddenly found themselves in France.

With the passage of a March 1872 law, German became the official language of the region. This wasn’t as rigorous as one might assume, however. Yes, German was generally the official language of business, but in parts of the country with a predominantly French-speaking population, public notices and decrees had to be accompanied by a French translation. The new German administration also adapted to the language barriers in other ways. For example, in 1873 a law was passed that decreed that in areas where German was the vernacular, it would be the exclusive language of instruction in schools. In areas with an overwhelmingly French-speaking population, instruction would be conducted exclusively in French.

Additionally, the French names of locations in the French-speaking areas were retained. Some place names were Germanized in 1871, because it was suspected that an older Germanic form of the same name was behind them. This renaming was reversed when it turned out to be historically untenable.

Nevertheless, a decline in the French was palpable. In 1900, 11.6 percent of the population of the Empire spoke French as a native language. In 1905 that declined to 11 percent, and in 1910 further to 10.9 percent. The largest section of the French-speaking population lived in the Lorraine district. Here, 22.3 percent of the population was native French speakers in 1910. The only area with a majority French-speaking population in the year 1910 was Château-Salins (68.4 percent).

The World Wars

At the end of the World War I, Alsace-Lorraine returned once again to France. The language politics came sharply to a head, and were now strongly directed against the German language and the Alsatian dialect. French became the mandated and exclusive language of both business and school. At times, speaking German was even forbidden under penalty of law.

In 1919, a total of around 200,000 Germans from Alsace and Lorraine were expelled, with only around half able to return in the following months after American pressure on the French government.

The pendulum of restrictive language politics swung once again in the other direction, ever more strongly, during the occupation of Alsace-Lorraine by the National Socialist regime between 1940 and 1944. The Nazi government relocated and persecuted French residents without German roots. The hacking away of personal freedom in the name of Germanization went so far as to require French first names be converted to their German versions.

The ruthless Nazi policies hurt the German-speaking population after the end of World War II. Lingering resentment promoted the region’s return to France and the disintegration of the Standard German language in Alsace. The wish to include German in addition to French as the official language of government and business, present until 1940, hardly existed anymore.

Indeed, the French government’s policy of linguistic assimilation fell on fertile ground. French was seen as stylish, and the German dialects vanish. The majority of the population born after 1970 no longer speaks them at all.

Contemporary Languages In Alsace-Lorraine

Today, Alsace is shaped by bilingualism, with French is the official language of government, commerce and school instruction. The German dialects and Standard German are still spoken, albeit in sharp decline and mostly used by older generations and people in rural areas.

According to a 2001 study, 61 percent of the population of Alsace described themselves as speaking Alsatian. Among young people, only 25 percent answered that they occasionally used the regional language in conversation. Even more dismal for German, only around five percent of incoming schoolchildren had demonstrable skills in the language.

The Future Of German In Alsace-Lorraine

Contrary to what one might assume due to the declining number of speakers, the dialects in Alsace-Lorraine are currently in an interesting phase. They may soon be considered their own language. The Alsace-Lorraine dialects have been decoupled from Standard German. There are tendencies towards their own standardization, and since 2003, there has been an attempt through Orthal (Orthographe alsacienne) to unify and standardize the Alsatian spelling, meaning to create its own written language distinct from Standard German.

Recently, both private initiatives and the government have also been involved in supporting bilingual education in Alsace-Lorraine. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the number of students attending bilingual schools or kindergartens has risen. Who knows what language will dominate in Alsace and Lorraine in 50 years: French, a German dialect or a different language entirely?

Hauts-de-France has two regional languages: Picard (often called “Chti”) and West Flemish

Picard (often called “Chti”) language

A Belgo-Romance language, Picard stood out from the 5th century in the dialects of northern France: it was the time when the Picard “cat” or “cot” began to differentiate itself from the French “chat” . At the end of the 9th century, the Cantilène de Sainte Eulalie, one of the very first texts written in the vernacular (kept in the library of Valenciennes), included forms identifiable as Picardy: “cose” for “chose”, “diaule for “diable”.
Picard became a great literary language (scripta) between the 13th and 15th centuries, with authors such as Adam de la Halle and Jean Bodel (Arras), Froissart (Valenciennes), Robert de Clari (Cléry-sur-Somme near Péronne ), or even the anonymous chantefable Aucassin et Nicolette. It was also, in the big cities of the North, the language of administration and social regulation.

Picard is a language close to French, but it is neither a patois nor a dialect of French: sociolinguists speak of a “collateral language“. It has original phonetics, grammar and vocabulary, which can be learned for example in the French-Picard Dictionary published by the Regional Agency of the Picardy Language.

Picard is traditionally spoken in a large part of Hauts-de-France, including in the northern slopes where it is often called “Chti” or “Chtimi” (nickname given during the 1st World War to the Poilus du Nord, in reference to the Picard words “chti” [the one], “ti” and “mi” [you, me] which punctuated their conversations). It is also the regional language of Western Hainaut in Belgium. According to an INSEE survey in 1999, between 10% and 27% of the adult population of Nord, Pas-de-Calais and Somme spoke or understood Picard.

map of regional languages spoken in Hauts-de-France region

Picardy literature

From the prestigious medieval literature already mentioned, succeeded from the 17th century new literary modes such as the song or the pasquille. François Cottignies dit Brûle-Maison (1678-1742) from Lille is a precursor to a line of singers.

An abundant literature in the Picardy language developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. From the years 1840-1850 appeared political writings: the revolutionary Pierre-Louis Pinguet (Gosseu), in St-Quentin, the Bonapartist Clément Paillart in Abbeville (creator of the hero Jacques Croédur), Hector Crinon in Vermandois, Henri Carion (known as Jérôme Pleum’coq) in Cambrai. Then comes the time of singers and poets: Emmanuel Bourgeois in Vers-sur-Selle, the Lille resident Alexandre Desrousseaux (author of the famous P’tit Quinquin), Jules Watteuw (known as Le Broutteux) in Tourcoing. Over the course of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, authors multiplied, as did literary genres. The best known name for Picardy is that of Édouard David, sensitive poet of the small Amiens people (Chés lazards, Chés hortillonages…). In the North, a phenomenon unique in France, miners take up the pen in Picardy: Jules Mousseron, from Denain, the author of the famous stories of Cafougnette, is the best known. In Lille, Simons remains a prominent figure with his plays which earned him the nickname “Pagnol du Nord.”

From the 1960s, Picard took the turn of modernity: Pierre Garnier (from Saisseval) was an eminent representative of “spatialist poetry” with which he combined Picard, while in Belgium the great poet Géo Libbrecht, at the autumn of his life, returns to the Tournaisian Picard of his youth to create a sensitive work. At Berck, Ivar Ch’Vavar is a key figure in contemporary poetry in Picard and French.

At the start of the 21st century, the number of authors who continue to write in Picard is surprising. The Literature Prize organized by the “Agence Régionale de la Langue Picarde” receives dozens of quality texts each year. Major national publishers have undertaken to have popular works of French literature translated into Picard, in particular comic strips: Asterix, Tintin, Little Nicolas and the Little Prince have thus begun to speak Picard.

The Picardy Regional Language Agency

Since 2009, the Regional Agency for the Picardy Language has supported the Region in promoting the Picardy language. It works to improve the image of this language in all sectors, and to develop the presence of Picard in schools and extracurriculars. It accompanies the actors in their productions and their creations, distributes written, sound and audiovisual funds, provides training in Picard, supports the organization of unifying events in Picard such as the Festival ed ches Wèpes.

West Flemish language

West Flemish is spoken in France in most of the arrondissement of Dunkerque, in the Belgian province of West Flanders and in part of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. The total number of speakers is estimated by Unesco at 1.5 million, including a few tens of thousands to varying degrees in France.

It comes directly from West Germanic. It is the result of the fusion of two currents, one Lower Franconian from the northeast and the other from the west attributed by linguists to the establishment of Saxons settled on the coast, in particular in the Boulonnais . Another theory, based on archaeological discoveries, evokes the hypothesis of a lingua franca born of economic exchanges between the two shores of the North Sea. This second influence explains the elements that West Flemish shares with English. From the Middle Ages and because of the geographical proximity, Picard lexical and phonological elements were incorporated. West Flemish has also undergone its own evolutions, particularly in France.

In its written form, the greatest authors lived mainly in Bruges during its great period of economic prosperity. We can cite Jacob van Maerlandt in the 13th century, Cornelis Everaert, Edward De Dene or Robert Lawet in the 16th century. From the end of the 16th century, the economic center moved from Bruges to Antwerp, which caused changes in the written language. The Flemish characteristics are rejected and the written language takes on a Brabant character. Then, after the fall of Antwerp in 1585, the economic and cultural center shifted again to the major cities of southern Holland. Significant changes then occurred in writing, which reflected the language of the Dutch elites. In the course of these developments, the written language has become increasingly distant from spoken West Flemish. The author who aspired to notoriety had to write in the written form in vogue at his time. The chambers of rhetoric will be centers for the dissemination of these different varieties of written language to the elites.

It will be necessary to wait until the 19th century to see literary texts in West Flemish again, in France at Petilion and in Belgium at Omer K. De Laey or at Guido Gezelle with a very particular form of written language mixing contemporary elements and others fallen into disuse in an attempt at purist research. Outside the literary context, the man in the street who was able to write a hybrid language mixing the regional language and written forms in use at his time.

From the 18th century, we see the beginning of a questioning of the written norm. For example, in 1791, Bouchette, a native of Winnezeele and Jacobin deputy for Bergues, criticized the distance between the language of an official text probably written by a rhetorician from Bergu and the language spoken by “the country people”, that is to say the West Flemish: “His first attempt is good, and much better than the Flemish of your municipal ordinance: it is detestable, and made to make fun of your country people. Why not write his mother tongue as the people speak it? “. Also during the French Revolution, in order to reach a more popular audience, propaganda texts were imbued with West Flemish.
Nowadays, books are regularly published in West Flemish or about this language in France and Belgium. Linguists publish many scientific articles about it. The song in West Flemish had a new start from the 80s of the last century and recently it is enjoying renewed popularity in Belgium.

French expressions March 2022


Avoir du cœur au ventre (literally ‘to have a heart in your stomach’)

This expression means to be brave. It dates back to at least the 15th century, when it was employed by prominent count and soldier Jean de Bueil.
It is said that in the Middle Ages, ‘ventre’ referred to not only the belly but also the torso and chest. The chest later became known as le petit ventre (‘the little belly’).
The heart, having symbolised qualities such as sensitivity and courage since Greek times, is in its rightful place in this expression, fulfilling the role it is known for – giving courage. 

Faire le joli coeur (literally ‘to behave like the pretty heart’)

This expression, which was coined in the mid-19th century, means to behave like a seducer.
The heart, being the central organ of circulation, has been long used metaphorically to symbolise love or affection.
The adjective joli is used ironically here, as the expression implies a level of cunning or disingenuity.

Haut les cœurs! (Literally ‘hearts up!’)

This expression is an encouragement to launch oneself into action with enthusiasm, coined in the Middle Ages.
When raised high, the heart – symbolising courage and energy among other virtues – meant overcoming anything that could be holding one back, such as fear, obstacles, and fatigue.
The expression is a translation of the Latin sursum corda, a versicle (sentence sung in church service aiming to incite a response) used in mass to encourage attendees to take part in enthusiastic worship.


Verser un pot-de-vin (literally ‘to pour a pot of wine’)

This expression means to bribe.
In the 16th century, to ‘pour a pot of wine’ simply meant to leave a tip – to thank somebody for their services, often in the form of a drink or a small sum of money to buy wine.
However, over the centuries the expression took on a negative meaning and now refers to offering somebody goods or money in order to gain some kind of advantage from them.

Boire le calice jusqu’à la lie (literally ‘to drink the chalice down to the dregs’)

This expression means to endure something painful until the end. This can be a test, an experience, a humiliation.

The saying was coined around the 17th century. Here, the reference is to the cup of wine drank by a priest during mass. In christianity, the chalice represents the wrath of God. To drink its wine to the dregs – the deposits left at the bottom – is therefore to endure something torturously painful until the very end.

(être un) Sac à vin (literally ‘to be a bag of wine’)

To be a sac à vin is to be a drunkard.

It is said that this expression was coined in the 15th century when it was used by women as a nickname for their drunken husbands. At the time, wine was stored in leather bags but the sac could also refer to the belly, which is known to grow with the consumption of alcohol.


‘Être dans le rouge’ (literally ‘to be in the red’) means to be in a delicate financial situation. It is particularly used when a bank account is in minus figures, as it is in English.

Être marqué au fer rouge (literally ‘to be branded with a red iron’):

This means to be traumatised.
During the Roman times, criminals were branded on the forehead with a red-hot iron, in part to remind them of their crimes and in part to warn the rest of the population.
While this punishment was eventually abolished, branding was still used on animals, especially cattle and sheep, in order to be able to differentiate them.
A red (hot) iron is therefore associated with suffering, and is used, in this expression, to symbolise trauma.

Tirer à boulets rouges (literally ‘to shoot red balls’)

The phrase means to verbally attack or insult somebody.

It is said to date back to King Frederick William I of Prussia in the 18th century, who wanted to make his cannonballs more destructive. As a result, he decided to heat them in a cannonball oven before launching them at the enemy.
In addition to the destruction caused by the collision, the heated cannonballs also started fires.

The expression was first used literally, but later took on a figurative sense of attacking verbally, which it has maintained to this day.

Le rouge est mis (literally ‘the red is placed’)

This expression means that a decision is final. It has been used since at least the beginning of the 20th century.

One theory is that it comes from the world of racing, where a red disk would be placed on the scoreboard to show that the results were final.
Another theory is that the term relates to television sets, where a red light indicates that no interruption is possible.


Mettre sa main au feu (literally ‘to put your hand in the fire’)

This expression means to be sure of something.
It originated in the Middle Ages when people accused of crimes were subjected to ‘trials by ordeal’ – painful ‘tests’ in which the results were thought to be the ‘judgement of God’ and therefore a sure way to determine a person’s guilt or innocence.

One such ordeal was trial by fire in which an accused would have to put his or her hand in fire or seize a red-hot iron. If the hand healed quickly, it would mean that the accused had told the truth.
Now, when somebody is very sure that what they are saying is correct, they say that they would put their hand into fire to prove it, certain that if this were the trial by fire, theirs would heal quickly.

Mettre le feu aux poudres (literally ‘to put fire into the powder’)

This expression means to trigger a violent reaction or aggravate a situation. An English equivalent might be ‘to add fuel to the fire’.

It derives from an older expression coined by the navy in the 16th century – mettre le feu aux étoupes. It translated to ‘to set fire to oakum’, which was used to make fuses for weapons, and meant to arouse anger.

In the 18th century, the oakum was replaced by (gun)powder in the expression.

The image is therefore of lighting the fuse of a powder keg and watching it ‘get angry’ and explode.

It is said that in the 18th century, the phrase also took on an erotic connotation but it has mostly lost that aspect, and is nowadays used mainly used to illustrate the act of provoking someone to get angry.

Tirer les marrons du feu (literally ‘to pull chestnuts out of the fire’)

This expression means to profit from or reap the benefits of something at someone else’s expense.

It was popularised in writer Jean de La Fontaine’s fable Le Singe et le Chat (The Monkey and the Cat), published in the second half of the 17th century.  In the fable, the monkey convinces the cat to take roasting chestnuts out of a fire, with the cat hurting his paw but the monkey himself remaining unharmed in the process.

The original expression was tirer les marrons du feu avec la patte du chat (‘to pull chestnuts out of the fire using the cat’s paw’), accusing the subject of the expression of a level of opportunism.

Although the expression was abbreviated to simply ‘pull chestnuts out of the fire’, it still often implies benefiting from something at somebody else’s expense.

Veloscenic cycle route, 450 km from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel

The Veloscenic is a well-signposted route from Paris via Chartres and Normandy, to the Mont St-Michel. This exceptional trail crosses such gorgeous areas as the Chevreuse Valley, the Perche, French Maine and the Bocage Normand. The route is accessible to different levels of cyclist. Long stretches are along greenways, linked by quiet roads.

the cycle route (click to see detailed routes)

Vélodyssée, the atlantic cycling route

La Vélodyssée, French part of the Atlantic Coast Route – EuroVelo 1 is a bicycle route that crosses Brittany and along the Atlantic to the Basque Coast, La Vélodyssée is an invigorating cycling journey through landscapes of unspoilt beauty.
Get on your bike and explore this cycle tour of over 1200 km with its beautiful ocean backdrop! Between Roscoff and Hendaye, 70% of the route is on traffic-free paths. Discover our regional treasures as you follow the longest, fully-signposted cycle route in France.

The route (click on map to see detailed routes)

The spirit of La Vélodyssée is:

A new kind of holiday, with a more sustainable, slow tourism experience

No more hurrying from place to place. Really take the time to explore a location using ‘slow’ (non-polluting) modes of transport with destinations close to you. 

Whether you’re travelling with family, as a couple, or with friends, discover France’s west coast at your own pace, with all of its treasures along a safe route marked from north to south and south to north. Route guidebooksGPS tracks, and our website will make it easy for you to plan your holidays and will guide you along the way.

Exchanges and encounters at the heart of your journey

Share a moment with family or friends, the ideal opportunity to talk and connect with each other as you roll along France’s west coast.

Take advantage of accommodations specially for cyclists in Accueil Vélo (Cyclists Welcome) lodging, as well as services dedicated to cycling. 

Meet men and women who are the heart and soul of the regions traversed by La Vélodyssée: visit an oyster farmer in Charente-Maritime, a winemaker in Landes, a chocolatier in Basque Country, a lock keeper in Brittany, and more. Try out a session of surfing, land sailing, canoeing, boating, or another fun activity with a local professional. Go bird watching, guided by a specialist from the Vendée.

All along the cycling route, meet fellow travellers on La Vélodyssée: families, couples, groups, or single riders, young people and less-young people, riders going ‘down’ towards the south and those going ‘up’ towards the north. You’ll meet people going on day trips or just a weekend and others going long-distance, not even stopping at the end of La Vélodyssée and instead continuing along the rest of the EuroVelo 1 cycling route.

Incredible diversity!

From Brittany, the land of legends, to the Loire Estuary, from marshes in the Vendée to beaches in Aquitaine, from north to south on this French cycling route, you’re guaranteed to find a huge variety of magical, natural landscapes: canals, moorlands, marshes, dunes, beaches, pine forests, wooded countryside, pools, and more.

So many choices! You’ll fall head over heels for quintessential French cities like Nantes, La Rochelle, Rochefort, Royan, Bayonne, Biarritz, and more.

You will be stunned by emblematic tourist sites like the Nantes-Brest Canal, the Poitevin Marsh, Fort Boyard, Arcachon Bay, Dune du Pilat, and the Landes forest. And let’s not forget about those stops along the way to taste local farm products you don’t want to miss.

La boule de fort

Traditional game of the Loire Valley and in particular of Anjou, which dates back to at least 1660, boule de fort is the only sport that is practiced in “charentaises” (slippers)!

Initiation et découverte de la BOULE DE FORT à SAUMUR (49)

The combination of the ball slightly offset center of gravity (strong side) to the tread (metal circle) with the extremely “rolling” raised-edged-playground gives the ball a slowly zigzag course.

Would the game have inspire or been inspired by lawn bowling practiced throughout the Commonwealth or by “bourle” practiced in Haut de France, Belgium and the Netherlands?
Was it inspired by the ball games of the sailors waiting for the tide in the “Gabares” hold?


Still, it is unique in France and classified as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

What about you givin’ a roll with us!

Reunion island Ultra trail “La diagonale des fous” ( The madmen’s Diagonal)

Reunion Island is heaven on earth for those who enjoy outdoor sports, and there are almost 1,000 kilometres of hiking trails winding all over the island. 42% of the island is listed as World Heritage by Unesco.

You can enjoy all kinds of sports on the ultimate island (MTB, paragliding, diving, deep-sea fishing, canyoning) but one of them is unique, original and sometimes offers a brand-new experience: the Grand Raid of Reunion Island!

The Grand Raid of Reunion Island is considered a legendary “Ultra Trail”, due to the difficulty encountered and the rugged mountain tracks of the island. There are four races in this competition, including the “Diagonale des Fous” (Madmen’s Diagonal) which is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT), which groups together the most iconic races in the discipline.

La Diagonale des fous has even been named the most iconic Ultra Trail in the world by the French magazine l’Equipe.

Test your limits !

To end the season, every year in October, those looking to win the title come to the island to participate in the Grand Raid of Reunion Island.

The very best of the world’s trail runners come every year, to take on the 166 km, with 9,600 metres of uphill climbs, departing from Saint-Pierre, and try to get to Saint-Denis as quickly as possible.

The Grand Raid of Reunion Island, at the heart of the national park, is for those looking for some excitement and for experienced trail runners. It is a popular race with participants from the island, from metropolitan France, overseas and from all over the Indian Ocean. The Reunion Island Diagonale des Fous is well-known across the globe, and is one of the 15 most difficult races in the world, with participants coming from 50 different countries!

 This race is more than just a trail run, it’s an opportunity to push the boundaries, it’s a challenge, the “Madmen’s Diagonal”. You have to be a madman/woman to run across Reunion Island, from south to north.

Up in the mountains, with conditions that can sometimes be unpredictable, the Grand Raid of Reunion Island is all about effort, solidarity, conviviality, encounters and the ultimate pleasure for the senses. Thanks to these sensations, emotions and thrills, competitors always aim to push themselves to their ultimate limits.

How can you prepare for an ultramarathon on Reunion Island ?

Regular weekly training
You need to train on a regular basis At least 4 sessions per week are essential to be able to run an ultramarathon. We also recommend regular physical training such as weightlifting.

Long-term preparation 
You should start your preparation well before the race. Start preparing for the race around ten months before, and make sure you put on the brakes one week before the competition.

Adapt your body to intense effort and differences in altitude
Get used to running for a long time and along tracks with steep uphill/downhill sections. If you live on flat terrain, you can train in a gym to replace the training sessions in mountainous terrain.

Test equipment
Make sure you test your equipment before the day of the race. Some of your equipment could be faulty or maybe not suitable for your body shape and/or the way you run.

Mental preparation
This race is a long and difficult one. The landscapes you’ll be crossing may be magnificent, but the challenge will not always be pleasurable. Make sure you prepare yourself mentally, to be ready to take on the Grand Raid of Reunion Island.

Study the terrain
We recommend you study the terrain before taking on this race. If you know the terrain well, you will be able to manage your race and your endurance much better. If you can’t go there before the actual race, you can study the map.

Manage your pace and endurance
With the right training and experience, you’ll be able to develop your own strategy for the race. Learn to know your own body and know how to manage your effort.

Good recovery
After such an effort, you must remember to recover properly. Make sure you plan for recovery time and plenty of rest. If you do not recover properly after this kind of effort, this could lead to serious injuries.

Anjou by bike

Anjou is located at the heart of renowned local, national or European cycle routes such as “La Loire à Vélo“, “EuroVélo 6” or “Vélo Francette®“, “Vélobuissonnière” or the “Loir Valley by bike” (roadmap) to cross several regions of France.

Wild Loire and Corniche angevine circuit

On the Wine Routes, this wine tourism circuit of 58 km by car takes you through the vineyards of the Anjou corniche, its small villages and on the banks of the Loire… Take the opportunity to taste one of the AOC wines of the region !

The Champignon de Paris is actually a famous Angevin…

The Champignon de Paris is actually a famous Angevin…

Passed from the catacombs of Paris to the humidity of the troglodyte cellars of the Loire Valley, button mushrooms are one of the flagship products of Anjou.

Despite its name, the “champignon de Paris” mainly grows… In the Loire Valley, and more specifically in Saumur, which alone concentrates more than 50% of French production!

In particular, it is used in the so convivial recipe of Galipettes.

The “Crêmet d’Anjou”

Le Crêmet d’Anjou, this evocative name well defines this emblematic Angevin dessert.

Made from fresh cream and known for a long time, it echoes the “douceur angevine“.

“The delight of God”, according to Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland, Angers 12/10/1870; † Paris 22/07/1956) who brilliantly praises it: “Le Crêmet d’Anjou is a delight of God. No whipped cream equals this frothy, fragrant, creamy and light little heap”.

Taste the cream according to your desires, plain, accompanied by honey, syrup or even accompanied by red fruits.

How about making up your own mind? (Recipe in FR)

Le Crêmet d’Anjou

Le Crêmet d’Anjou, ce nom évocateur caractérise bien cet emblématique dessert Angevin.

Fabriqué à base de crème fraîche et connu de longue date, il fait écho à la « douceur angevine ».

« Régal des dieux », selon Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland, Angers 12/10/1870 ; † Paris 22/07/1956) qui en fait un brillant éloge : « Le crêmet angevin est un régal des dieux. Nulle crème chantilly n’égale ce petit mulon mousseux, parfumé, onctueux et léger », le crêmet se déguste au gré de vos envies, nature, accompagné de miel, sirop ou encore accompagné de fruits rouges.

Que diriez-vous d’en juger par vous-même ?

Biathlon, from an unknown sport to a popular discipline

While the Winter Olympics start Friday 4th February in Beijing, the discipline is indeed more and more known. Still very confidential ten years ago, this sport has benefited from growing media coverage which has given it better exposure, especially on television. Despite this popularity, the practice remains more limited, with less than 6,000 licensees in France

Biathlon is one of the most challenging winter games which gives thrilling experience in chilled winter. This winter sport is a mixture of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Biathlon is difficult to play because here the athletes participating in a cross country skiing race are distracted by frequent stops to shoot at sequence of targets. Biathlon is a combination of five events − individual, sprint, pursuit, relay, and mass start.

In this game, the athletes compete in cross country skiing and shoot series of targets from a distance. The athletes need to be fast, focussed, and have more stamina. Every time the target is missed the biathlete either gets an additional time or distance penalty. It is important that the skier is fast enough to maintain the competition but should be slow enough to maintain control. In this game the athletes carry a rifle and shoot the target from the distance of 50m.

Biathlon – How to Play?


Individual race is the oldest event of biathlon. The male biathlete runs a distance of 20km while the female runs over 15 km. In this event the skier has to shoot four targets each in five laps. The shooting positions for the target is prone, standing, prone, standing. If the target is missed then a one minute penalty is imposed.


Sprint has 10 km distance for males and 7.5km for women. Here the distance is covered three laps. The biathlete shoots once in the standing position while second time in the prone position. Every time a shot is missed a penalty loop of 150m is to be skied before the race can be continued.


Contestants for the pursuit event are chosen from the sprint event. Top 60 finishers of sprint race qualify for this event. The pursuit race is of 12.5 km for males and 10 km for females. Biathlete with the best timings in sprint event starts the race and is followed by other deserving candidates accordingly. The objective of this race is to accompany the leader and patch up ground to be the first to cross the finishing line.
The pursuit race is parted into five laps and four shooting bouts. Here the racers can team up at the target areas of the race. It’s better to shoot in the sequence of their arrival at the shooting range. Mostly this means that the racers simply stand and wait for their turns. Every time they miss a target a penalty loop of 150m is imposed before the racer can go along the course.


In this event all the biathletes start at the same time from the same source. After completing their course, the biathletes have to touch the next biathlete who will be running the next part of the race. For male biathletes relay is a 4 x 7.5 km and for female biathletes relay is a 4 x 6 km.

In short, all the four biathletes have to cover the distance in three laps and two shooting bouts. All qualified biathletes have to perform two shooting rounds. In each shooting round the biathlete faces five targets. In case if a shot is missed they are given three chances to manually load the bullet and try again. For the fourth time a penalty loop of 150m is to be covered.

Mass start

Mass start is the latest event that was included in biathlon events in 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. In this event top 30 biathletes who managed to maintain the best scores in other four events start the race altogether. For male biathletes mass start is a 15km race and for female biathletes it is 12.6km. There are five laps and four shooting rounds and for each missed target a penalty loop of 150 m is to be covered.

Martin Fourcade

Martin Fourcade

Martin Fourcade is a biathlete from France who has won overall world cup five times and he is the only biathlete to do so. Along with this he also won Olympics two times. Martin started his career in 2002 and in 2006 he started participating at international level.

He won bronze medal in junior championship in 2007. Since 2007 he kept participating and improving his rank. After 2010 winter Olympics he took part in world cup and won a silver medal. He won 2009-2010 Pursuit world cup.

In 2011, world championship he took part in mixed relay and finished 3rd. He also won a silver medal in sprint event of biathlon. After that he took part in pursuit event and won gold. In 2012-2013 session he won silver in world championships in sprint and pursuit and a gold in individual. In 2013-2014 session he won a gold in mass start event in world championship and 2014 Olympics.

Rougail Saucisses

Caris and rougails

Caris is not exactly curry but both are related since Reunionese cuisine has several roots, mainly Indian, French, Malagasy, Chinese. No recipe is the ‘property’ of any ethnic group, for instance samosas are mainly sold by the Chinese despite their Indian origins.


Here are simple recipes of Reunionese caris and rougails. These dishes are accompanied by rice, legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) and also brèdes, i.e. green leaves or shoots, sautéed or in broth, such as chards, turnip shoots or catalonia (in Italy), while in Reunion, it will be more shoots of chayotes (chouchous), pumpkins etc. 

It is also possible to accompany these dishes with mango or tomato rougail or achards (a version for the dummies is presented here).

These recipes may be found in many books (in French) including, for example, Le grand livre de la cuisine Réunionnaise (sorry for the advertisement on Amazon): some Reunionese will not agree with the addition of tomatoes in the poultry cari and the use of turmeric (curcuma) in the rougail sausages can be discussed… Lovers of séga (one of the two local musics with maloya) will listen to “the assassin put turmeric (curcuma) in the brèdes mourongue” (translation of the title) which demonstrates the culinary differences on such a small territory (50 kms x 50 kms). You could also watch with profit the videos of the late Christian Antou. 

Generic sauce base

Onions: 250g

Garlic: 4->6 cloves

turmeric (curcuma): ½ -> 1 teaspoon. The best turmeric (curcuma) is obviously from Reunion, falsely called ‘saffron’ over there

Ginger -> 20g -> 40g

oil (ex: olive): 3 tablespoons, a little more if the onions stick

The onions are browned in oil. Garlic is then added, followed by turmeric (curcuma) and herbs (allspice leaves or bay leaf or thyme). 30 seconds maximum after adding the turmeric (curcuma), add 25 cl of water and crushed ginger, if necessary. Everything cooks gently for 20 minutes. No salt or pepper.

The sauce can then be frozen. Each block is enough for 4 people and is suitable for the following quantities:

  • 400 to 600 g of meat or fish
  • A small can or even a large can of beans
  • 250 g of homemade lentils or legumes.

To use a block, simply pass the box under a trickle of warm water. The ice cube of sauce will then be used as is. 

Rougail sausages – boucané (smoked pork)

Count 400 to 600 g of material for 4 people. Montbéliard sausages (French specificity) are suitable. The smoked pork does not come from the belly but rather from the ribs, the loin or even the blade. For those who live in the south of Paris, the best Reunionese sausages can be found at the Charcuterie Vayaboury (the owner is the daughter of my brother’s charcutier in Saint-Denis, Réunion).


Allow 5 minutes in boiling water for Reunionese sausages, probably less for Montbeliard. A second desalination is possible, depending on the sausages. In both cases, the sausages will be desalted whole and not pierced. They will then be cut into sections (two to four depending on the size). You can press it down with a fork to remove excess fat. Boucané that is still frozen can be desalted directly. 

The boucané will be desalted in blocks for 5 minutes, possibly at the same time as the sausages. Then, it will be cut into small pieces of 2 to 4 cm and desalted again for 5 minutes.

Start the sauce

While desalting the sausages and boucané, you can prepare the sauce as described above or use a frozen sauce base. In the latter case, pour the still-frozen block of sauce stock into a small pot, along with a small or large tin of tinned tomatoes (for example from the Cirio brand), depending on whether you like a rougail with a lot of sauce or not. Cut the tomatoes into pieces.

In season, you may prefer fresh tomatoes (count 400 to 800 g, preferably peeled).

Fresh or canned tomatoes can be cooked gently until the bottom of the sauce has defrosted (approximately 10 mins). You can mash the sauce using a potato masher.

Adding sausages and/or boucané

The sausages and boucané will be added to the sauce and cooking will continue for another ten minutes. Add water if necessary. Check their cooking.

Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary (reminder: no added salt or pepper so far, at any time, since the sausages and boucané are already salty). It is possible to add bird peppers (remove the seeds if you are too sensitive to the hot spicy taste).

Leave to stand for 20 minutes to 2 hours and reheat before serving. This rougail should not be prepared too much in advance (it is possible but brings nothing, if not the possibility of degreasing it a little).


If just-made sauce stock is used, the legumes will be cooked directly in it, adding water or not, depending on whether canned legumes is used or not.  Crush the legumes a little bit (see photo below). If using frozen gravy stock, follow the instructions below. 

Use the sauce base or pour a block of still frozen sauce base and a small box or a large box of canned beans into a small pot. Pepper. Add water if necessary. Cook for 10 minutes after the sauce base has thawed. Taste before salting because the boxes are often already salted. Red beans go best with meat and white beans with fish, shellfish and seafood, but this is not an absolute rule.

It is possible to use beans (fresh or dried), lentils or other legumes that have been cooked beforehand. Avoid canned lentils or coral lentils.

Crush the sauce using a potato masher (a little) to thicken the sauce and soften the beans (less important for lentils) 

Fish or shrimps cari

Count 400 to 500 g of material for 4 people .

Start the sauce

Use the sauce base or pour a block of still frozen sauce base and a small or large can of canned tomatoes into a small pot, depending on whether you like a curry with a lot of sauce or not. In season, you may prefer fresh tomatoes (allow 400 or 800g, preferably peeled). Cut the tomatoes into pieces.

Fresh or canned tomatoes can be cooked gently until the base of the sauce has defrosted (about 15 to 20 minutes). You can mash the sauce using a potato masher.

It is possible to add bird peppers (remove the seeds if you are too sensitive to them). Add water if necessary. Taste and salt and pepper. 

Adding fish or shrimp

They will be added to the sauce, even frozen, and cooking will continue depending on the fish or shellfish. Check their cooking.

Serve fairly quickly. 

Poor man’s vegetable achards for dummies 

Raw material

A bag of about 250g of an assortment of vegetables in a bag, for example, in France, with the crunchy plate of Florette with white cabbage, carrot (these two ingredients being essential), frisée, red pepper (the latter being recommended)

You can add a few sprigs of raw cauliflower or a few raw or lightly steamed green beans, preferably slivered (cut in half, or even more, in the direction of the length).

For the seasoning:

  1. a small or medium onion, finely cut
  2. two cloves of crushed garlic (you can add more if you like)
  3. two to three tablespoons of neutral oil (not olive or rapeseed)
  4. fifteen grams of crushed ginger ( you can add more if you like)
  5. a tablespoon of vinegar (preferably red)
  6. a teaspoon of Hilly for instance Espelette pepper (it is still a spicy recipe…). Normally it is recommended to add some ‘real’ hot pepper but OK most of these recipes readers will be European ….Nevertheless, it is also possible to put some hot pepper cut in pieces without the beans and to take it out before adding the vegetables to get a spicy oil
  7. Half a teaspoon of turmeric (curcuma)
  8. A level teaspoon of salt


  1. Fry the onions over medium or low heat WITHOUT BROWNING
  2.  Reduce the heat
  3. Add the garlic 
  4. Add more oil if necessary
  5. After 30 seconds, add the ginger and the turmeric (curcuma)
  6. After 30 seconds maximum (turmeric burns easily), turn off the heat
  7. Add the vegetables in a bag, the cauliflower (optional), the chilli and the salt and mix well
  8. Pour everything into a deep dish
  9. When the dish is cold, refrigerate
  10. Add the vinegar at least two hours before serving (you can add it after the salt if you want)
  11. Adjust the seasoning if necessary before serving

It should look something like this.


We’ll keep it simple here, “Italian style”. Roughly chop the shoots or leaves, peel two or three cloves of garlic and cut them in half. Fry the garlic cloves in the oil and just before they brown, add the leaves. Cook covered or not (up to you). You could also use some cari sauce and put the bredes in it.


Fill the plate with rice, evenly: the rice must absorb the sauce from the cari or rougail, legumes and brèdes. Serve the other preparations, each one having to occupy its own space on the rice.

For example, don’t serve as below.

Below goes roughly:


No great wine for these dishes. For example a basic Bordeaux, a Beaujolais, red for sausages or boucané or a beer. In Italy, an everyday Barbera, even frizzante. Maybe a Dolcetto. But nothing sweet.

For fish or shrimp, not too strong dry white or a light red. 

No rum, consumed only as an aperitif or digestive.

French gastronomy map from 1929

Published in 1929, the gastronomic map of France by Alain Bourguignon, former chef, allows you to immerse yourself in the culinary heritage of France and its taste specialties.

Gourmet menu?
Cheeses, wild fruits, game, desserts, local specialities, drinks…

Drawn in its first version by the geographer engineer Thiebaut on a text by the cook Alain Bourguignon, this map provides a geographical portrait of the culinary and gastronomic arts in France.

Click on the map to zoom
Initial version, 1929

FrancoProvençal, a dialect group spoken in east-central France, northern Italy and Switzerland.

FrancoProvençal (also FrancoprovençalPatoisGagaSavoyardArpitan or 
Romand) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance originally spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland and northwestern Italy.

Franco-Provençal has several distinct dialects and is separate from but closely related to neighbouring Romance dialects (the langues d’oïl and the langues d’oc, in France, and Rhaeto-Romance in Switzerland and Italy).

Even with all its distinct dialects counted together, the number of Franco-Provençal speakers has been declining significantly and steadily. According to UNESCO, Franco-Provençal was already in 1995 a “potentially endangered language” in Italy and an “endangered language” in Switzerland and France. Ethnologue classifies it as “nearly extinct”.

The designation Franco-Provençal dates to the 19th century.
In the late 20th century, it was proposed that the language be referred to under the neologism Arpitan (Franco-Provençal: arpetan; Italian: arpitano), and its area as Arpitania; the use of both neologisms remains very limited, with most academics using the traditional form (often written without the dash: Francoprovençal), while its speakers actually refer to it almost exclusively as patois or under the names of its distinct dialects (SavoyardLyonnaisGaga in Saint-Étienne, etc.).

Formerly spoken throughout the Duchy of Savoy, Franco-Provençal is nowadays spoken mainly in the Aosta Valley, in Italy. It is also spoken in the alpine valleys around Turin and in two isolated towns (Faeto and Celle di San Vito) in Puglia.

Franco-Provençal is also spoken in rural areas of French-speaking Switzerland.

In France, it is one of the three Gallo-Romance language families of the country (alongside the langues d’oïl and the langues d’oc). Though it is a regional language of France, its use in the country is marginal. Still, organizations are attempting to preserve it through cultural events, education, scholarly research, and publishing.

Song in Arpitan from Billy Fumey

“La cervelle des canuts”

Current research highlights the fact that “For the canut, a silk worker who was not very wealthy, this dish replaced the lamb’s brains that his means did not allow him to afford”. This is confirmed by a gastronomic chronicler: “The brains of a canut often constituted the essential part of a canut’s meal. Its name claqueret (the brains of the canuts are also called claqueret) comes from the fact that the white cheese must be well beaten (claqueret) for the recipe to be successful”.


  • 250 g faisselle or fromage blanc
  • 50 g cream cheese or double cream
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 spring onion (white)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch of grey salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Peel the garlic clove, shallot and spring onion. Wash the parsley and chives and dry them. Put everything in a mini chopper.
  • If you use a faisselle cheese it should be drained in a bowl. Add the crème fraîche (or cream cheese) and whisk vigorously.
  • Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and the chopped mixture. Taste to see if the seasoning suits you.
  • Set aside for at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving. This is great with steamed potatoes and toasted bread.

“La Pompe aux grattons” what a funny name for …..

This brioche with lardons which is part of the jewel in the crown of provincial, country-style gastronomy. In the past, it was cooked by the peasants and tenant farmers of Bourbon (and Berry) with the rind of the pig that was killed for the holidays. From the fried pieces to recover the fat (the lard), the parts with a little meat were recovered: the grattons. It is made with a classic brioche dough, but with a third less eggs. You can instead of the “grattons” prepared it with blue cheese, walnuts, St Nectaire cheese and why not mixed all together!

Like potato pie, most bakers in the region offer it to their customers.
It is often served warm as an aperitif or as a starter with a green salad.

Preparation time: 20 min
Break time: 2 h 15
Cooking time: 45 min

Ingredients :

  • 300 g flour
  • 100 g butter
  • 50 g double cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 10 g fresh baker’s yeast
  • 1/2 glass of milk
  • 300 g bacon (or lardons)
  • 1/3 teaspoon pepper


  • Make a brioche by mixing the flour with the salt, milk, cream, pepper and three beaten eggs.
  • Add the yeast, diluted in warm milk.
  • Knead, while adding the almost melted butter, until you form a ball.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • When the dough is done, add the bacon and leave to rise for another 15 minutes.
  • Form a crown or ball from the mixture and decorate with beaten egg.
  • Bake at 210°C for 45 minutes.

Bon Appetit les amis

La Fourme d’Ambert , the mildest blue cheese of all!!

Experience a Fourme d’Ambert and you will discover a Grande Dame that has survived through the ages. A traditional cheese from the Monts du Forez in Auvergne (the AOP region), today La Fourme d’Ambert is accredited with an AOC and an AOP that safeguard it beyond the region’s borders.


La Fourme d’Ambert stands upright, displaying its light, blue-grey garb, which looks like stone. This protective exterior yields to the touch and releases the soft, subtle scent of woodland undergrowth.

It is impossible to foresee that cutting into La Fourme d’Ambert will reveal a soft core, and a bright ivory centre with a supple, smooth texture, which is the culmination of the long alchemy between blue and white, that has taken place during maturation.

Naturally, this balance is revealed on the palate with the fragrant notes, delicate aromas, and smooth, rounded taste that make this the mildest of all blue cheeses.


Production of La Fourme d’Ambert in the Haut-Forez region undoubtedly dates back to the Middle Ages when an agro-pastoral system was kept – and preserved right up to the end of the Second World War.

Nevertheless, legend avows that at the time of the Gauls, the druids observing their cults in the Monts du Forez knew this cheese. According to M. MAZE, former Director of the Pasteur Institute, La Fourme d’Ambert was already in production during the Arvernes period, before the Roman conquest.

Since the VIII century, traditional narratives agree that La Fourme d’Ambert existed and was consumed. To this day, built heritage shows us that La Fourme d’Ambert was present. For example, carved in the shape of regional products of the time (sausages, ham, eggs, ‘fourmes’), the ‘pierres dîmales’, on the church of La Chaulme (Puy-de-Dôme), are a living testimony as to the existence of La Fourme d’Ambert. La Fourme d’Ambert was even used as currency when renting ‘jasseries’ during the XVIII century.

During this period, production is exclusively farm-based. From June to October, when cattle was put out to pasture, women and children would go to the ‘jasseries’ (mountain structures that were simultaneously stables, dairy and dwelling), while the men stayed in the valleys and tended to the hay.

At the beginning of the century, following a decline in farming in the Forez pastures, dairies were established in the Monts du Forez, particularly on the eastern slope. In 1950, there are around fifteen dairies collecting milk within a sometimes very narrow area.

Also at the beginning of the century, La Fourme d’Ambert producers first appear outside the Monts du Forez – first west of the Puy de Dôme (Laqueuille and Rochefort Montagne) then in the Cantal (Murat) and the valley of la Dore (Thiers – Puy de Dôme). Last of all, in the 1950s, producers set up in Saint-Flour (Cantal).

Since being awarded the AOC, La Fourme d’Ambert’s production has kept growing. In 1900, 200 tonnes were produced, but in the space of one century, this has increased 35-fold to 5,300 tonnes in 2012. More than 1,200 milk farmers, six dairies and four farms (that is, 300 direct employees) secure the continued existence of this exceptional cheese.

Pissaladière of Nice – Recipe

For 8 people
Preparation: 30 min
Rest of the dough: 1 h 30
Cooking: 45 min for the onions, 20 min for the Pissaladière.

Bread dough:

  • 500 g of flour,
  • 10 to 15 ml of water,
  • 10 g of salt,
  • 15 to 20 g of baker’s yeast,
  • 15 ml of olive oil.


  • 2 kg of straw onions,
  • 100 ml of olive oil,
  • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary),
  • 10 g of garlic (1 clove),
  • 8 anchovy fillets in salt,
  • Black olives from Nice,
  • Salt pepper.


  • 25 g of pissalat
    The pissalat can be spread over the dough before putting the onions in or mixed directly with the cooked onions before spreading them on the dough.

Peel the onions, finely slice them and put them in a pot with the olive oil, the dressed garlic cloves and the bouquet garni, salt and pepper, cover and cook over low heat for 45 minutes (while allowing water to evaporate). Remove the garlic at the end of cooking.

Prepare the leaven: on a work surface, put 125 g of flour, dig a fountain in it and add the yeast dissolved in a little lukewarm water. Mix everything to obtain a ball of dough and leave to rest in a terrine covered with a cloth. In half an hour, the dough should double in size.

Arrange the rest of the flour in a crown, add the water, olive oil and salt to the middle. Work the dough, adding water to a consistency. Add the sourdough to the dough and knead everything. Let stand for an hour, covered.

Oil a pie plate or baking sheet, roll out the dough to 1/2 cm thick, add the onions, garnish with anchovies and olives.

Put in the oven, previously heated, for 20 minutes at 180/200 °. Pepper when removing from the oven.
Let it cool down to serve it.

Bistrotier, le livre des joues rouges et des assiettes à saucer

The bistrot, the flagship of the hungry Ha! The Bistrot (pub) ! Its counter, its conviviality and its homemade dishes that can be tasted at any time. A true French institution.
One of its most famous representatives, Stéphane Reynaud, shares 250 recipes to feast on and 100 wines to accompany them. There are eggs mayo, terrines, oysters, dishes in sauce, cheese platters and of course desserts. Must-haves that will transport you from the counter to the tortoise shell bench, from the butcher’s room to the dessert window. But not only ! You will also find the map of oyster-growing areas or even everything you need to know about old aperitifs, beer or coffee … And then 100 wines, associated with these gourmet dishes, described by Stéphane Reynaud with generosity and authenticity, to multiply the pleasures of the table.

The book can be bought on Amazon Italia

Lyon : a city of gastronomy

One of Lyon’s most famous traditions is undoubtedly its gastronomy. Since 1935 and thanks to Curnonsky, famous food critic, the city bears the title of “world capital of gastronomy”. From the 19th century, when you come to Lyon, you want to “eat”: first with the Mothers, those excellent cooks who have helped make Lyon cuisine a real institution; today in the “bouchons“, these typical restaurants where you are served, in the conviviality, these dishes so typically Lyonnais, that we like… or not… The history of the gastronomy of Lyon has long been characterised by these two trends: the first from bourgeois tradition, the second from popular culture. But today, even though Lyon has managed to preserve and promote its traditions, the gastronomic landscape of Lyon is diversifying and opening itself up to new trends.

Les Bouchons Lyonnais

Any visitor who comes to Lyon wishes to eat in a “Bouchon”. A great symbol of Lyon’s gastronomy, the “bouchon” comes from the tradition of “mâchons” established by the “canuts”, silk workers. Associated with Guignol and Gnafron, it offers simple dishes, composed mainly of pork and all generously washed down with Beaujolais or Côtes-du-Rhône.

If nowadays the “Bouchon” is a restaurant where you can taste Lyon specialties, originally the term refers to a place where you can “mâchonner” (chew). In the 19th century, the canuts, who started their day very early, organized a sort of “snack” around 9 or 10 am: The “mâchons”, strictly speaking, is not a meal, but a snack, often made up of leftovers from the day before and taken outside of traditional restaurants, in a bistro, a wine merchant, at the restaurant or at workshop of the canuts. Shared between men, they were often a pretext for discussing business between the various players in the silk industry.

“Mâchons” can be considered to have definitely become part of the Lyon tradition when the Halles de Lyon was founded in Les Cordeliers (at the site of the current Cordeliers car park). Since the 19th century, the organization of work has evolved, but the “mâchon” is still practiced in some restaurants.

The term “bouchon” has several meanings: it can refer either to the bouquet of ivy or broom that was hung, in the old regime, at the doors of cabarets to differentiate them from inns; either with the straw that travelers had available in the inns so that they could “bouchonner” their mount before the meal; or, more simply, by the bottle stopper, even if in Lyon, the custom is to serve wine in a jar and not in a bottle.

The”bouchons” were originally installed in the Croix-Rousse district, where the canuts live and work. According to custom, the wife is in the kitchen, while her husband takes care of the cellar and the dining room. The dishes offered are often composed of leftovers from the day before, which the cooks arrange to avoid waste. Over time the dishes have diversified. Today, the bouchons offer dishes made with traditional Lyonnais products. Mention may in particular be made of rosette, grattons, quenelles, gratin of cardoons with marrow or even local cheeses. All these dishes are accompanied by wine, usually Beaujolais but increasingly Côte du Rhône

Some Lyon specialties

“Les bouchons” offers simple cuisine, tasted in a friendly atmosphere. The menus offer a wide range of dishes to taste, but a few are part of the great Lyon tradition.

Les grattons: their notoriety has largely exceeded the Lyon region. Often eaten as an aperitif, grattons are small pieces of grilled pork rind. To taste in the Lyon style, in the conviviality, with a pot of Côte du Rhône or Beaujolais!

Les charcuteries: and first and foremost the sausage. The Lyonnais sausage manufacturing technique gives it all its qualities. It is made with a mixture of chunks of fat cut into small cubes 5 to 6 mm on the side and lean very finely chopped. The preparation is then seasoned and then enclosed in natural casings. On the butcher’s stalls, sausages are mixed with other specialties such as rosette or cervelas (cooking sausage), which is better when it is truffled and pistachio.

Le tablier de sapeur: offal, such as tripe, liver or double fat occupy a special place in Lyon cuisine. Le tablier de Sapeur is a typical Lyonnais dish. Its name comes from the Maréchal de Castellane who compared the double fat (beef strawberry) to the leather apron of the firefighters. It is prepared with beef strawberries cut into cubes and marinated in a preparation based on Mâconnais white wine, mustard, lemon, oil and salt / pepper. The strawberries are then rolled in bread crumbs and toasted in oil and butter and served with a Gribiche sauce.

La quenelle: a true tradition in Lyon since the 19th century, the quenelle is a preparation made from flour or semolina, butter and milk. The quenelles can be flavored with poultry, veal, or even, more traditionally, pike. The quenelles are served with a sauce, often a bechamel sauce, or for the pike quenelle, a Nantua sauce, made with crayfish butter.

Les Cardoons: this vegetable whose ribs are tasted, similar to chard rib. The Lyonnaise recipe offers it in the form of a marrow gratin, which can be enjoyed during the Christmas holidays.

The cheeses: the best known is the “cervelle de canut”, or “claqueret”, which is not strictly speaking a cheese, but a way to accommodate cottage cheese. To prepare it, choose a “male” white cheese, that is to say not too soft that you beat according to the “guignolesque” expression “as if it were his wife”. Then add salt, pepper, a drizzle of vinegar and olive oil, a shallot, chives, garden herbs and garlic “to keep the tongue cool.” Finally, a little crème fraîche and a drop of white wine (preferably Mâconnais) can complete the preparation.

Saint-Marcellin is also the cheese that can be found on all the cheesemongers’ stalls: originating in the town of the same name in Dauphiné, this cow’s cheese is eaten very matured.

Les Bugnes: Originally, the bugne was linked to the religious calendar. It was indeed a tradition to make them on the first Sunday of Lent because they were the only delicacy allowed. Its name comes from the old French “donut” which itself comes from “beigne”, a term that recalls the inflated shape of the bugne. Bugne is made from a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, a little salt and sometimes orange blossom. The resulting dough is cut with a knob (or spur) and then fried in oil.

France 24 – "Lyon: A visit to France's food capital" from Mathieu Käs on Vimeo.

Burgundy Winegrowing region

Between Auxerre and the Mâcon region, and covering just 28,715 hectares, the Bourgogne winegrowing region produces exactly 84 Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée wines. Among the most prestigious wines in the world, they are created by winegrowers and négociants from six different wine-producing areas, each with highly distinctive characters.
Come and discover these exceptional terroirs between beautiful valleys, monumental cliffs and hilltops bathed in sunshine.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay: the Bourgogne region’s two noble grape varietals

The vineyards of the Bourgogne region are home to some celebrated varietals. With more than 80% planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Bourgogne winegrowing region is also a showcase for Gamay and Aligoté. Find out about the varietals grown in the Bourgogne winegrowing region before savoring your favorite wines.

The Bourgogne winegrowing region is home to some very old varietals. The region provides ideal weather conditions and a terroir that is perfectly suited to bring out their very best.

Bourgogne’s winegrowers favor four varietals:

• Chardonnay (white), accounting for 51% of land under vine
• Pinot Noir (red), with 39,5 %
• Gamay (red) and Aligoté (white) which account for 2,5% and 6% respectively
• Sauvignon, César, Pinot Beurot, Sacy, Melon, and a few other minor varietals make up the remaining 1%

An ideal climate for producing great wines

The Bourgogne region’s geographical position is fundamental to the identity of its wines. The region is at the confluence of three major influences: southerly, oceanic and continental. These unique conditions have, over time, dictated the choice of varietal. The climate of the Bourgogne winegrowing region is mainly temperate, and has a positive influence on vine growing:

• Morning sunshine, helped by the aspect of the vines, which in winter helps limit the risk of frost damage, and in summer helps ripen the grapes (the vines receive around 1,300 hours of sunshine between April and September)
• Summer temperatures around 20°C in July and August (average from 1981/2010)
• Ideal precipitation for encouraging vine growth, with an average of 700mm annually, mainly during the months of May and June
• A northerly wind that limits the humidity in certain plots

Planting the vines on slopes also ensures good ripening. Located at between 200-500 meters above sea level, the plots enjoy the best hours of sunshine. This aspect also protects the vines from westerly winds which can bring humidity. Another advantage of hillside planting is that the water drains away more easily. These good conditions, combined with unique geology give rise to some inimitable wines.

Beyond the general growing conditions, there are two zones on the edges of the Bourgogne winegrowing region which present some characteristic nuances:
• The southeast part of the region, in the Mâconnais, on the western edge of the Saône plain, enjoys a hotter and dryer climate coming from the South of France
• To the northwest, the winegrowing regions of Chablis and Le Grand Auxerrois enjoy a more semi-continental climate that is wetter, and are often susceptible to springtime frosts

Passport to Bourgogne wines

Jura Wine

Jura is a small wine region in eastern France which is responsible for some traditional and highly idiosyncratic wine styles. It is close to, but quite distinct from the Swiss Jura.

The region is sandwiched between Burgundy in the west and Switzerland in the east. It is characterized by a landscape of wooded hillsides and the twisting topography of the Jura Mountains.

Jura’s vineyards cover just over 1,850 hectares, forming a narrow strip of land measuring nearly 80 kilometers from north to south. The total acreage is steadily increasing, but still represents less than one tenth of the area under vine here two centuries ago, before phylloxera decimated the region’s vineyards.

Jura’s wines are sold under five core appellations . The most quantitatively important of these are Arbois, Etoile and Côtes du Jura.

Key Jura grape varieties and wine styles

Five main grape varieties used in the region’s wines – three traditional and two more-modern imports. The first of the local varieties is Poulsard (or Ploussard as it is known in the communes of Arbois and Pupillin), a red grape which accounts for about one-fifth of the region’s plantings. Poulsard is used mostly in dry reds, but also in sparkling rose wines.

Trousseau, the other local red variety, requires high sunshine levels to mature properly and covers only the warmest five percent of Jura’s vineyards. It is grown mostly around Arbois, where it produces a small quantity of varietal wines.

White Savagnin (known locally as Nature) is used in all of the region’s appellations. It is responsible for the idiosyncratic vins jaunes (‘yellow wines’). These are long-lived, bone dry wines aged in barrels under a layer of flor/yeast known as le voile.

Vins jaunes may be made under the Arbois (including Arbois-Pupillin), L’Étoile and Côtes du Jura titles appellations. However they are at their best under the more exclusive Château Chalon title.

Along with its unique vin jaune, Jura has been known traditionally for its sweet vin de paille made from dried grapes. They are produced under the same appellations, Château Chalon excepted. 

However, despite the relative isolation of the Jura region, Chardonnay has made inroads here, as it has elsewhere in France, and now accounts for nearly half of Jura’s total vineyard. Known locally as Melon d’Arbois and Gamay Blanc, it is most often used to make wines in a fresher, fruitier, modern style.

Sparkling wines have been made here since the 18th century. They are now produced from around 210 hectares (520 acres) of vineyards, under Crémant du Jura, appellation introduced in 1995.

Jura vineyard conditions

The Jurassic period was named after Jura because the region’s limestone mountains are representative of the geological developments which occurred between 145 million and 200 million years ago. Ergo the key soil types here are Jurassic periof limestone and marl.

The name of L’Etoile, the village which is home to one of Jura’s most distinctive appellations, is said to be derived from the star-shaped marine fossils which characterize its limestone-rich soils (etoile is French for ‘star’). Chablis and the upper Loire Valley are built on a similar geological structure.

Jura’s climate is not dissimilar to that of the Côte d’Or, or even southern Alsace, with warm, relatively dry summers and cold winters. The variation between valley and hillside locations is quite pronounced.

While the eastern, more mountainous areas of Jura reach heights above 1,350m, the main wine-growing belt is restricted to the slightly lower-lying land in the west, averaging 300m. The majority of Jura’s vines are planted on south-facing slopes, to make the most of the sunshine in this cool climate.

Jura wine map

Discovering wine from France’s Jura vineyards on Vimeo.

Loire Valley Wines

Loire Valley wines flourish in a unique cultural landscape, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site from Chalonnes-sur-Loire (Maine et Loire) to Sully-sur-Loire (Loiret).

With over two thousand years of history, the Loire Valley vineyard area is made up of a mosaic of different climates, soils, geographical features and locations – all of which contribute to the diversity of the Valley’s wines.


The Loire Valley is France’s 3rd largest winegrowing region. Stretching from Atlantic coast to Auvergne, it is a point of equilibrium, where north meets south, sophistication meets freshness, art meets literature, and tradition meets modernity. These contrasts – plus the generally temperate climate and extraordinarily varied terroirs – have created the most diverse winegrowing region in the world.


The Loire Valley Wine Route is the longest in France – 800 km winding through the Loire Valley vineyards – making this a prime wine-tourism destination. There are plenty of well-placed signposts to guide visitors on their way, and the route includes some unique cultural heritage sites along the Royal River, including the famous Chateaux and a vast range of diverse landscapes.


The Loire and its many tributaries have a significant moderating effect on the vineyards. By creating a large range of microclimates all of which promote vine growth, they contribute to the wide diversity of the region’s wines. They also have a buffer effect, which is crucial notably for the production of rich, sweet wines.

  • In the Nantes vineyards, oceanic influences temper seasonal variations. Autumns and winters are mild, while summers are hot and often very humid.
  • The Anjou vineyards enjoy an oceanic climate with mild winters, hot summers, plenty of sunshine and small variations in temperature. Some of the very dry microclimates promote the growth of Mediterranean plant life.
  • In the Saumur vineyards, the hills provide a barrier to winds blowing from the west; the climate becomes semi-oceanic and seasonal variations are more pronounced.
  • The vineyards of Touraine are at the crossroads of oceanic and continental influences.  

Interactive map


The rapport between varietal and terroir, where diversity goes hand in hand with unity, is all the more unusual when one considers that some of the region’s great varietals are native to the Loire Valley –  while others come from the east or south west of France.

Loire Valley wines are unusual in that they are, for the most part, produced from a single varietal: Melon de Bourgogne for Nantes area; Chenin, Cabernet and Gamay in Anjou, Saumur and Touraine; Sauvignon in Touraine and the Centre; and also Grolleau, Pinot Meunier, Pineau d’Aunis, Romorantin etc. 

This breadth of variety is completely unique, and gives a very diverse, highly expressive range of wines.

Some Cycling routes of Burgundy-Franche-Comté

La Voie Bleue – Moselle-Saône valley by bike

La Voie Bleue – Moselle-Saône à Vélo is a national cycle route stretching from Apach, on France’s border with Luxembourg, to Lyon. Crossing France from north to south, this route forms a major cycling link between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The way first meanders gently beside the Moselle River, then follows the Canal des Vosges before running by the Saône River to Lyon, the great city at the confluence of Sâone and Rhône.

Le Tour de Bourgogne by bike

The Tour de Bourgogne allows you to travel all over Burgundy thanks to its network of itineraries. A real playground for family cycling holidays.

It consists of the various routes detailed below, which are linked together to form a magnificent network of cycle routes and greenways:

  • The Burgundy Canal which leads you from the gates of Auxerre to those of Dijon, 45% of greenways and 55% of towpaths,
  • The Vine Route which undulates from Dijon to Santenay and even Chalon, where you can reach the Canal du Centre (EuroVelo 6), on quiet small roads,
  • The Canal latéral à la Loire, Ariane’s line to the pretty historic towns of Digoin, Bourbon-Lancy, Decize or Nevers, more than 40% of which are greenways,
  • The Canal du Centre de Chalon in Digoin, from the Saône to the Loire, this section of EuroVelo 6 in France uses the Canal du Centre which bypasses southern Burgundy, with nearly 40% of greenways,
  • The Canal du Nivernais, its greenway, part of the Tour de Bourgogne by bike, leads us to discover this little jewel from Auxerre to Decize, nearly 90% of which are greenways, South Burgundy, a superb cycling loop from Chalon to Mâcon, via the green lane of the Chalon coast and back by the blue lane near the Saône, from Mâcon to Chalon. More than 90% of greenways for the Côte chalonnaise.

EuroVelo 6 – Cycle Route of the rivers

Between Basel-Mulhouse on France’s eastern border and Nevers on the Loire, follow one of the country’s most interesting unbroken cycle routes, part of the EuroVelo 6 route linking the Black Sea to the Atlantic. Cyclists love crossing Southern Alsace via the peaceful Canal du Rhône au Rhin. An unforgettable section takes you along the Doubs Valley and through the Jura Region’s hills. Lastly, you cross Southern Burgundy, passing by famous vineyards, medieval villages and historic industrial sites beside the Canal du Centre. Make the most of the many railway services allowing you to carry bikes to different sections of the route.

Grande Traversée du Jura by bike

A cycling adventure to explore the Jura Range. Wend your way across its vast open spaces, its charming villages and its mountains, enjoying splendid views. La Grande Traversée du Jura à Vélo (or GTJ à Vélo) starts from Montbéliard and ends in Culoz, taking you riding along over 370km on minor roads. It links the Doubs and Rhône Rivers. The way is accessible to all types of cyclist, running through the heart of verdant, mid-altitude mountains. As well as all the discoveries to make along this route, alternative offshoots allow you to tackle mythic ascents, notably of the Col de la Faucille and Le Grand Colombier.

More info

Mont d’Or Cheese

There’s no other word for it, Mont d’or cheese is unctuous, so much so, and here is a weird cheese fact – it’s one of only  a few French cheeses you have to eat with a spoon!

Gooey, runny, sticky and liquescent (and that’s not a word you’ll often see applied to cheese) Mont d’Or or Vacherin Mont d’Or or Vacherin du Haut-Daubs is so French it should be wearing a beret and carrying a baguette. It’s named after Mont d’Or (Golden Mountain) in the Jura region, Franche Comté, department of Doubs.

In France it is revered as the best of the raw milk cheeses and when you taste it for the first time – you’ll understand why.

It was a favourite fromage of King Louis XV and is the only French cheese to be eaten with a spoon. It is only made between August 15 and March 15, and derives its unique nutty taste from the spruce bark in which it is wrapped and only eleven factories in the French Jura region are licensed to produce it. It’s a protected cheese and there’s nothing else quite like it.

If you get a really ripe Mont d’Or you can eat it straight out of the pot – dip in a hunk of fresh baguette and scoop it up, or slather it on with a spoon! Its’ got a delicious nutty, earthy taste.

Or bake it – a really popular way to eat it in France as it brings out even more flavour

How to bake Mont d’Or Cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C

Remove the lid and pop the box on a baking tray.

There are different ways to cook it, plain, with a dash of pepper and/or some sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, some garlic, truffle shavings, herbs or wine. You can dip bread, croutons, sausage, whatever you like as with a fondue. But, here is one of the most loved recipes for mont d’or chaud, baked Mont d’Or:

Take a knife and poke a few slits in the cheese and pop some thinly sliced garlic in to the holes.

Grind some black pepper over the top, pour over a splash of white wine

Pop in the oven for about 8 minutes until completely soft

Remove and eat with crusty baguette, or new potatoes and wash down with the rest of the white wine!

Extra tips: 
Cut a cross in the top, spread, and pour in some Kirsch, Armagnac, or liqueur of your choice, warm through, and serve with bread sticks

Mont d'Or, Fromagerie Michelin from Pourchet Jules on Vimeo.

Saucisse de Morteau / Jésus de Morteau


The Saucisse de Morteau and Jésus de Morteau PGI are pork meat sausages in natural casings.


The production area of Saucisse de Morteau or Jésus de Morteau PGI covers the departments of Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and Territoire de Belfort, in Franche Comté region.


The mix is obtained starting from ham, shoulder, breast, lard, loin and trims. From 65 to 85% of meats used for the mix have to be lean, whilst the remaining percentage can consists of pig lard. The cuts are crushed together roughly and then salted, and some spices may be added (pepper, garlic, cumin etc.). The mix obtained is put in pig natural casing (chaudin, suivant or intestine) and then dried in suitable rooms. The fundamental phase is surely smoking: indeed, the sausages have to be smoked slowly using conifer wood, with a constant and careful check of fume.


Saucisse de Morteau and Jésus de Morteau PGI have both a cylindrical shape, but the second is a particular representation of the first, as it is more uneven and with a minimum diameter which is higher (respectively 40 and 60 mm). The ends of these sausages are generally sealed, one side with cord and the other with a wood stick, even if the wood stick can be absent in the case of Jésus de Morteau PGI. The colour is amber, but not uniform. The dough has a rough grain, and the taste, after cooking, is smoked but rather well-balanced.


The agricultural farming tradition of Franche Comté region is ancient and closely linked to the region. The practice of cattle breeding for the dairy production found here a very good development area putting the basis for a later spread of pig farming. Indeed, in this region the milk whey produced by many dairy factories was, and still is, used as a basic food for pigs, as it is rich in useful element for the growth of these animals. The region, in addition to meat production, has specialised in drying and smoking products, a practice of which the highest expression is Tuyés, which are rooms thought for the double function to smoke the meats and to heat the houses or farms where they were produced.

Tuyé inside the farm


Saucisse de Morteau o Jésus de Morteau PGI has to be stored in a fresh and dry room, protected from direct light, even better in refrigerator. It is eaten after cooking: boiled, pan-fried, roasted in oven or barbecued. This versatile product can be used as an ingredient for many recipes, from aperitifs to first and second courses or side dishes. A traditional dish is the potato gratin which includes cheese, onion and Saucisse de Morteau PGI. It has to be served accompanied by a glass of white wine.


The product is sold as Saucisse de Morteau or Jésus de Morteau PGI. It is packed in suitable bags and can be sold also precooked.


Saucisse de Morteau or Jésus de Morteau PGI owe their characteristic amber colour and peculiar taste to the smoking with conifer wood, which is a local practise of Franche Comté region which, thanks to a big forest, has good amounts of this species of trees.

Beef Bourguignon Recipe

Ingredients for 6 servings

1.5  kg stewing beef (chuck or shin),
200 g lean salt pork or thick cut bacon,
40 g butter,
350 g pearl onions,
350 g small button mushrooms,
1 onion,
1 carrot,
3 garlic cloves,
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour,
750 ml red wine, preferably Burgundy,
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste,
bouquet garni: 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 6 sprigs parsley,
750 ml beef broth,
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley,
Salt and pepper.

Preparation Steps:

1- Bring a pan of water to a boil, and drop in the pearl onions. Let them boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes, then plunge them into cold water, and peel them. Cut the mushrooms in half if needed, they should match the size of the onions. Tie together the herbs for the bouquet garni.

2. Cut the beef into 2 inch pieces and dice the salt pork or cut the bacon crosswise into thin strips.

3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet and fry the onions over a high heat, stirring frequently and shaking the pan, until they are golden-brown. Remove onto a plate. Add another tablespoon butter to the same skillet and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes until golden, then set aside with the pearl onions.

4. In a Dutch oven or a large heavy pot, cook the pork or bacon over medium heat until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add enough meat to the pan to fit easily in one layer and sear on all sides until well browned. Transfer the beef to a plate and continue browning the meat in batches.

5. When all the beef has been browned, pour off any fat from the pot and add the remaining butter. When the butter has melted, add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until just softened, stirring frequently. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine, tomato paste and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan.

6. Return the beef and bacon to the pan and pour on the broth, adding more if needed to cover the meat and vegetables when pressed down. Cover the pan and simmer very gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.

7. Add the sautéed mushrooms and pearl onions. Season to taste and cook, covered, for 30 minutes more. Discard the bouquet garni. Stir in the parsley before serving with steamed potatoes or mashed potatoes. 

Wine paring tips

People often wonder what type of wine to use in the preparation of Boeuf Bourguignon. The dish originating from Burgundy, the obvious choice is a generic red Bourgogne AOC, nothing too fancy as the prices can quickly escalate. Save your budget for the wine in the glass, in which case, a more complex red from the Côte de Nuits is the appropriate choice, whether it is one of the regional appellations or a specific village such as Vosne-Romané or Morey-Saint-Denis for special occasions! If regionality is not a priority for your wine selection, some prefer to serve heftier wines, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, or a slightly riper “new world” Pinot Noir.

The Third Landscape

French semester symbol inspiration with Gilles Clément (1943 – ) French Landscape Architect, Theorist and Writer.

At the invitation of our friends from the French Semester 2022 to bring nature into the Eiffel Tower, which will be located on the roundabout at the entrance to the JRC (Ispra), we looked for inspiration in the work of the famous gardener, philosopher, botanist and professor at the Versailles Landscape School, Gilles Clément, and the three principles he created:

The garden in motion, the planetary garden, and the third landscape.

And the latter… the Third Landscape seems appropriate for our little project.

Gilles Clément calls the third landscape

all places abandoned by man

… the roadside, the edge of the field, a suburban field that has escaped construction, a traffic island, a roundabout… spaces that, almost without human intervention, can become pleasant places, gardens of the future where biodiversity finds refuge.

For Gilles Clément, working on the Third Landscape means not going against nature but with it, supporting it, observing it and intervening as little as possible.

Free yourself from rules and be “lazy”, let Nature do the work

The idea of the third landscape is a garden WITHOUT a gardener, WITHOUT a grass trimmer, a shredder, a perfect English lawn, artificially trimmed hedges and plastic looking bushes.  On the contrary, it extols the wildness and natural “imperfection”.

In our project, we will invite nature, birds, insects, vagrant plants and others to “occupy” the space around the Eiffel Tower:

    We will set up birdhouses, a small insect hotel. We will plant daffodils, crocuses and a few other bulbs. Cornus sibirica plants for their resistance and beauty during the winter months.

    Other vagrant plants known to French gardens:

  • grey leaf plants because they are drought resistant
  • calendula officinalis because it flowers in spring
  • alcea rosea and iris, which are very typical of French gardens

    In the management of the roundabout lawn, we will leave a strip of lawn with a moderate cut to encourage the wild flowers already present to flower and spread. 

JRC Gardening Club, for the French semester 2022

Burgundy snails

Burgundy snails, or “escargots de Bourgogne”, are usually seen on the table at festive family gatherings as a plate of twelve, or a plate of six in restaurants (or for those just looking for a taste). We’re going to tell you all about this rather unusual speciality, including its history and traditional recipe.

They’ve been on the menu for thousands of years!

The history of the snail

Eating snails is not a recent trend. In fact, the Romans and Gauls used to eat them grilled or fried, in preparation for periods of famine. What more proof of their nutritional goodness do you need?

The Burgundy snail is also called the “Roman snail” or “Vineyard snail” (a good reference to Burgundy), and the scientific name is Helix Pomatia. It is the most popular snail (mostly imported as French breeders prefer the Cornu Aspersum) It is a highly protected species in France, and it is forbidden to collect them during the reproduction period.

A product that was made famous after a political meal

1814: Napoleon was defeated by Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Louis XVIII then became King of France and the Emperor decided to come and visit this new king, who did not give him a warm welcome. To avoid any political conflict, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, who had helped Louis XVIII take over the throne, intervened and invited the Emperor to a dinner.
Talleyrand called upon his chef to find an original dish to impress the Emperor. The chef came up with the idea of preparing snails stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley. When the Emperor was presented with this dish, he was surprised but enjoyed these tasty “escargots à la bourguignonne”. The incident with the King was forgotten and this recipe became popular all over the world!

How should they be eaten?

Preparing and tasting them

For this dish, you’ll need to make a “beurre d’escargots” (butter, garlic, parsley), then put this, along with the snails, into the empty snail shell and then bake them in the oven.
Then you’ll need snail tongs to hold the shell, and a snail fork to remove them from the shell to eat.
And because a delicious speciality of Burgundy wouldn’t be complete without wine, this dish can be paired with a glass of white wine, such as Chablis for example!

Comté cheese

What is Comté?

It seems only fitting that the beauty of the Massif du Jura would match that of its most treasured produce, Comté. Fruity and savoury notes take turns caressing your palate, with sweet and salty undertones bursting through in waves. Like the conversion of woods to countryside, the texture transforms from dense to open as it lingers, while aromas of roasted hazelnuts and caramelised butter spread like clouds on a clear sky.

The flavours are clean and greatly influenced by their surroundings. Dotted with charming villages and luscious pastures, the mountains of Jura in eastern France provide fresh grass for the Montbéliarde and French Simmental cows during the summer. From their milk, the local creameries produce the iconic flavours and aromas that characterise Comté.

Inspiring awe wherever it finds itself, Comté is an outstanding product of the highest level.

How Comté is made?

Renowned for its complex flavours, the production of Comté is not just down to workmanship and skill.

Raw milk is delivered straight from the farmhouse to one of the local creameries, the fruitiére. At this point, it is filtered and poured into large copper vats and rennet is added. This helps the milk coagulate and form a firm curd, which is then separated. Closely monitoring the consistency of the curd lets workers know exactly when to drain it. Large wheel-shaped moulds are lined with the broken curd and pressed for an entire day to squeeze out any excess whey. Coarse sea salt from Guérande, along with a yeast solution, is brushed onto the rind, making the wheels ready for aging.

Taking full advantage of the surroundings, the cheese is aged in the cool and humid caves of the Alps. Absorbing the naturally filtered moisture from cracks in the walls, the Comté achieves its unique taste and aromatic nature. Anywhere from 4 to 24 months can be spent maturing in the dark caves of the Massif du Jura mountainsides, finally creating a picture-perfect wheel of Comté cheese.

With the full benefit of wholesome milk, Comté is unpasteurised, unadulterated in flavour and entirely free of gluten. The addition of animal rennet, however, makes this cheese unsuitable for vegetarians.

Prestigious AOC status since 1958

Due to its distinctive nature, cultural value and economic importance for the region, Comté was deservedly granted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status in 1958. This ensures that Comté follow a large set of stringent rules and requirements which guarantee the specificity of their unique cheese. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée also guarantees that the production of Comté remains based on traditional methods and stages which have been in place for over 1,000 years.

You could say that it acts as a contract between farmers, fruitières, affineurs and their customers to maintain the taste and natural character of Comté.

This prestigious status was further recognised in 1996 when Comté was awarded the exclusive Protected Origin Nomenclature (AOP) status which recognises and rewards Comté’s remarkable reputation throughout the whole of Europe, and not only in France.

Le Mascaret is a natural, spectacular phenomenon

If you are holidaying in the South-West of France near Bordeaux you may hear about the famous tidal bore on the River Garonne. The Mascaret wave is mysterious and spectacular tidal wave enjoyed by surf-board enthusiasts.

What is the Tidal Bore?

The tidal bore is a natural phenomenon on estuary rivers. The tidal bore is produced when the water level is lower and the tidal coefficient exceeds 90 (late spring to autumn). It starts at the mouth of the estuary, at the time of the falling tide / rising tide with the rising flow of the ocean against the downward flow of the river. The Tidal Bore is independent of the wind, however it can thwart the phenomenon if it blows from the east.

Surf on the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde …

This wave, occurs often in the Gironde estuary. It can reach up to 2 meters high, and travels between 15 and 30 km/h. Surfers can ride the wave for up to 10 minutes.

French expressions – February 2022


Français de souche (literally ‘French of the trunk’)

This expression refers to French people who do not have any immediate foreign descent.It was originally used in Algeria in the 19th century to designate colonists and later, to distinguish between pieds-noirs (French people born in Algeria) and French citizens of Algerian descent who are sometimes referred to as Français de papier (literally ‘French on paper’).In 1958, the terms Français de souche européenne (FSE) (literally ‘French of european trunk’) and Français de souche nord-africaine (FSNA) (literally ‘French of north african trunk’) became administrative (and thus official).

However, the phrase Français de souche is now controversial due to its association with the far right and avoided by many, especially left-leaning, politicians.

Parler français comme une vache espagnole (literally ‘to speak French like a Spanish cow’)

This expression means to speak French badly.
It is thought that it was coined in the 17th century, and that the ‘vache’ is a deformation of the word ‘vasque’, which designates somebody coming from the Basque Country in Spain. At the time, there was a large number of Basque valets in Paris, who likely did not speak French well, which would have inspired the phrase.

Jacques Collin parlait le français comme une vache espagnole.

Honoré de Balzac –Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes

De France et de Navarre (literally ‘from France and Navarre’)

This expression means ‘from everywhere’.
The Kingdom of Navarre, which was located in what is now the Spanish province of Navarra, was at various points, in full or in part, ruled by France.
As it was far from the rest of the country, the expression ‘from France and Navarre’ came to mean ‘from everywhere’.

Acheminé simultanément dans les cafés, les restaurants et chez les cavistes de France et de Navarre mais aussi dans toute l’Europe, aux États-Unis, jusqu’en Australie et à Hong Kong, chaque troisième jeudi de novembre, le beaujolais primeur s’écoule en trois mois à peine.

Magazine Que Choisir ? n° 233 de novembre 1987


Planter un drapeau (literally ‘to plant a flag’)

This expression has two main meanings.
According to the dictionary Trésor de la langue française, it means ‘to be the first to publicly express an opinion, to take a position’.
The flag, on one hand, is a symbol of belonging (for example to a nation). To plant one’s flag would therefore mean to express one’s belonging, in this case ideological.
However, the Larousse dictionary says the expression means to slip out of somewhere without paying.
A flag can also symbolise ownership. For example, when countries conquered a specific area, they would often hang their flag to make it known that it now fell under their control.
In the context of this expression, perhaps the implication is that the person ‘planting the flag’ appropriates something as their own (a meal in a restaurant, an object) without the right to do so – in this case, without paying.

Mettre son drapeau dans sa poche (literally ‘to put your flag in your pocket’)

This expression means to hide your views and/or beliefs.
If the flag symbolises identity and belonging, raising it would suggest expressing one’s opinions publicly. Placing it in one’s pocket, however, would mean to hide what you believe.
It is said that the expression was coined in the 19th century and may be related to the saying mettre quelque chose dans sa poche et son mouchoir par-dessus (literally ‘to put something in your pocket and your handkerchief over it’), which means to keep a secret. Here, the flag would be assimilated to the handkerchief.

Le drapeau noir flotte sur la marmite (literally ‘the black flag floats in the cooking pot’)

This expression, which was coined in the 20th century, is used to say that a household’s financial situation is dramatically bad.
A black flag symbolizes pirates, anarchists and, more generally, bad news or misfortune. If it floats in a cooking pot, it is because the pot is empty (or nearly empty) as there is nothing to eat due to the lack of money in the household.
The expression gave name to a film by renowned French director Michel Audiard released in 1971.


Être fort comme un Turc (‘to be strong like a turk’)

This expression originates in the 15th century when the Turks had a reputation for being strong, almost unbeatable warriors due to their numerous victories. At the time, the Ottoman Empire ruled large parts of south-east Europe, north Africa and western Asia.
It is said that François I, King of France, was gifted Turkish armour by Suleiman the Magnificent (the tenth and most famous sultan of the Ottoman Empire) during their alliance. When he wore it, he is said to have exclaimed: “Here I am now, strong as a Turk!”.

– J’en ai deux, monsieur, qui, sans vanité, pourraient être présentées au pape, surtout mon aînée, qui est un joli brin de fille. Je l’élève pour être comtesse, quoique sa mère ne le veuille pas.

– Quel âge a-t-elle, monsieur, cette future comtesse ?

– Mais elle approche de quinze ans : déjà cela vous est grand d’une toise, gentil, frais comme une matinée d’avril, leste, découplé, gaillard, et surtout fort comme un Turc.

– Diable ! voilà de bonnes dispositions pour être comtesse.

– Oh ! sa mère a beau dire, elle le sera. »

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – Don Quichotte de la Manche

Saoul comme un Polonais (‘to be drunk like a Pole’)

This expression is said to have been coined in 1808, when Napoleon marched on Madrid accompanied by Polish cavalry.
During the Battle of Somosierra, the French won largely due to the Polish troops, who were instructed to charge at the Spaniards.
When, after the battle, the Polish soldiers were being introduced to the emperor, the French generals tried to undermine their achievements by attributing their courage to alcohol.
The Emperor responded, “Donc, messieurs, sachez être saouls comme des Polonais” (‘So, gentlemen, know how to be drunk like Poles’). 
Today the expression usually just refers to someone having drunk too much.

Ce n’est pas le Pérou (literally ‘it’s not Peru’)

When the French say that something n’est pas le Pérou, they mean to say that it has little worth or importance. Equally, the expression can be translated as, ‘it’s not a big deal’.
Around the 16th century, Peru was an important source of wealth due to its reserves of gold, silver and precious stones. In Europe, it was considered an ‘El Dorado’ – a place of great riches and opportunity.
The Spanish conquerors quickly depleted the country’s natural resources but Peru remained a place of wealth and greatness in the collective imagination for a long time after this.
Initially, the term c’est le Pérou (‘it’s Peru’) would be used to describe something important or valuable but over time, the expression has been inverted and the French now say ‘ce n’est pas le Pérou’ to describe something of little importance. 

Je gagne 900 F. par mois, plus les primes ça fait 903
Mais avec toutes les retenues, ça fait 802 tout au plus
C’est pas beaucoup, c’est pas l’Pérou
Mais c’est à vous”


French expressions – January 2022


Ours mal léché (literally ‘badly licked bear’)

This expression describes somebody who is antisocial, irritable or ill-mannered.It was coined in the 17th century, when it was believed that bear mothers would lick their cubs for many hours in order to clean them, shape them and have them be accepted by other bears.
At the time, it was used to refer to somebody with physical deformities, as a bear that was ‘badly licked’ would have been thought to be not in the correct physical shape.
By extension, this meant that they were not ready to enter and settle into society, and the expression evolved in the 18th century to designate somebody who has poor social skills or is constantly grumpy – a social deformity of sorts.

 “Il avait vécu dans le monde; il avait des talents, quelque savoir, de la douceur, de la politesse; il savait la musique, et comme j’étais de chambrée avec lui, nous nous étions liés de préférence au milieu des ours mal léchés qui nous entouraient.”

Rousseau – Les confessions

Vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué (literally ‘to sell a bear’s skin before having killed it’):

This expression means to celebrate or take advantage of something which has not yet happened or which is not certain to take place. 
The English equivalent would be ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch.’
In the middle ages, bear skin was a popular material to make blankets. The current expression was used in the form vendre la peau avant qu’on ait la bête (‘to sell the skin before one has the beast’).
It was popularised by writer Jean de La Fontaine in the 17th century in his fable L’ours et les deux compagnons (The Bear and the Two Companions), in which two friends sell the skin of a bear that they have not yet killed, but plan to. 
However, when they go to kill the bear, they are unable to and while one of them lays on the ground pretending to be dead, the bear whispers a moral in his ear: Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant qu’on ne l’ait mis à terre (‘one must never sell the skin of a bear they haven’t put down yet’).
The phrase has evolved slightly over.

“Il m’a dit qu’il ne faut jamais
Vendre la peau de l’ours qu’on ne l’ait mis par terre”

Jean de la fontaine – L’ours et les deux Compagnons

Être le dindon de la farce (literally ‘to be the turkey of the prank’):

This expression means to be the butt of the joke or subject of a prank.
It is said to have originated in the 18th century, with the ‘ballet des dindons’ – a form of fairground entertainment in Paris where turkeys were locked in a cage whose metal floor was gradually heated, causing them to ‘dance’ in pain, making the audience laugh.
The event was banned in 1844 but the expression remains commonly used to identify someone whose misfortunes, whether serious or not, others laugh at.

Quand les poules auront des dents (literally ‘when hens have teeth’):

This expression is used to refer to something that will never happen.
This phrase derives from another expression with the same meaning used in the 19th century – quand les poules pisseront (literally ‘when hens pee’). As hens don’t have a bladder, they don’t pass urine as we know it.
Equally, hens do not have teeth, so to do something ‘when hens have teeth’ means to never do it.
Various countries and languages have their own variations of this expression. For example, the English equivalent is ‘when pigs fly’.

« — Quand te marieras-tu, toi ?
— Quand les poules auront des dents.
— Y en a qui en ont. »

Raymond Queneau – Le dimanche de la vie

Être une poule mouillée (literally ‘ to be a wet hen’)

To call somebody a wet hen is to call them a coward.
According to Pierre-Marie Quitard’s 1842 Dictionnaire des proverbes (Dictionary of Proverbs), a chicken that gets wet from the rain ‘just stands in the background, without moving, as if ashamed or dejected’ – an image which inspired the phrase we hear today. The expression has been around since the 17th century.

Manger du lion (literally ‘to eat lion’)

When somebody has lots of energy, it is said that they have eaten lion.
The lion, with its reputation of strength and courage, represents by extension vitality and energy.
When someone is said to have eaten lion, it suggests therefore that they have consumed its qualities and exhibit an extraordinary amount of energy.

La part du lion (literally ‘the part of the lion’)

This expression refers to the biggest or best part of something.
It dates back to writer Jean de La Fontaine’s 1668 fable La Génisse, la Chèvre et la Brebis, en société avec le Lion (The Heifer, the Goat and the Sheep in Company with the Lion). In the fable, the animals plan to share a stag that had been snared but the lion claims the totality of the meal, considering himself the strongest and most deserving.
The expression was popularised, however, by writer Victor de Hugo in his 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). The expression has an English equivalent, ‘the lion’s share’. 

Coeur de lion (literally ‘the heart of a lion’)

Someone with a ‘lion’s heart’ is considered to be very brave. The lion, as the ‘King of the Jungle’, has long had the reputation of being daring and courageous.
It was also a title given to numerous medieval monarchs, including Louis VIII of France and Richard I of England.

Entre chien et loup (literally ‘between dog and wolf’)

This expression refers to the time of dusk, when it is “too dark to distinguish between a dog and a wolf”. 
It is attributed to the 13th century but is said to be much older, deriving from the Latin ‘inter canem et lupum’. Here, the dog, trustworthy and warm, represents the day. The wolf, menacing and unknown, represents the night.

Dormir en chien de fusil (literally ‘to sleep like the dog of a rifle’)

This expression means to look at each other with suspension or mistrust.
Faïence is a term for tin-glazed pottery, named after the city of Faenza, Italy, where the technique was popularised in the 16th century.
In France, these earthenware decorations, in particular in the form of dogs, were placed on either side of fireplaces. The ‘dogs’ would appear to be staring at each other, as if suspicious of one another, which inspired the expression.

“Il remarqua seulement qu’elle était couchée en chien de fusil, et se promit de lui dire dire que ce n’était pas bon pour la circulation”

Henry de Montherlant, le démon du Chien (1937)

Faire des yeux de merlan frit (literally ‘to make fried whiting eyes’)

This expression refers to a look exchanged between lovers – completely enamoured and, to onlookers, a bit ridiculous.
Initially, this expression was used in the 18th century in the form of faire des yeux de carpe frite, meaning ‘make fried carp eyes’. 
Presumably, it was inspired by the open-mouthed, wide-eyed expression we see on fried fish.
Silent cinema in the 20th century gave the expression much of its meaning, as actors would have to really exaggerate their facial expressions to convey emotions.

“Oh ! tu peux nier tant que tu voudras, j’ai assez l’expérience des femmes, alleï ! Toi et tes yeux de merlan frit, quand tu le regardes ! “

Robert Choquette – Les Velder – 1941

Engueuler quelqu’un comme du poisson pourri (literally ‘to shout at someone like a rotten fish’)

This expression means to shout at someone, usually hurling insults.
It is said to date to the 20th century and be inspired by fish merchants who had a reputation for being loud and aggressive.
It could also relate to the fact that rotten fish have no value for merchants and would be thrown away. Therefore, to ‘shout at someone like a rotten fish’ would mean to give them as little consideration as one would a rotten fish.

« Mais que cela ne vous empêche pas, si vos relations avec votre patron vous le permettent, de l‘engueuler comme du poisson pourri, et de lui dire qu’on lui revaudra ça. »

Jules Romains – Les hommes de bonne volonté – Tome X – 1935

Il y a anguille sous roche (literally ‘there is an eel under the rock’)

This expression means that something suspicious is going on. The English equivalent might be ‘I smell a rat’.
It is said to have been coined in the Middle Ages.
Eels, which avoid light and spend much of their time during the day in the shade of rocks, are assimilated to snakes. Both animals are associated with cunningness and deception.
Furthermore, the position of the eel in this expression – under the rock – indicates something hidden.
The ‘anguille’ also alludes to the verb ‘guiller’, which in Old French meant to deceive or trick.

« Mais n’y aurait-il pas encore ici anguille sous roche, c’est-à-dire quelque allégorie cachée, quelque allusion maligne à un tournoi de la cour de François Ier ou de Henri II ? »

François Rabelais – Pantagruel

Finir en queue de poisson (‘to end up in a fishtail’)

The French say something ‘ends up in a fishtail’ when it ends abruptly, without the desired or expected results.
Legend has it that a sailor spent months at sea searching for a woman he had seen. However, once he found her and dived into the water, he saw that she was not a woman but  a mermaid – with a literal fishtail.
Some sources date this story to the Roman poet Horace, as early as the first century BC. 
In France, it was popularised in part in the 19th century by the writer Balzac, who used the analogy to describe the streets of Paris.
The fishtail is now used commonly to symbolise any disappointing or unexpected result. 

Je commence à me demander si ce sujet était bon, je pense qu’il va finir en queue de poisson

Noyer le poisson (‘to drown the fish’)

This expression means to create confusion.
Some sources claim that it derived from the older saying, ‘la sauce fait passer le poisson’ (‘the sauce makes the fish pass’), which implies any bad taste from a fish is ‘drowned’ by the sauce. This mixture – or perhaps better said confusion – of flavours makes it easier to eat the fish.
Another theory is that the phrase relates to a 19th century fishing method, where in order to tire out a fish caught on a hook, fishermen would plunge it in and out of water. The constant change between water and air makes for the confusion alluded to in the expression.

Muet comme une carpe (‘mute like a carp’)

To be as mute as a carp means to say nothing.
This is likely a development of the older phrase ‘muet comme un poisson’ (‘mute like a fish’), which was coined in the early 17th century and popularised by the likes of writer Rabelais. 
The connection here is evident – fish cannot speak. Carp, however, have the habit of sticking their heads out of water and opening their mouths, as if they are trying to speak but are unable to.

The Climats of Burgundy


In Burgundy, a Climat is the name for a specific vineyard site combining vine plots, grape variety and know-how.
The word « Climat » should not be misinterpreted. It is not related to meteorology but is a specific term, unique to Burgundy, designating a specific vineyard site.

Each Climat is a vine plot, with its own microclimate and specific geological conditions, which has been carefully marked out and named over the centuries. Each of them has its own story, produces wines with a distinct character and taste and keeps its own place in the hierarchy of crus (Regional Appellation, Village, Premier Cru, Grand Cru). Over one thousand named Climats extend along the 60 kilometres of the thin strip of vineyards running from Dijon to Santenay, just south of Beaune, and among them are some of the most famous names from the world of wine ; Chambertin, Romanée-Conti, Clos de Vougeot, Montrachet, Corton, Musigny…

In Burgundy, when we speak of a Climat, we do not look up to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground.

Bernard Pivot

Climat : a term dating from the 16th century  

The word « Climat » first appeared in written texts in the 16th century. At that time it was synomynous with a place-name or locality. A century later, use of the term became widespread in the region as a new reference to place, highlighting the differences and the hierarchy among the wines of Burgundy’s Côte. However, it is thought that the notion of « Climats of Burgundy », was generally used to describe land suitable for winegrowing and dates back to the Early Middle Ages.

Climat, from the Greek term « klima-atos »

“Klima-atos” in Greek describes the angle between a place’s location on the earth’s surface and the sun. The word became “clima-atis” in Latin, with the same meaning. Over the centuries, the term has become more precise: during the Renaissance period, it came to mean a land, a region, then a collection of vineyard parcels and finally a specific, delimited plot of vines. It should be noted that during the Classical period the Greek term “klèma-atos” was used to describe a piece of supple wood, and more especially vine shoots and stocks. In contemporary Greek “ta klimata” specifically designates vines.