“Well, It Isn’t French!”

Photo by Erica Simone

Well, It Isn’t French!

Parler Paris…
Your taste of life in Paris and France

Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Paris, France

Community Calendar will be on holidays in August, returning in September.

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

It won’t take long living in France before you notice that the French say the glass is half empty, while we say the glass is half full. It’s any wonder we get along at all.

Sure, there are tons of books about the cultural differences between the French and Anglo-Saxons by all the best authorities: Ruth Mastron and Gilles Asselin who wrote “Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French,” Polly Platt who wrote “French or Foe?” and “Savoir Flair” and “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong” by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, to name of few. Of course, they are educated, studied and right. Spending any length of time here without researching the subject to prepare you for the cultural clash would be foolish, but until you’ve experienced it for yourself, it may seem like just theory.

(See /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html for our listing of great books about Paris and France!)

As I write this it’s raining cats and dogs (“il pleut des cordes”) and it would be pretty easy to be negative about Summer in Paris that keeps us under cool, gray skies and blinding downpours such as this. French friends would be complaining, while we might see it as good for the plants and a way to clean the streets!

When you ask a French person if something or other can be accomplished, such as “Can you substitute French fries with a salad?” you can expect to get “no” as a first response, before any thought is even given to it, while we were taught that everything is possible and hate to say no to anything. In “Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide To Finding Her Inner French Girl” (St Martins Press), Debra Ollivier writes, “No (non!) is one of the most useful words in a French girl’s vocabulary. The French girl’s preference for quality over quantity ties directly into her ability to say no: no to excess in people, things or ideas; no to what doesn’t grace her world.” Meanwhile, there are numerous articles and books written by psychologists for the American market to teach how to say “No,” such as “Assertiveness: The Art of Saying ‘No’” and “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” (Mass Market Paperback) by Manuel J. Smith. Remember the “Just Say No” television advertising campaign, as part of the US “War on Drugs” during the 1980s and early 1990s?

So, what came first? The “poulet” or the “oeuf?” Did the attitude start with the language or does the language reflect the attitude? It’s a habit and curiosity to read the French subtitles on English-language films. Amazingly often, if the expression is positive, the French equivalent will be negative. For example:

French English
Ne quittez pas. Please hold.
Ne réveillez pas le chat qui dort. Let sleeping dogs lie.
N’y voir que du feu… To be completely fooled…
Pas mal Great!
De rien and Il n’y a pas de quoi You’re welcome

And then there are all the “n’importe…”


N’importe comment Any way
N’importe lequel Any (one)
N’importe où Anywhere
N’importe quand Anytime
N’importe quel Any
N’importe qui Anyone
N’importe quoi Anything

I’ll bet you can think of more, too!

Last night I had this conversation with a French friend who is incessantly negative about everything, taking no notice to offending those he actually wishes to win over, without even being conscious of it. You know the expression, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?” Well, it isn’t French…or should I say in a more positive way, “Well, it’s English?”

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Author Maxine Schur of “Places in Time” will be speaking Sunday night, August 12 at Paris Soirées…about the hippie trail of adventure and independent travel. “Places in Time” was named Best Travel Book of 2006 by the North American Travel Journalists Association and was also just awarded First Place as Best Travel Book of the Year by the Western Region of the Society of American Travel Writers. Maxine Schur is sure to entertain and weave some magic. Be there! Visit http://parissoirees.com/welcome.html for more information.

Your move to Paris can be hassle-free

Our experienced relocation expert will help make your move easy and hassle-free. We offer complete property consultation and search services…visit
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This Week in French Property Insider…

Free Conference Call for all FPI Subscribers!
“How to Save Money Transferring Dollars to Euros”

Meet Jody Cracknell from Moneycorp Global Money Services along with Adrian Leeds, Editor of French Property Insider, when they teach you “How to Save Money Transferring Dollars to Euros” during this one-hour special event, exclusively for FPI Subscribers…

Date: August 26th, 2007
Time: 8 p.m. Paris Time, 11 a.m. PST

Please RSVP to this special event and we will send you the call details. Sign up now by emailing: [email protected]

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Adrian Leeds, of Parler Paris and French Property Insider and John Howell, The International Law Partnership, Present the…

Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007
Chez Jenny, Paris, France

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own “pied-à-terre” in Paris or home in the Provinces of France, perhaps as a future retirement home or for now as investment property rented part of the year…this power-packed conference is a MUST. This one full power-packed day in Paris will point you in the right direction to make it really happen!

For more information or to register visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_Paris_Oct_2007/index.html

We wanted better guides. So we wrote them.

Insider Paris Guides are written for people who love the City of Light. You’ll get a Paris insider perspective on Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…Visit http://www.insiderparisguides.com

[email protected]

Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from Parler Paris Apartments and me, Adrian Leeds.

NEW! Le Penthouse Voltaire

American comfort with French flair! Overlooking Boulevards Richard Lenoir and Voltaire, in the 11th Arrondissement. This three-bedroom, two-bath luxury penthouse with wrap-around balconies and spectacular views, sleeps 6.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/voltaire.html
or email: [email protected]

NEW! Le Balcon Plant

Near Place de la Bastille and the Bastille Opera, Gare de Lyon, the Viaduc des Arts and the Promenade Plante, 12th…Sunny, bright and airy 1-bedroom apartment with planted balcony, and views of the Promenade Plante and clock of the Gare de Lyon, sleeps up to 4.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/balcon_plante.html
or email: [email protected]

Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris…

The next gathering is September 11, 2007 and every second Tuesday of the month.

Note: There is no meeting in August.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group



Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!

For further details, visit http://www.parlerparlor.com

*The organizers will be not be available, however, you are free to meet on your own at no charge on Tuesday August 21st at La Pierre du Marais; Wednesday, August 22nd at Eurocentres and Saturday, August 25th at the café next to Lutèce Langues (Lucas) at the usual times!

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