#17 – Farmers Markets and Learning French!

Published July 30th, 2018

This weekend, Kelly and I relaxed and did some exploring throughout Paris. On Saturday morning, we went to find a local food market (we had tried to find one last weekend and failed), and we ended up finding this very nice street with a ton of shops in the Latin District. We walked through, got our groceries, and headed back home.

I also had to go get my measurements for a suit – I tried to go to one tailor, but they had taken a month of vacation (starting that Saturday). I looked up another, and they were also on vacation. The third that I went to seemed like the shop didn’t even exist, or had been taken over by a different shop. Finally at the fourth place, I was able to find someone to take my measurements.

Many people in Paris (and in France generally) take a few weeks off in the summer (in a row!). It’s quite normal here, but very strange to us, especially since this is also the tourist season. For example, at work, my boss is taking 3 weeks off to visit the south of France with his family.

When I got back to the apartment, Kelly and I got the rest of the groceries that we couldn’t get at the local market, and watched a movie (Kelly had never seen Super Troopers).

On Sunday, we tried to find another ‘organic food market’. This one also existed, and was quite large! I’ll always be amazed at the amount of cheeses that they have in France, it makes it very hard to figure out what to buy! Kelly and I split a pain au chocolat, and made our way back to the apartment.

Later in the day, we met up with a Duolingo group – Duolingo is an free app you can download on your phone that helps you learn languages. If you want to learn another language, it’s a free, easy way to get started. The event was pretty interesting, because about half of the people there were native French speakers (who were trying to learn English), about half were native English speakers (who were trying to learn French), and for a few people, English and French were their third or fourth languages (one of the people we talked with was from Morocco, so she spoke Berber and French, and was learning English and Arabic).

It was a pretty casual setting, at a local bar (also in the Latin district), and we paired off into groups of 4, where most groups had two native English speakers and two native French speakers. We had a list of questions we could ask the French speakers (conversation starters like “Tell me about your family” and “Do you have any pets?”), and they would reply in English – then we would also answer the question, but in French – and along the way we would help each other with pronunciation and grammar, or with learning certain words. One interesting example – in French, when you refer to someone’s age, you literally say, “They have five years” (Ils ont cinq ans) or “I have 28 years” (J’ai 28 ans) instead of “They are five years old” or “I am 28 years old”. So when French speakers try to speak English, they’ll try to say it in the “French” way – so it’s great to be able to practice with someone who knows the other language so that you can learn these things.

Kelly is much better than I am at French – she’s definitely spent more time trying to learn words than I have, and it’s showing. She’s basically at the point where she can communicate with people and read most things, I’m still struggling a lot. I still have a lot more work to do.

After about two hours of trying to learn/translate/teach, we decided to go to dinner. We were originally going to go to dinner with one of Kelly’s co-workers, but his wife got sick, so we have to reschedule. We ended up getting dinner at a Thai restaurant that’s right around the corner from our apartment, and it was great! Not as good as Sweet Basil (it’s a restaurant in Albany, NY), but very delicious.

Looking up the news today, it turns out the Tour de France ended yesterday – the finish of the Tour is in Paris, and we had no idea it was ending! I try to follow some of the news in France, but I really hadn’t seen much about the Tour de France, and no one at work had talked about it at all, I guess I need to pay closer attention to the news!

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