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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why some people don't go to Paris

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Me? I'm ill equipped for it. French 101. That's it. Unless you count my mom sitting next to me on the couch, enlightening me on French pronunciation as a young person, starting with that vexatious phrase, qu'est-ce que c'est que ça. Really? KESS-KUH-SAY-KUH-SAH? When it comes to French, I am sandwiched between my mother who studied it through college and read Les Miserables in the original language (no doubt it's there in one of those floor-to-ceiling stacks in George Whitman's Paris bookstore at left), and my daughter who speaks it gracefully after six years of study. I learned Latin in high school, and I know some Turkish from living in Istanbul. On the ILR scale (Interagency Language Roundtable), I got to about a 2.5 out of 5 in Turkish (5 being that of a native speaker).  In French, I'd say I'm at around .2, maybe .3. How profoundly inadequate I was on my seven trips to Paris. Yet shamelessly, well almost shamelessly, I went anyway.

Many people take vacations in a variety of places where the language spoken is not their own. But I venture to guess that Paris is the one place where, first of all, the gap between the written word and its pronunciation is a wobbly bridge to cross, and second of all, it is spoken by people who are perceived [by some] to be mean and rude. So the image of waiting in line at a patisserie for pain aux raisins with French customers and having to fumble with Je voudrais une (or is it un?) pain aux raisins s'il vous plais and the correct francs, well now Euro coins, while also trying to find one's glasses to read said coins is just too frightening to contemplate. What scowls, what high scoffing eyebrows will fill that tiny space like arcs of raisins!

Yet I have found that when I have made the least effort to open a conversation with shop keepers, restaurant workers and taxi drivers with my limited (but I am certain very well pronounced, hawnh-hawnh) French, I have received gracious and helpful responses. When I haven't (I remember one particular taxi driver who I thought would break his transmission, he shifted so hard, and a certain crepes waiter in Montmartre who implied that I should order more than I did - What else was on the menu, s'il vous plais?), I have stood my ground and said in English something to show that I am not intimidated, and immediately there was respectful deference (at least in my presence).

One of the best moments in Paris was the spring Don and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary (2003, photo at right where we lived for a week). We were in a fromagerie the size of the postage stamp below, on Ile Saint Louis, picking up a Roquefort for supper. Don requested the cheese in French, and the seated French woman readied to slice with her big knife, adjusting it wider or narrower according to his hand instructions, cutting a wedge at last. She took his Euros and sweetly chirped with the song of a little sparrow, "Au revoir, Monsieur Foreigneur . . ." When we got outside the shop, in an incredulous tone, Don asked, "How did she know I wasn't French?"

I have a Paris blog called Paris Deconstructed, which is like Jacques Derrida's "literary revenge on philosophy" in that it is my revenge on the myth that Paris is the Eiffel Tower and rude people. I call it synchronicity that this post today happens to be exactly one year since my last post there, July 18, 2009, the second part of a story of meeting Mrs. Schott. And here's a post about that Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, and my encounters with the legendary Mr. George Whitman, which was my very first post at PD. I'll post there again when I get a round tuit. (Today that's pronounced to rhyme with Paris (the French way) and Ile Saint Louis: a round too-eee.)
This post is part of my participation in the Paris in July blog theme sponsored by Karen at BookBath and Tamara at Thyme for Tea, and told me by my dear friend DS at Third-Story Window. So, if like me, you can't afford a trip to Paris this summer, do start your reading tour de Paris at those and other participating blogs where the lingua franca is just, well, PARIS. Bon voyage!

56 comments:

Claudia said...

I loved this post. My French is awful and I never took a single formal French class but I was fortunate enough to have the most wonderful native French speaking personal 24/7 guide who made me feel right at home in Paris everytime I visited. I can manage on my own in Paris with elementary French but the charms of the city of lights are doubled when I go around with a savy Parisian.

Ruth said...

Dearest Claudia, you make me feel so much better about myself! Phew. I can't tell you how often I have wished that Lesley (or my mom, but she passed away in 1997) could have been with me to help. Visiting with a native French speaker, and especially a Parisian, would be a revelation.

One day I will take Lesley. It has to be.

And Claudia, I will never (hope I never do) get your photo of Paris from the high Ferris Wheel out of my vision. Absolutely breathtaking.

rauf said...

Oscar Wilde said something about that Ruth. Its not a pleasant quote.

Learning more than one language is not a fashion or fun in India. It is a necessity. Apart from English, i speak four i think, not fluent though. i can say i have only a working knowledge of English, i just get along. Within a tiny country like England people have contempt for each others dialect or language.
Even the Brits can't understand some local accents. Perhaps it is same with the French. There are rude people everywhere. Here in Tamil Nadu, people from Coimbatore are considered well mannered and courteous and speak good Tamil. Tamil spoken in Chennai is very crude and perhaps that makes people appear rude. Tamil spoken in Malaysia sounds like a different language. i don't understand their accent. Many English words have become permanent Tamil words. You can hear best of Urdu in Lucknow. Bombay Hindi is a mixture of many languages, so different that it cannot be called Hindi at all. There is a difference in Farsi spoken by educated and uneducated people. Mandarin Chinese is supposed to be the most complete language.

NJ said...

I took French up to Grade 11 and then a course at my work place after hours for a few months. I'd really like to try speaking a little simple french. We like to go to Quebec City once in a while. It's one of my favourite places. My husband who had it drilled into his head that the French would be rude to us because they don't want us Anglais there didn't want to go. Assured by my Quebecois that this wasn't the case we finally went. Unfortunately, it most cases they switch to English to readily especially when two people enter their business and one starts with Bonjour and the other with Hello. Now I'm trying to learn Spanish which is actually more useful to me than French even though I live in Canada. When I work with so many multilingual folks at work I'm a little ashamed that I have not even been able to come fluent in my country's second language.

Oh and I'm sure she could just tell by his accent that he wasn't local. I even watched a movie set in Montreal but all the actors were european French not quebecois...they sound quite different. My daughter came to a Spanish lesson with me and she laughed and said I sound quite ridiculous speaking French. I told my Mexican friend and although he says he speaks the language English quite well he will never sound like we do and that's okay.

Ruth said...

rauf, I count myself both blessed and cursed to be a native English speaker. To be able to shift into English in almost any place in the world is a tremendous gift. But it has also made us Americans complacent, I'm afraid. So while I want very much to learn French before I die, I wouldn't be surprised if I never get past good intentions.

In your short paragraph you wrote a dissertation, rauf. I think it is extraordinarily fascinating, all of it. I think I told you I follow a blog about the roots of Tulu words.

rauf, please don't say you have a "working knowledge" of English or that you "get along." I am astonished how well you speak and understand, and also how many other languages you speak. It will be fun to tour India with you one day. We will have to trust you, that you are telling us the truth of what people say. They might be saying my dress is ugly and Don's sandals are funny, but you will tell us they said we are such a nice couple, hehehe. Actually, I don't picture anyone in India being rude.

Ruth said...

NJ, oh you reminded me, we must go to Quebec City. I don't know why I keep forgetting about it! Everyone who's been says it's very like Europe, and beautiful. I had the same experience, that I would say bonjour and my sister would say hello, and shop keepers would speak English. But really, I was not capable of speaking more French. I just wanted to be polite and make an effort, starting with a French greeting and question, at least.

I have heard that the French spoken in Quebec is very different than that in France too. And yes, Don was being funny about the woman knowing he wasn't French. :) Do you know there are people (I know of one, a blogger if I remember) who train business people (and anyone else who wants to pay) to adjust their English, or French, or whatever, to lose their accent? This woman I know of does that in Paris, helping native French speakers lose their French accents when speaking English. You know, I think that's understandable, but rather sad to lose that. :(

Gwei Mui said...

What a wonderful post. I am sadly so remiss when it comes to languages. Although I'd like to think that I am not your typical English tourist abroad. Whenever I go away I try my best to learn a little of the language and a lot of their culture. So I know a smattering of Greek, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, German and French. I used to be an A+ French student when I was at school but I let it slip. So many places speak English especially in the Scandinavian countries. Sadly when it comes to my native tongue -Chinese I have had an absolute mental block until recently I'm now studying again - oh the joys of the internet

Ruth said...

Oh, Gwei Mui, language is like math. Use it or lose it. I find that with Turkish, I must have acquired it, because it's right there, ready to pop out when needed. But I do forget words. Well, I forget them in English too. :|

I know what you mean about being remiss in depth in another language. But to have a smattering as you do in so many, so that you can visit places where those languages are spoken and be polite and attentive, especially knowing you respect their culture enough to study the differences, means that you can connect with people and erase boundaries.

Griselda Pugh said...

I learnt french in school for five academic years and did well in my exams, but still struggled when I visited Montreal. Our method of learning at that time was very stilted, with little actual speaking of day to day french. I have never been to Paris, but loved this post and am looking forward to reading through your other links. The bookshop looks truly wonderful and I wish I was there now :(

Ruth said...

Bonjour, Griselda. I know, it's still like that in our schools for the most part too. Rarely do we have a native speaker teaching the language, and rarely is there much conversation going on.

The bookshop is great, and you can take a virtual tour of many of its rooms:

Virtual tour of Shakespeare & Co

distracted by shiny objects said...

My experience exactly. Most of the people we met were more than willing to listen to my butchered high school French and converse. My landlord, who had served in WWII and I am guessing knew some English, would never speak a word of it to us. But, that's okay.
The funny thing is now that I'm trying to speak Spanish to any Hispanic patients all I can remember is French. Well, not so funny to my patients. They think I'm a moron.

George said...

A world without Paris is a world I cannot imagine. I first went there in 1963 and have returned many times during the past forty-seven years. Only once -- in an minor incident a couple of years ago -- have I ever been treated rudely. If I had spent the same amount of time in an American city of comparable size, I am quite sure I would have been treated no better. I will take my chances in Paris any day; if it has shortcomings, they are few and they are most assuredly outweighed by the art, the romance, and the stunning architectural beauty.

My advice to those seeking a good experience in Paris is to leave one's own culture behind and be open to experiencing the world in a different way. Speaking French is helpful, but by no means necessary. A good attitude, coupled with a small vocabulary of words expressing praise and gratitude, can do wonders for the adventurous traveler. I'm with Hemingway on this one: If you spend any significant time in Paris, "the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

Ruth said...

Distracted, well I hope your landlord spoke to you in something, maybe English?

It really is funny when your brain is calling upon a foreign language from that area of the brain, and any old foreign language will have to do. :)

Ruth said...

George, I couldn't agree more, and your advice is true for anywhere we go, and anyone we meet. I'm not telling you anything you don't already practice, from what I can tell in my short acquaintance with you.

My sense of Parisians, in general, is that they are genteel, in the best sense. Being reserved also, I can understand why some of us Americans who might walk into a restaurant without listening to the room first, and letting it welcome us, would be a little obnoxious. I think that over the past couple of decades this has improved as travel has increased for average people like me, and travel books have advertised the "ugly American" stereotype well.

Paris is in me too. When I can't go, I let it surface, here (i.e., in me, in a poem, somewhere around the farm, in a blog post, etc.).

Deborah said...

Ruth, you must have been a Turkish virgin, and to achieve a very acceptable degree of fluency in it ranks pretty high in my book. At least with French and Spanish, one picks up bits and pieces here and there just because we've adopted so many words.

You already know, I think, my little story of the guy who warned me not to lose my Anglo accent in French, lest I be considered uneducated, but the other experience I had while living in France years ago was similar to yours. I lived near Paris, and got my share of chilliness from Parisiens for not being fluent, however I found that if I prefaced any significant conversation (especially on the phone) with ' Désolée, mais je ne parle pas français très bien' it had a completely disarming effect on people, who then fell over themselves to reassure me I did just fine. That little bit of self-deprecation worked wonders every single time.

Thoroughly enjoyed this piece, so well-written and entertaining !

Ruth said...

Deborah, before we moved to Istanbul, a Turkish friend gave me a couple of introductory lessons. Then in Turkey, I had a tutor who came a few times a week. I used the State Department book set to study the structure, which I highly recommend, by the way. Although I probably didn't need to learn all those words for sergeant, captain and general. :)

Yes, I remember that story of the warning to not lose your Anglo accent, so interesting. Your disclaimer is also a great idea, one that I used too. I agree that it helps immensely if you explain that you know your French isn't good.

I remember once when my parents welcome friends to our home when I was about 12. They were from the Middle East, and their accents were very thick. I remember hearing my mom say, "Your English is excellent!" and my thinking, "Wha?" because I did not separate their perfect English from their accents, which for me made it difficult to understand them. But that helped me to start understanding the difference.

ellen abbott said...

I have never been to Paris, never been off this continent. My foreign country forays have been to Mexico which I love. And, if I ever do cross the ocean for Europe, Paris is not even on my list. I hear and read so much about Paris, how wonderful, a must go if you go no where else blah blah blah that in my stubborn fashion, I don't want to go. so many other places that pique my interest instead. though I'm sure that it is wonderful and if I did go I would love it. Still, it would be low on my list.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I had been to Paris once, for 3 days on my college study abroad trip many years before, when my sister came into my office a few weeks after our mom died and announced that she we were going to Paris, she had bought the plane tickets, and would I please plan our itinerary for two weeks? I would never in a million years have chosen Paris for a travel destination, just like you. She had secretly asked Don where she should take me, and he just said "Paris" because it seemed like the most romantic place to go. So she went with it. In those three weeks as I planned I fell in love with the place and began to understand the substance behind the cliché of Paris as a destination. So. I totally get what you said!

After the fact, I am profoundly grateful that my sister surprised me with Paris, because it has come to symbolize a release from some of the strictures I experienced in the first part of my life.

And Mexico looks beautiful in your post today! Truth is, what I have here on the farm is my daily getaway and nourishment. I am incredibly fortunate to live on this property where we are so well cared for by its caretakers, the animals, insects, fungi, trees, grasses, wildflowers, algae, etc.

Susan said...

I'm still waiting on my trip to France, not only Paris, but also Avignon and Marseilles where David has spent some time. I don't speak French at all...didn't take it in school...they didn't even offer it at that time. I will be lost if I ever get there.

Loved the quote from Don! Very funny...I'm still smiling.

Do you think Lesley would like to have a Holocaust memoir written in French? It looks very good, but that's all I can do is look at it. haha

I loved your Paris Deconstructed posts. I learned so much about the city and about you from them. But, it will still be there when you have the time...after all, "we'll always have Paris".

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations on knowing Turkish!
I know 'shweer' (teeny tiny bit) of Direga (Marrakesh arabic)
some Italian
but my French is un disastre........in that I jabbered away in Morocco where they are aboundingly kind. I would not dare speak it in Paris!!!
Gosh in my dreams I would speak such wonderful foreign tongues....
all best wishes......

Ruth said...

Susie, my friend, the countryside, yes yes yes. Don says if we go again, it will be to villages and driving, biking or walking through the country. My sisters Ginnie and Astrid just went for a drive through northwestern France and loved it, full fields of sunflowers, oh man.

Heh, I don't know if Lesley still reads French, or wants to, or if so, would want to read a book on the Holocaust. :) How came this to you?

Even I like going back and reading my PD posts and reminiscing. When I do they remind me of other stories I want to post. I can feel it bubbling, it will come back one of these days.

Thank you, my dear.

Ruth said...

Elizabeth, I think that every little bit you know of another language lends insight into life. There are words in Turkish that say things I never knew how to say in English. No doubt you found that in Direga, and no doubt it is there in every language. It would be so nice to sit with you over tea or coffee and talk about Morocco and Turkey.

dutchbaby said...

Oh to tour Ile Saint Louis in gay Paris, with thee, but alas, only when we get a round tuit.

Mrs. Goff was my magnificently stylish Parisian French teacher when I first arrived in the US as a seventh grader. She was such a great teacher that I learned as many English words from her as I did French.

I agree wholeheartedly with George's comment.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, you're a rhyming poet! And such a cuteeee. (hehe) I think I would like to explore almost anywhere with you, but to do Paris with a foodie, now that would be a revelation.

Well now, I do love picturing you arriving in the US in seventh grade and learning English from your French teacher. Lesley had a marvelous French teacher too, a native speaker. That must be how Lesley's pronunciation got so good.

And yes, George said it so well. And as my husband also said whenever we came around another corner and saw yet again another extraordinary building, monument, sculpture or jardin, "It just isn't fair."

VioletSky said...

I was in Paris only the once. It was not a happy experience. But then, I was not well, it was raining and it was New Years Day. Now I have become addicted to several Paris blogs and am desperate to return to do it right.
There was a time when visitng countries with foreign signs did not bother me at all, but now I find I feel a little intimidated by the prospect. Don't really know why. Maybe when I was younger, I didn't worry as much about what I was missing by not knowing the language and instead was thrilled to make connections to English and pleased to at least get by.

Marcie said...

Having grown up in a city that is 'tout bilingue' (Totally bilingual) English and French - I still worry that my Parisian French is not up to par or good enough. Thank-you for all of the wonderful online links to Paris and that life.

Ruth said...

Violetski, I hope you can go back and "do it right." Every time I leave, I say I am going to do something else right next time.

Your comment about being more intimidated by language barriers as you get older reminds me of how easily our kids picked up Turkish in Istanbul, apparently not having the same fear of making mistakes that we older ones did. Lesley corrected my Turkish a lot. :)

Ruth said...

Marcie, well I imagine if you are bilingual, then there are different pressures to speak French up to that par. Maybe it's how I feel when I go to England. :|

musingbymoonlight.com said...

Another wonderful post. Thank you! And, Ruthie, this is to let you know you've been awarded the pretty pink Lovely Blog Award. I hope you will accept it. Details here: http://wp.me/pne74-3Lj Jamie

Ruth said...

Well thank you, Jamie, how grand! I am tickled pink!

ds said...

Yippee! You did it! And your point is so well-taken. The next time I go anywhere (to work, for coffee), I will pause & allow the room to speak...As for language skills, I truly thought you were fluent in French. C'est la vie! (that's my limit, btw, aside from please and thank you--the two most important phrases in any language). On our trip four years ago, only my mother and daughter had any French at all, and they were nowhere near the level of your mother or Lesley. Yet we were always treated graciously and without condescension. As you say, it helps to smile and admit up front that you know your skills are limited. Folks appreciate the fact that you have made the effort to learn something about their country and their culture, however small. I have always wanted to learn French (and Russian and Chinese. And Japanese, because of my dear ladies. And Spanish because it is necessary--and fun!)Perhaps someday...
You did this beautifully, and I especially like the photograph of the staircase at Shakespeare & Co. (Also I thank you for the mention--it was thoughtfully, graciously you, and so unnecessary)

Ruth said...

DS, yay! Thank you, and thank you again for telling me about this. It has stirred the Paris waters again and makes me think about posting more at PD. But even if I don't, this was very enjoyable.

I wrote a post long ago about that listening to a room (not that you would remember, but in case it sounds familiar). It was my boss 10 years ago, who wasn't everyone's favorite guy, and he went to France with his wife, a high school French teacher, every summer. He had learned by observing that the French enter a restaurant quietly, and wait to get a sense of things, and let the room receive him. When his in-laws came for a visit, his MIL did not know this lesson, and he cringed every time they walked into any place. It was a powerful story to me, and changed how I enter a room to this day.

Ginnie said...

When I first read your title, Ruth, I was sure you were going to say something about me/us not stopping in Paris on our recent drive through France. :D You would have been very proud of Astrid, as was I, wherever we went when she spoke French. She insisted she knew little but I was totally amazed. Maybe it was the accent! She sounded so French. Now I wish I had taken French in high school instead of Latin or Spanish. However, Astrid tells me that when we go to Spain it will be MY time to do the honors. So in that regard, we're able to cover both bases. HA!

I love this post and picturing you in Paris. It may happen again before you think!

Susan said...

The book was one I ordered from Alibris at the same time I ordered the "People" book from your post. The ad was either misleading, or I didn't read it properly, and it was way too much trouble to return it, and it would have cost me more than I actually paid for the book. So there you have it...well, I have it, actually.

Pat said...

My brother-in-law worked in Paris for a couple of years so we had the chance to visit them out there. They fully embraced the culture and loved it out there. They told us to always ask in French if the people speak English. Then they would see that we attempted to speak their language and that we wouldn't have any problems. And we didn't. Everyone was very nice to us. We truly loved Paris!

California Girl said...

Only went to Paris once, when I was 19, with my girlfriend. We spent Thanksgiving there. It was towards the end of our 3 month backpacking sojourn through western Europe. We, too, were intimidated by reports of rudeness & hostility but we encountered friendly students our age who spoke English and loved the beauty of it. The Louvre and Jeu de Paume (SP) were fabulous and I especially recall Rodin's home and sculpture garden.

Jeanie said...

Oh, dear -- you are sending me to spots where I feel I may well get lost forever. And I SO can't wait.

Your Paris Deconstructed blog was one I poured over before my first (and only, so far) trip to Paris last spring. It gave me both great encouragement and wonderful ideas. I hope others will visit and see! And, that you continue your thoughts and reminiscences there, too -- because I'm greedy enough to want more!

This post makes me smile. Celebrating your anniversary; picking up your cheese, and I know quite well where you were, so I can visualize that. Your French, I'm sure, is better than mine, but I agree -- people were kind and gracious, so long as you tried. Maybe even if you didn't -- I don't know. I always tried!

Au revoir for today, my friend. Thanks for taking me back to a spot I've been thinking much of lately. And now, into the void of the Internet to visit others!

Babs-beetle said...

With a French Grandmother (half French mother) you'd think I would speak French fairly fluently. In fact I don't speak any French at all.

My Grandmother, who couldn't speak any English, died before I was born. After she died there was no reason for my mother to speak French any more.

Oliag said...

My daughter, the librarian, also majored in French in college. We were fortunate enough to visit her while she lived there and our family took quite a whirlwind tour of the country...Arles, Avignon, Orange, Mr O drove the whole way...Wonderful memories...and not one memory of any unpleasantness even though my daughter was very shy about speaking the language.

Mr O's favorite place in Paris?....the fromagerie next to our hotel:)

Recently, while waiting in the car, I discovered French language lesson podcasts on my iphone...Fun!

Deslilas said...

I was born in Paris and French is my mother tongue, anyway I must admit that Parisians are not the most friendly people. But as everywhere there are exception.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I celebrated Paris in July with one particular post on Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast -- in it, he talks about his friend Sylvia Beach, and her bookshop called Shakespeare and Company. I assume it is the same as the one pictured and mentioned in your post? Looks gloriously fun in there, could meander for days! Love your post, will be coming back for more!

ds said...

Oh, do post more at PD. You have knowledge (emphasis); I can't think how else to describe it. Deep knowledge. And yes, I do remember a bit about that post on your boss and his MIL. I think that you--and by extension he--are changing the way I walk through doors now, too.

Arti said...

Thanks for the prep... I really need to plan for my trip more, coming up in a month's time. Yes, that's the bookstore I'll definitely visit, thanks to your PD blog. As for brushing up my minimal French... you see, I'm the best example to counter the belief that Canada is a bilingual country... but I'll get myself organized soon (just came back from a short trip to your big country) and await more of your PD new posts!

Terresa said...

I smile that you respond with a phrase in English to show you are not demur. I like that bunches.

I've never traveled to France, although I'd love to. But before that is Spain, Chile, Argentina (again), Uruguay (again), and, well, the whole of South America. I think it is grossly underestimated in the travel world. ;)

Ruth said...

Boots, well I am proud of Astrid, and I've always been proud of you and your Spanish (and now Dutch!). One day, when we go to Europe again, we will count on both of you to help us out. It makes such a difference, you know? And if you ever wanna go to Istanbul . . .

:)

Ruth said...

Susie, do you have any local bookstores taking used books? Ours is, and then resells them.

Ruth said...

Pat, that is great news, I love hearing more stories that validate the feeling I've had in Paris too.

Ruth said...

California Girl, the Rodin is tremendous. I prefer the small museums, the ones I've seen. That one is so beautiful, with the garden and fountain out back. If I do the Louvre, I need to do it in small bites.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, sometimes you just have to go, one way or another. You can be forgiven for touring Paris through some new blogs, since you're not going there in person this year.

It really is great fun to get a lay of the land and recognize places when I see them now. But I had not heard of the Carnevelet, so I thank you for that tip and will put it on my list for next time (if there is one). It looks terrific!

Ruth said...

Babs, well I suppose that could have been an opportunity. But hey.

I always thought it would be ideal to have a mother speak one language, father another, a nanny a third, then go to school in a fourth. Kids learn languages quite easily. Wouldn't that be cool?

Ruth said...

Oh, Oliag, we have to get out into the French countryside, something we hope to do one day. That sounds fantastic.

French lessons on your iPhone!? Sacré bleu!

Those fromageries are pretty stinky, non? :)

Ruth said...

Well, Daniel, I am somehow heartened to know it is not only Americans who are intimidated by Parisiens. :)

Ruth said...

Hello there, and welcome, Book Chick! This is the same bookshop, almost. George Whitman bought it from Sylvia Beach, and he moved it around the corner, out to the quai. George named his daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman, and she runs the bookshop now. Please do go there one visit, because it is unlike anything else in the world, and you might even get to see George. He's now 98!

Ruth said...

DS, thank you for the nudge, I will try to post more at PD. I can feel the rumblings for it, so I think it will happen sometime soon.

Ruth said...

Arti, there will be a lot to pack into your trip. I always like my second visit to a place, because the pressure is off after the first. I hope you love it as I do, and I am glad you will go to this bookshop. It is just across from the Notre Dame, so you don't need to plan much time far from the center of things to do it. And maybe you'll see George!

Ruth said...

Terresa, what I've found is that being confident, while kind, is a great asset in Paris. :)

I agree with you that South America is underestimated. We don't hear much about it, growing up, or even as adults, as a destination. I know very little myself. In fact I never heard anyone talk about Uruguay until I met you, and so I will need you to keep educating me.