Sunday, July 29, 2018


A "Bonjour" is all it takes....

We arrived at Aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle early in the morning. We were tired, but so was everybody else, and, hey, nous sommes en France!

I studied enough French to get by, but in Paris I used little French--a few syllables into butchering their native tongue, and even the most insouciant Parisien perked right up and helped us out--France was on its way to the World Cup, and just about everyone was friendly.

Honfleur, by Leslie

The first moments in France, however, we saw an American ask a tourist information guide in loud English" "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?"

The young man, Nicholas, admitted he spoke a tiny bit, and a very long conversation followed without a whole lot of information shared.

I was next.

"Bonjour!" (I knew enough to start with that.) Before I got halfway through the next sentence, Nicholas spoke to me kindly, and more important, fluently. In English.

My butchered French proved useful in the countryside, but in Paris, just about everyone quickly turned to English once I uttered "Bonjour."

Do your students hear the equivalent of "Bonjour!" when they walk in your classroom door?

Free range enfants....

I went to France, and I came back, and I am different. Why else travel?

Judging a country, or even a city, with just a few days under one's belt, is, of course, unreasonable. But this is a blog, nothing more, and my diary, nothing less, so I'm tossing ideas out here.

By Moonik
We we're wandering along the Seine, on a cobble-stoned walk along the Seine somewhere near the Pont Marie, enjoying the day. We had just had extraordinary ice cream (or something close to what we call ice cream here) at the Berthillon Glacier, and we we're walking, as we do, without a plan. (Walking around Paris, or pretty much anywhere, reveals as much as any mammal meant to walk can properly take in.)

We are older, so we do not move as quickly as the folks around us, and that is OK. A young couple strolled by with a child no more than four. She asked something in French, which I missed, and her parents answered, again in French (this is Paris, non?), and again I missed it.

This particular walk along the Seine has no walls between the walkway and the river. The river is a bit more staid than many in major cities, but it is still a river.

The little girl took off, running down the path, along the edge of the Seine, as her parents continued chatting with each other, obviously fond of each other.

The child put about 50 yards between herself and her parents, then scrambled up the steps to the Pont Louis-Philippe.

No reaction from the parents.

Until she hid. We could see her, her parents could not--Dad bolted, sprinting the 50 yards, dashing up the steps three at a time.

He found her, and he picked her up, and that was that.

And that's the point of the story. Children in Paris, at least this child (and we saw other examples), are given free rein.

Do some die from this "negligence"? Peut-être. Here in the States we focus on the safety.

What kind of child does this kind of parenting produce? If our anecdotal experiences mean anything (we saw a lot of kids), we learned this much--the children in France are self-assured and reasonably happy. They also seem to like adults, not surprising because the adults (not just the parents) seemed to like them.

This one was for me--but I'd love to hear your opinions anyway....