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France’s hot December

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This has been the hottest year ever in France. Even now, in mid-December, the temperatures are several degrees higher than normal for this time of the year. The evening news broadcasts show people swimming and lying on the beaches. Winter coats remain in the cupboards. There is little or no snow in the ski resorts. 

Parisian café pleasures

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French cafe in France

Imagine a Parisian café around four or five in the afternoon. The leaves are beginning to fall, it’s a little chilly outside and the sky is overcast. There are a few tables outside on the pavement but most customers have opted for seats behind the glass walls of the spacious covered terrace from where they can watch the passers-by in comfort.

Stock up on French expressions about wine

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French wine vocabulary and axpressions

French people are stocking up on wine. Every supermarket and hypermarket worth its salt holds a ‘Foire aux Vins’ in the autumn. Large areas, in key positions in the stores, are devoted to a variety of wines at unbeatable prices. As the wines are displayed by colour and by region, it’s easy to head for the wines you prefer or to explore wines from a less familiar region. It’s the perfect time to stock up on wines for the end of year holiday season and also to lay down a few good bottles of wines that will keep, ‘les vins de garde’, for special occasions.

Some French words for the road

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French words for the road in France

When driving in France, keep an eye open for donkeys, hens and policemen lying across the road. If this conjures up enchanting images of ‘la France profonde’, think again. Nowadays even in big cities, you can find all of the above. They have one thing in common. They make you slow down. Drive too fast over a sleeping gendarme, ‘un gendarme couché’, or a donkey’s back, ‘un dos-d’âne’, and you will nearly take off, while if you catch a wheel in a pothole, ‘un nid de poules’, it won’t do much for your car’s suspension either.

C’est la rentrée !

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Of course there’s not just one ‘rentrée’ but several.

Firstly, there’s just literally getting back home. The annual, self-inflicted punishment, which consists of battling through long traffic jams in high temperatures to get to the sea and then battling through long traffic jams in high temperatures to get home was a particularly gruelling and stressful one this year. The accumulated length of traffic jams broke previous records, as did the temperatures. Perhaps it was a logical consequence that ‘le must’ for beach reading this summer was ‘Le charme discret de l’intestin’, a book about the digestive tract!