April 21, 2013

Getting Around France: Trains vs. Cars

For spring break I decided to head up north to my old haunting grounds, Lille. I wanted to see my friends and eat delicious French fries.

Who wouldn't want to visit this?

The problem with going anywhere from Troyes is two-fold. The first problem is that Troyes is not on the TGV (trains de grandes vitesses, or high speed trains). The second problem is that, by train, one must always go to Paris first, and then to the subsequent destination.

In between Troyes and Paris there are roughly 180 km/111 miles. In between Paris and Lille there are 220 km/136 miles.

However, the train ride from Troyes to Paris is about 1 hour and 30 minutes, while the train from Paris to Lille is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Image ©Google Maps.

Despite traveling farther, it’s actually quicker to get to Lille thanks to the TGV.

Taking into account lay over time, getting my butt up North by train was looking like at least a 4 hour ordeal. It was also looking quite pricey.

Luckily, the train is not the only way to get around France. I did something I have never done before. I signed up for covoiturage.fr, a carpooling website.

Image ©Bla Bla Car.

I highly recommend it to my fellow travelers out to explore France. It was cheaper than the train, and got me to Lille faster (only 3.5 hours by car). My driver was on time, very friendly, and we had a very agreeable voyage (journey). We didn't even have to pass through Paris!

The point of zero kilometers (where the roads from Paris are measured from) sits in front of Notre Dame Cathedrale in Paris.

It would seem that all roads no longer go from Paris, but instead all trains do.

April 6, 2013

Dictionnaire Español-Français

For my masters, it is required to take a language class and this semester I decided to enroll in Spanish. Having had 4 years of Spanish in middle school/high school, I figured it’d be easier and serve me better than say Portuguese or Italian.

Learning a third language in one’s second language makes for some pretty interesting brain gymnastics. Nevertheless, I sometimes find that translating things into French makes more sense than the English equivalent (and vise versa).

While hoping there would be a Spanish-English dictionary at France's version of Good Will, Emmaus, there were only Spanish-French ones (but really, at a dollar a dictionary who can complain?). I bought one, confident that I speak French well enough that there shouldn’t be any trouble.

Despite it working out most of the time, looking up I no longer remember what, I stumbled upon the cutest word I have yet to cross in French, pommettes. Not sure what it meant, I asked a classmate.

So, what is a pommette? No, it’s not just a tiny pomme (apple). It’s actually the cheekbone part of your cheeks! The little part that grandmas like to pinch when they tell you they could eat you with a spoon.

I love having a word for that specific part of the cheek. Especially since it seems to fit perfectly. It does resemble a tiny apple one just wants to take a bite out of.

Confession: I'm dating a French boy. Since we met, I always adored his cheeks, but telling him so didn't exactly encompass what I meant. Really, I couldn't get enough of his pommettes. After learning this word, everything just fell into place. It felt right.

Now, my favorite part of Spanish class is enriching my French vocabulary.
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