vendredi 2 décembre 2011

KanaBeach Revolution

I stumbled across this French surfwear brand which makes cool travel bags and suitcases, Kana Beach.

When I saw the photo on their front page I immediately recognised it as a take off of the famous French painting, Liberty leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple)

I didn't actually realise it was a French brand until I saw the language options on the website and investigated further... Also when I saw the naked breast on the women I suppose it was also a clue that it could be French as they seem to love imagery of topless women for advertising purposes! Haha.

C'est drôle, non ?

vendredi 25 novembre 2011

One year ago...

On this day one year ago it was snowing! I remember it like it was yesterday and yet I'm amazed at how fast the time has flown. As they say, Time flies when you are having fun :)

I keep wondering when it's going to start snowing this year. Although it's cold, it's nowhere near cold enough to snow yet. I wonder if we'll have a white Christmas... I surely hope so!!

dimanche 30 octobre 2011

Macarons in McDonalds in France

Yeah Yeah I realise this is old news but considering I NEVER eat at McDonalds.. this was the first time I noticed them for myself (at a McDonalds on the outskirts of Annemasse). They cost 0,90€ each and no, I didn't try them! I don't think anything could compare to Ladurée, Pierre Hermé and Sève in Lyon.

samedi 22 octobre 2011

SNCF Carte 12-25 for those up to 30 years

I found out about this about a month ago and I should have posted it up earlier... oops.

For a limited time, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TGV, you can purchase a 12-25 discount card even if you are aged between 26-30 years old. The card is valid for one year and non-renewable. It costs 49€.


Get in quick while stocks last! Limited to 400,000 pieces.

vendredi 21 octobre 2011

Bilingual French English puns

I bought this book second hand.. It's a book of random English phrases, for French learners of English.

Here are some really lame French/English puns:

Once upon a time in winter three french cats, called Un, Deux and Trois, went skating on a pond. The ice gave way and Un, Deux, Trois cats sank.

Why does Mitterrand only have one egg for breakfast?
Because un oeuf est un oeuf.

There was a class having a lesson, and one boy said:
"Miss, can we do French now?"
The teacher replied, "Mais oui."
The boy said, "Sorry, may we do French now?"

Carla Bruni has a girl called Giulia

First lady of France, Carla Bruni, has a girl named Giulia.

Linky at

jeudi 20 octobre 2011

Paris vs New York skinny people

I wrote that I thought there are no fat people in Paris. I happened to find this article New York skinny vs Paris skinny which I thought was interesting, especially not having been to New York...

I have to say that it's not just the Parisians or the French that exercise portion control. Pretty much every European I have met eats very small portions! I am always so shocked that they eat so little. I'm left thinking, "Aren't they still hungry?" Back home I am not a big eater at all but here I feel like a pig sometimes! Hahaha..

mercredi 19 octobre 2011

Carla Bruni has a baby

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's birth update...

Live updates here

vendredi 14 octobre 2011

1 year old thinks a magazine is an iPad

Continuing on from my rant about babies and technology of almost 5 months ago (sheez where did the time go?!)...

here is a one-year-old who believes all media are now touchscreen-enabled. She seems not to understand that a magazine--Marie-Claire, in this example--doesn't take to pinching or prodding.
The video was posted by Jean-Louis Costanza, currently the CEO at Orange-Vallee, a subsidiary of the France Telecom brand Orange, of his daughter. He ends the video by saying, "They will nod even more sagely at the video's last words: 'Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS.' "

For me, the most amazing part is when she thinks her finger is faulty.

Some might find this 'cute' but even though I find it funny, I also find it quite horrifying, actually... that our kids will grow up knowing nothing about print-based media and only screen-based media :(

Le Petit Prince agenda 2012

When I was in Paris the other day I didn't buy much but I bought this adorable 2012 diary!! I've been wanting to get a nice diary for ages and I saw some nice ones but they were usually too small or too big and heavy (or in Geneva, too expensive). I wasn't even looking for one when I found this though.

I bought a cute artsy Paris postcard and when I went inside to pay for it I happened to notice there was a stationery section inside this bookstore and went to have a further look...

I love this because it was cheap (only 9 euros! - even less than the recommended price of 10 euros, weird), it's good quality (hardcover and with a magnetic closure), and there are random coloured pages inserted throughout which are pages from the book Le Petit Prince AND with the quotes in THREE different languages: French, English and German. It'll be great for me learning German.

It's so freaking adorable and perfect I want to start using it now but it's not like school diaries which start in September, it starts in January 2012. Here's the official site of the company which makes it (teNeues, it's German) if you want to get one too :)

mercredi 12 octobre 2011

Best time to travel to Europe

After having travelled around Europe during every season and almost every month I would say, without a doubt, the best time is between mid April to mid June. (unless of course you specifically want to see snow and be here for the festivities of Christmas).

The weather is super nice during this time. You can also easily get sunny 20-25° days during these months in most cities/countries.

Even though the weather is also nice during July and August, riding on public transport and staying in places without air-conditioning can be horrific. Also, during the height of summer it can get exceedingly crowded at touristy cities/attractions.

And so I went to Paris again

Apologies for my lack of posts. I just don't feel that I've done much noteworthy to blog about..

Anyhoo, I went to Paris again on Monday and Tuesday. For my return trip to Geneva I got a bargain ticket which cost me only 25 euros!

It didn't rain but it was completely overcast the whole time I was there. The weather was remarkably similar to the weather last time I was there (in July) except cooler and windier. I shouldn't have been surprised it was cloudy because it's ALWAYS cloudy every time I go to Paris. This was my seventh time to Paris and 6 out of 7 times, it was cool and cloudy.

Given the weather, I wasn't feeling particularly cheerful but I remembered that the previous time in July I also had to force myself to cheer up and enjoy my time there, and so I did.

I used AirBnB this time for my accommodation as the hotel I normally use wasn't vacant and also I wanted to save some money. Of course I would have used Couchsurfing if I could but every time I tried to find one in Paris, I wasn't successful and I didn't want to waste time not having a definite place to stay.

What did I do? Nothing particularly noteworthy but I just walked around a lot. And revisited places I'd seen before (some more than once): The Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, The Bastille, The Seine, Nôtre Dame Cathedral, Ile Saint Louis, Shakespeare & Co bookshop, The Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall)... I didn't go to any macaron specialty places but did manage to pick up a giant raspberry filled macaron at a pâtisserie towards the end of my trip.

I really want to take a boat ride along the Seine... one day. I didn't do it this time because I really want to do it with someone else and not alone.

I kept trying to recall what I did on my last trip and admittedly, did a lot of the similar things. What made me sad was that last time the sun didn't set until 10 or even 10:30 and this time it was completely dark at 7:15pm :(

When it was about 8pm and I'd walked around forever, I was exhausted. Yet, I felt it was still too early to go back 'home' yet. But what could I do? Oh that's right.. I hadn't even had dinner yet! So I found a nice restaurant.. actually I found 3 next to each other and looked at their menus and decided which one to go to based on what I wanted to order. I'm always scrimping and saving when it comes to food and dining out but since in Geneva I pretty much NEVER eat out (and when I do it's always pizza as that's the only thing which doesn't cost an arm and a leg), I decided to 'splurge' on a nice dinner. No drinks, entrée or dessert though! I ordered the confit de canard (duck). I LOVE duck. I had to wait a long time for my meal to come but was very content just watching the scene in front of me, listening to French being spoken all around me and the music softly wafting out of a speaker somewhere.

Although it was a cool night, I felt very warm in there, surrounded by all these people and the lights. There was an outdoor gas heater but I don't think it was on.

Finally my meal arrived and I wouldn't say it was over the top amazing but it would've been better than anything I could get in Geneva for under 40 francs. It cost me 16.20 euros. The duck was well cooked but a tad dry. It was surrounded by baked potatoes (which I love). It was overall very tasty (I didn't need to add any salt or anything) and satisfying.

What happened just before I decided to eat, I was just aimlessly walking down a random street and past a pub, when the guy walking there said hello to me. I thought he was doing it to get me to come in and have a drink (ie trying to drum up business). But while I was eating dinner, I thought myself.. surely he wasn't trying to chat to me? I remembered that on my previous visits to Paris I had had a 'connection' to someone and this time I hadn't. Twice in April I was with a friend who showed me around and in July, I spoke to that guy on the train on the way there and then tried to see him play at a concert at the Town Hall.

Anyhoo, after dinner, I couldn't resist finding out what his intentions were so I purposely walked past that bar again, wanting to see if he'd notice me again. If he didn't I'd just keep walking and if he did I'd stay and chat. I just LOVE chatting to strangers and finding out more about them. He did see me and motioned for me to come in. Luckily it was a Monday night so fairly quiet.

It's funny. I'd heard and read about these stories so many times but never actually thought it would happen to me... What I mean is, guys in Paris trying to chat you up randomly in the street or on the metro or something.

So I went in and he was like.. "Hi, I'm ___. What's your name? Where are you from? What are you doing in Paris?" etc etc... I just looked at him and said, "C'mon, you probably do this every day to every girl who walks past..." He sweared, "No" and looked to his colleague for affirmation. He told me he works from 5pm-6am every single day and is usually too busy, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He said he saw me out of the blue and felt attracted to me, and how pretty I was (la la la) and then he asked me if I had a boyfriend, to which I replied, "Yes." He was like "Damn!" but he still kept wanting to talk to me and offered me a drink. I stayed long enough just to learn something new about a stranger (my goal and only goal) and realised it was getting late so decided to leave at about 10pm...

Actually I lie. Something like that DID happen to me before in Paris but it was an old guy. This time it was someone around my age and who was reasonably attractive too. He invited me to his place and that's when I thought this has gone too far and I definitely have to leave now. He asked me if he could get a hug before I left...

I did spend some time talking to my AirBnB hosts too, a couple. So I guess you could say that was another Parisian 'connection.'

Overall I didn't really do a great deal in Paris but I walked so much I was totally and utterly exhausted (and still am). Next time I go I'll make sure to have a more concrete plan though. I've seen almost every part of Paris now, I'll have to go further afield to discover new places. Next time also, I want to go to La Défense which I didn't have time for this trip.

What I actually wanted to write about was my ride home on the train.

I spoke to a friend on the phone when I got back. I told him that I felt a great amount of sadness riding the train home to Geneva from Paris. I tried to sleep so for the majority of the time I was slumped/slouched in my seat and had my eyes closed with my sunglasses on to block out the light (the lights inside the train were on the whole time). I barely noticed what was going on outside the window at all until I heard the click-click of the shutter of a young man sitting near me.

When I heard him taking photos of course my natural reaction was to see what was outside the window and when I looked out, it didn't seem that interesting and special to me (the only noteworthy thing was that the further we travelled from Paris, the sunnier it got until I saw no clouds at all!) but then I had this flashback to a year ago or even just a few months ago.

I used to be totally and utterly mesmerized by everything I saw out the window and took photos at regular intervals throughout the entire train ride. Now I barely even look out the window and didn't take a single photo. It goes something like this. 1 is when I first arrived a year ago, and 5 is today.

1. Staring out the window the whole time and taking lots of photos
2. Staring out of the window some of the time and some photos
3. Staring out the window sporadically and taking photos every now and then
4. Staring out the window sporadically and taking no photos
5. Not looking out the window at all and taking no photos

I was telling my friend that I felt somewhat sad that when I first arrived in France and for the first few months everything was new and amazing, my senses were totally overwhelmed but now, after countless train journeys (probably 50?) and trips to Paris (7), nothing is new or amazing to me anymore. And that made me feel sad.

He told me he thought that that means the older you get, the less impressed you get by things as you would have experienced more, like his father who moved around and travelled so much for work and now he just wants to stay put. I guess there was some truth in what he had to say, even if I felt it was a tad negative. But it also made me think of the other spectrum. If it really is true, then it must also be true that kids are impressed by everything because they've never seen/done it before and isn't that why I hear time and time again that parents love seeing everything through their kids' eyes? Because for them, it's like reliving the moments again when THEY did such-and-such for the first time (which they probably can't remember because they were too young)?

To use an analogy (because I love analogies) I guess it's similar to the phenomenon of people who have lots of kids.

With the first kid, it's their first time so everything is new, interesting and amazing and they take photos of every single step of this kid's life. With each subsequent kid the things get less amazing and they take less and less photos and if they have 4 or 5 kids there will be significantly less photos and less milestones celebrated compared to the first kid. 

Makes you ponder, doesn't it?

mardi 27 septembre 2011

One year ago...

A trip down memory lane...

I can't believe it. One year ago I turned up at the high school I'd be working at (teaching English) for the next few months, scared as all heck. I'd only been learning French for a few short months prior to moving to France and now I had to navigate my way around a HUGE school and a new town, all without speaking a word of English!

I'm quite proud of myself and how far I've come now. Not just in my French ability but my ability to adapt to different life situations and boy oh boy have I had some stressful and horrible situations... but I guess it's all part of life. Living, learning, loving, growing and all of that.

On one hand I'd love to say that I'd love to do it all over again (especially being able to take naps during the working day and having so many holidays!) but on the other hand I cringe at having to do it again. I definitely could not live that life again. Stuck in a small town with nowhere to go and nothing to do in my spare time.

Still, overall I had a great time and fond memories that will stay with me forever... :)

I'll be going back to Paris again soon, back to where it all started in September 2010...

mercredi 21 septembre 2011

Justified text

Apparently the French have a big thing for justified text.

Now, I've actually studied typography (the study of type!) and know that justified text makes it harder to read. The fact that newspapers use it doesn't mean it's 'better' or 'correct' or.. Grrrr...

Whenever I've shown a French person a piece of text to correct for me (usually a shitty translation I've done myself of something I've first written in English and then tried to translate into French), they take it upon themselves to also justify it left and right! hahaha. When I've received letters from French people they are almost always justified!!

Here is a great example of why justified text sucks!!!!!

mardi 20 septembre 2011

One year...

Cela fait un an... It's been roughly one year since I left the comforts of my home and ventured halfway across the world to France... What an adventure it has been! and despite some bad things that have happened, I've loved every minute of it. Every sight, taste, sound... everything I've experienced will be forever embedded in my memory, my brain and my heart. :)

dimanche 18 septembre 2011

Decipher this!

C3 M355463 53RT 4 PR0VV3R QV3 N0TR3 35PR1T P3VT F41R3 D'1MPR35510N4N735 CH0535 ! 4V D3BVT C'3T41T D1FF1C1L3 M415 M41NT3N4NT, 4 P4RT1R D3 C3TT3 L16N3, V0TR3 35PR1T 3ST 3N TR41N D3 L1R3 C3C1 4VT0M4T1QV3M3NT 54N5 M3M3 Y P3N5ER. 50Y3Z F13R5 ! S3VL5 C3RT41N3S P3RS0NN3S P3VV3NT L1R3 C3C1. R3P05TEZ-L3 51 V0V5 P0VV3Z C0MPR3NDR3 C3 M355463, M41S N3 D1T3S 4 P3R50NN3 C3 QV'1L S16N1F13.

I'm surprised it was actually quite easy to read, even though French is not my native language!

lundi 12 septembre 2011


Yesterday I was with this French dude and according to him I cannot pronounce cirque (circus). I tried so many times but he says it sounded more like siècle (century). Apparently I can pronounce circonscription (electoral constituency) and it's just the start of that.. but .. ARGHHHH it was so frustrating. I was giving myself a sore throat trying to say it over and over again! Anyone else have a problem with this word?

Cirque sucks!

(image from here)

mercredi 31 août 2011

The French verb munir

I came across this word many months ago at the train station in Geneva.. munissez...

Obviously I figured out what it meant (especially since there was also an English translation) but to actually translate this word?

This is my best interpretation :

munir = to come prepared with (something)

jeudi 11 août 2011

Learning a foreign language is like having children

First of all I have to preface this by saying that I don't have children but have friends that do and I can imagine what it's like...

In my life I'm forever making analogies and when I think about myself wanting to learn German I think about a couple deciding to have a second child...

Why do I think the two things are similar?

* The first foreign language you learn will be the hardest and any subsequent ones you learn will be much easier because you've already developed the skills necessary and you've learnt the tricks, grammar rules...

* Having the first child is hard work (because you've never done it before) but having subsequent children should be comparatively easier since you've already done it all before and have an idea of what to expect.

* The beginning is always the hardest. The very very beginning of my learning French was hard. I'd see words I didn't know and immediately look them up in a French-English dictionary but it wasn't really that helpful because I hadn't learnt to conjugate yet! Once I got to an intermediate (B1) level things became much easier and faster to learn.

* I imagine raising a baby is the same. The beginning is super hard when the baby is a newborn and you don't know what you are doing and you never get any sleep... but after a few months or a year it becomes gradually easier.

* Once you've gotten to a stage of competency (in my case with French) you do start to feel a sense of dread that you'll have to start ALL over again with this other language you want to learn...

* Likewise for having a second child. I can imagine what a relief it is when your child is able to be a bit independent (around the age of 4-5) and starts school and if you have a second one you'll have to start all over again and do all that hard newborn stuff again...

Is it all worth it though?

It must be! I think there is some sort of a sense of addiction or something... Most people who love languages fail to stop learning at one foreign language, they keep going learning others.. and most people have at least two children... so there must be a reason to start all over again and go through the hard part to get to the good stuff! :) It must be... rewarding?

The secret of the quickest way to learn a foreign language

Want to know the secret of the quickest way to learn a foreign language?

Get a boy/girlfriend who is a native speaker of that language.

I've heard it, read it, even experienced it... there really is no quicker way.

I believe it's true too because it's similar to how toddlers learn to speak. By spending so much time with their mother or primary caretaker... you just talk talk talk and listen listen listen all day long. It's an intensely quick method of absorbing and learning a foreign language.

However, it may not be so easy to find a willing participant ;)

Bonne chance !

mardi 9 août 2011

Zoidberg has friends!

Wow, I honestly didn't think that my friends cared so much. I feel so loved :) I'm talking about my French friends and that's why I'm writing it in this blog and not my Geneva blog.

* Last night one of my friends from France called me up out of the blue to ask if I wanted to meet him (and a friend of his) at the Fêtes de Genève.

* Then, this morning, I got a Facebook friend request from another friend from France. I lost contact with her and some others because I didn't have her email or Facebook, only phone number and I 1) somehow killed my French SIM card (magnetised or de-magnetised?) AND 2) got my phone stolen so I lost a whole heap of French phone numbers :( I was so shocked that she managed to track me down. I figured it was through a mutual friend.

* Just then, I got a surprise private message from yet another friend from France asking me how I was doing (after two shitty events that happened to me in Geneva...).

I feel so humbled because 90% of the time it's ALWAYS me asking people how they are doing and it's so nice to hear from someone out of the blue asking ME how I'm doing... particularly since everyone told me the French are cold blah blah blah... I really know who my real friends are and who I can rely on now.

(PS the quote is a Futurama reference, in case you didn't get it)

jeudi 28 juillet 2011

Conversations with a Parisian

So last night I spent 4 hours (!!) chatting to a Parisian, a stranger no less. I find that I can usually relate well to Parisians, both having grown up in big, well-known cities (mine being Sydney).  I'm not actually Australian Australian. No I'm not Aboriginal either but my parents or ancestors did not immigrate here from England. One of the most tiring and frustrating questions I get asked when I travel is, "Where do you come from?" And when I answer "Australia" they usually stare at me, puzzled, and then there will be more statements and questions such as "Oh but you don't look Australian!" "Are you sure?" "Oh I didn't know there were people who look like you in Australia" and all sorts of ignorant crap like that. In hindsight I guess I have to feel sorry for these people because they've lived such a sheltered life and never ventured outside of their own mono-cultural society!

So I was completely surprised when this Parisian I was talking to asked me where I was from and I said "Australia" and then there were no further questions asked! I couldn't believe it! That almost never happens. The conversation just continued on as normal.

However, maybe 10 minutes later I couldn't help thinking about it so I brought it up again. I asked, "When I told you that I come from Australia before, why didn't you ask me any further questions?" He told me that because Paris is so multicultural and he realises that (shock horror) there can be people who are born in France who don't look French and don't have French origins, the same thing must exist in Australia! Hurray! Bravo! So my conclusion is that he didn't have a problem with it because he comes from a big city because in almost every other place I've been to in France (and elsewhere around the world) I've been asked these dumb questions...

He said he thinks it's impolite to ask questions like that and it can be seen as being racist... something to do with the past, something to do with the French and the Africans... I can't remember the exact details but it was an interesting conversation.

Another thing I found interesting about this conversation was that he told me he grew up in the 6ème arrondissement, which - according to my knowledge of Paris - is a rather wealthy neighbourhood. It is also quite busy, crowded, noisy etc... and it's for that reason he now lives in a tiny city with a population of only about 6000 people! He says he really likes the peace and tranquility now. Ha!

I told him about my recent trip to Paris and how I went to Galeries Lafayette because I just love looking at the interior of that department store! He told me that Le Bon Marché is even more ritzy and the things they sell there are the top of the range luxe.

We talked about so many different things, it was such an interesting night!

dimanche 24 juillet 2011

Désormais et Dorénavant

So on Thursday and Friday I was with my old friend the TGV listening to and reminisicing about the announcements you hear on the train platforms. There was one word that I did not understand and I was wracking my brains for what it could be. I wasn't even sure if it was one word, or two, or three...

Just then I had a Skype chat with someone I found through one of those languages learning sites (and OMG thank God he was a good chat partner. They are so rare to find) and then he typed it "dorénavant" and immediately I made the connection that that was the word they were saying over the loudspeaker!

Here is the exact sentence : "Nous vous rappelons que dorénavant l'étiquettage de vos bagages est obligatoire." (We remind you that from now on it is compulsory to tag your luggage (with your details))

Now I only came across the word désormais because of Facebook (I had since switched my language to French about a year ago) but did not realise that dorénavant means practically the same thing ("from now on").

It's funny the different ways by which I learn new vocabulary!

Here is a somewhat related blogpost about train platform messages.

samedi 23 juillet 2011

Aaron, the band

After my last blog post about Paris my curiosity got the better of me. WHO exactly was I sitting opposite to on the train? Well I went to the FNAC Festival Live website to see the list of who was playing at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris on Thursday night (21 July). I soon realise the times are all wrong because I was there from about 9:30-10pm and did not see the ones listed on there during those times. Also the guy I met told me he was playing at around 7:30pm (then again, I suppose schedules do change at the last minute?!)

Given I know that he's French and there are two of them, it was pretty easy to narrow down - the band is Aaron. LOL. And to make sure I was 100% correct, I checked out their tour dates and the day before, they were in Nyon (which makes sense why they were on the train from Geneva to Paris). Looking at the tour dates... OMG how exhausting! Still, if you love what you do... Interestingly, I knew about the Nyon (Paléo) festival because the friend that I caught up with about a week ago (who is also a singer) is/was also playing there...

If they really did play at 10pm (as the website says) I'm gonna be pissed 'cause that's around when I left. Oh well.

Still, it's kind of cool to know I struck up a conversation with a real live Parisian rock star ;) However, the photos on the sites don't look exactly like the guy I remember. I think it may just be the different hairstyle. Anyway here they are: Olivier Coursier (left) and Simon Buret (right). Guess which one he was? :P

Official sites:
My Space

Check out how many people were in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris though!

I guess bad weather doesn't stop Parisians from partying!

I also found this photo which means they also went straight to the Hôtel de Ville (like I did) straight after getting off the train from Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon!

jeudi 21 juillet 2011

There are no fat or ugly people in Paris

Back in my hotel room after a whirlwind day in Paris. There is NEVER enough time to spend in Paris! Every time I come here it's one big rush where I feel like I spend half the day underground riding the metro!

I forced myself to have a good time. No matter what. I would NOT let anything get in my way of having a great time today.

Before I get to the good stuff and the story let's get the bad stuff out of the way.

1. The weather. It was lightly raining and overcast. It wasn't that cold but it seemed like it might be and most people (including myself) were dressed for November or March type weather! The main problem with the weather was not the rain or the clouds but the extremely high humidity which made me sweat like crazy even though it was only somewhere around 17-22°. However, if I had worn fewer clothes I would have also frozen so it was hard to know what to wear in this strange weather.

2. The romance of Paris. You can't escape it. Recently I went through some events which sort of feel like a break up and it hurts. And then every millisecond my eyes were assaulted by lovey dovey couples. Ouch. It hurts so bad. There's nothing I can do except be happy for them and wish one day I could be in Paris with my love and make out everywhere and not care who is watching!

3. I had a shit problem with my hotel booking where I nearly had a spack attack. Because I had so many credit cards in my wallet that got stolen and they are now blocked and I don't have a single accessible card at the moment, they couldn't reserve the room for me. Even though I said I can pay them in cash it didn't matter. The guy at reception said I HAD to have a credit card to book the room. What could I do? I could have gone elsewhere but I couldn't guarantee that they'd have a room available and for the same or less price. Plus I had accumulated some bags/stuff and did not feel like traipsing around wasting my whole day looking for another hotel!!

At first I tried calling my bank in France because I was due to collect my credit card there the very next day and hoped they could just give me the number of my new card over the phone (since I don't need the PIN or anything) but all I got was voicemail. D'oh!

When all else fails I can only rely on one person who never fails me: my father. Thank God it was still a decent time in Australia. It was 2pm here and 10pm there. Luckily it wasn't much later. So I called him on my mobile thinking it would cost 2chf a minute (that's what my phone told me when I crossed borders but then I realised in hindsight that was probably only the call cost to France). I quickly explained what happened (he had no idea I was in Paris. In fact I barely told anyone it was such a last minute thing!) and asked if I could use his credit card saying they weren't even going to charge it, it was just to book/reserve the room. He gave me his credit card number and I gave it to the reception guy thinking it was all OK now.

No.... being French everything must be in writing. Oh fuck. I forgot about that! He wouldn't accept it saying he needed 'authorisation' from my father to use my card. I said, "But you heard our entire conversation!" So I had to call my father back, and ask him to get on the email to send an email to the hotel regarding authorisation to use his credit card for my room. Oh My Fucking God. I felt so bad for bothering my father and felt so crap for all this time I was wasting. Meanwhile I decided to check the credit on my phone... I only just added 30chf credit yesterday! It should be at 28 or 29chf ish. When I checked my credit I had only 12chf left. I nearly had a heart attack. The call must've cost me around 5chf per minute! ARGH. Still there was nothing I could do about it now, and at least I had a hotel room for tonight! I decided not to let it upset me too much other than I had wasted some of my precious sightseeing time.

OK now let me go to the beginning of my story.

As usual I don't sleep much before big trip and I only had 4 hours sleep. I had to get up so early to walk about 10 minutes to a bus stop a bit further away, take the bus, get off the bus and walk some more and wait at the station for my train. I got there way too early I could've caught an earlier train but decided not to and just stick to my original plan.

When I got on the TGV headed for Paris I went to find my seat hoping the train would not be full (it was almost empty!) The guy yesterday booked me a couloir (corridor/aisle) seat in the lower level. The worst!! He didn't ask me what I wanted otherwise I would always choose a window (fenêtre) seat.

I quickly realised I could have a window seat afterall... I found myself sitting opposite a fairly good-looking French guy who reminded me a lot of my former teacher in Alliance Française in Sydney. He was travelling with his friend who sat across the aisle, taking up all 4 seats.

It was going to be a 3 hour train ride and I really felt like talking to the guy sitting opposite me but I talked myself out of it. Besides, he seemed to be seriously occupied (addicted?) to his iphone! So I got on my computer and did some work and then I tried to go to sleep. As often happens on train trips, right where I get to the point where I'm almost asleep the inspector comes to check the tickets. Why the heck can't they just check it at the beginning? So of course I never did fall asleep during the entire trip but I was in that sort of sleepy drowsy mode which was nice given I didn't get enough sleep the night before as usual.

Towards the end of the train trip the guy opposite me started reading a novel. Without even thinking and pondering and dwelling too much (allowing me time to get nervous about it), "That's it!" I thought. I was going to talk to him and I knew the EXACT way to start the conversation because it's something I've been wondering for ages.

Back in June-July 2010 not long before I left for France, I invited a French guy over to my place for lunch. Actually I invited other people too but he was the only one who could make it that day. We met on Couchsurfing and were going to do a language exchange with each other.  I remember him showing me this cool bi-lingual novel where you open at any page, and one side is in French and one side is in English. As well as that, there are translations and phrase explanations at the bottom of each page. It was so cool and whenever I've been in a bookshop in France or Geneva I'd look for a book like that but never found one. Then again I never looked for it seriously or even asked for assistance (thinking they just didn't exist in a bookstore that's not huge)... but given this guy was reading a book, I thought it would kill two birds with one store: it's a way for me to start a conversation with him AND find out the answer to something I've been dying to know (assuming he knows the answer).

I started with something like, "Excusez-moi s'il vous plaît mais est-ce que vous venez de Paris?" (Excuse me please but do you come from Paris?) He answered "Oui" (phew)... OK so I asked him and he told me I could try Shakespeare & Co bookstore and even drew me a map! He suggested I could also try FNAC (which I know of because they are in Geneva too and obviously I'd seen them before during my travels around France but I had no idea of their locations in Paris since I'd never been to one there). He tried to look it up for me on his iphone but there was no connection. D'oh! Still... at least it gave me two ideas of places to try.

And then we got talking about our lives.  I said I used to live in France but now live and work in Geneva. And just when we had to get off the train I finally found out what HE does. He told me he's a musician and would be playing tonight at the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) starting at around 19h30 and invited me to come. It wasn't till much much much later in the day (night) that I realised I didn't even get his name or his band's name so I had no idea who he plays for! (ETA: I do now)

I love that I've been to Paris enough times now that I don't have a big long list of touristy things to do and can just do whatever I want. I LOVE not having any concrete plans. It's fun to go with the flow. I had no plans other than the one important thing that I had to do.

I couldn't check into my hotel until 2pm so I had some time to kill. First of all I needed to get a map of Paris since I left mine at home. After that I needed to go to the Post Office but I had no idea where one was (I couldn't remember the address of the awesome one I went to last time) so I just decided to go to the Hôtel de Ville for a few reasons: 1) it's only a few stops away on one métro line from Gare de Lyon, 2) I could check out what would be going on tonight regarding the free music concert, and 3) It's a big enough landmark so I guessed there must be one somewhere around there...

As luck would have it, there was an information stand (which was staffed by some young, good-looking AND friendly Parisians) one of whom told me there was a post office right IN (sort of underneath on the left as you're looking at it) the Town Hall. Wow, I'd guessed right!

With that out of the way I thought I could go straight to Levallois to do my 'business' but something happened.. I kind of took a shopping detour.

At first I thought I'd go and find FNAC (since I remember him saying there was one around there) so I went back to the Info desk to ask the same girl where it is. She explained but I got lost. I asked a random man in the street and he didn't know either. Hmm... so I just kept walking and saw a nice bag shop that had heaps of backpacks in it, many of which were on sale.

I couldn't help but go in for a peek. I really need to replace my beloved backpack that got stolen but I put it off because one of a similar size/style cost 129 chf in Geneva. However, I could get one cheaper here! After spending ages through them all there weren't that many that were big enough. And not all were on sale. In the end I chose the only one that fitted all my criteria and it was 90 euros down to 60euros so I was really happy with that. It's the very pouplar Eastpak brand and it has a 30 year guarantee! I still miss my baby like crazy and hope that he turns up in Lost and Found (I had him for 10 years :( ) but this one is a nice replacement.

So then I asked the salesperson guy (who was super nice.. who says Parisians are rude?!) where FNAC was and he said it's in Forum Les Halles, a big shopping centre a bit further down the road.

Following his instructions I did manage to find it. This FNAC was HUGE! OMG I was in book heaven.

Allow me to go off on a tangent a bit. I LOVE books. When I was in primary school we got these catalogues for 'book club' and my father usually let me choose 2 or 3 books in each catalogue and I always had such a hard time narrowing down my choices. I still have all those books I got from book club! Also, I was a 'library monitor' in 5th and 6th grade and one time we went on a school excursion where I got to meet some famous children's authors which was awesome.

Buying books in Australia was kind of shit because a large majority were imported from the US and even though our currency is almost equa,l the prices of the books were usually double! Eg a book which costs 9.95 USD ends up costing 19.95 AUD. Sometimes it was even MORE than double. Because of this, most people now buy their books online (Amazon and Book Depository) and because of that, recently a lot of bookstores in Australia closed down! In Geneva I have the exact same problem as I did in Sydney. A lot of the books are imported from France and the prices are double! Now the Euro is stronger than the Swiss Franc but still.. the prices are a joke!

Meanwhile shopping for books in France is a dream come true. The range is HUGE and the prices are good. I cannot believe you can buy paperback novels for 5 or 6 euros. Novels cost at least 20 and often 30 Australian dollars in Australia!!

I could have spent all day in FNAC but just focused on what I wanted. After asking two different salespeople I finally found the section with the bi-lingual books my suspicion was right. The section was quite small and given this is a huge bookstore I doubt a small bookstore would even have these types of books.

I got 1) Alice in Wonderland (Alice au pays des Merveilles) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (Petit déjeuner chez Tiffany). I've never even seen the film and didn't know it was based on a book! There were classic novels like Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck etc but I want to read something that actually interests me and most classic novels bore me because they were set so long ago...

After that I went to check out the foreign languages section. The selection in Payot Librarie in Geneva actually has a bigger section for learning French! But that makes sense given most people in Paris already know how to speak French :P  Not long ago I almost ordered Assimil German from Book Depository online (where I buy all my books). I couldn't decide whether to get it in English or in French (ie learning German comparing it to English, or to French). The thing I wanted to buy wasn't on the shelf so I asked a staff member if he had it. He promptly went out the back and brought back 2 copies to put on the shelf. While i was there a lady was also enquiring about it and we both ended up buying it! It was too tempting not to because it was cheaper than Book Depository already AND there was 20% off! Bonus!

The lady asked me if I thought it was good and I said I used it to learn French! I told her as much as I could about it and she seemed generally grateful for my advice with just makes my day (when I feel like I've helped someone).

After buying a big backpack, 2 books and the very heavy Assimil kit (book and CDs) AS WELL AS carrying my existing bags which had my 2kg laptop inside, my back and arms were killing me and now I was dying to get back to the hotel, just about time too.

First I had to get myself to the metro at Châtelet Les Halles. Now, I've only ever heard bad things about this place. That it's dangerous at night. That's its huge and overcrowded, etc. So knowing this I wasn't in a hurry to dilly dally but being so huge it took me a while to get me to where I wanted to go!

When I got to Gare de Lyon I bought a maxi pain au chocolat as I hadn't eaten since about 8am and was now totally starving.

So I got to my hotel and I already told you what happened...

By the time I left the hotel it was almost 3pm and I STILL hadn't done what I set out to do and I didn't even know what time they closed. I prayed to God they didn't close at 4 or else I might be stuffed as I didn't think I could get there before 4pm. It was quite far away and I had to change metro lines twice.

Still, I made it at 4 on the dot and they didn't close until 5 anyway. Levallois. I'd heard of this place before in Sarah Turnbull's book Almost French. It's just out of the ring road so technically it's another city! I went to two cities in one day hehehe.

As soon as I stepped out of the metro I thought, " Wow, it's so much cleaner/quieter/less crowded than the city and still just as beautiful." I can't believe how much she whinged in the book about living there. Actually I'm tired of these spoilt 20 something year old brats from well to do families (they are always from upper middle class families, aren't they?) whinging about stuff when they have a place to live for FREE in Paris, an instant companion, an instant and free French tutor... I'm sorry for sounding bitter but I had none of this when I arrived and now it's a constantly struggled to provide for myself and to make friends, etc etc. Levallois is beautiful and tranquil and not that far from Paris. Man! I wouldn't mind living there if I had a free place to live in!

Anyway so... after doing what I came to do, I popped into a supermarket where I bought 2 sandwiches which cost less than 2 euros each (bargain!) as I still hadn't even had lunch yet. I sat on a park bench and ate my lunch and then...

I checked out the very beautiful gardens of the Hôtel de Ville there. There were so many different kinds of flowers and at that exact moment I was there, the sun came out! Ah the sun... how I've missed you.

So with that, that was my queue to high tail it to La Tour Eiffel. I knew the sun wouldn't last long and I was right. It was gone by the time I got to Trocadéro. The reason why I wanted to go back to the Tower is because I've seen it in autumn, winter and spring and now I finally get to see it in summer completing my cycle of 4 seasons :) although my spring photo looks far more like summer than today's photo!

I'm still struck with awe the moment I see it from Trocadéro. No matter how many times I see it I want to gasp.

Lovey dovey couples everywhere...

Around Gare de Lyon and around that area I saw HEAPS of police and men in army uniform. HEAPS and heaps and all carrying weapons. On one hand it feels weird but on the other it makes me feel safer which is a good thing. And without fail all the policemen were hot hot hot! ;)

Anyway so I took the same photos as I always take at the Eiffel Tower, squeezing in trying to find a space between all the other tourists.

Then I realised I really needed to use the toilet. I couldn't find one anywhere. I managed to distract myself with a small market where I bought a cheap, soft case for my mobile phone (since that was also stolen along with my phone!!). I asked a stallholder where the toilet was and she told me it was downstairs near the boats. When I got there I was told they were closed. WTF? The one up near the markets was also locked. The lady at one of the restaurants told me to go to the actual Tower. Geez. I tell you what, I was that close to to finding a quiet secluded spot...

I got to the Tower and asked some policemen where the toilets were. I started off being quite angry (that there were no toilets anywhere in such a busy, crowded place?) but they were so good-humored I actually left smiling. Apart from the rude hotel reception guy every other Parisian I dealt with was super nice and friendly!!

She joked about going behind a tree and I said I already thought of that.. she said there were two toilets. One you have to pay for (which you didn't!) and another one. She suggested the one further away because the queue would be shorter (it wasn't). Now I never say, "je m'en fous" because it means "I don't care" but it can ALSO mean "I don't give a fuck" but given I was about to piss my pants and she asked me if I cared about paying, I said, "je m'en fous".. other giving me instructions to the other one (of course I initially got lost) she said "bon courage mademoiselle" which made me laugh.

I did eventually find it and there were 7 people in front of me! Thank God the queue moved relatively quickly AND it was free. Usually all public toilets are paying in France!

I was really glad to see this sign after my bag was pickpocketed in Geneva

There were lots of police and army presence!

And then I had to get back on the metro again and I'd forgotten just how far Bir Hakeim station was. It felt like I had to walk 20 minutes to get to it!

I still hadn't finished my shopping fix so I wanted to get to the shops before 7pm (I assumed they close at either 7 or 8pm). Luckily for me though, since it was Thursday, the shops don't close until 9pm! (and usually 8 or even 8:30pm which is such a change from Geneva!)


I went to Galeries Lafayette not that I can afford anything there but just to look at it because the interior is so beautiful. For the first time I checked out the kids/toy section (amazing) and also the top floor with the souvenir shop, a book shop, a tea room, and cafeteria (and also a nice rooftop view out the windows). And there, I found a FREE toilet - woohoo! It is such an incredibly beautiful (and huge) department store. I still remember my last trip there during Christmas with the beautiful moving window displays.

Lots of lovely books about Paris

I got my macaron fix too at the Pierre Hermé stand and bought two macarons.

On leaving Galeries Lafayette I couldn't help but notice the chic 'school uniforms' in the window. It's a bit of a novelty for me to realise that 1) kids don't wear uniforms and 2) school starts in September and therefore school diaries start in September (and not January)! Right now in Geneva and Paris and probably everywhere else in Europe, they are selling back-to-school supplies and I just go gaga over the gorgeous stationery and beautiful things, the kind of stuff which did NOT exist when I was in school! An surely still doesn't exist in Australia. The range of incredibly beautiful and cute back-to-school supplies is mind boggling.

Then, finally, after I had finished my checklist I could go back to the Town Hall to check out the concert.

I didn't want to change metro lines ago (which drives me nuts!) so I just decided to get off a bit further away at Pont Neuf. I'm really glad I did because I walked along the Seine and saw Paris Plage. I was fascinated with it ever since I heard about it 2 years ago and today was the opening day for this year! Unfortunately, it wasn't beach weather though :( Still, there were quite a few people taking advantage of the beach chairs and enjoying the atmosphere. There was a band and they were awesome. I looked down on them from above..  Just loved the music.

Would have been a gorgeous sunset without all those clouds

By the time I got to the Town Hall it was already 21h30, two hours after 19h30 so I didn't get to see the guy on the train :( Still, I quite enjoyed myself. There was quite a big turnout despite the miserable grey weather. I LOVE live music. The only thing I really really wished (and I wished all day long) is that I had someone to share my day with. Not necessarily a guy, but even a good friend from home. That would have been the icing on the cake!

It's funny how things turn out though. If I didn't meet the guy on the train I probably wouldn't have gone to FNAC and wouldn't have gone to or even known about the concert at the Town Hall. So many "ifs".. If I didn't get off at Pont Neuf I wouldn't have seen Paris Plage, etc etc. I wanted to stay at the Town Hall forever. I got that horrible feeling I get at the end of every holiday. That I have to leave this city/country and soon go back to every day life...

Regarding the title of this blog post.. there seem to be very very very few fat people in Paris and those that are overweight are over 45 or 50 years old. I am guessing it has something to do with the metro. Taking the metro I feel like I've walked thousands of steps and kms of tunnels. Sooooooo much walking and it's one thing I don't like about Paris. Those long underground metro tunnels and tonnes of stairs. I'm simply exhausted! Also, the Parisians are sooooo good looking. Both the guys and the girls. I can hardly stop staring. There is quite a large percentage of good looking people here! AND they seem taller than the average French person (who is shorter than the average Anglo or Northern European person). Weird. Are they all super lucky with genes or what?!

But it was a very successful day indeed and like all my previous Paris trips, I could barely keep the smile off my face all day :D

Paris here I come... again!

OMG how time flies! It's been over 3 months since I was last in Paris and so much has happened between now and then.

Last time I toured Paris with my friend who I'm now kinda trying to ignore because I realised my crush on him was getting out of hand and I'm just trying to forget him now.. still, I will always remember that day in Paris with him which was nothing short of perfect. Perfect weather, nice company, beautiful sights, ice cream, scooter ride, nothing could've stopped me that day from feeling anything other than utter bliss.

Unfortunately the weather for tomorrow is  not looking as great as last time. I don't mind if it's overcast so long as it's not actively raining. Please God, Please don't let it rain. That will just remind me of my last trip to Lyon where it was freezing, windy and raining and it was late May.

Now I'm not going to Paris for the heck of it. I would be stupid to given the high(er) cost of last minute train tickets. I need to go there to do something and since I can't do it on Friday I have to go tomorrow (Thursday). Since I need to go back to my hometown in France on Friday I thought it would be stupid to come back to Geneva so I will stay the night in Paris, in the same hotel as the one I used last time! - Hotel de France Gare de Lyon Bastille.

I'm basically blowing all my savings on this trip but I don't care really. I really need to get away from Geneva because I'm not liking that being here just reminds me of all the bad stuff that's happened recently. It will be such a great diversion to go to Paris. I can't wait :) I wish I could take a proper holiday and go somewhere new but it's not meant to be at the moment.

Every time I've gone to Paris I've done and seen different things... what will I do this time? I'm not sure yet but I'm going to buy a day metro pass (which works out cheaper than the carnets of 10 tickets if you take the metro at least 4 times in one day).

Nothing makes me feel more ALIVE and happy than when I'm travelling. I think back fondly to my last three "overseas" trips - Germany, Barcelona and Italy and what a fantastic time I had, and if I go further back, all my trips around France. Those were the days... Unfortunately my life now doesn't allow me to go on trips so often anymore. It was just a fluke that I had 2 sets of public holidays in June!

Ideas for what I can do... after I've gotten the important stuff out of the way:

Check out the sales (and then get all depressed I can't really afford to buy much anyway)
Check out more macaron places!
Just walk around or sit outside at a café on a cane chair and people watch
Go to the cinéma and watch a film (something I haven't done since February or March)
Go to a museum I haven't been to yet
Go and sit in the Jardin du Luxembourg
Go back to the Eiffel tower for the fourth time
Take the metro to a random unknown stop and just walk around to see what's there

Try really really hard to be happy despite the weather (if it turns out bad) and my stresses over the past few weeks. :D

I'm just so happy to be going back to my beloved Paris. Even if it is only for 24 hours.

lundi 18 juillet 2011

A chandelier is not a chandelier

Last night I was talking to a French guy and it turns out that what we call a chandelier in English is not the same thing as in French!!

A chandelier in English is a lustre in French
and a chandelier in French is a candlestick/candle holder in English.

vendredi 8 juillet 2011

2 years of learning French

Wowzers how time flies! I only just realised that this week it's been about 2 years since I first started learning French. Now I wasn't learning French during 2 years continuously of course but I'm still proud of my achievement and the level that I've attained :)

I'm going to start learning German one of these days but I'm really not looking forward to it because it seems sooooo much harder than French :(

jeudi 7 juillet 2011

We are all connected WWF video

A short and lovely video!

mercredi 6 juillet 2011

All about the Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)

So, about a year or so ago I did the TEF (Test d'Evaluation de Français) which is an exam that evaluates your level of proficiency in French. I wanted to do it again but it wasn't offered when and where I wanted it so I opted to take the Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) instead. They are both pretty similar.

I decided to take it at the Alliance Française closest to me, which was in Lyon. So that's why I went to Lyon at the end of May.

Prior to the exam 

..I didn't really have much time to study or prepare in between travelling, moving to Geneva and starting my new job. And then when I went to Payot Librairie wanting to buy a textbook to help me study for it, there weren't any! I couldn't believe it! They seemed to have every single French language learning textbook that ever existed except the one I wanted. Of course they could order it in for me but it would be too late. pfft... I should also mention that compared to the price in Euro in France (printed near the barcode) they were also way more expensive (as is always the case in Switzerland!)

So I used what I could online including the very excellent online simulated TCF test.

Much like the TEF, the sections are the same:

However unlike the TEF, you don't get points taken off for incorrect answers. I contacted the AF in Lyon prior to the exam but noone could answer my question and finally I found the answer I wanted somewhere online!

The day and location of the exam

When I got there I was filled with a mix of emotions. The day started off not so great for me because I had to get up at some ungodly hour to get there on time and it was cold. Much colder than I was prepared for, windy and raining. Not a great start at all.

However I quickly popped into a boulangerie for a cheap and delicious strawberry croissant for breakfast which instantly made me feel much better and made me so happy to be back in Lyon again.

However, when I found the building and arrived (way ahead of schedule!) all these emotions flooded out. I loved my time at the Alliance Française in Sydney so so much and seeing a (not 'the' because she is in Paris!) mothership in France was a dream come true.

There was a big board with everyone's name, date of birth, nationality, test name and room number on it. I quickly scanned it to find myself and also to scope out everyone's age (most were younger than me) and nationality (varied but mostly from Asia).

We all waited in the lobby and it when it was time to go we were ushered upstairs. As is often the case in Europe there was a lift but we weren't allowed to use it so we had to walk up 3 or 4 big flights of stairs in this rather old looking building.

There were a lot of people doing the exam and we were separated into 4 classrooms. The classrooms had names of countries and there was an "Australia" classroom! Woohoo! However, I wasn't put in that one. Bummer.

The exam

My group got this old guy as the exam supervisor who seemed to mumble. I barely understood him and he wasn't friendly at all. It all kind of went downhill from then on...

He didn't even explain to us (another exam supervisor who came in did) that if you changed your mind with an answer (4 options, all multiple choice questions) you could put a big cross through it and circle the correct answer (your new answer).

The exam had literally just started (question 1 or 2) when someone came in late and it really really distracted me. I mean seriously... if everyone else could get there on time, why couldn't you?

Then, when we got up to question 9 (I think it was) the CD or CD player went all funny and everyone started protesting. The exam supervisor said to just don't worry and leave it out and we'll come back to it in the end however it kept happening. The CD was skipping a lot and it really was soooo damn frustrating and annoying. How can we answer the question when we can't hear the question?


At least there was a second CD we could use but from that point on after repeated interruptions and disruptions (not to mention we could hear the CD playing next door as well which was at a different spot to ours) I was going insane. Especially then later when another exam coordinator came in and started chatting rather loudly to ours right next to my table!! I blocked my ears to give them a hint and OMFG I just wanted to scream. I can't concentrate in conditions like that!! That was the THIRD interruption for me.

So by the time the first part (the oral part) of the exam finished we were soooo behind the other 3 groups.

Luckily sections 2 and 3 didn't require use of the CD and we could go at our own paces. I distinctly remember last year when I did the TEF exam not having enough time for the written comprehension section (which I found rather difficult) but this time I am happy to say that I answered every single question in the exam, in all 3 sections. I just had enough time for the written comprehension section. I was reading as fast as I could and trying to choose the correct answer...

Because of the kerfuffles at the beginning the exam supervisor kindly gave us an extra 10 minutes (which I think is totally fair) even though he said he'd give us 5.

When it finished I was a little sad to leave AF Lyon knowing I won't be back there again. If I lived in Lyon I would love to continue taking lessons there.

My results

And now, more than a month later I finally got my results. Despite the fact that I gave them a nice big A4 envelope with cardboard inside (to keep it flat) complete with more than 4 euros worth of stamps to send it to me in SWITZERLAND they sent it to my friend's address (that I used) in France! ARGH. So now I have to go through the hassle of picking it up from him. Not to mention all the effort I went to in the rain to go to the post office to make sure I had the right postage AND the fact that I did NOT want the certificate folded!

I'll repeat the table of results again here (info from this site)

Cadre commun de référence



Ministère de l’Education Nationale

Nombre d’heures


Utilisateur élémentaire


Level 0+ : 0-68

1:  69-203






2:  204-360



Utilisateur autonome


3:  361-540

DELF 1 A3 - A4





4:  541-698

DELF 2 A5 - A6



Utilisateur expérimenté


5:  699-833

DALF B1 - B2


C2 Maîtrise


6:  834-900

DALF B3 - B4


So, what result did I get? Based on practice exams and based on the fact that I got B2 last year I made an educated guess that I would most likely get C1 (and it's what I hoped to get). But... I still got B2!! I am somewhat disappointed. Especially since I missed out by ONE LOUSY POINT. OMG. Can you believe it? I scored 499! I swear if I wasn't distracted a billion times I would've easily gotten C1. Oh well. The surprising thing was that my BEST section was written comprehension! Given that I haven't been reading as much stuff in French as I was last year (example- reading every single day) I am surprised.

Well if and when I decide to take another proficiency test I am aiming higher. I am aiming for C2 next time. For those who are wondering (as some friends have asked me) I am not taking the test for any particular purpose but merely for my own interest and because I like it. Yeah I like tests. Weird, huh? I love the studying beforehand and the adrenalin rush of doing the test against the clock and the anxious wait to find out the results.

I have to say that I much more preferred doing the test in the AF in Sydney. The room was nice and big and the feel was much more relaxed. And the person conducting the exam was nicer and more helpful!

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