Archive for the ‘Life in France’ Category

9:15 am

Diplôme de Français des Affaires, 1er Degré: The Results

So, I took this exam before I left Paris last June, and I’ve been waiting patiently for my results.

My certificate arrived today. I passed with a mention très bien, which indicates a score of 80% or better and is the highest mark given. Yippee!

2:46 pm

That Last Week in Paris…

I had that one last week after the end of classes and before coming to Prague. So I took advantage of the opportunity to play tourist and to take a few more pictures to remind myself of my sojourn in Paris.

Sunday in Montmartre

I spent one day wandering up and down staircases in Montmartre:

I also liked this view of Sacré Cœur from the little park around in back of the Basilica:

And I had dinner one last time in Montmartre:

Tuesday on the Seine

I finally took one of the Bateaux Mouches trips. I can’t really say that I was all that impressed, and I probably wouldn’t do it again. But it does provide a different view of Paris:

There are a couple of reduced scale versions of the Statue of Liberty in Paris: one is in the Luxembourg Gardens, and another is on an island in the Seine:

After my little boat trip, I just wandered around a bit, and came across this memorial:

The caption reads, "In homage to Komitas, composer and musicologist, and to the 1,500,000 victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire".

Marais and the Bastille

Another day, I wandered around the Marais and visited the Place de la Bastille:

I encountered this statue of Louis XIII in a plaza near the Marais:

I also visited the Memorial of the Shoah, which I had been unable to find the first time I had looked. It’s not very big, and it’s easy to get disoriented in the windy little streets of the Marais. The memorial is very moving:

The inscription on the outside reads, "Before the Unknown Jewish Martyr, incline your head in piety and respect for all the martyrs; incline your thoughts to accompany them along their path of sorrow. They will lead you to the highest pinnacle of justice and truth."

The exterior also contains the Wall of Names: the names and dates of birth of the 76,000 Jews, including 11,000 children, deported from France as part of the Nazi plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe with the collaboration of the Vichy government.

Inside, there’s the crypt:

A Star of David fashioned out of black marble, marks the tomb of the six million Jews, dead without a grave. It contains the ashes of martyrs taken from the death camps and from the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. The ashes were buried on February 24,1957 in earth from Israel, in keeping with tradition, by Chief Rabbi Jacob Kaplan. An eternal light burns at the center of the marble star. There’s quotation from the Bible in Hebrew on the far wall: "Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. Young and old, our sons and daughters were cut down by the sword".

The permanent exhibition details the history of the "Final Solution" in France, and includes biographies of a handful of Jews resident in France at the time the Occupation began. It was not a cheery experience, but it was an important site to see.

Carousels of Paris

And there are carousels all over the place in Paris. There’s this one in the Tuileries:

This one is on one side of the Pont d’Iéna, near the Trocadéro Gardens:

And this one is on the other side of the Pont d’Iéna, near the Eiffel Tower:

And this one I found in the Marais:

I don’t really get the carousel thing, but I enjoy looking at them!

4:28 am

The End of Classes

No more pencils!
No more books!
No more teacher’s
Dirty looks!

Yesterday marked the end of my French classes (at least for the time being!). I’m feeling a little bit wistful now.

Now I have one last week in Paris, free of classes, before I head for Prague and my next round of classes. Whatever shall I do?…

2:37 am

La Fête de la Musique

June 21st was the Fête de la Musique. In honor of the occasion, there were musicians, mostly amateur, playing in just about every public square and most restaurants, cafes, and some bars had shows as well.

I exited from the oral part of the DFA to the sounds of a rock band in a nearby square. Coming home from the metro, I could hear music, another rock band, coming from the corner bar, while there was African music coming from the African restaurant a few doors down from my building. Over at Jules Joffrin, across from the mairie, an accordionist was playing, while the corner cafe had a group setting up their instruments.

And I had dinner at my favorite restaurant, La Table d’Eugene, which had arranged for a jazz group, the Jazz Mooners. For the dinner, the proprietor, Joël, had pushed the tables together for communal dining (as well as to leave room for the instruments), and I was seated next to a very nice French couple. The music was not, in fact, all that impressive: they basically played American standards with soft jazz arrangements. Surely there’s French jazz? But they were certainly competent musicians and so it was an enjoyable evening.

By the time I left, it was just getting on to midnight, and I could still hear music from some of the local establishments. I thought about doing a little more "music hopping", unfortunately, I was tired and even a bit headachy (the DFA and the fretting over it had taken a lot out of me), so I just went home.

1:37 am

Diplôme de Français des Affaires, 1er Degré

For the past few weeks, I’ve been kind of antsy, and I couldn’t figure out if it was because of the impending Diplôme de français des affaires, 1er degré (DFA) or due to my upcoming relocation to Prague.

Well, I completed the DFA yesterday: it was mostly the DFA. (When I think about Prague now, I get a little tense, but nowhere near as unsettled as I had been.) In truth, it really wasn’t anything to worry about, and I’m confident that I passed. I didn’t do as well as I’d been hoping though: particularly on Tuesday’s written exam, there were some words and concepts that we hadn’t touched on in class, and I was obliged to guess. I had thought that perhaps nervousness was coloring my perception, but I’ve talked to some of my classmates, who confirmed my take.

The oral exam yesterday, though, was much less scary than I’d feared. The two examiners were both very non-threatening and the articles I had to work with were relatively easy. The English article was about the success of the owner of two Chicago-based pizzerias; the French article discussed the problems attached to the large number of people who live near the coast. (According to this article, 60% of the world’s population lives within 60 km of a coast.) The vocabulary wasn’t particularly complex, and I was able to sum up both articles easily.

It’ll be at least a month before I have my results. As I said, I’m confident that I passed: the threshold for passing is only 60 (out of 100). In fact, I’m even pretty sure that I’ll have managed a mention bien, which requires a score of 70. The real question in my mind is whether or not I pulled off a mention très bien, which requires at least 80. In the simulations that Mme Sainlos gave us in class, I consistently fell just below that level. On the one hand, Mme Sainlos suggested that our letters, résumés, and oral presentations would not be graded quite as strictly as she graded them, and on the other hand, this exam was harder than the simulations. So I just have to wait and see…

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