samedi 2 octobre 2010

X is for Xtras

Il  fait un froid de canard — It’s brass monkey weather

These didn’t really fit anywhere else…

We’re shut

It could appear to the casual observer that whole towns and villages have been shut up and deserted. Not so. The French close their shutters in summer to keep the heat out and close them in winter to keep the heat in. There are two spells of about a week in spring and 10 days in autumn when the shutters are flung open and lukewarm air is allowed into the house.

If, during the height of summer or the depths of winter you see houses with their shutters wide open, you can bet that the owners are British.

A lot of rubbish

Like lots of people all over France we have to take our rubbish to bins at the end of the street. There, we carefully sort it into household waste and stuff for recycling.

I think it’s a great system. You don’t end up with streets and streets full of unsightly black plastic sacks that have been nibbled by wildlife so their contents spill over the pavements. The bin areas also act a bit like skips do in the UK. If you’ve got anything you don’t want that’s in reasonable condition, you can leave it there — as long as it’s not too big — and someone will more than likely claim it for themselves. A friend got some lovely chairs from her local bin area.

If you have anything that’s too big or needs specialist disposal, you take it to the ‘dechetterie’. There is only one way to gain entry to the dechetterie — you have to show the man in charge your electricity bill.

What’s in a name?

It’s difficult to remember people’s names at the best of times. But in France there are some very long names because the French love hyphens. So don’t be surprised to see in the local paper, the announcement of the forthcoming marriage of Veronique-Dominique Ferrero-Rocher to Sebastian-Christophe Renault-Megane. Strangely, too, you find men with women’s names and women with men’s names — hyphenated, of course, with conventional and appropriate names. We’ve come across Anne-Francois (a man) and Marie-George (a woman).

The latest survey lists the most popular children’s names (before hyphenation) as:

Girls: 1. Emma; 2. Lea; 3. Manon; 4. Clara; 5. Chloé; 6. Ines; 7. Camille; 8. Sarah; 9. Oceane; 10. Jade

Boys: 1. Enzo; 2. Mathis; 3. Lucas; 4. Hugo; 5. Mathéo; 6. Nathan;
7. Théo; 8. Noah; 9. Mattéo; 10. Thomas.

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