Jumping off Bench

Having Humor in France

When traveling, it’s important to be an ambassador of your country. What does this mean? It means wherever you are, you are an American and whatever they think of you is what they will think of all Americans. If you strut your bikini top and leggings while you’re walking down the Champs Elysée, the French are not very likely to have the best impression of Americans. However, if you dress as they do, ask for things quietly and politely (even if you must ask in English), smile, and say “please” and “thank you”. You’ll leave them with a nice impression of Americans and thus be an ambassador of your country. It’s important to show respect to their culture, their traditions and their people just as you would if they were to visit your home town. 

That being said, it’s also important to have a sense of humor when traveling. Traveling is predictably unpredictable and if you don’t have a sense of humor about it, then having to take a two hour taxi ride instead of the planned 20 minute train ride due to a strike will send your mood down the drain pretty quickly.

 To put you in the laughing mood, here’s an excerpt from “Wicked French for the Traveler” by Howard Tomb.

 “France has found favor with painters since Neanderthal times. Some of the greatest artists, Picasso and Van Gogh among them, left their native lands and moved to France permanently. Some historians believe that French sunlight has special qualities that bring colors to life for artists. Other experts insist that certain painters had simply bounced too many checks in their own countries. Whatever the reason for their presence, artists have left millions of paintings and sculptures in France.  You won’t be able to avoid seeing some of them during your stay.”

 Art museums have been idea pickup spots for centuries, since they naturally screen out the unwashed, thereby ensuring that the pool of potential mates is held at a relatively high intellectual an social level. But simply entering a house of worship such as the Louvre or Pompidou is not enough. Nor is the ‘knowing what one likes’ and gawking at it. Once muse en mettre plein la vue like Philippe de Montebello to be sure to impress one’s fellow art lover and prospective victim.

Note: Do not attempt to pronounce van Gogh. It sounds something remotely like ‘van gohjgkhh’. Stick with Vincent, ‘van-SAHN’.

Humorous phrases (with French translation) to use in the museum: 

Notice how the fruit is dramatically outlined in black.

Remarquez comme le fruit est soulingé en noir d’un façon dramatique. 

Cézanne’s little limes almost leap into your mouth.

Les petits citrons verts de Cézanne vous sautent pratiquement dans la bouche.

Have you noticed Monet’s bold use of blue here?

Avez-vouz remarqué l’audace du bleu dans ce Monet?

 The lone water lily signifies the essential loneliness of existence.

Le Nénuphar isolé incarne la solitude essentielle de l’existence.

Let’s talk about it over a cup of espresso.

Parlons-en tout en prenant un café express.

And  while you’re out at the café with your new beau or belle from the museum, you should follow some important café etiquette with your new beau or belle from the museum, you should follow some important café etiquette:

No matter how many espressos you drink while you’re there:

  1. Do not sing, even if you suddenly realize how to speak French.
  2. Do not make political speeches or announcements
  3. Do not slap strangers on the back
  4. Do not force-feed strangers or their dogs


Enrich your life

10 Ways Being a Foreign Exchange Student Will Enrich Your Life Forever

When studying abroad, especially while staying with a host family, there are the obvious advantages: learning a new language and making new friends. But there’s so much more to it. This experience of being a foreign exchange student and living as the locals do will serve you for the rest of your life.  Here are the top 10 ways it will change your life: 

1. Breaking out

The decision alone to be a foreign exchange student is HUGE! It can be frightening, exciting, worrisome, thrilling all at the same time. Just getting on that plane and taking that step into the unknown is amazing in itself, and not many people have that ability to just go and see where it takes you.

2. Experience a new way of thinking

Living with a host family will give you the opportunity of seeing everything from their eyes and it’s often different than what you learned growing up. Some examples may be: Seeing that bread is a staple in their daily lives and it comes straight from the bakery, not the grocery store. Lunch is a more important meal than dinner. It makes more sense to take public transportation than drive your own car. You need less space than you may think to live. Fresh meals are more important than frozen or pre-packaged meals. Cheese can be a dessert.  School days can be extremely long and rigorous, and sports are often not important in education. After seeing another perspective, in future careers, you’ll be able to see both sides of the coin and facilitate discussions between parties.

3. Respect diversity

People are different everywhere, yet they are also the same. Until you spend some time in another country, it can be hard to understand this. Maybe you’ll feel called to continue with a career along these lines, or doing volunteer work when you return to the states.

4. Become more independent

When traveling abroad, you learn to be very independent very quickly. You learn to speak with strangers to get directions, because you can only pretend you know where you’re going for so long. You learn to read maps, in other languages. You learn that you can do whatever you put your mind to. This is HUGE!

 5. Language Immersion

Yes, if you immerse yourself in another language, you will learn another language. You’ll also pick up slang words, speech patterns, sentence structure, accents, and favorite phrases of your host family. Maybe you’ll even learn to distinguish the different accents of the country depending on which region you are in. You’ll learn the language taking the bus, going to the grocery store, going to the bank, ordering a meal, telling people about where you are from, and when making new friends. And you’ll learn it all much more quickly than learning from a book or language learning podcasts. Your language skills will become remarkable and impressive.


 You need to be able to adapt to anything, and without letting it fluster you. Buses will be late, trains will be late, you’ll be wearing the wrong thing, you’ll misunderstand someone about a meeting time or place, you’ll have to eat food you don’t particularly like, you’ll have to wear damp clothes because you didn’t realize they don’t use a dryer and hanging everything to dry takes longer than you thought. Make no mistake about it, this is a SKILL that a lot of people don’t have and it will serve you well in your future careers. 

7. Learn more about your own culture

You may be amazed at how often people will ask you about where you came from while you are living abroad. Sometimes they may even know more than you! You may also be surprised to find that they may ask questions like the population of your state, what the transportation like, what the #1 import in your state is, what the economy and housing market are like in your state, what is your policy on immigration. You will become a walking resource for your state and country!

8.Become a local

 When you’re able to spend some time in a new country and become part of the community, it will go beyond what the famous monument for that city is, or where the best restaurant is. You’ll know the shortest route from your bus to your home. You’ll know which market is the best for cheese and where to buy a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s house (or even that you SHOULD bring a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner!). You’ll learn where the pharmacy is and what to do if you get sick. You’ll learn how to set up a bank account. While doing these things, you’ll also become part of the community… your community. You’ll have an understanding of the country which is much deeper than anyone who just spent a 2 days there on a bus tour.

9. Stories for a lifetime

When speaking with people who have been a foreign exchange student abroad, whether it was 5 years ago or 50 years ago, they still have stories and often they still have friends abroad whom they are still in contact with. These are stories to pass down to your children and maybe even your grandchildren.

 10Travel bug

 The Travel bug is a real thing. Not real in that it’s a real bug, but that it really does exist. Once you’ve traveled abroad and learned ALL the skills above and you realize how amazing it is to discover new cultures and new places, you’ll want to keep traveling. There’s so much to see in this big world of ours, and so much to experience. You’ll no longer be satisfied with learning about a culture on the internet. You’ll long to be part of the culture and to experience it for yourself.

Enjoy the journey!

Student taking pictures in France

Educational Tours in France

Whether you’re passionate about art, culture, history, architecture or exotic food, France has everything for those who love learning. Even before a college study abroad program, there are dozens of educational tours to help middle and high school students get the most out of the unique and interesting country of France.  

Enjoy coffee at a chic cafe at the Champs-Élysées, or an unforgettable meal in a brasserie hidden in Paris’ Latin Corner. Stroll the beaches of Normandy and stand on the battle site where Allied forces landed to liberate occupied France.. No matter what site or region piques your interest, France has plenty of gorgeous and educational destinations for students of all ages.

Explorica – Best of France Tour

Explorica, a travel company based out of Boston, offers plenty of opportunities for educational travel in France. For those students looking for an overview of the country, try Explorica’s Best of France tour. The 15-17 day trip introduces students to the culturally rich and diverse regions of France. From the chic shops of the Champs-Élysées to the historic Gothic châteaux in the Loire Valley to the picturesque beaches of the French Riviera, students will be able to explore the best sites in the country.

Prométour – French Classes & Homestay in Nice

Prométour Educational Tours have a few different options for students traveling to France, including their French Classes & Homestay in Nice tour, which lasts eight days. Throughout this educational tour, you’ll visit four cities in the southern part of the country: Nice, Monaco, Cannes and Eze. In each city, the students partake in a three-hour French class, where they learn the language, lifestyle and culture of France. Additionally, students are allowed to explore the cities and learn about the history of each place.

Education First – Paris in Depth Tour

Education First offers a comprehensive tour with their eight-day trip, Paris in Depth. With all-inclusive benefits, like round-trip flights, transportation throughout the trip, accommodations, a dedicated tour director, meals and activities, teachers can rest easy knowing everything is taken care of. Students will have the chance to take guided tours of popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Paris, among others. On day four, students are allowed to explore Paris on their own.

Jumpstreet Educational Tours – France Class Trip

If World War II history sparks your interest, Jumpstreet Educational Tours offer a 10-day trip to Paris, Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley. The trip starts in Normandy and Brittany, where you’ll retrace the roots of the Second World War. An afternoon can be spent exploring the beaches of Normandy at Longues-Sur-Mer where you can learn about the battles that happened during World War II, as well as the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall built by Nazi Germany. Of course, the tour also offers more than just war history – on day three you’ll visit Leonardo da Vinci’s home, the Clos Lucé, and the next day you’ll visit the expansive Palace of Versailles, among other adventures.

Vistas In Education – Family Stay & Custom Tours

VIE and their French partner APEC use their expert knowledge of France to offer custom educational tours throughout all of France, including standard tours of Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley; the Côte d’Azur and Provence; and Reims, Alsace and the French alps. Touring with a French government-certified guide allows travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in French culture, enjoy authentic regional cuisine, and brush up on their French language skills before the capstone of the trip, a stay with a French family and a group dinner at the Eiffel Tower.

With the Family Stay, Vistas In Education gives students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into the culture and become more than just tourists. Students make the most of what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real life. Each student is welcomed as a member of their French host family and experiences the French lifestyle firsthand.. French host families will have a teenage son or daughter living at home and American students will have the chance to attend school when in session.

Son Tours – France History Tours

Son Tours strives to bring the enchanting past of France back to life with their History Tours. From imposing gothic cathedrals to royal medieval castles found in Burgundy, Anjou, Picardy, Champagne, and Alsace – students will be transported back to the time where kings and queens ruled supreme. Give your students a chance to learn about the age of the Renaissance, the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans or even back to the prehistoric period in Aquitaine, where cave paintings still exist from Europe’s earliest humans.

French Links – Unexplored Paris

French Links offers the self-proclaimed “Francophiles’ Delight” with its Unexplored Paris tour. Ideal for a week or long weekend trip, the main intention of this tour is to take you away from the standard tourist-flooded attractions and let you see another side of Paris. These hidden gems will educate and delight the student traveler, as they travel through the Marais District, the Covered Passages and the Bercy District, as well as little-known museums, art studios and more. With several different types of guided tour offerings, such as A Women’s History of Paris, Celebrities in Stone, the Middle Ages in the 21st Century and even a private cruise on the Seine.

Educational Advantage Tours – Rome Florence, Nice, Paris

This 10-day tour from Educational Advantage will give students an in-depth look into some of the most historical places in France. The Rome Colosseum will introduce students to the majesty of Roman architecture and learn about their culture. After three days in Rome, students will head to Florence and marvel at the most famous sculpture in the world, Michaelangelo’s David. On day seven, they’ll explore more of great works of classical artists, when they visit the Chagall and Matisse Museums in Nice. The trip concludes in Paris, where students can wander the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

ACIS – Le Grand Voyage Tour

With this educational tour of Trouville, the Loire Valley, Paris, Provence and Cote d’Azur, students will have an action-packed 10-day tour of the most visited regions of France. Students will be tasked with learning about the appeal and impact tourism has had in France over the last 150 years. They’ll also have the chance to explore a number of different historic sites, such as the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct and the Château de Chenonceau.

Travelbound – Normandy-Château du Molay Food Technology

With this culinary-themed tour offered by Travelbound, student groups have the opportunity to learn about the rich culinary heritage and traditions of Normandy. Highlights of the tour include an exquisite frogs’ legs and snails tasting at dinner, some quality time with goats at a cheese farm, bread baking courses at a boulangerie, and French food preparation and ingredients training. Those students interested in learning about the food of France will relish in the chance to take expert cooking lessons at a local restaurant or culinary school.

Anglo Educational Tours – Tour The Somme

Anglo Educational Tours offer many options to the student traveling to France. One of their most popular choices, however, is the tour of the Somme. Here, students can explore some exceptionally interesting sites and enrich their learning by visiting the places read about in books. As the location of the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme, this tour will take students through the history and outcomes of this major international upheaval. Visit the Museum of the Great War and learn how the Allies fought off the Central Powers in 1916 during the four and a half month battle, in which more than one million soldiers were wounded or killed.

ProActive Travel – Educational Tour to Paris

With ProActive Travel’s Tour to Paris, students will be thrown into a rich and cultural experience that they can’t find in a classroom. Students are guided through all of the best attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet. Students can also easily combine their trip to Paris with guided tours of other cities, such as Normandy and the chateaus of the Loire Valley.

CEI Europe Tours – West France Tour

This tour, offered by CEI, is ideal for student groups interested in history and culture. With customizable itineraries, students can learn about some of the most intriguing attractions in the Western France region. From famous castles to the breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, CEI offers an unforgettable experience at an affordable rate.

Rocknroll Adventures – Educational School Tours to France

With Rocknroll Adventures, students will be whisked away and immersed in the French culture on a completely custom trip. To ensure that the student group enjoys every moment of their trip, Rocknroll offers a healthy balance of outdoor adventure with historical and cultural experiences. With a designated program every day, they take the stress off of the teacher or group leader and do all the organizational work for you.

Bon Voyage!

Whether you want to take a stroll along the Seine River, look out upon Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, cook up some local cuisine or learn about the solemn history of WWII, there’s no shortage of educational tours for students in France.

Whether you’re a teacher or student looking to travel to France, there are learning opportunities for learners of all ages. With a France’s rich heritage in art, culture, history and architecture, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. There’s plenty to see, so what are you waiting for? All you need is a sense of adventure!

Schedule Your Tour Today with Vistas In Education!

If you’re dreaming of traveling to France, while learning all about the country’s history, culture and language along the way, reach out to Vistas In Education today. We offer a number of different opportunities for teachers and students alike. We’ll take the stress and hassle of organizing a student trip off your shoulders, giving you peace of mind knowing that everything like flight tickets, transportation, accommodations and meals are well taken care of. From personalized Family Stay programs to custom educational tours, we offer our clients an experience that they will never forget.

Find out why our clients continue to put their trust in VIE – get in touch with us today!


Easy tips to Learn French

How to Learn French Faster: 10 Tips

Bonjour ! Êtes-vous prêt à apprendre le français ?

As one of the most beautiful and romantic languages in the world, learning French will benefit you in more ways than one. Learning the French language will let you converse with over 220 million people and ensure that your trip to France will go smoothly.

Learning a new language can seem daunting, however with the right strategy, you can build confidence in your French in no time. Whether you’re preparing for a trip, hosting a French exchange student or just want to learn the language of romance for fun, here are 10 tips to help you learn French faster.

1) Understand How You Learn

The first step to learning French faster is to actually understand how you learn – are you a visual or auditory learner, or a combination of both? In other words, do you learn best by looking at something yourself or hearing something spoken by an instructor? This will dictate how you approach learning the language. Flash cards may be the best for you if you’re a visual learner while listening to an audiobook may be the better option if you’re more of an auditory learner.

In the majority of courses, you will do a lot of French writing, but most likely less speaking. If you’ve taken foreign language classes before, revisit those materials and try to distinguish which learning tactics worked well for you and which ones didn’t.

2) Learn the Language Structure

As you begin learning French, it may seem overwhelming. However, as you pick more and more things up, things that you learn in the beginning of your training will make much more sense as you improve.

A solid foundation is the key to getting started. The first thing you need to learn is the structure of the French language. You should know how verbs, adjectives and nouns work in conjunction with each other, and learn to distinguish present, past and future verb tenses. When you can apply basic grammar and proper pronunciation to your sentences, you’ll sound much more intelligent when conversing with a native speaker.

As you learn French nouns, always include an indication of its gender, such as a flashcard for le crayon to remember that the French word for pencil is masculine. The gender of nouns in French is not based on an object’s inherent masculinity or femininity, but rather on the ending of the word itself. Analytical learners will appreciate research done by linguists that list which endings are more likely masculine or feminine.

Proper pronunciation is incredibly important when speaking French. From an English-speaker’s perspective, the rules governing which combinations of letters indicate which sound, also known as phonetics, is not intuitive. For example, the French language has vowel combinations like “-oi” that are pronounced, “wha”, and “-eau” which is pronounced “oh”. Learning the basics of French phonetics will take out much of the guesswork in French phonetics.

3) Learn how to Read and Write in French

This is a basic function for anyone who wants to be proficient in French. Learning to read and write will help reinforce the terms, sentences and phrases that you’re learning, as well as teach you new ones. If you’re not ready to pick up a French novel, try something a little simpler like a children’s book (after all, they are designed to help children learn the language, so they can help you too!). Another tactic is to pick up one of your favorite books in a French translation and try reading a few passages here and there. Knowing the plot and literary context will make it easier to take in the grammar and new vocabulary. If you can’t find a book that’s suitable for you, try writing your own. Write in French as much as you possibly can, even if it’s just a few sentences a day or putting together your grocery list in French – this will let you track your progress as you develop your skills.

4) Speak in French as much as Possible

One of the best things you can do to learn French quickly is to speak it as much as possible. No matter how poor you are at the beginning, speak with confidence until you start to grasp the unique sentences and phrases that make the language so compelling. We all had to start out somewhere, but as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect.

If you’re searching for ways to inject some French into your everyday conversations, try some of these approaches.

  • Narrate your everyday life in French – if you’re taking out the trash, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, writing down a grocery list or driving your car, try speaking some French out-loud to yourself as you complete these day-to-day tasks.
  • Interact with a French person – there are plenty of websites and programs that connect students with native French speakers to work on their communication together.  
  • Join local French clubs, organizations or schools – if you’re in a larger city, there are conversation groups, meet-ups and networks for students of French to meet one another. Use these resources to your advantage by becoming a member and connecting with others in your local area who share your passion.

5) Listen to French

Whether it’s a TV show, a French film, an audiobook or some French music, there are plenty of things you can listen to in order to improve your auditory understanding of the language. When you find something that catches your ear, mimic what it is you hear to reinforce French pronunciation. Professional translators and those who grew up bilingual swear by this method, in which you “shadow” what others are saying. Absorbing French culture by listening not only reinforces pronunciation and intonation, developing a taste for French music, film or television can make learning more fun and engaging.

Listening to native French speakers will let you understand the many nuances of French usage and intonation. The more things you can listen to, the better you will get – so on your morning commute, instead of NPR, put a French audiobook on. Rather than watch your favorite program in English when you get home from work, stream the French version online instead (and turn on subtitles if necessary in the beginning). In the long run, you’ll benefit from hearing how people interact with one another and be better able to apply it to your own way of speaking.

6) Practice Often

You won’t get anywhere without practicing those words and phrases that you’ve learned. You can learn proper French quickly with the proper amount of practice. Here are some strategies to help you shorten the time it takes for you to learn the language.

  • Turn the language of your browser to French – browsing Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media will help you understand more of the casual, informal intricacies of the language. It also helps you apply what you’re learning in a practical way.
  • Try thinking in French – if you have a loud inner voice, make an active effort to think in French instead of English. This will only further your ability to say words out loud.
  • Learn 30 words and phrases every single day. If you stick to this schedule you will learn about 80 percent of the language in only three months. The most common words make up the largest amount of conversations, so start by memorizing the basics.
  • Attach labels to household items with the French word and make sure you say the words out loud whenever you use them. From blowdryer to kitchen sink to television, you’ll learn some important nouns quickly after you’re exposed to the labels for a few days.
  • Make yourself a stack of flashcards and use them when you’re on the subway, during advertisements while you’re watching TV or whenever you have some time to yourself.
  • Never, ever give up – throughout the process, you may sometimes feel like you’re never going to grasp the French language. If you’re struggling, try switching up your learning methods. As long as you diligently practice, there’s no reason you can’t become a fantastic French speaker.

7) Learn the Basics of the French Language for an Upcoming Trips

If you’re preparing for an upcoming trip and are trying to cram some French words and phrases into your brain, start with some of the most commonly used ones in the language. This will help you interact with the locals, order food, find directions if you’re lost or communicate with emergency personnel.

8) French Salutations

These are useful phrases and words to start with, since most people begin and end an interaction in similar ways. Here are some of the most popular ways to say “hello” and “goodbye” in French.

  • Bonjour – Hello
  • Comment allez-vous ? — How are you?
  • Quoi de neuf ? – What’s up?
  • Coucou ! – Hey there!
  • Allô ? – Hello? (when answering the phone)
  • Salut ! – Hi/Bye-bye!
  • Au revoir ! – Goodbye!
  • Je suis désolé(e), mais je dois y aller – I’m sorry, but I have to go.
  • Bonne journée ! — Have a nice day! (often said to shopkeepers when leaving a store)
  • À plus tard ! (À plus !) – See you later!
  • À tout à l’heure ! – See you soon/see you in a while!
  • Je m’appelle  – My name is…

Remember to thank the people who help you. Say “merci” or “merci beaucoup” which means “thank you” or “thank you very much.”

9) Ask for Help in French

This is important when you’re traveling the country, as you may likely need to ask for directions or help along the way. Here are some of the most popular ways to say ask for help in French.

  • Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît –  Please speak slowly
  • Désolé(e), je ne comprends pas – Sorry, I don’t understand
  • Desolé(e), je ne parle pas français (très bien) – I’m sorry, I don’t speak French (very well).
  • Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous me dire où est… ? – Excuse me, can you tell me where ______ is?
  • Pouvez-vous me diriger vers… – Can you direct me to…
  • Excusez-moi de vous déranger – Excuse me for bothering you

10) The most Common French phrases

Learn the most common French words to cover the basics. Here are ten survival words & expressions that are a must know:

  1. Oui / Non – Yes/ No
  2. Bonjour – Hello
  3. Au revoir – Good-bye
  4. Merci – Thank you
  5. Pardon / Excusez-moi – Excuse-me
  6. Parlez-vous anglais ? – Do you speak English?
  7. S’il vous plaît – Please
  8. Je voudrais – I would like (use along with ‘Please’)
  9. Combien ça coûte ?  – How much does it/this cost?
  10. Où sont les toilettes ? – Where are the restrooms? (use with ‘Please’)

Bon Voyage !

Now that you know some tips and tricks to learning French faster, you should feel more comfortable about traveling to the country. If you’re dreaming of learning the language of romance, try sharpening your French with any of the above tips today!

Profitez de votre voyage en France !  Bon apprentissage !

La fête de la musique!

Ernest Hemingway écrivait en 1964 « Paris est une fête ». Depuis le 21 juin 1982, la France entière devient une fête chaque année à la même date. En 1981, Jack Lang, alors ministre de la Culture, nomme un nouveau directeur de la musique et de la danse, Maurice Fleuret. Ce dernier souhaite alors créer un évènement d’envergure qui permettrait une rencontre de toutes les musiques, « sans hiérarchie de genre ni d’origine ».  La Fête de la Musique naît ainsi la même année et se déroule depuis plus de trente ans le 21 juin, jour symbolique du solstice d’été, le jour le plus long de l’hémisphère nord.


La Fête de la Musique est un évènement national, gratuit et sans but lucratif. C’est majoritairement une manifestation de plein-air, des concerts sont organisés partout en France. Des représentations sont également organisées dans les prisons et les hôpitaux, afin de ne laisser personne en marge de cette célébration.


Le succès de cette célébration a permis à la Fête de la Musique de s’exporter dans le monde entier. Elle a d’abord séduit l’Europe grâce à la charte de « La Fête Européenne de la Musique » signée à Budapest en 1997. En 2016, la Fête de la Musique a été célébrée dans 120 pays. Afin de faire vivre l’esprit de la Fête de la Musique tel qu’il a été imaginé en 1982 par Maurice Fleuret, chaque pays doit respecter la Charte européenne de la Fête de la Musique dont les principes sont la gratuité, la date du 21 juin, la diversité des pratiques musicales ou encore les concerts organisés en plein-air.

La ville de New York a adopté cette tradition. Organisée par Make Music New York, la Fête de la Musique est célébrée depuis plusieurs années dans la ville qui ne dort jamais, de Times Square à Greenwich Village en passant par Staten Island.


Si vous avez la chance d’être en France à cette période de l’année, ne manquez surtout pas cette opportunité de profiter du soleil, de la musique et de la convivialité à la française !

Lived in France understand - baguettes

10 Things Only Those Who Lived in France Would Understand

Those that live in France have a culture all their own. Their language is especially unique, with quick, clever phrases that you won’t hear in any English-speaking country. If you’re traveling to France, know these terms and it’ll be like you’ve lived there your entire life!

Please enjoy these ‘10 Things Only Those Who Lived in France Would Understand‘.

  1. La baguette

    Crédit photo : Bluefox Travel 2016

    French people are fond of bread. Going to the bakery to buy bread every day is part of the culture. The standard French bread used to be round. At that time, la baguette was an elitist bread that only aristocrats had access to. Then the French Revolution happened and the people demanded equal bread for everyone. In 1793, a law commanded every baker to make the same bread for all citizens. Also, during the 18th century, bread represented 90% of the French people’s diet – no wonder French people love bread so much!

  2. La bise

    Hollande and Merkel greeting hello

    crédit photo : Daniela Lapidous, Medium 2014

    If you travel to France, be prepared to get greeted with kisses on your cheeks. En France, on se fait la bise. This is how people say hi to each other. Depending on where you are in France, you could either give 2, 3 or 4 kisses. If you are a female, you may kiss both males and females. However, if you are a male, the custom is to kiss only females.

  3. Le déjeuner

    Le déjeuner, c’est sacré ! Lunch is an important meal for French people. Taking a one-hour break for lunch is common in France. People are usually able to leave their office or school to eat either at home or in a restaurant.

  4. Le dimanche

    Le dimanche, c’est le jour du seigneur. Sunday morning was historically dedicated to going to church. Nowadays, France is a secular society, but Sunday remains a special day. Most people do not work on Sunday, so don’t plan to go shopping on a Sunday, almost every store will be closed!Ferme sign

  5. Les vacances

    family jumping on beach on vacation

    Crédit photo : Keyword Suggest 2016

    The average French worker has the right to five weeks of paid vacation. Before 1936, very few French workers could benefit from paid vacation. It all started with the first law, promulgated in June 1936, giving every employee the right to two weeks of paid vacation. But two weeks was not enough! It became three weeks in 1956, then four weeks in 1969 and finally five weeks in 1982.

  6. Les bonnes manières

    table manners of the french

    Crédit photo : Quiz Biz 2016

    Every culture has social norms that dictate good manners. Some examples of French etiquette: don’t put your elbows on the table while eating, don’t cut lettuce but roll it with your knife and fork, saying good luck can sometimes be considered bad luck, and avoid having conversations about religion or money.

  7. Pain au chocolat ou chocolatine ?

    This is an endless debate in France — what do we call this pastry?

    Pain au chocolat

    Crédit photo : Couteaux et tirebouchons 2016

    Map of France - pain au chocolat vs chocolatine

    Crédit photo : Lescun Hier Demain 2012


  8. Le code de la route

    Paris' only stop sign

    Crédit photo : Ouest France 2013

    When driving in France, it is illegal to turn right on a red light. Fun fact: there is only one stop sign in Paris and it’s on the corner of the Quai St Exupery in the 16ème. The general rule is that drivers on your right have the priority.

  9. Canette ou bouteille ?

    Coca-cola at french cafe

    Crédit photo : Timothée Rolin 2010

    When ordering soda in France in a restaurant, don’t expect a free refill. You will be served either a can and a bottle, so choose wisely!

  10. Les soldes

    Les soldes - store sales in paris

    Crédit photo : Frederick Florin / AFP/Archives 2014

    If you want to get a good deal, wait for the sales to go shopping in France. The French Commercial Code set 2 sales periods: during winter (January and February) and during summer (from the end of June to the beginning of August).

Thank you for reading ‘10 Things Only Those Who Lived in France Would Understand‘!

Presidential Election France 2017

The French Presidential Election is heating up!

The French Presidential Election is heating up!

Le compte à rebours est lancé : dans moins d’un mois, les citoyens français iront aux urnes pour élire le 8ème Président de la 5ème République. Le premier tour des élections aura lieu le 23 avril 2017, à l’issue duquel les Français connaîtront les deux finalistes qu’ils devront départager lors du second tour qui se déroulera le 7 mai 2017. Le maître-mot de cette élection est l’indécision. En effet, 40% des Français interrogés par un sondage IFOP pour le Think-Tank Synopia auraient l’intention de voter blanc.

Cette incertitude s’explique par le caractère exceptionnel de cette élection. La première particularité est l’absence de la candidature du Président actuel François Hollande, ce qui rompt avec la tradition républicaine de se représenter en défendant son premier mandat. Par ailleurs, des scandales sont venus entacher l’image de certains candidats. Celui qui en a été le plus affecté est sans aucun doute François Fillon, mis en cause pour détournement de fonds publics, recel et abus de biens sociaux. Il en résulte une volatilité de la base électorale du candidat des Républicains. Certains partisans, déçus par le candidat de la droite, iront voter pour Emmanuel Macron, d’autres pour Marine Le Pen ou encore Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, le 6ème homme de cette élection d’après les sondages.

Les Candidats

Cinq candidats monopolisent ainsi l’attention des médias :

Emmanuel Macron

Candidat d’En Marche !
Mesure phare : création d’un Fonds pour l’Industrie et l’Innovation doté de 10 milliards d’euros issus des actions des entreprises détenues de manière minoritaire par l’Etat.

Site de campagne : https://en-marche.fr/


Marine Le Pen

Candidate du Front National

Mesure phare : référendum sur l’appartenance de la France à l’Union Européenne.

Site de campagne : https://www.marine2017.fr/


François Fillon

Candidat des Républicains
Mesure phare : la fin de la durée légale du travail à 35 heures et laisser chaque entreprise décider de son temps de travail par la négociation.

Site de campagne : https://www.fillon2017.fr/


Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Candidat de La France Insoumise

Mesure phare : convoquer l’assemblée constituante et passer à la 6ème République.

Site de campagne : https://avenirencommun.fr/


Benoît Hamon

Candidat du Parti Socialiste
Mesure phare : mise en place d’un revenu universel.

Site de campagne : https://www.benoithamon2017.fr/

Les Sondage d’opinion 

Du côté de la gauche, les votes s’éparpillent également. Les candidats du Parti Socialiste et de la France Insoumise, respectivement Benoît Hamon et Jean-Luc Mélenchon, sont au coude à coude. De nombreux journalistes les ont interpellés en évoquant la possibilité de former une alliance afin de rassembler les votes de la gauche, mais les deux candidatures sont toujours d’actualité. Enfin, en tête des sondages se trouvent Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen, suivis par François Fillon.

Current polling

La Suite

Cependant, onze candidats se partageront les votes des Français le 23 avril prochain. Cette situation met en lumière le rôle des médias dans l’élection présidentielle. Le premier débat présidentiel télévisé a eu lieu le 20 mars dernier sur TF1, la première chaîne française. Seul cinq candidats y ont néanmoins été conviés. La chaîne a été critiquée par les candidats invités eux-mêmes qui ont invoqué le principe de démocratie en dénonçant l’absence des autres candidats.

Si aucun candidat reçoit une majorité absolue au premier tour du scrutin, un second tour aura lieu le 7 mai où seuls peuvent se présenter les deux candidats qui ont recueilli le plus de votes au premier tour.

Qui sera le vainqueur de cette élection ?  Verdict le 7 mai prochain.


French language from a book

10 French Phrases that There’s No English Equivalent For

France is famous for its fabulous food, amazing artists, memorable monuments and much, much more. It’s also given the world the gift of the most romantic and arguably most nuanced language on earth: French. Here are 10 words and phrases with no English equivalents.

1) Dépaysement

The first word that doesn’t have a direct English translation, refers to a type of disorientation. More specifically, it means “the unsteady sensation of being in another country.” If you’re travelling to France, you might even experience dépaysement for yourself for the first few days. It also refers to a change of mental state or feelings as the result of some major life change.

2) Chez

This is a classic French word that you might not have heard before, but is indeed a versatile and useful word. Chez can mean that you are at a particular location (chez moi), or refers to a particular state of mind of someone or a collection of people (chez les français — “among the French”). Yet still, you could use it to describe an artist’s body of work (chez Matisse).

3) La douleur exquise

The literal translation of la douleur exquise means “the exquisite pain”, or the heart-wrenching pain of wanting something or someone you can’t have. This truly is a French phrase through and through. This phrase is so powerful, even a Sex and the City episode references the name in one of their episode titles!

4) Terroir

It wouldn’t be French without a hefty wine vocabulary. Although often used in the international wine and cheese industries, terroir is a notoriously tricky word to translate for the average english speaker. Terroir refers to the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate, as well as the characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by that environment.

5) Ras-le-bol

As one of the oddest French phrases, this is impossible to translate literally in English. Used when expressing frustration, the most similar English equivalent would be something such as “I’ve had enough of…” or “I’ve had it up to here…” It can also be used to refer to the feeling of despair. It has recently been seen in the French media, in relation to new tax legislation, “ras-le-bol fiscal.”

6) L’ouest

Literally translated in English, this phrase means “in the west”. But actually, a l’ouest is normally used to describe someone that comes off as strange or different, or that perhaps thinks outside of the box. Additionally, you can use it to call someone a daydreamer. A more correct way to put it in English, would be to say a person is “on another planet”.

7) Empêchement

Describing something as an “impediment”, empêchement refers to the things that come up last minute that cause a change in your plans. Traveling to France, you may experience an empêchement if you’re not fully prepared – make sure to plan appropriately so you don’t experience it!

8) Cartonner

Use this word when describing a film, book or band that has been a huge hit. Cartonner is a verb meaning that something has hit a target, or been an overall success. This word is usually used to call out films that have moved a lot of tickets at the box office, books that have sold well or bands that have had a hit single.

9) Esprit de l’escalier

This French term is used in English for the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late. Known also as “staircase wit”, this term describes a witty remark that occurs to you retroactively, such as on the way downstairs after leaving a conversation.

10) Cache-misère

If you’re trying to conceal something unpleasant, use cache-misère to describe it. As a temporary fix to a messy situation, cache-misère might refer to a situation such as sweeping a mess under the rug.

Regardless of where you’re traveling to in France, you will see world-renowned monuments, famous pieces of art and eat delectable food. You may even come across one or two of these words while you’re there as well, and now you won’t be caught off guard. Have fun on your trip to France, bon voyage!

Bienvenue Ismaïl !


Meet Ismaïl, VIE’s 2017 Intern from France!



I am a 22-year-old business student. I was born in Morocco and grew up in a suburb south of Paris.

During the last year of my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to study and live in London for 6 months. It was truly a life-changing experience. I particularly enjoyed sharing an apartment with 7 roommates from all over the world. This experience made me realize how important it is to discover other cultures and languages.



So here I am, starting my 6-month internship at Vistas In Education, living in the United States for the first time and more importantly, taking part in this amazing project aiming at bringing different cultures closer together.


You have spent a big part of your life traveling, what keeps drawing you towards travel?
I enjoy experiencing different ways of life. Traveling enriches my own lifestyle because it allows me to develop new habits, to see the world from a new perspective and to challenge my own way of thinking.

Which region in France is your favorite and why?

C215 - Vitry - Avenue Guy Moquet - Octobre 2010I would definitely say Paris and especially the Parisian suburbs where I grew up. The suburbs have
a very multicultural identity and street art is everywhere. Vitry sur Seine, my home town, is called ‘la capitale du street art’. The municipality offers spots to young artists to express their talent in the streets and to contribute to the beauty of the city they live in. One of them is the internationally renowned stencil artist C215.

C215 – Vitry – Avenue Guy Moquet – Octobre 2010

What is one of your fondest travel memories?stencil3
It was 2 years ago, when I went to a small city in Germany called Karlsruhe. It is not a famous city, people were very simple yet particularly welcoming and therefore made my trip unforgettable.

What area do you consider the world’s “best hidden gem”?
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco for the incredible landscapes.




5 words to describe you?
Curious, foodie, calm, accommodating, ambitious

4 hobbies?
Cinema, photography, traveling, writing

3 obsessions?
YouTube videos, lasagna, chinese collar shirts

2 favorite places?
Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris for the architecture and La Croix Valmer in the south of France for its beautiful beaches.

1 secret?
I am shy… but shhh, it is a secret. 


Ismaïl with his Host Family upon arriving in Minnesota. He had the double good luck of arriving on a Friday the 13th and the coldest day of the year — bienvenue !



Gluten-free Chocolate and Coconut Bûche de Noël !


Compliments of Béatrice PELTRE and her blog, La Tartine Gourmande


At this time of year, walk in the streets of any French city, town or village, and you will be able to admire beautiful bûches displayed in the windows of pastry stores. Every bakery makes their own. When I was a kid, I was longing for Christmas day to come, just to discover and eat as many bûches de Noël as I could. They can be simple, like mine, or elegant and fancy, like many made by great pastry chefs, or talented home cooks.

Traditional bûches use a génoise, a thin sponge cake that is rolled tight, so that it takes the shape, and looks like a wooden roll. They are filled with a flavored butter cream, like vanilla, chocolate, or chestnut, to only name of few common choices, and garnished with a thick coat of ganache or cream icing or powdered sugar.


For the chocolate génoise:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour*, sifted
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour*, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled

*Note: You can substitute quinoa and brown rice flours with all-purpose, or baking flour.

  • 3.5 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp
  • 1 gelatin sheet**
  • 1 oz green shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream, whipped

** Generally speaking, assume that 4 gelatin sheets equal 1 envelope powdered gelatin, although the strength in gelatin varies according to brand. A few tests may be required. Use whichever you feel more comfortable with. I am personally more comfortable with sheets, which can be found online in the United States.

To prepare the sponge cake:

  1. Preheat the oven at 400 F.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Place the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl and beat until white in color.
  4. Then add the melted butter, and the sifted flours, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  5. Whip your egg whites firm with a pinch of salt. One min before they are ready, add 1 Tbsp sugar, and continue to beat for 1 min.
  6. Fold the white eggs in the previous preparation, adding 1 Tbsp first to make the dough more relaxed.
  7. Pour on a baking sheet (15” x 10” x 0.5”) covered with parchment paper, and cook for 10 min.
  8. Remove and flip the top part on a wet cloth.
  9. Carefully remove the parchment paper, and roll the sponge cake in the wet towel, to give it the shape of a “bûche.” Let cool.

To prepare the cream:

  1. Place the mascarpone in a bowl. Mix and add the grated coconut, coconut milk and sugar.
  2. Soak the gelatin sheet in a large volume of cold water for 5 min, then squeeze the water out.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut milk and add the gelatin to dissolve.
  4. Mix in the mascarpone cream, with the pistachios.
  5. Whip the cold heavy cream firm, until it forms peaks. Fold in the coconut-flavored mascarpone.
  6. When the cake is cooled, unroll and spread this cream on all the surface. Roll into shape again, removing the towel this time. Wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for 12 hours minimum.
  7. When you are ready to serve, cut the two ends to show the pattern (you can nibble on these later), and sprinkle the bûche generously with confectioner’s sugar, and grated coconut.

Bon appétit !


Noël, les bûches photo courtesy of Isabelle BUSSY

Bûche de Noël au chocolat et noix de coco (sans gluten)


    • 4 gros œufs
    • 50 g de farine de quinoa*, tamisée
    • 50 g de farine de riz complet*, tamisée
    • 3 càs de cacao en poudre non sucré, tamisé
    • 100 g de sucre de canne blond
    • 1/2 càc de levure chimique, tamisée
    • 20 g de beurre, fondu et refroidi

*Remarque : vous pouvez substituer les farines de quinoa et de riz complet par de la farine blanche T45.

    • 100 g de mascarpone
    • 50 g de noix de coco râpée
    • 30 g de sucre glace
    • 60 ml lait de coco + 1 càs
    • 1 feuille de gélatine
    • 25 g de pistaches vertes non salées et décortiquées, hachées grossièrement
    • 240 ml de crème liquide froide, battue en chantilly

Pour préparer la génoise

  1. Préchauffez votre four à 200 C.
  2. Séparez les blancs des jaunes d’œuf.
  3. Dans un saladier, battez les jaunes avec le sucre jusqu’à blanchiment.
  4. Ajoutez le beurre fondu, les farines, le cacao et la levure.
  5. Battez vos blancs d’œuf en neige ferme avec une pincée de sel, et 1 min avant la fin, ajoutez 1 càs de sucre pour les raffermir. Battez encore pendant 1 min.
  6. Incorporez-les délicatement à la préparation précédente ; ajoutez d’abord 1 càs de neige ferme pour détendre la masse.
  7. Versez cette pâte sur une plaque de cuisson rectangulaire (38 x 25,5 x 1,25 cm) recouverte de papier sulfurisé, et étalez-la uniformément. Cuisez au four pendant 10 min.
  8. Retournez la génoise sur un torchon humidifié.
  9. Enlevez doucement le papier sulfurisé, et roulez votre génoise pour la donner la forme d’une bûche, avec le torchon. Laissez refroidir.

Pour préparer la crème

  1. mettez le mascarpone dans une jatte. Mélangez bien avec la noix de coco râpée, le sucre et le lait de coco.
  2. Faites tremper la gélatine dans un grand volume d’eau froide pendant 5 min, puis essorez-la.
  3. Faites chauffer 1 càs de lait de coco et mettez-y la gélatine, pour la dissoudre.
  4. Ajoutez à la crème de mascarpone avec les pistaches.
  5. Battez la crème froide en chantilly et ajoutez-la délicatement, en faisant attention à ne pas faire tomber la masse.
  6. Une fois que le gâteau est refroidi, déroulez-le et étalez la crème dessus. Roulez à nouveau pour former une bûche (sans le torchon cette fois). Enveloppez dans un film plastique, et mettez au frigidaire pendant au moins 12 heures.vie_logo_2718

Au moment de servir, coupez une tranche à chaque bout pour montrer le dessin (vous pourrez les grignoter plus tard), et saupoudrez la bûche généreusement de sucre glace et de noix de coco râpée.  Dégustez et régalez-vous !

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