Le Journal: An overview of French Newspapers (Part 2)

Posted on 28. Aug, 2014 by in Culture

Image by MIT-Libraries on Flickr

Image by MIT-Libraries on Flickr

Welcome back to our little survey of French newspapers. In part 1, I briefly went over the different sections found in most newspapers to help you quickly locate the content you want to read. Today, we’ll be looking at two French newspapers that you are bound to find at any sidewalk café, kiosque (newsstand), gare (train station), aéroport (airport), station de métro (metro station), etc. Both of these papers are considered authoritative and have garnered a wide lectorat (readership) thanks to high quality journalism.


Le Monde

The aptly named Le Monde (The World) is one of the most widely read journaux (newspapers) in France and throughout the world. It began circulating in 1944 when Général Charles de Gaulle requested a new newspaper to replace the aging Le Temps (The Time) which had been France’s premier newspaper up to that point.

Published daily, Le Monde has over 300,000 subscribers and is available in many pays étrangers (foreign countries). The paper was brought into the digital realm in 1995 with its own website lemonde.fr.  The site is easy to navigate and covers a wide range of topics including Idées (Ideas), Planète (Planet), Vous (You), Campus (geared towards students) and more. Each section has several subsections so you never run out of reading material. Mises à jour (updates) to the websites occur every few minutes so you will always have access to the latest news.


Le Figaro

My personal favorite, Le Figaro has a more conservative penchant than Le Monde and began circulating in 1826 which makes it by far the oldest French newspaper. It began as a weekly satirical paper and is currently the second largest newspaper in France with a readership of almost 400,000.

Like Le Monde, Le Figaro has an excellent website at lefigaro.fr.  that is both informative and entertaining. Sections such as Santé (Health), Bourse (Stock Exchange), Enchères (Auctions), Étudiant (Student) and Vin (Wine) offer le lecteur (the reader) choices they might not find on similar news websites. Le Figaro even has a small assortment of magazines like Le Figaro Magazine and Madame Figaro, each of which explores subjects in greater depth than those found in the newspaper.


So go ahead and visit the websites of Le Monde and Le Figaro, read up on some of the latest news en français bien sûr (in French of course), and maybe even consider un abonnement digital (digital subscription) that you’ll be able to access on your phone, tablet and computer. You’ll enjoy both the great journalism and hone your reading comprehension skills at the same time.


Le Journal: An overview of French Newspapers (Part 1)

Posted on 26. Aug, 2014 by in Culture

Image by Pluriformity on Flickr

Image by Pluriformity on Flickr

What method/device do you use to stay up to date on current events? A couple decades ago, reading the newspaper, listening to the news on the radio or watching current events unfold on television were the only options. I remember watching les infos de 20 hrs sur TF1 (the 8 o’clock news on TF1) and la météo (the weather) with my parents. Times have changed and today we are bombarded with news in every conceivable form. From apps on our smartphones to the browsers on our computer to satellite radio and more, we have access to the latest news within seconds on a variety of devices.

We can still read our local paper journal (newspaper) but thanks to the Internet, we now have access to the most recent news from different parts of the world and in a variety of languages.

France has no shortage of journaux (newspapers pl.), one of which began circulating nearly two centuries ago. Like many of the largest American newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for example, the major French publications have made the leap into the digital era and offer virtual newspapers viewable on all your electronic devices.

If you’re looking to practice your French reading comprehension skills and would like to keep up on what’s going on in France and around the world, any of the major French newspapers can provide you with a good dose of les actualités (the news). Keep in mind, some are quotidiens (daily) while others are hebdomadaires (weekly).

Let’s run through some of the sections you might find in French newspapers and/or their websites to help you navigate their content.

Actualités (News) – This will give you the latest news and is not topic-specific.

À la une (Front page) – This refers to the front page of a newspaper so it is deemed the most important piece of content. This will usually be the homepage of a news website.

Politique (Politics) – Anything having to do with the political world, both foreign and domestic.

Société (Society) – Topics may vary, but you would want to visit this section to read up on currents events in France.

International or Monde (International or World) – As the section title implies, you will read about events beyond the domestic sphere.

Culture (Culture) – This section will include the latest news in the world of cinéma (film), musique (music), les arts (the arts), livres (books), etc.

Économie (Economy) – Read up on financial news in this section, including details about la Bourse de Paris (the Paris Stock Exchange).

Sciences/Tech (Science/Tech) – These sections may be separate but they are sometimes combined. Learn about new discoveries in science and read about groundbreaking innovations in the tech/web sphere.

Although they are found in most French newspapers, the sections listed above might differ slightly from publication to publication. Larger publications may have additional sections such as Sports, Style, Santé (Health), Fait Divers (Various Facts) and Auto (Cars) but the sections above are shared among most of them.

In the next posts, we’ll look in greater detail at some of these French newspapers that have informed and entertained readers for decades.

Les Fables de La Fontaine: La Lionne et l’Ourse

Posted on 23. Aug, 2014 by in History, Literature

Image by Carla216 on Flickr

Image by Carla216 on Flickr

Here is yet another fable from the inimitable Jean de La Fontaine. La Lionne et l’Ourse (The Lioness and the Bear) examines the discussion between a bear and a lioness who had just lost her cubs. The story may seem a little difficult to decipher, but as with all of La Fontaine’s fables, there is a moral to the story and a lesson to be learned.

Keep in mind this is not an exact word for word translation of the original French, but the gist of the story remains unchanged.

Mère Lionne avait perdu son fan :
Un chasseur l’avait pris. La pauvre infortunée
Poussait un tel rugissement
Que toute la forêt était importunée.
La nuit ni son obscurité,
Son silence, et ses autres charmes,
De la reine des bois n’arrêtait les vacarmes :
Nul animal n’était du sommeil visité.
L’Ourse enfin lui dit : « Ma commère,
Un mot sans plus : tous les enfants
Qui sont passés entre vos dents
N’avaient-ils ni père ni mère ?
– Ils en avaient. – S’il est ainsi,
Et qu’aucun de leur mort n’ait nos têtes rompues,
Si tant de mères se sont tues,
Que ne vous taisez-vous aussi ?
– Moi, me taire ! moi, malheureuse !
Ah ! j’ai perdu mon fils ? il me faudra traîner
Une vieillesse douloureuse !
– Dites-moi, qui vous force à vous y condamner ?
– Hélas ! c’est le Destin qui me hait. 

– Ces paroles
Ont été de tout temps en la bouche de tous. »
Misérables humains, ceci s’adresse à vous.
Je n’entends résonner que des plaintes frivoles.
Quiconque, en pareil cas se croit haï des Cieux,
Qu’il considère Hécube, il rendra grâce aux Dieux.


The lioness had lost her young;

A hunter stole it from the vale;

The forests and the mountains rung

Responsive to her hideous wail.

Nor night, nor charms of sweet repose,

Could still the loud lament that rose

From that grim forest queen.

No animal, as you might think,

With such a noise could sleep a wink.

A bear presumed to intervene.

‘One word, sweet friend,’ quoth she,

‘And that is all, from me.

The young that through your teeth have pass’d,

In file unbroken by a fast,

Had they nor dam nor sire?’

‘They had them both.’ ‘Then I desire,

Since all their deaths caused no such grievous riot,

While mothers died of grief beneath your fiat,

To know why you yourself cannot be quiet?’

‘I quiet!–I!–a wretch bereaved!

My only son!–such anguish be relieved!

No, never! All for me below

Is but a life of tears and woe!’–

‘But say, why doom yourself to sorrow so?’–

‘Alas! ’tis Destiny that is my foe.’


Such language, since the mortal fall,

Has fallen from the lips of all.

Ye human wretches, give your heed;

For your complaints there’s little need.

Let him who thinks his own the hardest case,

Some widowed, childless Hecuba behold,

Herself to toil and shame of slavery sold,

And he will own the wealth of heavenly grace.