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French Language – Learning New Words Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

As I read, listen to the latest news from France, and explore new music, I like to jot down ideas for blog posts. Sometimes (like last week) those items come together in a cohesive story. Sometimes, like this week, they’re a real méli-mélo.


Méli-mélo is a great little expression that means a mish-mash, a mixed bag … and that’s just what I’m giving you this week. Another way to think of it is as a potpourri of different idées ou choses (ideas or things).

Sécher un cours / l’école

Sécher un cours / l’école is an old expression I remembered from my school days, but one that I had forgotten about until I heard it used in a podcast I was listening to this week on my drive to work. It’s origins go further back though to the days when les élèves (students) used de l’encre  (ink) in bottles to write with. If a student missed class, then their ink would sit idle and would sèche (dry out) … In American English would we say to play hooky or to skip school.

Tablette de chocolat

Who doesn’t like a good chocolate bar? I know I can’t resist one … which is why at presque 50 ans, j’ai des poignées d’amour! (almost 50, I have love handles!) But in the same way that one doesn’t associate beer with six-pack abs, this oxymoron of a French phrase refers to a tight, well-toned midriff. The phrase tablette de chocolat (chocolate bar) refers to a man’s ab muscles … as opposed to un bar de chocolat which is a simple chocolate bar. 


Podcasts (or as they are known in French-speaking Canada la baladodiffusion) can be a great way to practice your language skills. Two of my current favorites – which I’ll admit are probably best for advanced learners – are listed here.

Hondelatte raconte

Available online, du lundi au vendredi (From Monday to Friday) you can hear details of crimes, exploits, and adventures historical and contemporary from one of France’s most respected reporters and storytellers. Des histoires (stories) are reported and then dissected by Christophe et ses invités (and his [invited] guests).


On Hotmixradio, I can follow the latest releases from my favorite artistes français (French artists). In a long-format interview, you can go behind the scenes of your favorite French singers and learn about what lead them to their latest titres (titles, released songs).

Alain Chamfort, who sang about the lost sailing ship Manureva, was a guest recently which led me to download his latest album which is full of great songs. You can listen to / watch an extrait of his interview here. And si vous aimez les chats* (if you like cats) and pop, enjoy his latest single here.

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Image from [CC0].

* Si vous aimez vraiment les chats … et si vous aimez bien rire … check out this YouTube channel.

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris