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Posts tagged ‘French Territory’

No. 97-98: Flowers and Plants of Martinique

logo-villes-et-villages-fleurisMartinique is bursting with flowers and most of their cities are designated villes fleuries. I think they should go one step further and designate the whole of Martinique as a “flower and plant island”. The diversity of flower and plant life on this tiny island knocks my socks off. Take a look (and hold on to your socks).

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Vocabulaire:

villes fleuries:  literally flowered villages/cities; a designation given by the French government (since the 1950s) to cities and towns in France that foster not only beautiful flowers, but also improve the quality of city life and make newcomers feel welcome; the designation is based on a four flower rating system.

No. 96: une grève: a strike

Yesterday we had big plans. We were going to drive the length of the island and see what we could see. Trunk packed with hiking shoes and guidebooks, maps and mosquito spray, rain gear and beachwear, we were ready for anything.

Anything, that is, except une grève.

The French are famous for their strikes, and it appears that Martinique is no exception. Unfortunately the strike involves gasoline and all the gas stations were/are closed. Of course, our tank was nearly empty.

Because we are on holiday, we have not been listening to the news, so we had no idea this was coming, but as it turns out, neither did the Martiniquais. Usually in France, the strikes are announced ahead of time (and often you even know exactly how long they will last), but this one was not. Sprung upon the island, on the day most mainland French vacanciers were arriving and expecting rental cars with full tanks of gas, this one was/is a proper and effective strike.

So, you may ask, how do I turn une grève into something I love about France? The girls had the same question. The answer: forced relaxation.

With no gas in the tank and no place to go, we were forced to head to the small local beach and spend the day resting, talking and laughing, playing cards, reading and eating ice cream, watching the locals’ picnic and play with their beautiful families and remember how lucky we are to have each other.

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Fun family time. The silver lining to une grève.

Vocabulaire

une grève: a strike

vacanciers: vacationers

No. 92: The Houses of Martinique

The colors of Martinique are a refreshing break from the black of Paris. These brilliant color choices make me smile. How about you?

No. 88: French People Who Speak French Slowly

IMG_2804Oh, how I love when the French speak French slowly. Every time I leave Paris and travel around France my confidence gets a boost when I realize I actually know more French than the hard knock Parisians have led me to believe.

It is such a relief to be on the Island of Martinique, the French territory off the coast of Venezuela.  Obviously it’s a relief for many of the normal reasons: work stress, school stress, family dysfunction, etc. The whole tropical-island-paradise-thing certainly helps out with that. But the real relief is being removed from cranky French people, who definitely don’t count patience as a virtue, and wouldn’t dare crack a smile if their life depended on it.

It is a welcome respite to be in a part of France where French isn’t the chosen language, but the colonial language, and where the people are quite happy to have you stumble along in French, so pleased that you are trying.

The Martiniquais don’t seem to give a rat’s patootie if you make a mistake. Their patience is immense, their smiles are large and they seem to have all the time in the world to let you mangle their not so precious language.

Most importantly they speak S-L-O-W-L-Y. And slow is so very appreciated by us not so fluent speakers.