As well as being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Paris is also a place where you can sit for hours over a strong coffee and watch the world go by. Despite a reputation for hyperactivity that is faithful to the Gallic spirit, France also encourages contemplation and sensual pleasures…
For the eyes, France is a veritable treasure trove of exquisite architecture and historical sites. It also boasts an ever-changing and varied countryside that, from the regions on the Mediterranean to the plains of the North, beckons you out into the open air. On the outskirts of Nice, for example, people flock to visit the sites that inspired the painters of the early 20th century. For the taste buds…not much needs to be said on teh matter as French cuisine, which is famous throughout the world, speaks for itself. France is the country of local delicacies and age-old secret recipes passed down through generations. Bread, wine and cheese: the trinity that every family pays homage to daily. And there is no question of being content with a steak-frites… for fear of committing an act of blasphemy! Finally, the pleasure of the spirit. The French language is a source of passion for the French. From Molière to Serge Gainsbourg, French poets have always drawn from a wide range of daily French expressions which add colour and richness to phrasing. The French film industry, one of the most independent in the world, also showcases the French language in all its nuances. French people may come across as impatient at times, but prove to be great listeners who, out of love for their country, want visitors to discover all its beauties, among which the French language will always occupy an important place.
From the time of the troubadours and trouvères who sang fin’amor to the present day, via the Parisian salons – places filled with animated conversation and seduction in the 17th and 18th centuries – French has always been considered as the language of love. But before becoming the favourite language of Japanese students, the most Germanic of romance languages was first the language of Paris.
Brief history of the Parisian language
50 years after the arrival of the first Roman legions in Provence (120BC), the people of Gaul abandoned their Celtic language for Latin. Through use, the latter underwent profound modifications but it still was not French.
In the 3rd century, the Franks (initially engaged as mercenaries by the Roman army) occupied the North and Gaul. Two centuries later, the Alamanni settled in the East (with a language which is still in use today: Alsatian). It all began with the Franks’ conversion to Catholicism following their leader Clovis (498). From then on a Latin/Germanic bilingualism established itself which was the real turning point when the first material of the French language was coined. This Germanic influence can be found in numerous domaines: the semantic field of colours was completely renewed; the numerous nouns relating to the fields of war, construction, the sea, clothing, domestic life, cookery, rural life and animals; numerous verbs and the form of toponyms, principally in Northern France, are also of Germanic origin.
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