La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.
Over the years, The Local has produced several numeric lists narrowing down the ‘best of’ something in France or French-related, so for this edition of La Belle Vie, I figured we could start with a countdown of sorts.
First up – the 10 best musicians to check out as a French learner. Listening to music in a foreign language can be a great way to familiarise yourself with pronunciation, plus it helps learn all the fun slang you may not be taught in an official course.
In early high school, one of my preferred activities in French class was when the teacher would put on a YouTube video of a French singer and hand us a fill-in-the-blank sheet. It is for this reason that the Stromae song ‘Papaoutai’ will forever hold a special place in my heart.
The 10 best singers to listen to if you’re learning French
Summer is undeniably my favourite season in France, so it’s hard to narrow the list down to just nine great things. With the sun rising early and setting late, the weekends feel longer and the workdays feel shorter. It is the best time of year to explore all of the nature France has to offer – from lakes and oceans to mountains.
Museums offer a cool respite from the hot sun and fresh fruit stands line the streets of French cities and towns. With festivals and outdoor celebrations plentiful, summer really is the best time of year in France.
9 of the best things about summer in France
With a long coastline, there are tons of beaches to choose from in France, and if you’re far from the sea don’t worry – many of them are inland. In France, it is common to have a sandy beach for swimming set up along lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
If you are feeling a bit of option-overload, you can start with the Blue Flag beach guide, or Blue Flag in French. This classification is only given out to beaches that meet and maintain stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria. The flag guarantees clean beaches and marinas, excellent quality bathing water, and demonstrable efforts towards sustainable tourism and environmental awareness.
This year, the Blue Flag announced that eight new French beaches have been added to the list that already counts over 400 across France.
Discover France’s eight new blue flag beaches
If you are planning to stay in Paris this summer, you can also enjoy a beach. Each summer, the city puts on ‘Paris beaches‘ along the banks of the Seine and the Canal d’Ourcq. While there won’t be any sand, there will be lawn chairs and entertainment. Plus, you can even take a dip in the designated swimming area in the canal (if you’re brave enough).
Otherwise, head underground to explore some of Paris’ most interesting Metro stations. The Local picked seven of the coolest ones, featuring intricate word puzzles on the walls to artwork and even secret film sets.
Art and puzzles: 7 of Paris’ coolest Metro stations
Ten, nine, eight, seven…five? I’m skipping ahead in the countdown because this weekend represents an important anniversary: 100 years since the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance car race. France has a very long history of car racing – some might even go so far as calling it the homeland of motor vehicle racing. That’s because France was the location of the first organised automobile competition in 1894, which went from Paris to Rouen.
If you, like me, did not know much about this competition (aside from the Hollywood film Ford v Ferrari), then you might be interested in learning five key facts about the race that attracts tens of thousands to the small city of Le Mans every year.
24 hours of Le Mans – 5 things to know about France’s famous car race
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