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January 2007
French Accent Magazine, January 2007

January's Issue

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This is France
In January: Let's share the "galette des rois"!

En janvier, une excellente occasion de se faire des contacts est d’inviter ses voisins à partager la galette des rois. Dans la tradition française ancestrale, le 6 janvier, date de l’épiphanie (fête célébrant l’arrivée des trois rois mages auprès de l’enfant Jésus), il était de coutume de déguster un gâteau, ou galette des rois. Aujourd’hui cette origine religieuse est très secondaire, et la galette des rois, qui se consomme en dessert, ou l’après-midi, est devenue bien davantage un moyen de célébrer la nouvelle année en famille, avec des amis, des voisins, ou des collègues de travail. Et la fête s'étire pratiquement du 1er au 31 janvier. Il existe plusieurs formes et types de galettes dans les pâtisseries de tout le pays, mais celles qui sont peut-être les plus appréciées sont farcies à la frangipane.

Tirer les rois est un moment très festif, surtout parce que dans chaque galette est cachée au moins une fève (une figurine en porcelaine). La personne qui découvre la fève dans sa part de galette devient le roi, ou la reine, du groupe. Il/elle doit alors poser sur sa tête la couronne en papier doré fournie par le pâtissier avec la galette, et tout le monde s'exclame : Vive le roi ! ou Vive la reine !...

The month of January offers a wonderful occasion to make new contacts by inviting one’s neighbours to share the “galette des rois”. In the ancient French tradition, on the 6th of January, the date of the epiphany (the celebration of the arrival of the Three Wise Men — or kings — to visit the newborn baby Jesus), it was the custom to eat a cake, or “galette des rois”. Today, the religious origins of the day are secondary, and the “galette”, which is eaten as a dessert, or in the afternoon, has mostly become a way to celebrate the New Year with one’s family, friends, neighbours or colleagues at work. And the celebration lasts almost from January 1st to 31st. One can find several forms and types of “galettes” in pastry shops all over France, but the ones that are probably the most sought after are filled with “frangipane” (a sort of almond cream).

"Tirer les rois” (literally to “draw the kings”, is the highlight of the event, especially since inside each cake is hidden at least one “fève” (a small porcelain figure). The person who finds the “fève” in his/her piece of “galette” becomes the king, or the queen, of the party. He/She must then put on his/her head the crown made of gilded paper which the “pâtissier” provides with the cake, and everybody exclaims: “Vive le roi!” or “Vive la reine!” (“Long live the king/queen!”).

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Le roi et la reine

[…] Je suis la galette, la galette,
Je suis faite avec le blé ramassé dans le grenier
On m'a mise à refroidir mais j'ai mieux aimé
Attrape moi si tu peux !

La galette est préparée, cuite à point et bien dorée
Près de la table dressée les enfants sont là
Qui sera la reine ?
Qui sera le roi ?
Est-ce toi ?
Est-ce moi ?
La galette est partagée, les convives désignés
Mais la fève est bien cachée ! Qui la trouvera ?

Comptine, lue par Alexandra

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A few French TV Programmes

Watching TV is well-known for being a good way to learn a little French, and especially to understand better the pronunciation. Here are a few suggestions for TV programmes which may be more suitable for this purpose.

This cool and relaxed broadcast, which means “Tele Morning” and shown on France 2, is “on” every weekday morning from 6:30 to 8:45. It is composed of a short news report every half hour, weather forecasts, with the rest of the time devoted to other short stories often grouped around a particular theme: gardening, cooking, books, consumer news, travel, movies, and several items presented by different journalists who take their turn talking about each subject. The graphics and visual aids used makes it much easier to understand.

“Des chiffres et des lettres”
This is probably the most popular and the oldest (it was created in 1972) televised game. As its title suggests, “Des chiffres et des lettres” (numbers and letters) consists of two parts: making easy mental calculations, and composing words from a selection of letters. The latter is by far the most interesting as a language learning tool. It is broadcast on France 3 every working day (Monday through Friday) at 17:30, and is also reproduced by TV5Monde.

“France 24”
This is a new 24-hour International TV news channel which is designed to compete with CNN and BBC International News but also to present a French perspective on world news. What is interesting for Anglophones willing to learn French is that it is broadcast on two different channels, one in English and the other in French. As the same stories are shown simultaneously on both channels and at several times during the day, it might be useful to watch them in both languages, one after the other, to make sure you understand the content and pick up some tips on pronunciation. As this channel is geared to an international audience, it is accessible in France only by satellite, cable (in some cities) or through some internet ADSL providers. You can find explicit information about receiving the two channels on the France 24 website: Click on Comment recevoir la chaîne at the bottom of the home page.

French Accent Magazine - January 07

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