Six Canadian Anglophones in a French tourist spot on Lac d’Annecy. It’s a sort of Club Med on the cheap, and we’re delighted to be immersed in the French language and culture. After all that’s what we came for.
Each of us speak some French and can get by in most conversations. We’ve come here for a few weeks to improve our linguistic skills. Our instructor is a French woman who lives in Canada, but has family in the area; she’s a perfect guide. Our mornings are spent in a classroom setting; but it’s our afternoons that are the most fun. We visit local points of interest—there are many, from Chamonix to Mont Blanc to Annecy. We interact with locals and enjoy the food and the wine.
This is a working holiday? I don’t think so. But work we do. The most interesting aspect of our learning is the vocabulary not found in dictionaries. One fine day we’re out on the terrace of our classroom learning body parts. We want to know how to say things like beer belly, love handles, and well endowed. Our instructor is about to answer this last when we hear a cackle from the 92 year-old French woman on the terrace next to ours.
“In my day,” she says, “we said, ‘il y a du monde sur le balcon.” Translaltion – the balcony is full.