Paris Trip Notes – Day 1

Today, I fly to France for a week of work.  What better way to capture memories of the trip than to create a blog post for each day.

Word(s) of the day:

Bonjour!HelloGreeting used for the daytime. When it gets later, you may use Bonsoir. Bon means good. Jour means day. Soir means evening.
Parlez-vous Anglais?Do you speak English?Pretty important when you’re in a country who’s language you don’t speak. I may also whip out the Je ne parlez pas francais which means, I don’t speak french.


France became a republic in 1792 as a result of the French Revolution against centuries of royal rule.  The Revolution started with the storming of the Bastille fortress on July 14th, 1789.  This event is celebrated every year all over France and is referred to as Bastille Day.

What is the Bastille, you ask?  (That’s what I asked.)

The Bastille was a political prison that was built in the late 1300’s to house criminals and enemies of the French state.

There were approximately 1000 revolutionaries that stormed the Bastille on that day and they were mostly craftsmen and store owners who lived in Paris.

The revolutionaries were members of a French social class called the Third Estate.   The First Estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the nobility.

The reason they stormed the Bastille was primarily due in large part to massive famine, and extremely high bread prices… Hold up… Bread?  They rioted and overthrew the government because of bread?

Yep.  As it turns out, in the late 1700’s, the average french citizen’s diet was made up primarily of bread and soup.  According to – Prior to 1788 the average french wage earner spent half their income on bread.  Then, in 1788 and 1789, the grain crops failed and the price of bread shot up to over 88 percent of the average wage earners income.

Apps I used for this trip

I don’t speak french… I should probably say that right out of the gate. So – I thought might be good to get an app to help me learn the basics. There are PLENTY. I really focused on the reviews. I tried several free apps, along with downloading several podcasts but became frustrated with the quality and approach. Eventually I settled on 2 that I really feel are valuable.

SpeakEasy French

This app is from a company called PocketGlow. More information is available from  

SpeakEasy French Navigation

There are two versions of this app… obviously, a free version and a paid version.  The free version did a great job for a very few number of phrases and words.  I liked the interface so I sprung for the paid version.  At $3.99, I must say it’s more than I usually spend so quickly – without more investigation but it hasn’t let me down.

The interface lets you navigation starting with categories of words, such as communication, emergency, borders/customs, etc.  I like this because the amount of time I have to memorize is limited.  Therefore, I’m more likely to need a reference in the moment.


Duolingo feels a bit childish… but I have to admit, it’s effective.  The repetition and multifaceted nature of the learning methods are very effective.

Not sure how much I’m retaining – but it feels like it’s working… will keep you posted on progress.

Photo of the Day

Mike in the Airport

Waiting for the first leg of the flight. From PHL to JFK, JFK to CDG

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