Is French an ugly language?

     Few things are as alluring as a French girl’s accent when speaking English. (Likewise, it’s hard to imagine an unpopular French girl in America.) I have a friend in France named Carine Veugeois, and the two or three times we have spoken on the phone, I beg her to say “Carine Veugeois” over and over again. I can’t hear it enough. It’s great. It’s probably why she asks me not to call anymore.
     But actual French as spoken in France and here in Switzerland is surprisingly different. It can sound awfully coarse and harsh. It may just be all context, as what would I mostly hear on the streets but the loudest, most boorish, least mellifluous people?
     You’d think that all the smoking would give their voices a nice, dusky, Tom Waits quality, but it’s hit and miss. I contend the dour black clothes adversely influences the speech, too, or maybe it’s my mood when it’s 28C(82F) outside and people are dressed like they are going to spend the weekend in a cave.

     Switzerland might be the only country I ever have visited where I have no idea what the exchange rate is. Well, I have an idea, as it was about 1 franc = $1.20 three months ago when I was here last, but I haven’t checked it since. All I know is that a dollar is worth less than a franc, which is enough to put me in a near-catatonic stupor looking at Swiss supermarket prices.
     I’m thankful I have the chance to cook. If I had to count on a “deal” like this every day from a fast food restaurant, not even hearing “Carine Veugeois” multiple times would cheer me up.

     Now even parking is divided along class lines? Quelle horreur!

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Is French an ugly language? — 7 Comments

  1. Kent,

    Since you gave me such good advice about eating in Penang, I figured I’d return the favor by giving you the best, cheapest (a relative term in Switzerland) place in Lausanne. Make your way to Jackie’s, a sandwich shop located here at Rue du Maupas 6, 1004 Lausanne, right up the road from Parc Mon Repos. The sandwich de poulet is to die for, and the best part? 7 francs. Yes, to people in the rest of the world, this might seem outlandish, but after throwing away 15 francs on a McDonald’s value meal, I’m sure you can appreciate the real “value” at Jackie’s. Just make sure to get there early, as the line begins to grow by leaps and bounds around noon. And if you decide to become a regular (it is hard not), he’ll even save you some steak for a steak sandwich if he knows you are coming back tomorrow.

    Second best piece of advice I can give you: If you are deciding to drink in Lausanne (another expensive proposition), head to the Great Escape and their “happy hour”. Granted, it is really 2 half hours (I believe 6:00-6:30 and 9:00-9:30) but drinks are half price (3.50 franc vs 7 franc). Even better, the outside patio area where everyone congregates is not technically part of the bar, meaning you can bring your own beers there, sit and hang out with everyone while drinking Anker (or if you are really brave, Gran Prix) for 1.50 franc and then just head inside during happy hour, load up on the cheaper prices, and afterwards, head back out to the patio. If you do happen to go and see a blonde Swiss bartender named Zara, tell her Travis said hi!

  2. Kent, I can’t understand why you visit these places. There are greedy zombies there who will bite through your neck if you run out of money. Really. :)))
    A 2-week-stay there (even if you couchsurf) gets you a good 2 or 3 month stay in Paraguay or in the Philippines (totally opposite sides of the globe).

    Leave the land of decadence and go on with your life-long travel.
    After the 5th of October, I will be able to give you a small donation which will be enough to get the hell out of there. To Tbilisi, Georgia, maybe.

    Just heard of a place where accomodation is EUR 15.- and wine (as much as you can drink. really) is included) Interested?.

  3. I hear you, brother, but my friends are in these expensive places!
    Was the 15 euros a trick question? Is it Hungary? Persze! What is happening Oct 5? Bank robbery? Don’t donate to me; you need it more than I do for your legal defense fund. I will visit you in jail, I promise!

  4. Got your mail. Yes, if you’ve got things to do there, it’s a whole different scenario.
    Switzerland – sorry to say, I am not intending to hurt the Swiss readers of this blog – is the most boring country on this globe IMHO. And very expensive, too.
    Kent, thanks for refusing my humble offer to donate you, now I don’t have to to the bank job. You DID wait until the last minute but you wrote me just in time, anyway. The job was due on Monday so I can and will cancel it. 🙂
    The hostel in Georgia where a one-night-stay includes any amount of wine you’re able to drink costs EUR 5.- actually, not 15.- A much better deal, yes?
    Drawback: the place is packed with very drunk Japanese and Korean tourists and as a person who has sleeping issues, maybe it’s not for you. You know what happens to the Japanese if you give them unlimited booze for free. 🙂
    If you understand a little Hungarian, read the blog entry here:

    There are some good entries in English as well… My fav is about the Iranian underground culture and this one: about the illegal border crossing between Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    Have a nice read and good luck with your travels.

  5. One more thing I forgot to add:
    I am Hungarian, yes. Moreover, I am an attorney-at-law here in Hungary.
    So if you happen to come back to your 2nd (or 3rd, 4th) home, I will gladly arrange you a prison visit at some rough places (e.g. Venyige utca prison In Budapest). Though, It’s not that funny.

    I remember myself visiting Tihar Jail in Delhi, India in 2007 during my travels. Previously I had thought that it would be one of my highlights of my trip but it wasn’t. It was interesting but well…I could have spent my time much better.

  6. I am always interested in a prison visit, thanks! It’s impressive you made it to an Indian prison. Just sightseeing, were you? Was it hard to arrange?

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