A little bit of Balzac

Here is a part of the book I'm reading for learning French (La bourse), I think some useful stuff can be learned from a few sentances:

"En causant avec madame Leseigneur, car Hippolyte lui donna ce nom à tout hasard, il examina le salon, mais décemment et à la dérobée. Le foyer était si plein de cendres que l’on voyait à peine les figures égyptiennes des chenets en fer."

  • à tout hasard = on the off chance (just in case)
  • à la dérobée = on the sly (secretly)
  • causer = to talk (and to cause - other meaning)
  • cendre = ash (cinder)
  • foyer = hearth (fireplace), synonims âtre and cheminée
  • chenet = firedog (a thing for holding logs in place)

I hope this will be useful for someone.

P.S. I didn't know most of these words and expressions in English or French, so I thought I'd share them with everyone who wants to improve both languages :)

December 9, 2014


A duo. friend and I just finished reading Père Goriot by Balzac. Yes, it was very old fashioned, but not impossible to figure out. It was also very interesting!

December 10, 2014

Wow! That must have been time consuming and useful. An audio book is 10 hours long, read by a french... Congratulations!

December 10, 2014

Interesting ! But don't forget this is a very old text, and some of the expressions are rarely used today. "Chenet" or "à la dérobée" would sound weird when speaking to French people :)

Sorry for my English, I'm not a native :)

December 9, 2014

Maybe I should read something more modern, but I like imagining what life was like a couple of centuries ago. And now i will think of an egyptian firedog when drinking J.P. Chenet :)

PS Your English is great, no need to apologize! :)

December 9, 2014

When I read "foyer" my mind automatically associated it with our English use of the word, and I went, "what? 'The foyer was so full of ashes'?"

In that sentence, à tout hazard, doesn't actually mean "on the off chance," it means "at random," like the English word "haphazard."

Here's a favourite snippet of Balzac, en français, from a biography I read in English,

Il faut toujours bien faire ce qu'on fait, même une folie.

December 9, 2014

Did anyone else read this like 'A little bit of ball sack'? lol

The top three ill definitely try to remember, thanks for the post ^^

December 10, 2014
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