The Little Prince.





French Keyboards

I’m not the greatest typist and I’m not a perfect speller, even in English, but when I started my French learning journey officially in January 2015 I decided that I was going to try and use the proper accents when typing.

I found early on that you can get away with not using accents when typing French. The French online dictionaries still recognize a word even without the proper accents, however I knew deep in my heart that this would be taking a shortcut and if I let myself get away with too many shortcuts I was going to end up a really sloppy French learner.

So I found some PC shortcuts for typing French accents.



I found that there are really two different sets of [Alt]+ codes for typing French accents. One set involves holding down [Alt]+ and then typing four numbers .

The other involves holding down [Alt]+ and typing three numbers.

(I use to work in I.T. so I can kind of understand this. Geek programmers like reinventing the wheel  every time they design a car. This why each new version of Windows and Office are so completely different than the last. The Nerdy programmers don’t care if you have to spend a week retraining your entire staff each time there is an upgrade. And when we use to explain it to them in the  company that I worked for that it would be better if the new version had a similar look and feel to the last version, they just didn’t get it. So anyway there are two different sets of [Alt]+ codes for typing French accents {maybe more}).

The other day, I asked some French Friends how they typed French accents. The secret is that the French have a completely different Keyboard to the English speaking countries.

The French use what is called the AZERTY-keyboard. Whereas the English keyboard is often called the QWERTY keyboard because of the first six letters on the top line starting from the left. The AZERTY was named in the same way.

The letters are in a different order and the numbers key double as Accented Letter Keys. In fact, the default setting of the numbers keys on a French Keyboard are Accented Letters. In order to type numbers you must hold down the [Shift] key.

In search of Lost Bread – French Toast Recipes.

The French term for “French toast” is “Pain Perdu”
(pronounced = pan per-do)

Pain = is bread
Perdu = lost

So French toast, pain perdu, is “lost bread”.

“But why is it lost?” I hear you ask.

Lost bread is bread that is a day or so old and has gone stale and hard. The recipe for French toast is a way of saving this otherwise ‘lost bread’.

When I was in college, French toast was the quick and easy way to make pancakes. Mix an egg in a bowl with some milk. Dunk some bread in the mixture. Cook the soggy bread like a pancake. Eat with butter and maple syrup.

1 egg
1 dash of milk
2 or more slices of bread
Mix well in a large bowl large enough to fit a piece of bread.
Fry in a frying pan. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

French Toast photo by Ralph Daily
French Toast photo by Ralph Daily

(By the way my Scottish friends were horrified when I told them I put maple syrup on my French toast.
“Syrup on eggs?!?”
The British often have tomato sauce (a.k.a ketchup) on French toast.)

The worlds best Pain Perdu

When in Paris a few years ago a friend took us out to breakfast at a very fancy Hotel called Le Bristol. If you have seen the movie “Paris at Midnight” the Hotel in the movie is Le Bristol. In the movie there is even a shot of the foyer of the Bristol near where we had breakfast.

The breakfast was a sort of spur of the moment thing so I wasn’t really dressed for a Five Star restaurant. So I was a bit nervous as I felt completely out of place in my travel cloths.

A little voice in my head kept asking, “What was I doing is such a fancy hotel.”

There were three waiters standing around us, maybe even more, as there may have been a few extra waiters standing behind me as well, but I was too nervous to turn around and check. These guys were completely poised for action watching every move we made. I felt that any minute I was going to give away the fact that I wasn’t really a millionaire’s son, and they were going to jump on me and toss me out.

But they were all so nice and helpful. Waiters in posh places are trained to make on feel comfortable.

I relaxed a little as I looked around and saw that there were other dinners dressed as casually like myself. And I soon realized that the waiters were there to jump in at a moment’s notice and get us whatever we wanted. They really were really 100% focused on the patrons of the restaurant. I’ve never seen such service.

Don’t ask me how much the meal cost I really don’t know but it was wonderful. Thank you Evelyn!

The Hôtel Le Bristol foyer from "Midnight in Paris".
The Hôtel Le Bristol foyer from “Midnight in Paris”.

My daughter ordered a French toast/pain perdu, and when it came it was divine. It was like a completely different food group than the French toast I had made in college. I find it really difficult to describe. It was made  from big thick pieces of bread, yet it was so soft and moist taste. I don’t know if it was fried or cooked very lightly. It was sprinkled with powdered sugar and thinly sliced strawberries.

There was a little crystal container of maple syrup on the plate (for us Americans). The pain perdu tasted almost like a very moist cake.


One of the earliest references to Pain perdu in English is from a cookbook printed in 1430. In the cookbook it is called “Payn perdu”. Payn perdu is described as a recipe for bread that’s sliced, dipped in eggs, fried in butter and then sprinkled with a little bit of sugar.

American’s first First Lady Martha Washington wrote about the history of Payn Perdu in her “Booke of Cookery”.

She wrote that, “the English early took to Payn Perdu and made it theirs.  It was rarely omitted from a cookbook, usually listed under ‘made dishes’.”
(Made dishes’ are any dish that amuses the cook or shows off her skill.)

There are any number of recipes. Some include a bit of sugar, and or nutmeg and or cinnamon and some even include a dash of wine.

The Egyptian King and Queen

It took a while, but everyone was so friendly at Le Bristol that my worries about the waiter change to feeling sorry for them having to stand so attentively. Then to rationalizing that they were being paid well for their troubles and I was finally able to stop thinking about them and enjoy the breakfast.

That’s when things got really strange.

Behind my family I suddenly saw a white fluffy cat strutting through the middle of the restaurant. The cat was followed very closely by a woman wearing the Hotel uniform and carrying a walkie-talkie. The cat stopped and the woman stopped. The cat started moving again slowly and the woman followed at the same pace.

This was something one might see in a cartoon. The cat had it’s own P.A. I pointed the cat out to my family and we watched it strut by. To this day this is one of the things we talk about the most when we tell people about our trip to Paris. The cat at the Hotel Le Bristol.

“Who was this cat?” We wondered.

“Maybe it belonged to a rich guest.”

“Maybe it really the owner of the hotel.”

We began to snicker among ourselves at the possibilities. The cat and it’s P.A. walked on through the restaurant and disappeared into the foyer.

Later I spoke to the concierge and she explained that the cats name was Fa-raon (Pharaoh) and he belonged to the hotel.  Fa-raon even had his own chair in the corner of the foyer, where he was curled up when we left.

Fa-raon the cat.
Fa-raon the cat.

Looking up the hotel on google, I found their webpage where there is even a page of pictures of Fa-raon who now has a little friend named Kléopatre (Cleopatra).

It was a very memorable morning. And even though I can’t prove it I am still convinced that Fa-raon is the true owner of Le Bristol Paris. (At least in his mind) and who knows he might have inherited the hotel from his former master.


Looking around on the web, I’ve found any number of recipes for French toast. I’ve given my bachelor version. I can only just imagine what ingredients Le Bristol hotel Paris used to maker their amazing Pain Perdu. After reading a number of pages looking for the best recipes I’ve decided that I don’t want to violate anyone’s copyright. So I have made a list of the most common ingredients and added a few of what appears to be the most interesting additives to the basic ingredients of Pain Perdu.


Bread: Thick cut bread works better as it doesn’t fall apart as easily.
Many chefs still recommend  that you use day-old bread. Leave bread out overnight until it is hard.
Stale bread is said to soak up the batter without falling apart.

Ingredients for the French toast batter
-Eggs (the number depends on how many people you are cooking for)
– Milk or cream
Possible Additional ingredients

After the French toast is cooked you can add:
-Powdered Sugar
-Fresh Fruit (Strawberries and or Blueberries are nice)
– Maple syrup
– HP or Tomato sauce (if you are from the UK)

Bon Chance & Good Luck


Welcome to My Learning French page

I’m not a language expert, however I’ve always wanted to learn other languages.  I’m not someone for whom language learning comes easy. I see language learning as an adventure of words, sights, tastes, and sounds.

This blog is an exploration of different languages, starting with French and different learning styles. I have discovered quite a few hacks and tricks on the way to learning my first second language, and I will be sharing them with you.

We will also be talking about culture and history while we learn. Because you can’t just learn a language without learning about the many cultures that go along with that language.


Todd LeMay
14 October 2016