Learn French Culture with Netflix: L’Agence (Part 2)

Salut!

L’Agence (L’Immobilier de luxe en famille) (= The Parisian Agency, in international release) is a mix of French glamour, and real French culture.

It should be right up your alley! You’ll get to daydream about all these giant luxury houses, and hear some typical everyday spoken French.

Today, I want to tell you more about how the show represents French culture, better than some other shows. To give you some insights and explanation from a French point of view.

Are you ready? C’est parti !

Summary
1) The Parisian Agency and French Television
2) The Parisian Agency and the Kretz apartment
3) The Parisian Agency: Clothes and cultural background
4) The Parisian Agency: Everyday spoken French
5) The Parisian Agency: Everyday spoken French with Majo and Sandrine
6) The Parisian Agency: Vocabulary review

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1) The Parisian Agency and French Television

The show follows the Kretz family, who started une agence immobilière, a real estate agency. It was produced for the French channel TMC, owned by the much bigger channel TF1. So it’s done by French people for the French audience.

Of course, it can’t be 100% authentic:

  • It’s a big advertisement for the Kretz agency. → There are things they probably won’t show. But it still gets personal and touching and funny.
  • They’re all very wealthy. → Especially the clients! It’s about luxury real estate after all. And the Kretz themselves are better-off than the average French person.
  • It’s a TV show. → Even though it’s a “reality show,” it’s still somewhat scripted. And the Kretz aren’t all always great actors.

Despite these points, they all do speak everyday spoken French, though! And the family really grows on you as the show goes on.

It’s still a good window into authentic French culture, for everyday life in French middle and upper-class. They do look and talk like people I personally know!

TF1 originally meant “Télévision Française 1”, as it’s broadcast on the channel “1” on French television. It’s a private station (not a state channel like the ones in France Télévision) and the biggest channel and group on the French audiovisual landscape.

2) The Parisian Agency and the Kretz apartment

We get to see the Kretz family apartment, in Boulogne-Billancourt. It’s right next to Paris. Their flat is more relatable than the luxury housing they’re selling – but it’s still impressive, and probably expensive with its location.

La cuisine (= their kitchen) really feels like a typical home, though! It might be a bit bigger than average, but you can see the soja sauce and les épices (= spices) that you’ll find in any French supermarket. As well as les confitures (= jams).

In the kitchen and le salon (= the living room) / la salle à manger (= the dining room), they’re sharing their meals together – like French people do. French meals are social events.

And notice that they do la bise as well, even between male friends or family.

Click here to learn more : French Culture Lesson — La Bise

— The extra mile: Boulogne-Billancourt and Parisian area —

Boulogne-Billancourt used to be a city for les ouvriers, the blue-collar workers in factories for Renault (French car-maker.) It’s part of la petite couronne (“the little crown”), the ring of cities surrounding Paris.

We also say:

  • la région parisienne (the Parisian area) for the entire urban area,
  • la banlieue for the suburbs (especially the less well-off ones),
  • l’Île-de-France (“The French island” that’s not an actual island) for the extensive administrative region of Paris and its area.

I used to live in Boulogne for the first seven years of my life! In a simple two-room flat, though. And before a big boom in real estate prices in Paris and its area.

3) The Parisian Agency: Clothes and cultural background

The Kretz are dressed well, with probably very nice clothes too, but nothing out of what you’ll see on everyday French people in cities. It’s not a Dior fashion show, but they still take care of their appearance of course. It’s really everyday clothes for high-middle to upper class French people.

The dad Olivier has his own “cool dad” style, with that polo and sweater.
The mom Sandrine regularly wear clothes that look like they were made for younger people – but she pulls it off! It’s her own style. I like how she doesn’t hide her age either, and doesn’t always have to tidiest hair. She looks fantastic just like that! Just like many real French women.

Later in the trailer we get shots of places that French people know are expensive:

  • Paris XVI (or le seizième arrondissement de Paris) is the most expensive neighborhood of the capital.
  • Montmartre is mentioned with a cute typical Parisian city house, with a hidden courtyard with vines and roses and a blue door. It’s not a big spectacle – but we know its location must be very expensive! And they don’t show le Sacré-Cœur, the nearby basilica that’s a big tourist attraction.

4) The Parisian Agency: Everyday spoken French

The Kretz and their clients speak the everyday spoken French that I tell you about in my lessons!
For instance, a wealthy woman uses the informal French C’est dingue ! (= That’s crazy!) You can see how any French person can use this kind of everyday spoken French!

Click here to learn more about “dingue” and other informal vocabulary: Fast Spoken French: Understanding French Slang

At another point, the brothers are in a heated discussion. One of them says:

Je ne te gueule pas dessus, c’est juste que tu arrives la gueule enfarinée sans solution.
= I’m not screaming at you, it’s just that you’re coming here with a naive look on our face without any solution.

Though he actually pronounces:
J’te gueule pas d’ssus, c’est juste que t’arrives la gueule enfarinée sans solution.”
→ In fast spoken French, the “ne” often gets dropped, and vowels disappear.

Click here to learn more: Understanding Spoken French — Eating Letters?

Also, “la gueule” technically means the mouth of an animal. In everyday informal French, it’s also a human mouth or face – but it’s a mild swear word. Same thing for “gueuler” (= to scream, to recriminate.)

It’s not elegant, you wouldn’t want a child to use it and you probably shouldn’t either – but brothers in an argument would absolutely say it. And it’s mild enough for French TV.

La gueule enfarinée = having the face full of flour (literally), having a sheepish look on your face, looking like a klutz.

5) The Parisian Agency: Everyday spoken French with Majo and Sandrine

The show follows several generations of the family. So you can hear the real spoken French from people with different ages. They can all use the same expressions! Informal spoken French is not reserved to young people!

The mom Sandrine says, talking about her mother Majo:
“Dans ma carrière, en fait, j’ai jamais vu un lieu aussi insolite de ma vie, donc (euh), j’pense que Majo va pas être déçue.”
= “In my career, actually, I’ve never seen such an unusual place in my life, so I think Majo won’t be disappointed.”

→ She drops the “ne” of “je n’ai jamais vu” / “Majo ne va pas”, she eats the “e” in “je pense”, and she adds the filler word “euh” when looking for her next words.

Later, Majo says, when finding that an old chapel has been turned into a garage:

“Je suis pas très voiture de course, mais enfin, comme je suis pas très non plus prière…”
= I’m not really into sports cars, but well, since I’m not really into praying either…

→ She dropped the “ne” from both “je ne suis pas” (the grammatically correct version), she pronounced “Je suis” as “Chuis” (that’s very common!)

And she used the expression :
“Je suis (pas) très [X]” → Je suis pas très voiture. Je suis pas très prière.
= “I’m (not) really [X]” (literally)
= “I’m (not) really into [X], I’m (not) fond of [doing X.]”

(For example: Je suis très viande rouge. = I’m really fond of red meat. )

Je suis pas très non plus prière is a whole mess of informal French grammar. Correct French would be Je ne suis pas non plus très intéressée par la prière, so you see how informal French is faster.

That’s the kind of fast spoken French that you’ll hear in France, and that you’ll find in my lessons too!

L’Agence – L’immobilier de luxe en famille does give you an example of real spoken French for all ages, and a good look at one side of everyday French culture.

But most of all, it’s a pretty fun show! The family really grew on me as it went on, and you get to see pretty cool places and landscapes, in a way that didn’t make me cringe like Emily in Paris for instance. I had fun watching the first season, so if it looks like something you’d be into, check it out – it might be on Netflix in your country.

6) The Parisian Agency: Vocabulary review

Now let’s review some vocabulary that we’ve seen today! Like:
Une agence immobilière = a real estate agency
Une confiture = fruit jam
Une bise = a small kiss for greetings, that we often do in the air while touching our cheeks together.
Un arrondissement de Paris = one of the twenty official Parisian neighborhoods

Le Sacré-Cœur = Literally “The Sacred Heart”, it’s that giant church in Montmartre, that was built to celebrate the bloody repression of the Parisian Commune. The œ (“e dans l’o”) is pronounced like “eu”.

Elle est déçue. = She’s disappointed (not “deceived”!).
Je suis pas très [voitures]. = Literally, it means “I’m not very cars.” It’s an informal French expression! For “I’m not really into [cars].”

And now you can go watch the show, or check out another lesson!

Click on a link to get to your next lesson, with video and full written transcripts. For free of course!

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!


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