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The Serious Matter of French Handwriting

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Have you ever noticed the distinctive style of French handwriting? It's incredibly flouncy, flowing, very feminine, with its embellishment of swirls and loops. I first noticed this French oddity when I attended the Ecole de Commerce in Toulouse, where I was unable to blend into French-ness, in no short measure because of my accent but also because of my handwriting! It stuck out like a sore thumb! I could never be mistaken for being French with a handwriting style that broke all the rules of size, precision, and consistency. While incredibly beautiful, French handwriting style is uniform, the same for everyone,which is why I could never be sure if it was Stef sending me handwritten notes in class.

This is because kids in France are taught from infant age how to do joined-up writing. In England we teach how to write individual letter shapes first, but I'm not sure if we even teach how to join the letters together, preferring to let kids develop their own style. In France, no such freedom is allowed! The school environment remains very traditional in its approach, including l'écriture cursive. This is precise work. So precise that it requires special paper with grids to ensure students keep their writing straight and at the right height and size. School notebooks in France all contain this grid paper with the red line margin to the side - so teacher can scold you if your writing goes awry.

According to the French the benefits of this precise cursive writing style include:

* increasing fluidity and speed of writing - its 30-50% quicker than print writing

* it helps create the right spacing between words and so makes it easier to read

* it helps the student learn words rather than simply writing letters

* cursive handwriting also encourages students to remember the spellings of words by how they look and flow when written.

For these reasons handwriting lessons continue to form an integral part of the French curriculum from infant through to primary school.

Handwriting, les cahiers, schoolbooks with the grid paper are signs of Frenchness, just like, if not more so, than the beret, Breton stripe shirts, a Gauloise, strings of garlic, camembert and Beaujolais.

This is why we're having fun re-designing the French Living menu ready for your return (whenever that may be) taking inspiration from the French cahier, from French handwriting, French school teaching styles. We can't wait for you to smile when you open the pages of our new Menu, taking you back to school days, into the world of French pedagogy and of course tempting you with delicious French dishes.

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