All roads lead to Paris

Sometimes you wake up and wonder  what got you to where you are. I have this thought frequently, but notably so when I wake up for my 9 am French Translation class. I haven't taken a class this earlier since Freshman year, when I lived steps from the classroom. That class was also nowhere near as hard as translation. But I digress. Never would I have thought myself to be taking a class on translation. Especially after two and a half years of French only. In actuality, its probably the best class I can take. It combines grammar and vocab in what is most likely its least boring application. That is to say, not mindlessly repetitive exercises. It makes up for that in its difficulty. But I am highly positive on it.

There's a lot of intricate details to translation, which I've pondered before. Words and ideas tend to translate far from directly.

We came across a glorious example today. The phrase to be translate (from English to French) had to do with French professors moving out of Paris to the province to live with their families. I used the world banlieue which refers to a suburb, which I thought made sense. However, we learned that in France, everything part of the land that is not Paris proper is considered the province (not to be confused with the region in the SE, Provence). Coincidentally, all major highways lead to Paris, which unfortunately is too far north to be perfectly central. In a quick glance at the map, nothing of note is perfectly central - aka on the large scale map I looked it, there was nothing.

Here's the map of French Autoroutes to demonstrate: Fun fact about French autoroutes quickly. To encourage the arts in, all public building projects must spend one percent of their budget on art. That can be paintings for a building, an interesting facade, or in the case of most freeways, an [ugly] postmodern sculpture. If you drive in France, keep your eye out.

All roads lead to Paris - the circle up North

sculpture on the autoroute: image courtesy of


Unfortunately, the professor stole my moment, just before I announced that it not in fact Rome, all roads go to Paris.