It’s fascinating hearing different French accents. Even in Morzine we might overhear someone asking for a bottle of “ving” and assume they must be on holiday from the south somewhere! What is also interesting is how the actual French can differ in our neighbouring countries of Switzerland and Belgium. This blog touches on Belgium, and how some of the quirks and differences in the French used there can often be the source of much amusement (and confusion!) and about why this small country is a brilliant family holiday destination. Belgium is a trilingual country, French speaking in the south, Dutch speaking in the north and German speaking in parts of the east.
70s and 90s
In an attempt to make life easier for its citizens (or possibly because it’s clearer) Belgium does not use the French “Soixante-dix” and “Quatre-vingt dix” for the numbers 70 and 90. Instead they have the snappier “Septante” and “Nonante”. The first time you hear these words in the middle of an otherwise recognisable French sentence you might be rather taken aback. These are much less long-winded words to use though and this is probably also why they are still used in many French financial institutions.
Savoir instead of Pouvoir
Belgians use the verb pouvoir (to be able) in place of savoir (to know) which can lead to some amusing situations. Saying “je ne sais pas parler en ce moment” instead of “je ne peux pas parler en ce moment” can result in them being the source of much ridicule!
There are some slight variations in the names used for mealtimes in Belgium which could cause some misunderstandings. If you arrange to meet your Belgian friend for “déjeuner” they might turn up at 8am instead of at lunch time! And as they use the word dîner instead of déjeuner it might be wise to stick to times instead of meal names! Also, if you hear someone ask for a “pistolet” in a Belgian bakery do not fear, they aren’t going to pull a gun on you. This is just their word for a smallish baguette!
Belgium is a great place to go on holiday and not always an obvious choice, other than somewhere to go for a city break weekend and drink beer. Too many people miss out on the hidden treasures of this cosmopolitan country. Beyond the waffles, the chocolate and the chips, it has a beautiful, long and sandy coastline to the north, with many little beach resorts all linked together by the longest tramline in the world, the coastal tram! To the south are the Ardennes, best known for active biking and walking holidays, but whose magical, fairytale woodlands are also a paradise for young children.
With many medieval cities in between and with a focus always on fun and humour, it is a great place to go for a family holiday. The Smurfs and Tintin were born in Belgium and in many of the main cities you can see a nod to these comic book heroes in the shape of murals and statues. It is also a very accessible destination from the UK. Little Clogs Holidays is a new holiday provider offering baby and toddler holidays at a selection of top holiday parks in Belgium and Holland. Combining beach or woodland locations with toddler friendly facilities and luxury bungalow, villa or lodge accommodation these holidays are a perfect solution for a baby or toddler holiday. Many holiday parks even have baby or children’s themed bungalows with extra features such as toys and games, children’s cutlery and crockery, playpens and baby rockers.
The holiday park concept is not that well known in the UK but these are fantastic holidays with plenty to do for older siblings too.
Families can easily work around nap times and feeding schedules by either self-catering or enjoying some of the on-site restaurants. Holiday park holidays mean you can enjoy a family barbecue while watching rabbits hop around or listening to the chirping of the birds or the gentle hum of the waves.
Visit Little Clogs Holidays for more information about where to stay and to find out why Belgium might be worth a visit this year!