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Marsaud, La famille

For at least a decade, which ended somewhere in the mid 1980s, all British schoolchildren were taught not just French, but Longman Audiovisual French, a cutting edge combo of green illustrated textbooks and ‘slide tape’, the technologically cumbersome combination of a strip of celluloid with pictures on, mounted onto an overhead projector and manually wound on from one picture to the next by the teacher at the sound of the ‘bing!’ on the narrative soundtrack played on a big old blocky cassette player with integrated speaker. Stars of this low-tech son et lumière were La Famille Marsaud, a rather starchy small town petit bourgeois nuclear unit, drawn in an appropriately stiff manner with lots of awkward sideways-on posing. Sadly, Les Marsaud never seemed to get up to the sort of racy activities The French were supposed to (at least, according to Tom O’Connor and BBC2 film seasons). Monsieur Marsaud was always dans le jardin, Madame Marsaud perpetually dans la cuisine. Scallywag son Jean-Paul was forever en retard pour l’ecole, and the Jane Birkinesque Marie-France spent a suspicious amount of time hanging around with Monsieur Lafayette, le facteur. Then there was Claudette, who, er… skipped a lot. Life in provincial France was, the hapless student couldn’t help but conclude during a long Thursday afternoon of ecoutez et repetez travail, rather dull.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Adrian

    August 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

    This rings a bell – at my school I remember a series of French grammer books with very weird and slapdash pen and ink illustrations: all the women seemed to have moustaches, and all the blokes bulging groins for some reason, which was just asking for the owner to ‘amend’ the illustrations with some judicious graffitti..

  2. ben eclectiktronik

    October 24, 2009 at 2:56 am

    hope this brings back memories! part of my found tapes archive:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeeJHQZwlF4

  3. Michelle-Louise Lewis

    June 15, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Oh mon Dieu!

    I cannot believe you have found this! Let me tell you that French was my favourite subject at school. I loved it and I continually got 100% in every exam i took finishing with an O-Level Grade A and an A-Level Grade A

    And I just loved the Longman Audio-Visual Books that depicted la famille Marsaud.

    Mind you, I am half-French and I certainly get up to the racy ways of my fellow countrywomen and men but this brings back memories of some very happy times.

  4. Richard Davies

    December 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I used the Action France books at school, which often had a section on tape.

    As the books were 10 years old (published in about 1980 & used by me 1989-93) the style was amusingly dated lots of flairs & almost all the boys & men seemed to style their hair like a pre-perm Kevin Keegan.

    A few previous users of the book had added their own touches to the pictures, some amusing, some just plain rude

  5. kaleem

    January 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I remember this too well as the intro at the beginning explains all. The tape recorder and manual slide projector . It would start off Longman Audio Visual French – Stage 1. Made and compiled by the Longman Green company Ltd. then went on to …. Lesson 1… The Marsaud Family..

  6. Andy

    April 25, 2014 at 3:28 am

    I too remember these. Later we moved onto a different set of characters, a bit more ‘grown-up’, the name Yves Mornet springs to mind, but I can’t remember the name of his girlfriend.

    Anyway, Michelle-Louise, isn’t it cheating a bit taking even A level French if you are even half French? Should be a doddle.

  7. Ian

    January 29, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I remember my big sister having books at secondary school in the 70s featuring La Famile Marsaud and teaching me what she had learned when I was 4 or 5. Stood me in good stead when I got grade 1 CSE French 12 years later

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