Un Matou + A Most Unusual and Creative Concept for Cat Adoption in Marseilles: Café "Le Coin des Chat'Mis"

le coin des chatmis chat mis marseille chat adoption
Today's bilingual story was written by my sister-in-law, Cécile. Don't miss this report on an unusual café in Marseilles....

Today's word: un matou

    : tomcat

Example sentence:

Derrière un vitre je peux déjà voir un gros matou qui dort du sommeil du juste dans son panier. Behind a window, I can already see a big tomcat who is sleeping like a baby in his basket.


LE COIN DES CHAT'MIS

par Cécile Espinasse, artisan at Courbes et Diagnoles Design

Chaque soir je prends à partir du Vieux-Port le bus 57 pour rentrer chez moi: C´est une ligne de quartier, où les bus sont plus petits parce que par chez nous, là haut, les rues sont étroites et que les grands bus ne passeraient pas.

Every night I take number bus 57 from the Old Port to go home: It's a neighborhood line, where the buses are smaller because from where we live, up there, the streets are narrow and the big buses would not pass through.

Tout le monde sur cette ligne se connait, au moins de vue et , engager la conversation n´est pas un problème. Chacun y va de son petit commentaire sur tout et rien, mais Marseille c´est çà aussi, cela fait partie du folklore!

Everyone on this line knows each other, at least from sight, and engaging in conversation is not a problem. Everyone has his little comment on everything and nothing, but Marseille is like that, it's part of its folklore!

Aussi, lorsque à un feu rouge ma voisine a tourné la tête, machinalement j´ai fait la même chose. J´ai tout de suite remarqué qu´un nouveau local venait d´ouvrir: Un bar? Salon de thé? Son nom : "Le Coin des Chat´Mis". Intriguée je regarde la devanture où, des pattes de chats étaient peintes sur le trottoir et sur la façade.

So then, when at a traffic light my neighbor turned her head, mechanically I did the same thing. I immediately noticed that a new business had just opened: A bar? Tea Room? Its name: "The Cat-Friends Hangout". Intrigued I looked at the front where cats paws were painted on the pavement and on the facade.

A voix haute pour moi même mais en regardant ma voisine je dis "tiens un nouveau local?!" Son nom est un jeu de mots. En général on peut lire "Le bar des amis "Tout pensait à croire que les amis en question étaient des chats... Ma voisine me dit qu´en effet dans cet établissement des chats de la rue sont recueillis, soignés, vaccinés, et proposés à l´adoption. Qu´on peut venir les rencontrer en buvant un thé, et grignoter quelque chose.

A little louder than I usually speak, I looked at my neighbor and said, "look at that, a new place?!" Its name is a play on words. Generally one reads "The bar of the friends." Everything led to the belief that the friends in question were cats ... My neighbor tells me that indeed, in this establishment, stray cats are collected, cared for, vaccinated, and put up for adoption. Here, we can meet them as we drink tea and nibble on something.

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J´adore les chats... et moi qui ne sort pas beaucoup de mon atelier je me dis que ce serait sympa d´y faire un tour!
I love cats ... and I don't often leave my workshop, I told myself that it would be nice to have a look!

Je descends donc pour me rendre compte de plus près de la situation: La 1ere porte est fermée à clé et il faut sonner pour rentrer, mais derrière un vitre je peux déjà voir un gros matou qui dort du sommeil du juste dans son panier et que rien ne perturbe...

So I went down to have a closer look at the situation: The first door is locked and you have to ring to get in, but behind a window I can already see a big cat sleeping like a baby in his basket and nothing disturbs him ...


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On vient donc m´ouvrir et m´expliquer que oui en effet, les chats sont ici pour être adoptés après avoir vécu dans la rue. Il y a çà et là, des perchoirs pour que les chats puissent grimper, des couvertures douillettes où ils peuvent dormir, des jouets pour qu´ils puissent s´épanouir... Et puis il y a surtout un tas de gens, parents et enfants qui , partageant un gouter, rencontrent ces animaux qui ont l´air bien détendus ma foi...

So someone opened up and explained to me that yes indeed, cats are here to be adopted after living on the street. There are, here and there, perches so that cats can climb, cozy blankets where they can sleep, toys so that they can flourish ... And then there are mostly a lot of people, parents and children who, sharing an afternoon snack, meet these animals who seem so relaxed--my goodness ...

le coin des chatmis marseilles cat adoption france
Il y a forcément une star! Grisou, 6,6kg, il dort comme un bienheureux et aucunes caresses, ni aucun flash de photos ne le réveille. Il est juste magnifique et impressionnant, avec lui on se sent en sécurité, un vrai garde du corps! la force tranquille et évidement il a trouvé une maison d´adoption ! Il y a aussi Jersey qui a le coup de pattes facile mais qui n´a qu´une envie, c´est de jouer. Chacun évidement avec son caractère bien trempé. Celui qui dort derrière la vitrine est plutôt solitaire, une autre parait-il voulait jouer avec tous les autres chats mais ne rencontrait pas l´unanimité... Dommage... !!

There's always got to be a star! Grisou, 6,6kg, sleeps like a blessed one and no caresses, nor any flash of photos wakes him up. He is just gorgeous and impressive, with him you feel safe, he's a real bodyguard! With his quiet strength obviously he found a home of adoption! There is also Jersey who has an easy swat but who has only one desire: to play. Each of course with its strong character. The one sleeping behind the window is rather lonely, another seems to want to play with all the other cats but is not finding any takers ... Too bad ... !!

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J´ai bu un café, partagé un moment avec tous ces gens qui comme moi aiment les chats et font une donation pour leur nourriture, leur vaccin.Un peu de douceur dans ce monde de brutes, ca ne peut pas faire de mal! Miaaaaoooo....

I had a coffee, shared a moment with all these people who like me like cats and donate for their food, their vaccine. A little sweetness in this world of brutes, it can not hurt! Miaaaaoooo ....

***
Thanks, Cécile, for this delightful report. I saw so many French new French words and expressions that I'd like to use in conversation! Cécile, you are not only a wonderful sister-in-law, you are, like Grisou, a star. I so enjoy your writing and your creativity. (More at Courbes et Diagonales)

Le Coin des Chat'Mis on Facebook
55 Boulevard Vauban (14.00 mi) Marseille, France 13006 07 67 47 19 58


FRENCH VOCABULARY
étroit  = narrow
chat'mis = wordplay for chat + amis = cat friends
la devanture = store front, front window, vitrine
un jeu de mots = a play on words
grignoter = to snack
atelier = workshop
faire un tour = have a look around
un matou = tomcat
ça et là = here and there
dormir du sommeil du juste = the sleep of the just, to sleep like a baby
s'épanouir = feel at ease, joyful, open up
avoir un caractère bien trempé = to have a strong character, to be resilient
la douceur = tenderness

The cat in the hat

The Cat in the Hat (in English and French)
The Cat Who Walked Across France, by Kate Banks
The French Cat: a stunning exploration of the country and its felines
My friend Suzanne's cat blog: Living With Loulou: A French Kitty Comments on Just About Everything
In cat supplies: the litter cat's love and Fancy Feast, Tuscany Collection
IMG_1352

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


The hidden Provencal estate where I learned the words, "Pour vivre heureux vivons cachés"

Casa abril provencale bergerie architecture France pastoral
One week ago we were walking in the countryside around Flavia and Fabrice's historic domain, where we enjoyed a traditional French meal with some Brazilian sizzle!

Today's word: les ailes

    : wings

une aile = a wing
 

Click here to listen to les ailes and the following quote

Les paroles sont comme des oeufs : à peine écloses, elles ont des ailes. -Proverbe malgache
Words are like eggs: when they are hatched they have wings. -Malagazy proverb


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

It was a wonderful day, Jean-Marc said, remembering lunch at Flavia and Fabrice's last Sunday. If only my husband would continue that thought--and write the rest of this compte-rendu! The tricky thing, you see, about recounting your life in an online journal is knowing where to draw the privacy line--especially when writing about friends. But with my friends' blessing, I'll now share about an inspiring afternoon in the countryside near Aix.

...Entering the Franco-Brazilian couple's country home, I had the urge to take photos. Instead, I hung mes affaires on a carved hook, and tucked my smartphone (and its lens) inside my purse. After all, I didn't know Flavia and Fabrice well enough to take such photo-op liberties. Even if this was lunch at my sister's (it wasn't) I would not splash her life all over the internet--at least not without her permission.

Bref, it was thanks to my sister that this reunion with Flavia (who I'd met over 25 years ago at a wedding) came about. Flavia's son was going to Denver for an internship, so Flavia contacted me to see if I could put her in touch with my sister, Heidi, who lives in the same city....

By the time we walked into Flavia and Fabrice's library last Sunday, for the champagne apéro, I was kicking myself. Talk about a photo op! The entire length of one wall held a fitted antique bookcase and built-in fireplace with its carved mantel.  The fire below crackled as it might in an 18th-century novel (indeed, leatherbound books lined the paneled bookcase. Photos graced the shelves as well, offering a sentimental history of the family who lived here.

Fabrice and flavia gite house rental in provence near aix-en-provence
Fabrice and Flavia

After meeting at Berkeley and living for years in Sao Paulo, les jeunes mariés decided to move to France and into Fabrice's family home, which had been empty for decades. The young couple threw open the shutters, dusted off more than a few tables and chairs, and went about reviving the historic, memory-filled domain (Flavia and Fabrice were married there, years before) of 400 hectares, including family vineyards and wild thyme-scented garrigue. 

I took a seat on a long leather couch which faced several fauteuils, their carved feet reflecting the beauty of the piano in the background. 

"The piano doesn't work!" Flavia insisted, "but it is useful." Our hostess demonstrated by setting down a silver candleholder, a gift from Sylvie and Jean-Charles who had come up from Marseilles to join us for lunch. As we greeted les Marseillais, that awkward new-acquaintance feel quickly fell away and soon we were chatting passionately with the friends of our friends. Sylvie, a dentist, created an unusual concept for a French dental office: she put in a large window behind which her sterilization room is visible to clients. What a novelty in France! (My first French dental appointment was in a private home in Lille. I could smell dinner cooking in the next room while my dentist drilled my tooth...not bothering to first numb the area. Surprisingly it did not hurt, unlike a story--which can suffer when you wander off track....)

Back to Flavia and Fabrice's. It was now time for le dejeuner. By the time we followed our host, Fabrice, past a maze of rooms, past the sunny Provençale kitchen with its cast-iron cooker, to the dining room with its arched ceiling of stones, we were moving on to the meat of our conversation (as well as the meat of our Sunday meal!: wild sanglier--compliments of a local hunter. Flavia admitted her family receives a lot of "gifts" like this, and I could relate, having lived on two vineyards and having received more than a fair share of wild pig, rabbit, and even a feathery pheasant).

Back to the meat of our conversation, for me it was the moment Sylvie's husband, Jean-Charles, shared a quote that summarized the challenge I'd felt, up to here, about writing: 

In French we say, "Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés." Hearing the wise and sobering quote, I felt a familiar pinch.  Deep down I know a peaceful life is a private life.

"To live happily, live hidden" the words were immediately relatable, but it took on even more meaning when I returned home, to look it up. Turns out those are the last line in a famous fable, "Le Grillon," by Florian. Here briefly is the story:

A little cricket is lamenting his sort as he watches a magnificent butterfly go from flower to flower. Admiring the purple and gold of her showy wings, the cricket complains about his rather ordinary face and lowly existence...when next he sees a group of children chase after the butterfly. Grabbing at its wings, its head, and its body, the crowd accidentally tears the butterfly apart. The little cricket is stunned and promises never to want to live in the limelight, like the poor butterfly.

Jean-Charles, pointed out that in France, the French are careful not to be showy. They don't talk about their salaries or their possessions...or too much about their private life. They don't talk too much about themselves because... Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés! To live happily, live hidden. Or, said in another way, Great honors are great burdens.

To bring this essay full-circle, the fable helps to explain the pros and cons behind writing about the high notes or private notes of this French life. And so I said to myself on the way home from an idyllic lunch, I'm not going to write about this. I mean how would Flavia and Fabrice feel about me describing their library or their kitchen--their private home! A while later, still restless, I remembered my sister's words. "Kristi, you worry too much! You just have to trust yourself."

And there is someone else a writer has to trust, each time she writes a story: the reader. If you don't trust the reader you may as well put your stories in an old drawer. And you can put your wings there too. Lock them up forever. 

Now what would the little cricket say to that?

 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
le compte-rendu = report
mes affaires = my things
bref = in short
un apéro = a drink before a meal, usually with hors d'oeuvres
les jeunes mariés = the young married couple
le fauteuil  = armchair
le sanglier = wild boar
Gites location apartments for rent in the provencale countryside
Thank you, Flavia and Fabrice, for providing some photos to illustrate this post, and for being such graceful and lovable hosts! 

Pictured above is "La Bergerie" - one of the rentals on Flavia and Fabrice's property (30 drive from Aix-en-Provence or Marseilles). Flavia writes, "If ever you have any friend looking for a rental in Provence I will be more than happy to send them info with pictures." For those who would like more information on this rental, leave a message in the comments and I will forward your request to Flavia :-)

Butterfly in st cyr les lecques france mediterranean sea

Whenever I read your blog I am moved emotionally. I feel the people that respond to your blog also add to the experience. 
-Kathy from Phoenix.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


How to be productive (hint: par tous les moyens!)

Global Culinary Escapades
BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

PAR TOUS LES MOYENS 

    : by any means

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read today's quote

Click here for soundfile

Tous les moyens sont bons quand ils sont efficaces. Jean-Paul Sartre
All means are good when they are effective.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Some mornings I set out in three different directions. Should I write about this event? Or that one? Or is today "laundry day"? (a.k.a. what household business needs taking care of)? This three-pronged fork in my daily chemin is both a privilege and une peste --for when it comes to working for oneself, there are no hours. You can even take the day off. But at the end of the semaine you must have something to show for your efforts.

More likely, at the end of the morning you must have something to show for your efforts. That is ma façon de faire.  And though I can usually crank out a post (or keep on top of our family's laundry), some mornings I'm just floundering. The 11th hour (it's 10:56 now...) is about to sonner, and what do I have to show for my efforts--besides getting the dog and my husband fed? (No offense to either one of them.)

QUE DALLE!

I have ZIP to show for my efforts!

Here's what I do when that happens: pace. (Walking liberates ideas). Next, I pick one thing on my three-pronged list and finis-le! Earlier, I thought about finishing "the laundry," but when it comes to productivity, writing trumps all! Which explains why my words are polished..but my home isn't (tidy, but not polished. Not by any means. Which brings us to "by any means"...) The secret to completing a project is to get to the finish line par tous les moyens

Ouf and voilà. I leave you with that nugget of wisdom. I hope it was a nugget. Or maybe it was just a dust bunny? un mouton de poussière?... Plenty of those under my couch....

P.S. Today's post on productivity wasn't even on my 3-pronged chemin. (It wasn't planned.) But tumbled out while I was trying to figure out how to repost my story of sobriety. Talk about beating around the bush!  If you'd like to read that story, "So Much for Anonymity," click here. First read to the end of this post. Merci!

Moutons sheep in lorgues france c kristi espinasse
(dust bunnies or moutons?)

FRENCH VOCABULARY
par tous les moyens = by any means
le chemin = path
la peste = pest
la semaine = week
la façon de faire = way of doing something
sonner = to ring
que dalle = nada, nothing, zip
finis-le! = finish it!
ouf = whew, phew
voilà = so there you have it
un mouton de poussière = dust bunny (ball of lint on the floor)

Shopping:
Embryolisse cream - my daughter and I both use it! 
Zaz -- you must listen to this artist (thanks, Reader Dave). The song Eblouie par la nuit will move you like no other. Order here.
Walk in a Relaxed Manner - a book I'm reading about the Camino
Nespresso capsules (Thanks, Dad, for reordering coffee from my site, via these links. I got a little commission for your purchase!)
Hanging laundry in Nyons France (c) Kristi Espinasse

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie