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la lunette

       Lunettes
           My husband, Jean-Marc, and son Max last summer...
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Words_in_a_french_life Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."
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la lunette (lew-net) noun, feminine
  1. telescope
  2. les lunettes = (pair of) glasses
  3. toilet seat

--from the French word "lune" (moon) (due to its shape).

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Related terms and Expressions:

un étui à lunettes = an eyeglasses case
la lunette arrière = rear window
porter des verres = to wear glasses
les lunettes de soleil = sunglasses
chausser mieux ses lunettes = to pay more attention
un nez à porter des lunettes = a big nose (a nose for wearing glasses)
voir les choses par le petit bout de la lunette = to have tunnel vision or a narrow outlook

...and in English there is the phrase "lunette window" for the piece of cloth that covers the eye of an ornery (or lunatic?) horse.

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Citation du Jour
Les lunettes cachent beaucoup de choses--même une larme dans l'oeil.
Glasses hide a lot of things--even a tear in the eye.
--Sören Kierkegaard

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A Day in a French Life...

Hand in hand my daughter and I traverse the modern section of our medieval village. When we pass in front of the magasin de lunettes* I slow, turn briefly toward the shop, and wave. Almost as soon as my hand reaches up I quickly tug it back down again.

"Who is that?" Jackie asks.
"A friend."

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Originally, "lunette" meant "little moon." The word is now commonly used in French for objects with a crescent shape, such as eyeglasses, and even toilet seats.

Last week I stopped into the lunetterie* to get my shades or "little moons" adjusted. The unbespectacled shop assistant was in the back of the store. She smiled, pointed to the telephone, which was at her ear, and said, "J'arrive! I'll be right there!" I shook my head, raised an arm and waved my hand. She needn't worry about serving me right away. After all, I wasn't going to pay.

The fact that I wasn't going to pay kept me from stepping pied* in an optical shop for the last two years. For my timidity, I put up with sunglasses tumbling down my face or seated lopsided--like a parked teeter-totter--atop my nose. The lenses, which are 'de vue,'* had long ago popped out. How many times had I recuperated les verres* from the sidewalk, only to wrestle them back in again? These same lenses now sat unevenly in the frame's sockets.

Eyeglass boutiques worldwide (it seems) do not charge to adjust frames. I always feel uneasy as the shop assistant puts his or her work aside to tend to my lopsided lunettes.

This time I solved the dilemma by bringing along a pourboire.* I tucked five euros into my pocket and headed for the optical shop. The boutique assistant put the phone down and said, "A vous, madame." I showed her my glasses, apologizing for their tattered état,* then watched her push and mold the frame back into shape.

"Essayez-les," she said now and again. When the glasses were finally adjusted and snug against my face, I promised I would never again push them back as a makeshift hair band (therein lay their demise time after time).

Next, the dreaded question: "Combien je vous dois?"*
And the predictable reply:  "Rien."*
I smiled knowingly and handed her five euros.
"Non. Rien!" she insisted.
I thanked her and mentioned that I would need a few post cards. In a haphazard fashion, I pulled together a half-dozen cartes postales,* trying to get the sum to add up to 5 euros.

The shop assistant counted the cards and said, "Trois euros soixante, s'il vous plaît."* I handed her the five euro note and told her to please keep the change.
"Non." she repeated. Next, she looked me directly in the eyes and said firmly:

"Les bons comptes font des bons amis."
(Good accounts make good friends.)

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*References: le magasin de lunettes (m) = optical shop; la lunetterie (f) = frame maker; le pied (m) = foot; de vue = prescription (lenses); les verres (mpl) = lenses; le pourboire (m) = tip; l'état (m) = condition; combien je vous dois? = how much do I owe you?; rien = nothing; la carte postale (f) = postcard; trois euros soixante = three euros sixty