The book fair in Roussillon. All photos taken by mom (a.k.a. "Jules"). See her, and her gallery of photos, in today's edition.
attrape-tout (ah-trap-too) adjective
The French word "attrape-tout" refers to a vague political plan destined to seduce the greatest number of voters. In today's story, it refers to a bookseller's plan to seduce the greatest number of potential buyers... Read on.
Audio File: listen to today's word Download attrape-tout.wav - Download attrape-tout.mp3
At the book fair in Roussillon, it took me almost half the day to figure out how to get the French to notice my author's stand. Some sort of "attrape-tout," or prop, would be needed...
My current plan was bombing and, though the French allowed themselves to be lured over by an American-voiced command ("Pardon me! What is Your Favorite French Word?"), it was painful to watch as the Francophones struggled with their own language.
"Difficult, isn't it?" I sympathized, slyly handing over my card, which read "French Word-A-Day".
"There are just so many wonderful words in the French language to choose from, n'est-ce pas?!" With that, I talked a little about my "mot du jour" blog and, when lucky, sold a book, based on the former.
By noon, I tired of pitching the unpopular "Favorite French Word" question out to the book-fair traffic as it flowed past my stand. Then, just as enthusiasm began to wane, I had a stroke of good luck... one that coincided with lunchtime. As I sat at my display table, eating three-cheese quiche, I began to notice something unusual: traffic began to slow--and sometimes stop--right before my very eyes!
"Bon appétit!" a French couple said.
"Oh... merci," I thanked them, covering my mouth, embarrassed.
Seconds later... it happened again:
"Bon appétit!" offered the man with a salt-n-pepper ponytail.
"Merci beaucoup!" I answered, in a muffled voice.
On and on the gastronomic wishes continued...
"Bon appétit!" chirped a woman in motorcycle jacket, and I quit chewing in time to give an enthusiastic nod of thanks...
"GOOD APPETITE!" a distinguished-looking Frenchman said, with cheer.
No matter the age or the outward appearance, the French were now noticing me! For as long as that plate of food remained intact, each and every Francophone that passed my table paused in time to wish me a "Happy Meal!"
So, that's that: at the next book fair I am ditching the "Favorite French Words" ploy... and getting smart--by bringing plenty of tarts!
PSS: don't miss over a dozen photos of the book fair.... at the blog.
Coming soon: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley
Through delightful drawings, photographs, and musings, twenty-three-year-old Lucy Knisley documents a six-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to
offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde's grave, loafing at cafés, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.
Why not order the book above... along with "Words in a French Life"?
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi