TODAY'S WORD: la calanque
: rocky inlet
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Dimanche on est parti se balader dans les calanques de Marseille où il y a plusieurs plages... Les “culs nus” de Sugiton sont officiellement reconnus dans la carte postale du plus beau site du golfe du Lion, menacé de surfréquentation.
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
On Sunday we stopped into Le Vin Sobre, where Jean-Marc works every other weekend. Today he was not working, but the store, located near the Obélisque round about, not far from Luminy university, was the perfect place to meet up with the others in our small hiking group.
While waiting, Jean-Marc and I chatted with Marie, his co-worker who was manning the store. She is a lively and very warm and friendly person, and she made our one-hour wait (our friends were late!) worth any inconvenience. While we were sipping the spicy cardamom tea that she made us (Le Vin Sobre is a gourmet store with a wonderful selection of thés and specialties to eat!), Marie stopped to sniff the air once again. "Funny," she said, it smells like... "de la fumée"...
Marie approached Jean-Marc and me, still sniffing for the source...when I realized that the accident we had Tuesday night had deeply infused every item in our home--including us!--with smoke!
"It's us, it's us!" I explained, and it wouldn't be the first time that day, for our friends finally arrived, and halfway into our walk, they mentioned the smokey scent they kept getting a whiff of.... And it was not coming from the trees around us!
It was doing us a world of good to get out of our smokey house and into all this fresh salty air! The wildflowers had bloomed and it was fun trying to name them all, even if I didn't get pictures of every one (like the wild purple irises!). But this papery ciste was easy to capture...
An hour into our walk along the sentier, Jean-Marc, Nicolas, and Carol began searching for a way to descend the steep calanque to access the pristine beach below. But when they began to talk about the need for ropes and special climbing equipment, I headed in the other direction and anchored myself to a rock beneath a shady bush. Already shaking from walking along the slippery pebble path (one false step and plunge to your death), I could not push my nerves any farther!
What a relief when the three decided to find another spot to picnic! And what a magnificent place it was, overlooking the white rock beach below. "It's known as Les Culs Nus," Jean-Marc explained.
The naked butts? As my brain searched for a translations, my eyes began to notice clusters of naturistes. This was a nudist beach! And just as all this info was percolating in my head, our friends asked an unexpected question:
Did we mind if they got naked?
The photo above just about explains the look on my face on hearing the question above. Smiling Carol looks a lot more adventurous, n'est-ce pas?
Having managed to get everyone to avoid rappelling down to the beach, I now needed to figure out how to get everyone to keep their clothes on.
La bouffe! Yes, food is enough to distract any French man or woman. So we all settled down, with every thread of our clothes on, and dug into a delicious picnic!
The best part about a picnic is sharing the food and discovering new things to eat. Nicolas shared a specialty from Martigues, something Jean-Marc called "le caviar des pauvres": its real name is "la poutargue," also known at Bottarga.
Carol warned that the taste is not for everyone. Ha! She could have said that about nude sunbathing. Ah well. I'll loosen up someday. In my own time.
* * *
Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.
cul-cul = butt, also means wishy-washy, ridiculous
le thé = tea
de la fumée = smoke
le ciste = "rockrose" or cistus
le sentier = path, way
la plage naturiste = nudist beach
la calanque = rocky inlet
la bouffe = food, grub, nosh
le caviar des pauvres = caviar of the poor
la poutargue = boutargue, or bottarga
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WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: a collection of early blog stories from 2002-2006
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