TODAY'S WORD: Stationner
: to park
: to stay, to remain
le stationnement = parking
trouver une place de stationnement = to find a parking place
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EXAMPLE SENTENCE & AUDIO FILE
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence, in the imperfect tense :
Stationner. Je voulais rendre visite à ma fille au travail mais avant cela il fallait que je stationne la voiture.
To park. I wanted to visit my daughter at work but before that I needed to park the car.
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
Jean-Marc and I ran into a little pépin in our plan to surprise our daughter at her new boulot.... Cruising down la corniche, our eyes scanned the area for a parking place--anywhere pour stationner.
Not wanting to be late for our 1:45 reservation, Jean-Marc offered to drop me off near Le Jérome restaurant. I appreciated his gesture, but was sorry he wouldn't be there for the surprise, which was his idea in the first place.
I stopped short of the restaurant to observe our daughter in action. I did not like the way she had to cross the two-way road, each time she went to and from the restaurant (many restaurants along the sea are set up this way, with the servers having to take the risk of being hit by car throughout their service).
There were a few other things I didn't like either. For one, the top she was wearing. She needs to cover up! I thought, inching my way toward her, noticing other employees who were also wearing débardeurs (something between a camisole and a tank top). Well, it could be worse, she could be working at Hooters. Which reminds me why we are in France (however ironic that sounds--given my husband probably just found parking beside a beach full of topless women).
Among other things, we are in France for the culture, including the culture of food. I was excited to see what was on the menu...and just how our daughter would handle the demands of a French clientele who would not necessarily leave un pourboire (in most restaurants, a service charge is already included in the bill. Waiters and waitresses are therefore not motivated by tips, but do appreciate them).
Jackie first caught sight of me when she was two steps into crossing the busy road, the platter in her hand now tottering. She paused and her face grew wide with a smile. I hurried up and hooked her out of the road. "Jackie! pay attention to all the cars."
"Mom! You came to see me!"
"Your dad wanted it to be a surprise. He's parking the car now...."
Soon Jean-Marc and I were settled in on the terrace, where my daughter's every move became a new source of concern, if only to me. The tray she held tottered with glasses of rosé, and when she set the tray down to store it after each use, it stuck out in the busy walkway. A waitress with a full platter would surely trip over it!
...And the table beside us, did she set the forks and knives straight enough? I fought the urge to go over and line up les couverts until I recognized my own anxieties. With that, I made myself sit back, relax, and watch my daughter practice the art of serving in a French restaurant...
Jean-Marc ordered le tartar de bar and I had a grilled daurade. Our daughter continued to fuss over us (would Papa like another glass of wine? Did I need ketchup for my fries? Was I getting too much sun? (for this she insisted on moving us to a formerly reserved table in the shade), all the while keeping her attention on the other diners. I noticed, in particular, how very sweet she was as she worked, how calm, assured and not-at-all stressed she appeared. She was not to be compared to me, to anyone in her family, or to an American or French waiter. She was her own person.
And while she may have only been a busgirl--what these days they call un runner-- it was clear (at least to me) she was Maître D.
Increase your vocabulary with useful terms from our story
le pépin = glitch, hitch, snag
le boulot = job
la corniche = coastal road
stationner = to park
un débardeur = tank top, camisole, slip top
les couverts = cutlery
un pourboire = tip, gratuity
le tartare de bar = raw sea bass fish
la daurade = sea bream fish
Papa = Dad
maître d = maître d'hotel = head waiter, top professional
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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