An invitation to talk to strangers...in today's vocabulary-packed story.
parler de pluie et du beau temps
: to talk about the weather, to talk small talk, to shoot the breeze
synonyms: tailler une bavette, bavarder, commérer
365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristin Espinasse
I'm so glad I opened my mouth at the minimarket checkout line. "Can you imagine?" I say to my daughter, recounting how I met a new friend. "Had I quietly waited there I would have missed an incroyable coincidence!" I would have stood right beside a fellow American from Texas without ever suspecting she was anyone other than a local, a Ciotadenne.
Earlier, I was walking to my neighborhood supérette on a rainy day. It was the kind of pluie that falls like a continuous mist--so light you wonder why you are holding an umbrella over your head when the sky is a giant upturned bottle of Evian spray. Dewey as the morning grass, I entered our local convenience store. Il n y avait pas un chat! I collected some milk, some croquettes pour chien (items that were needed and added weight to my sac à dos, allowing me to feel like the adventurous pilgrim in Walk in a Relaxed Manner. After weeks of keeping to my New Year's resolution, I must have been truly "in a relaxed manner," for my thoughts tumbled right out of my mouth, there at the caisse, or cash register:
"It looks like nobody shops when it rains!" I said, looking around the empty store.
The owner smiled, "Il n y a que les anglaises qui sortent." Only English women go out in the rain...
"I'm from Arizona," I playfully corrected.
That's when I heard it...a distinct American accent. I turned to see a younger woman had just joined me in line. Long thick brown hair with les franges, her smile revealed a mouthful of pearly whites.
"Really? I am from Houston!" she said, after which everything dissolved into an excited swirl of vraiments--leaving the store owner visibly dizzy as his only customers livened up the checkout.
"Really? Do you live here? In la Ciotat? No! Really? How long?! Three years? I've been here 6 months. Your name is Christina? Really? Mine too (kind of) yes really!
The vraiments continued over coffee at my house and macaroons at Christina's a few days later ...
Christina made both the macarons and the pear tart!
Your family is from Mexico?! Really? My mom and my son live in Mexico!!! (And on and on our conversation flowed.)
So the next time, I say to my daughter, who's still listening to my histoire assez étonnante, the next time you are standing in line feeling all shy or unsociable, take a risk and shoot the breeze! You just never know where it may lead....
bavardons = to chat away
incroyable = unbelievable
ciotaden(ne) = one who lives in La Ciotat
la supérette = minimarket
la pluie = rain
il n y avait pas un chat! = there wasn't a soul in sight ("there wasn't a cat")
croquettes pour chien = dry dog food
les franges = bangs
le sac à dos = backpack
la caisse = cash register, checkout
vraiment = truly, actually, really
une histoire assez étonnanté = an amazing story
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Gourmet French Macaroons
BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.
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