vadrouiller

  Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse, french-word-a-day.com
 Shelter on a rainy day. Read on, in today's story.

vadrouiller (vah-drouih-ay)

    to roam, wander, trail along
    

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Vadrouiller. 
J'ai vadrouillé toute la journée à Paris, en attendant mon train. 
To roam. I roamed all day in Paris, waiting for my train.


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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

I have waited out the rain for two hours in a family run café along Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg. Family run, if you consider the conical condition of the waitress (a pointy pouch predicates a boy, the French told me, when I was in the same condition as she. Three months later, Max was born, as if by symmetry). 

Shouldn't she be resting instead of dashing to-and-fro, drying the raindrops that land in perpendicular plop-plop!-plops! on chairs which line the shoulder of the trottoir?

From my perch, beneath a glass awning, one step up from the flooding sidewalk, raindrops land on the tables, not far from my feet. I have been watching the locals, the vagabonds, the globe-trotters, and the tourists duck into door frames, eke out asylum under awnings, jump puddles, and dash for metro, just opposite, kitty-corner.

I study the darkened square en face. One side is lined with taxis. Out of the question. I will not take a taxi, the price of which represents one night in a youth hostel (single room: 40 euros, no bath, no toilet). I should know: I have been doing homework for my next périple through Paris. (Apropos youth hostels: one doesn't have to be a youth to be hostel, or to lodge in one.)

I stare at the hostile heavens. It is my turn. I must go, must quit entertaining thoughts of how to get the waitress to sit my bags. How she might be bribed—up to 10 euros (yes, it would be worth every centime to be freed of this weight)—to store the bag until my train leaves (at the end of the day...). But visibly, this won't work. I can tell by the way the produce arrives—lettuce, potatoes, céleri-rave, tomatoes—via a delivery truck. (The driver is drinking a complimentary café-au-lait at the bar). I watch the legumes being lowered, via an ascenseur that  just appeared, out of the floor, from beneath a large tile—next to where the driver is sipping his complimentary crème.  I stare as the lettuce bottoms out into the belly of the bar, disappearing into the basement below, where an invisible chef will labor in cramped quarters for the lunch crowd that arrives at noon.

Every nook and cranny of Paris is filled, by lettuce, a cook, by raindrops.... There is no place for my bag, not here anyway. Not in the 7th arrondissement. But what about the 12th? I will need to take the metro to the Gare de Lyon and search for a baggage sitter.... It is called une consigne isn't it? They do exist, don't they? I have another look at Paris Insider's Guide a free booklet that Clydette gave me. It is chock full of information, everything but where to store one's bags during that precarious  "in transit" time: neither here nor there, loaded down with a suitcase filled with books and sportswear... I might be ready for a marathon, but for the books. So many books!

I should call Robin, or Christine or Meredith or Janet or Penelope or Laurel... or Ann... they want to help. Why not let them? I have my doubts. Self-doubts. 

Ann! I could go to the American Library. Hang out all day... 

Loiterer! Espèce de vadrouilleuse! I look up and notice the pregnant waitress, who is quietly considering  me from behind the comptoir. It is time to press on. Liberate this perch for another self-conscious, soaking, stranger.  

I pay for the tartine and the two crèmes.... Leave a tip for a college fund, never mind that the university is free. Maybe the unborn child will study aux états-unis? Next, I wait in the corner café until a light at the end of the crosswalk turns green at which point I travel, perpendicularly, like the rain, jaywalking across the intersection. Beyond, I see the cannons of the Invalides. The eyes at the end of their barrels are watching me.

***
Le Coin Commentaires
Comments, corrections, and suggestions are most welcome. Click here. Merci d'avance!
 

 


They say that a writer is influenced by the stories she reads... I am re-reading and loving Good Morning Midnight. It is not for everyone... read the reviews first!


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"No one who reads Good Morning, Midnight will ever forget it." -- New York Times

Sasha Jensen has returned to Paris, the city of both her happiest moments and her most desperate. Her past lies in wait for her in cafes, bars, and dress shops, blurring all distinctions between nightmare and reality. When she is picked up by a young man, she begins to feel that she is still capable of desires and emotions. Few encounters in fiction have been so brilliantly conceived, and few have come to a more unforgettable end. Order a copy here and read along with me!

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Paris Metro (c) Kristin Espinasse at www.french-word-a-day.com
 Smokey says: if you aren't going to show photos of me (because you are behind...), at least tell them that you saw a few golden retrievers in the metro, and how it scared you when they got so close to the danger line on the platform -- but not as much as it scared you when their non-seeing master followed close beside. Can we have a round of applause, now, for seeing-eyed dogs who deliver their charges safely over the worlds danger zones?

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 
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cadran

Nice & Serre Chevalier 029
A cadran solaire in Serre Chevalier. Thank you, "Newforest", for leaving a comment about this sundial:

"The inscription in Latin stresses our human condition: VULNERANT OMNES ULTIMA NECAT,
= Toutes (les heures) blessent, la dernière tue.
= All hours wound, the last one kills."


cadran (kah-drahn) noun, masculine
    : (clock) face, dial


Audio File: Listen to the French word cadran, hear the following phrases:
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le cadran solaire = sundial
faire le tour du cadran = to go right around the clock
.

A_day_in_a_french_life
In the Alpine village of Le Rosier a wise woman sits soaking in the sun, its reflective rays lighting up the face of her centuries-old stone chalet... which slopes to the side of a winding country road, opposite the cemetery.

I slip by our heroine, camera in my hand--French fountains, sundials, façades on my mind, discretion my hymn. I have 15 minutes to photograph this town, minus Madame (privacy), while my husband and my children wait patiently for me back at la mairie.*

Before Madame, a cup of steaming coffee and a book dress a simple iron table parched for color by the passing of time; beyond, the snowy Alps glisten. I imagine myself in the woman's shoes (make that hiking boots) some twenty years down the timeline: existing peacefully in a petit village montagnard,* just around the corner from the free-flowing fountain. Perhaps after a life of keeping up with the Joneses, this woman is now keeping quiet with the country cows: living finally, simply, in the here and now.

About two meters above the woman's head, a 19th-century cadran solaire* is painted on the façade: its fading face a reminder that not only man-made things--but also Time--eventually disappear into eternity. The previous thought has me matching up words: man/futility... nature/eternity. I think about my picture-taking hobby and what it means to me. Far from feeling disconcerted, I am inspired to enjoy "right here, right now" ... never mind that the photos that I am taking will go the way of the fading sundial: No! it is the hunting and the discovery of images that fuels the soul -- and not the collecting of them: the first is action (read: aliveness!), the second (collecting) is passive and "piling up" and the "up" part brings me back to those Joneses  -- whom I'm trying to stay a millenium away from. Indeed, the only thing I want to keep up with anymore is the laundry (I might have said "my dreams" and I'm sure my mom will have her say about that! "Laundry? Forget the laundry! Go out and play!" And so I am trying to...)

Enough philosophy, which, along with good intentions, has that "passive" quality. It's all fine and well to wise up -- and one can wax evangelic till the cows come home. But sooner or later "life" will intervene as life is wont to do just when "know it all you" thinks she has a clue about what is good and what is true. The bottom line is patience and isn't patience born of love? Stay tuned for part two of this story, where an almost enlightened expat... ends up with a flat and an unexpected piece of good luck.

*     *     *

Comments, corrections, translations (for the French words in this post....) always welcome in the comments box. Merci d'avance! PS: while you're there, don't forget to answer the photo-du-jour question at the end of this edition...

Shopping:

French Clockmaker sign : a reproduction of an old French merchant's sign

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves : made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.

In French Music: "Au sourire de l'âme" by Pep's (recommended by my son, Max)


Photo du Jour (see the question, below)

IMG_6097
Today's question: When's the last time you ordered take-out and from where? Tell us about it, here, in the comments box. (photo: A take-out joint in Marseilles)


Recommended album "Liberta" by Pep's (my son Max's favorite): from the clip, below.
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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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California