la noce (nohce)
: wedding, nuptials
faire la noce = to live it up
la nuit de noce = wedding night
le voyage de noces = honeymoon
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Memories are like bubbles. Full and rounded, the richest of them come rushing to the surface of our minds. I marvel at how my husband remembers some things and I, others. With the help of our individual recollections we knit together the past, enjoying moments from our romantic history.
This week Jean-Marc and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. The French call this anniversary les noces de cretonne. Cretonne being a type of fabric, the symbolism hints at the consistent weaving together of a sacred fil, the thread of love and commitment.
All this talk of fabric and weaving reminds me of a vivid scene from our first wedding day. This was the town hall wedding or le mariage civil and in our case it took place two months before the church ceremony. It being a more casual gathering, there was none of that superstition about seeing the groom or bride beforehand. In fact, the groom and I drove together to our nuptials.
I'll never forget parading down the streets of Marseilles, in traffic. Grinning from ear to ear, I looked out our car window as Jean-Marc navigated from behind the wheel of his poor man's sports car. The red exterior of his Honda was chipped and dented, but inside might have been finer than silk and leather--the latter being Jean-Marc's just polished shoes (as for my dress, it was silk-like).
As we drove past all the chic boutiques on Rue Paradis on our way to pick up my bridal bouquet, it was thrilling to feel a part of this glamorous world surrounding us. And when Jean-Marc stopped smack in the middle of traffic, one lane away from the fleuriste, I literally stepped out onto Paradise Street.
"You'll have to hurry! There's no place to park," Jean-Marc explained.
I opened the creaky car door and landed in the middle of two lanes of impatient traffic.
It is awkward to be the center of attention, but there on my wedding day--crossing the street before the halted commuters--I all but twirled in my two-tiered dress! Jaywalking across traffic lanes, light on my heels, I stole in and out of the flower shop, returning to my modern day carriage with an armful of calla lilies.
The bumper to bumper traffic outside had not budged an inch, but was united in a collective (if imposed) pause. As I passed before the halted traffic, my wedding dress fluttering in the breeze, our parking sin was quickly forgiven as horns began to sound. Allez, les mariés!
The French are such softies when it comes to weddings! I smiled thanks to the audience of strangers and hurried into the car as drivers practiced their patience for one more "Marseilles minute". Even the calla lilies blushed, witnessing that steamy kiss!
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To read about our church wedding, where the groom feared he was stood up and the bride got stuck to the outside of the church (wind and stucco are bad company for a bridal veil), read the chapter in this book.
le fil = string
le mariage civil = civil wedding, registry office wedding
la fleuriste = florist
allez les mariés! = cheers to the bride and groom!
Marseilles minute = the amount of time (seconds, actually) another car will wait before blaring its horn at a stoplight turned green
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Max was born 9 months after Jean-Marc and I tied the knot...
Jackie came next... She turns 16 in September. This photo was taken recently, in Idaho--where she is spending the month with her grandparents... and trying on her American hat! Whereas I dreamt of France at her age, Jackie's life goal is to live in the States. "France is so old," she moans.
"Through Thick and Thin". Everyone and everything needs closeness. Picture taken in Orange (Vaucluse)
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Many thanks for reading, and for forwarding this post to a friend! For the printed archives (2006), go here.