le congé sabbatique, career break

Les lecques
Vacationers in the neighboring town of Cassis, France

Today's Word: le congé

    : leave, time off
    : sabbatical, career break

Sound file: Click here to listen to the following sentence:

(En France...) Toute personne ayant au moins six années d'activité professionnelle et ayant passé au moins 36 mois dans son entreprise actuelle peut bénéficier de ce type de congé sabbatique. -Wikipedia

(In France...) Anyone with at least six years of professional activity and having spent at least 36 months in their current business can benefit from this type of sabbatical leave.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The other day, staring dreamily out of my bedroom window (instead of working on upcoming deadlines), I thought about the concept of un congé sabbatique....

Outside, I could see my chickens and all of the turtledoves that congregate around our poulailler. What a life they live! Their bare feet in the rich soil, they hunt for savory treats all day long. Une vie gourmande! When they tire of snacking, the hens settle down, tummies on the cool ground, where they begin their daily dirt bath. As rays of sunshine stream through the giant pin parasols above, the birds turn over on the ground until their entire feathered bodies are covered in dust. 

Next comes a little aerobic activity as they flail their wings and hop around until all the poussière has flown off--along with any unwelcome hosts (puces). Finally, a little drink from the hanging reservoir and it's now time to bask in the sun, one's newly clean chest feathers puffed out for all the other birds to admire. 
Kristi feeding hens

Admiration. Is this why I strive so hard? Are my own gleaming feathers disguised as polished prose? I can trace it back to school days. As a bad student, I nearly failed high school. But once I got into the university (under probation), and began striving for straight A's--those grades defined me, or at the very least improved my self-esteem. I strove and strove. and graduated with honors in French.

After moving to France and having children, I was floundering again...until I took up writing and set up stress-inducing deadlines (similar to those due dates in school!). Like those straight A's, the feedback I began to receive from readers fueled me and kept me going for longer than I might have - had I filed away my unpolished stories in a folder and shut the drawer. 

Two decades after beginning this writing practice, I am thinking, once again, about a break--un congé...even une année sabbatique. Only, there never seems to be a convenient time to stop. (Coincidently, it felt the same way when I decided to quit drinking. There was never a convenient time to quit (suddenly we'd receive a dinner invitation--or there would be a milestone to celebrate--as the French do--with champagne!).

This all brings me to Chapter 5 of our memoir, a section of the story in which I am trying to write about what happened when I quit drinking in 2003: Incredibly enough, two years into my sobriety, my husband found a vineyard for sale. And that is when we went into the wine business....

Talk about an inconvenience. And yet, 5,971 days of sobriety later and--as the lyrics of Elton John--I'm still standing. Je suis toujours debout. (Propped up with the help of my trusty pen. Which is why a sabbatical from writing might not be such a good idea afterall :-)

*   *   *
Special thanks to those of you who are reading our chapter-by-chapter book-in-progress. We could not write this vineyard memoir without you. Knowing that you are counting on the next chapter update keeps us on our toes!!  More about our vineyard memoir here. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY
un congé sabbatique = time off, sabatical break
le poulailler = henhouse
le pin parasol = stone pine tree
une vie gourmande = the self-indulgent life
la poussière  = dust
la puce = flea
je suis toujours debout = I'm still standing

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
Doves by the sea in La Ciotat... I love this image of freedom.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


On June 6, 1944, 1,213 warships (battleships, destroyers ...), 736 support ships, 864 freighters and 4,126 gears and barges land 20,000 vehicles and 156,000 men on the beaches of Normandy.

Finding Gilbert front cover
Diane Covington-Carter’s memoir, Finding Gilbert, a Promise Fulfilled, recently won a Gold award at the Society of American Travel Writer’s Western Chapter meeting in Tucson Arizona. The faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wrote:

“This is a gripping travel memoir of how childhood stories of World War II turn into a quest. A lot of travel is driven by the quest for answers–and this book fulfills that desire to find the truth in faraway places. This piece about a father’s love and
fulfilling a promise to a French war orphan is well done, and a recommended read.” Click here to order.

Into the Jaws of Death, photo by Robert F. Sargent
Into the Jaws of Death, photo by Robert F. Sargent

On June 6, 1944, 1,213 warships (battleships, destroyers ...), 736 support ships, 864 freighters and 4,126 boats and barges land 20,000 vehicles and 156,000 men on the beaches of Normandy.

Le 6 juin 1944, 1 213 bateaux de guerre (cuirassés, destroyers…), 736 navires de soutien, 864 cargos et 4 126 engins et péniches débarquent 20 000 véhicules et 156 000 hommes sur les plages de Normandie. (Text via Wikipedia... the 'merci' you hear at the end is from Jean-Marc)

Click here to listen to today's example sentence


IN MEMORY

So many of you have stories to share about family members who braved the shores of Normandy on this unforgettable day in history; June 6th, 1944. The comments box is open, now, for anything you might want to share--in honor of those who have sacrificed their lives for others.

Gilberts family and Diane Covington-Carter

Mille mercis to Diane Covington-Carter (pictured right, with Gilbert's family), for sponsoring today's post. Be sure to check out Diane's memoirs on France, including the hightly enjoyable Eight Months in Provence.

Covington-Carter, an award-winning journalist, has attended the 50 th , 60 th and 70 th anniversaries of D-Day. She will be in France for the 75 th anniversary and will be writing many stories for magazines and newspapers. Finding Gilbert, a Promise Fulfilled is her third memoir, and you can read more about it here.

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


To flip somebody off in French

Beach in la ciotat (2)
Today's spicy story takes place here along the boardwalk in La Ciotat...

faire un doigt d'honneur à quelqu'un

    : to flip somebody off

Click here to listen to the following sentence


The driver--a woman in her 50s--flipped us off.
La conductrice--une femme d'une cinquantaine d'années--nous a fait un doigt d'honneur.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse


Oh, this wind! It's Day 2 of Le Mistral and this morning my husband actually said a prayer to protect us from people's humeur or moods!

Cranky, irritable, rude--my daughter and I witnessed the gamut yesterday, after Jackie invited me for Mothers Day lunch.
(Our 21-year-old is back home from Colorado and, having worked all season at The Ritz Carlton--where she won an award for excellence in service!--she is now waitressing on the beach. She'll work sept sur sept and long hours all summer, but she doesn't mind. The only thing is, we are finding it difficult to spend time together--and we didn't see each other at all last Sunday, which was Fête des Mères here in France.)

At a local restaurant here in La Ciotat, Jackie and I chose indoor seating after seeing the dining room was almost empty (nice and quiet). But once we sat down, we heard the blaring radio. So when the waitress appeared, I asked if she would mind turning down the music...just a little bit.

'Well, hopefully not so low that the rest of us can't enjoy it,' she snapped, before barging off. 

Alors, laissez-le! I snapped right back (was the Mistral wind getting to me too?). Jackie told me to shush, and we brushed off the initial greeting...but not for long.

'Vous avez de la daurade?' Do you have sea bream on the menu, I asked, searching for the familiar fish.

'Il faut regarder.' You'll have to look, came the cheeky answer, as the waitress pointed to the menu. 

'But it is usually your specialty', I countered.

'I don't know. I usually work at the bar,' came the reply. Next, the waitress stomped off to check with the chef. I widened my eyes, making eye contact with the couple in the next table, who seemed as baffled as we were.

Bon, I said to Jackie. Let's just get cheeseburgers and enjoy our time together. From that point on, we were extra nice to the waitress, who must have been having a bad day. Jackie left her a nice tip and we left, to stroll along the boardwalk, arm in arm.

Returning home, we jaywalked across the street--as every local does--only the car coming towards us would not slow down. I looked beyond le pare-brise and saw a middle-aged woman at the wheel. Jackie made eye contact, too, and added a few choice words directed at the driver who, having let us pass, abruptly blared her horn. Turning we watched the driver reach out of the window....

And flip us off!

Elle nous a fait un doigt! Un doigt d'honneur! I said. I can't believe it! Who would flip off a mother and daughter walking arm and arm? That is so bizarre!

Jackie didn't seem to find it so unusual. Laughing, she offered, Maman. Ça a pimenté notre sortie mère-fille

Looking at it from my daughter's angle, I lightened up. True, it only spiced up our mother-daughter outting.

***
Book update:
Speaking of spice, things are heating up in our memoir! Midway into chapter 4, this is the perfect time to jump in and read our book-in-progress. Read about it, here. 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le Mistral = a cold and strong northwesternly wind
sept sur sept = seven days a week 
la Fête des Mères = Mothers Day
alors = well then
laissez-le = leave it
Vous avez toujours de la daurade = do you still have sea bream?
le pare-brise = windshield
pimenter=to spice up


WINE TASTING IN MARSEILLE
Jean-Marc will be pouring his latest wine, Ephemera, at Le Vin Sobre wine shop where he works. You can also taste a selection of some of the other wines on offer--this June 6th at 6pm.
2, av. Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
13009 MARSEILLE
Tél. 04 91 30 68 35 

Ephemera wine by  Eileen DeCamp
Thanks, Eileen deCamp, for this wonderful picture of Jean-Marc's Ephemera wine!

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle