une toile
le tonnerre

le trajet

For more about this image, see Photo du Jour below.

le trajet (trah-zhay) noun, masculine
1. distance; route; trip; journey
2. ride, drive, flight

choisir le trajet le plus long = to choose the longest way
refaire le trajet en sens inverse = to walk / drive back

Citation du Jour
Je ne me demande pas où mènent les routes; c'est pour le trajet que je pars.
I don't ask where the roads lead; it is for the journey that I leave.--
Anne Hébert

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
My husband saved up enough credit card points to treat us to a day at Parc Astérix. The only thing separating us from the roller coasters, flying swings and cotton candy was an eight hour trajet* from the south of France to the amusement park, located 30 kilometers north of Paris.

Jean-Marc set a wooden wine crate in the center of the backseat's floorboard then rigged his laptop computer to it. He cut off a few pieces of Velcro, stuck two pieces bristle-face-up atop the crate and two more beneath the ordinateur* before plugging a special adapter into the allume-cigare.* Max and Jackie sat on either side of the crate and, with small écouteurs* in their ears, watched Astérix & Obélix for part of the ride. When that film was over, they watched the French favorite, "Taxi," in which a pedal-pumping cab driver streaks across Marseilles leaving the villains in a puff of French exhaust.

Between films (or when the computer overheated) we took in views of the colorful countryside including fields of sunshine-yellow colza. Every once in a while we saw a panneau* pointing out a famous or historical landmark. To the sign "Basilique de St. Maximin"* Jean-Marc and I said, "Look Max and Jackie, that's where you were baptized!" When we cruised past the majestic Ste-Victoire mountain range, we argued over who the famous artist associated with Aix-en-Provence and the area was:

"It's Cézanne," I began, before second-guessing myself. "No, that's not it..."
"Matisse..." Jean-Marc offered.
"Definitely not."
"Van Gogh," he continued, pronouncing "Gogh" as "Gog," making me even more suspicious of his answers.
"No. No... maybe Paul. That's it--Paul Cézanne!"

Every kid enjoys seeing the sky-high éoliennes* with their serene, slow-twirling arms. When we passed a field of the tall energy-producing wind machines Jean-Marc asked a question. "Max, do you know how electricity is made?" It reminds me of the kids asking their father: Why is the sun hot? or What is air? or Where does God live?

By the time we got to Burgundy Jackie began to mistake one of those lattice-patterned electric towers for la Tour Eiffel.* While the structures are similar in shape, the electric tower is missing the point at the top (not to mention the stairs, souvenir shops and fancy restaurant).

Thirty minutes from the périphérique* in Paris, I began to blink my eyes to prepare them for the stinging effect I always feel when we approach the city. (Producing not tears of emotion, but tears from the city's pollution.) When the stinging didn't come I noticed that Paris seemed cleaner than usual. Jean-Marc explained that the speed limit around the périphérique had been reduced by 20 kilometers per hour and that this has not only saved lives, but it has made traffic more fluid and cut down on pollution. I can vouch for that, having seen it with my own cozy eyes.

Back tomorrow with more on Parc Astérix...

*References: le trajet (m) = ride; un ordinateur (m) computer; un allume-cigare (m) = automobile cigar (cigarette) lighter; un écouteur (m) = earphone; le panneau (m) = sign; basilique de St. Maximin = St. Maximin's famous basilica/cathedral; une éolienne (f) = windmill, windpump; la tour Eiffel = Eiffel Tower; le périphérique (m) = beltway, outer road skirting the city

Photo du Jour
A picture taken at Parc Astérix... The wall painting is a replica of a famous French bicycle ad circa 1895 by the artist G. Massias. To the left, wisteria.
                                          Children's books -- French themed:
Camille and the Sunflowers Despite the derision of their neighbors, a young French boy and his family befriend the lonely painter who comes to their town and begin to admire his unusual paintings. View it here.
Asterix the Gaul : When Roman Centurion Crismus Bonus finds out about Getafix’s magic potion, he kidnaps the druid to force him to reveal the recipe. So Asterix joins his friend in captivity and together they two plan to whip up a surprise with truly hair-raising effects.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety