Hammock_1 "Hand made." Hammocks for sale along the Grand Canal in Sète, France.

une arapède (ara-ped) noun, feminine
  1. a limpet

Hear the word arapède pronounced: Download arapede2.wav

coller comme une arapède = to tagalong / cling to someone (who'd rather have some time alone)

Citation du Jour:
Une âme pure est comme une belle perle. Tant qu'elle est cachée dans un coquillage, au fond de la mer, personne ne songe à l'admirer. Mais si vous la montrez au soleil, cette perle brille...

A pure soul is like a lovely pearl. As long as it is hidden in a shell, at the bottom of the sea, no one considers admiring it. But if you display it in the sunshine, this pearl sparkles...
--Le curé d'Ars (Pastor of Ars)

A Day in a French Life... (Sète--part two)

After lunch, Jean-Marc and I strolled out to the quay, past the bateaux de pêche,* past the last seafood restaurant and its rebel fishmonger, past the Hemingway look-alike, who sat in darkness, hand-knotting colorful hammocks in a cramped garage facing the port.

Midway down the digue,* we spotted an opening in the seawall and climbed through to where a short paved incline gave way to a line of giant boulders fronting the sea. A few meters away from us, an old married couple sat in his-and-her fold out chairs, reading his-and-her magazines. If it weren't for the tourists filing by, just behind the seawall, you'd have thought the couple was chez eux.* Who needs an expensive seafront home when you have a pleasant (if public) terrace on the water?

The gentle slope of the digue suggested a post-repas* siesta. Taking the clue and minding the hard surface below, I twisted my hair into a thick bun and reclined back onto the makeshift pillow.

Jean-Marc returned from a swim, seashell in hand.
"C'est une arapède," he explained. I examined the coquille,* its conical shell resembling a miniature Chinese hat.
"Do you know the expression 'coller comme une arapède'?" Jean-Marc asked.
"When threatened," he continued, "the arapède will cling tightly to a rock, making it difficult to separate from the rock's surface--like a tiresome friend, or tagalong--as the expression goes."

Looking out to the sea, I noticed how the surface changed depending on the sky. The clouds floated to the sun and the sea became dull; the sun reappeared and the surface glittered--truly a sea of diamonds! Though the atmosphere was silent, the sparkling water, if you looked at it just so, was in musical animation; sunlight hitting the dancing surface of the sea created a salt-water symphony.

Something stirred inside of me as I witnessed the spectacular scene. Je suis l'arapède. I am the tagalong under the Chinese hat--clinging to my rock that is la France. Once threatened,* I now relax back before the diamond-capped sea and listen to the roaring chorus.

*References: le bateau de pêche (m) = fishing boat; la digue (f) = dike, seawall; chez eux = at their place (home); le repas (m) = meal; la coquille (f) = shell; [threatened: In 94' I was served papers informing me I had one week to leave the country--my long stay visa was no longer valid.]

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!