noeud
arapède

boule

Boule Les coquillages (shellfish) in Sète

une boule (bool) noun, feminine
  1. ball

Listen:
Hear my daughter Jackie pronounce "boule": Download boule.wav

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Expressions:
avoir les nerfs en boule = to be irritated
faire boule de neige = to snowball
perdre la boule = to go crazy
avoir une boule dans la gorge = to have a lump in one's throat

Also: une boule de billard = a billard ball

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Citation du Jour:
Le jeu de boules est une activité dans laquelle on s'engage tout entier. Le temps n'y existe plus et plus rien n'a d'importance que le mouvement fascinant de ces sphères inspirées.

The game of 'boules' is an activity in which one is entirely engaged. Time no longer exists and almost nothing else matters apart from the fascinating movement of these inspired globes.
--Yvan Audouard

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A Day in a French Life...

With our backs to the Spanish border, we began the four-hour journey home from Collioure. Jean-Marc suggested we stop in Sète, France's second largest fishing port, affectionately known as the "Venice of Languedoc." The "island" of Sète is criss-crossed with canals and the industrial city is barely attached to the southern French coastline, like a delicate pearl. "Delicate" in contrast to the
bustling fishing port, where 'les chalutiers' or trawlermen are forever in motion unloading the morning's catch, mending broken nets or flashing a toothless smile to gawking tourists like myself.

"This is where Georges Brassens lived," Jean-Marc mentioned, as we made our way up the stairs from the underground parking garage. I've heard my husband sing along to his beloved Brassens, but didn't realize the latter was a poet, just like another famous resident of Sète, symbolist poet and author, Paul Valéry. Filmmaker Agnès Varda lived here as well, which isn't surprising given that Sète, like Collioure, is known for its exceptional light.

Jean-Marc had a hankering for oysters which led us to a seafood restaurant, one in an interminable line of eateries, facing the Grand Canal. I'm not a big fan of coquillages,* but have no qualms about eating the hard-to-reach "sea meats" tucked into their stubborn, thumb-splitting shells. Never sure what to order, I shared Jean-Marc's plateau de* coquillages appetizer including huîtres,* raw mussels and crevettes.*

The boiled moules* we each ordered for the main meal were delivered in two large casseroles, one for Jean-Marc, one for me. We pulled off the lids, carefully turning them over to serve as receptacles for the empty shells.

Half-way through the pot, I told Jean-Marc that I was getting full.
"Then don't eat any more," he said.
"But you're full and you're finishing yours," I replied.
"That's because I am polite."

Though he was kidding me, there was truth behind his comment. I thought back to one of Jean-Marc's previous jobs, also in wine sales, where he often dined with clients. While I envied him for the gourmet fare he got to sample, I felt sorry for him each time he ran into old school chums who never failed to comment on his changed physique. The 20 pounds he'd gained were explained by an obligation of finishing each dish or risk insulting the cook.

We didn't have to worry about upsetting the Sétois* cook, but waste was something to feel guilty about, especially having discovered I had room for ice cream.

"How many 'boules'?" I asked, referring to scoops included in an order.
"As many as you like," the waitress replied.
"Chocolate, vanilla and coffee, please," I decided.
"She means chocolate and vanilla--and coffee to drink later," Jean-Marc interrupted.
"No, I mean chocolate, vanilla and coffee--trois* boules."

The French women at the table next to ours dropped their forks into their slimming salads. I looked over at them, repeating my order.
"That's right, une boule de chocolat, une boule de vanille et une boule de café."

When the three boules were delivered in a thick glass flute, I was careful not to waste the ice cream... still feeling guilty about the mussels and all.

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*References: le coquillage (m) = shellfish; le plateau de = platter of; une huître (f) = an oyster; la crevette (f) = shrimp; la moule (f) = mussel; le Sétois, la Sétoise = person from Sète; trois = three

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Words_in_a_french_life Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."
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