Rummaging through the past: the verb farfouiller in action at an old postcard stand in Antibes.

Don't miss the sound clip that accompanies each edition--see the "Audio" section below...

TeLL me More French -- Used everyday in more than 10,000 academic institutions.

farfouiller (far-fooy-ay) verb
  to feel, fumble about, grope around; to rummage, dig about, search

Farfouiller is derived from the word "fouiller" (to search, dig); the prefix "far" gives the idea of motion : farfouiller (to rummage about). To form the noun, just add the suffix "ette" to the verb for "farfouillette": a place to dig about in or "a rummage shop".
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Tous les matins à l'aube, les chiffonnières de Paris farfouillent dans toutes les poubelles pour y trouver les objets vendables. (Each morning at dawn, the rag ladies of Paris rummage through all of the garbage cans in order to find saleable objects.) --from the book French: How to Speak and Write It

"Allô?"* I say, clutching the phone.
"Allô? La farfouillette?" a man's voice inquires.
"Non. Vous vous êtes trompé de numéro."*
"Ce n'est pas grave."* Click...

Hanging up the phone I feel a pang of guilt for not directing the caller to the brocante* he was looking for. After all, I know where La Farfouillette is--just a few kilometers from here on the outskirts of Vidauban. I've been to the junk shop a few times, as witnessed by the quirky bricoles* around my house, and there's an old wooden shutter, painted red, with a heart motif that I've decided to use as a gate for a future potager*--one my mom is already helping to dream up. Speaking of ma mère,* she's been to the not-so-far away Farfouillette too, having walked out a little more upright, thanks to the black lacquered cane she unearthed there, this, while waiting for her hip to heal fully. I remember, too, a wonderful swayback garden bench painted forest must've sold by now. Then again, maybe it is still for sale?

Well, there you go, one good reason for not sticking around to chat with the caller whom I mentioned in the opening dialogue. After all, it is not my job to give out phone numbers, and besides, as the French might argue (while tapping index finger to forehead, crazed look in the eye): "Does it read 'OPERATOR' here?"

References: allô? = hello; Non. Vous vous êtes trompé de numéro = No. You've got the wrong number; Ecoutez...excusez-moi = Listen...Excuse me; Ce n'est pas grave = It's nothing; la brocante (f) = flea market; la bricole (f) = trifle, trinket; le potager (m) = vegetable garden; la mère (f) = mother

:: Audio clip ::
Hear my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the French word for "to search" in the following phrase:
Tous les matins à l'aube, les chiffonnières de Paris farfouillent dans toutes les poubelles pour y trouver les objets vendables.

Terms & Expressions:
la farfouilleuse (le farfouilleur) = one who rummages, searches, (dare we say "snoops"?): a curious person or nosey parker
farfouiller une maison = to ransack a home
farfouiller dans ses souvenirs = to search through one's memories
farfouiller dans un tiroir = to search/rummage through a drawer
farfouiller dans les poubelles = to rummage through the garbage can
farfouiller dans ses poches = to rummage through one's pockets
farfouiller dans les affaires de quelqu'un = to search through someone else's things

In Gifts & Books:
The organic French herbs kit contains a specialized mix of herbs, perfect for French cooking.

Maison Francaise -- decorating tips (and great pics) in this *French language* magazine

...a book (sort of off topic) I just ordered read after this one (truly on topic).

Verb Conjugation:
je farfouille, tu farfouilles, il/elle farfouille, nous farfouillons, vous farfouillez, ils/elles farfouillent; past participle = farfouillé

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