petite amie

A paramour and his puffy petite amie in the town of Grignan (where Madame de Sevigné, famous for the witty and entertaining letters that she wrote to her daughter, lived).

~~~~~~~~~~~~News & Next Meet-Up~~~~~~~~~~~

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~PETITE AMIE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la petite amie (lah peuh tee tah me) noun, feminine

    : girlfriend

Listen to today's word and hear it in context via four French headlines, at the end of this letter...


Get ready for your heart to leap out with affection for one feisty French femme in today's story, sent in by word-a-day reader James Wilson.*

James writes:

I know that you are busy right now with the enviable task of wine making... yum!... so there is certainly no need to respond to this, even when you start getting caught back up.

I just thought I would share a quick tale with you.  When I was studying for my Master's Degree in France, I interviewed a fair number of elder Normand women out at Courseulles-sur-Mer and Banville.  One of my "subjects" was a woman who was roughly 35 years old when D-Day happened in 1944.  Since I was there 50 years after the fact to talk with her, she was only about 64 years my senior! Marie, as she was called, took a great liking to me and invited me with regularity that year.  We got to be great chums, really, and she insisted that I use the "tu" form of the verb with her.  One day, her five daughters got caught up in the stories she had been telling me, and that I was judiciously leaking out to them--many she had never shared with any of them.  So they organized a big diner for the family and many of the town's people so that I could get Marie talking with everyone there.

Marie with friend Andree When I started talking with Marie in the "tu" form, one of her eldest daughters protested, rather publicly, hoping to embarrass me into conforming to the rules of talking with women in their 80s.  Marie, stood up and said, "Well, my American boyfriend and I can just continue to do these interviews in private if you like!  I told him to use the "tu" form with me because it makes me feel good--young again--and because he reminds me of all the young men that stayed at this farm as they passed through 50 years ago. If you weren't so rude, you'd be using the tu form with him also!"

The daughters shut up for sure with that.  We had a little more wine, calmed down and I went back to asking my questions.  4 of the daughters continued after that day to "tutoyie" me, where that fifth one who had put back in her place obstinately refused.

I love dealing with elderly people on a personal level.  Now that Marie is gone to her final resting place, I miss my "French girlfriend".


Read about James, Marie's soi-disant "American boyfriend" in the following bio,* and check out the wonderful caption that goes with the photo that he shares with us. And if you enjoyed his story, please be sure to respond to it via the comments box. If you prefer to contact James directly, here's his email address: jamesrwilson [AT] charter.net

*James Wilson, professor of French and Spanish, studied under the auspices of Middlebury College and the Language Schools.  When James isn't teaching, he enjoys gardening at his lakeside home, and his other current task, writing a history for his hometown in Maine.

[Photo caption]
Marie Chirot, my friend, is on the the left sporting her blue cardigan over a house dress, a cane and pantoufles.  My Courseullaise friend Andree Harivel and I had walked from Courseulles-sur-Mer along the beach to Gray-sur-Mer, where there is a lovely monument to the D-Day landings, and an old 'char' (WWII tank) named 'One Charlie', and then headed inland to Banville where Marie lived.  We caught up with Marie at her home on Rue du Molot and were quickly recruited to go and fetch some 'herbes' to feed her hungry 'lapins' who resided in a cage in the courtyard of her farm.  I loved helping her feed those rabbits because their cage was right in front of an area of the 'cour' where young soldiers had etched their dog tag id numbers on the wall, permanent reminders written in the 'vielles pierres' of friends and saviors who had once visited Marie's farm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Extra Credit~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
=> Look for French words in the above column (beginning at the column title "Le Courrier / Letters") and post your translations in the comments box.

Larousse Gastronomique: first published in 1938, still first rate
Whole Black Winter Truffles -- imported from France
Ticket to Ride Europe -- Award winning train game
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Homework ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Petite Amie" in the French News: help translate these headlines. Post your answers in the comments box: You may also listen to the word of the day and all four headlines here: Download petite_amie.wav. Download petite_amie.mp3

"Lewis Hamilton félicité en images par sa petite amie"

  --Kelbogos.com, Belgium

"Paul McCartney emménage avec sa petite amie"
  --News de stars, France

"Simon Cowell s'est fait largué par sa petite-amie par téléphone !"
  --eparsa Magazine, France

...and another lovelorn lad "largué":

"Marilyn Manson se fait largué par sa petite-amie !"

  --eparsa Magazine, France

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