See the little sign hanging from the clothespin (lower left)? The faded writing reads "Je suis couchée" ("I am in bed"). Leave it to the French to post such warnings out front their doors! Discover the sleepy town (and sleepy inhabitants...) of Mirabel-aux-Baronnies in today's story column.
roupillon (roo-pee-yon) noun, masculine
piquer / faire un roupillon = to have a nap, rest.
Pas loin de Nyons les gens se couchent, ils font des roupillons.
Not far from Nyons, the people lie down, and take a nap.
A Day in a French Life...
Over fragrant French hills and through grapevines teeming with leaves... past fruit trees, branches bowing, weighted down by cerises*... beyond, count them, un, deux--au moins trois--églises*... there lies the old tattered town of Mirabel-aux-Baronnies.
I wander up and down its sleepy streets, see a faded sundial, a fish-faced fountain, and a church steeple. In private gardens acanthus and purple lavender grow... but where, I wonder are the townspeople?
Through an arch in a stone wall I follow a path goudronné,* climb stairs up to the nestled village, traverse a few placettes*. There are lauriers-roses,* passiflore,* jasmine--and yet--where are the gardeners, where are the locals?
A clue and an answer lie just around the bend, beyond a beaten bamboo fence... where a citoyenne* lies sleeping at the front door, in the hall entrance! There, flanked by a narrow door frame, a cot has been placed; in it, a dozing dame!
I can just spot her twinkle toes, at the edge of the bed, a draped door curtain covers the rest, hiding her sleepy head.
The sweet scene is the most delightful and quirky yet -- it is everything I love about France: eccentric, original, authentic.
I tuck my camera under my arm and walk on. They say "Let sleeping dogs lie" and, of sleeping dames, well--it's not polite to spy!
* * *
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated. Click here to access the comments box.
Note: there are several photos that accompany this story. Don't miss them in an upcoming photo bouquet over at Cinéma Vérité! (In tomorrow's photo blog we'll enjoy over 15 pictures of Hyères--and another character!).
la cerise (f) = cherry; un, deux--au moins trois...églises = one, two--at least three--churches; goudronner = to tar; la placette (f) = "little place" (square); le laurier-rose (m) = oleander, rosebay; la passiflore (f) = passionflower; la citoyenne (le citoyen) = citizen
In books: because today's topic touches on the art of living (something the French might have learned from the Italians?) I thought some of you language lovers might appreciate this new book:
La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
by Dianne Hales
A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman’s personal quest to speak fluent Italian.
For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language,” together with explorations of Italy’s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle, and food in a true opera amorosa—a labor of her love of Italy.
Three Random Words:
nier = to deny
oyat (m) = beachgrass
PV (p.-v.) (procès-verbal) = fine (speeding, parking ticket)
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety