l'heure bleue

L'Heure Bleue. The Blue Hour in Ovada Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
A magical hour in an ancient town: Ovada

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l'heure bleue (leuhr bleuh, listen to MP3 or wav) noun, feminine

1) the blue hour, the magic hour... crepuscule, twilight... the hour between daylight and night when the sky's luminosity draws artists out of their studios to see light's last glimmerings.

    2) the hour (between 5 and 7) in which one meets their lover before returning home from work, to one's spouse

L'heure bleue, the blue hour of twilight when the sky and the earth are at the same level of luminosity, when well-to-do gentlemen throw open the shutters of their mistresses' rooms and stretch and yawn and think about returning home. -Michael Bywater, The Independent

And, from Wikipedia: "The phrase is also used to refer to Paris immediately prior to World War I, which was considered to be a time of relative innocence."  (The Blue Hour)

"Soul of Creative Writing" by Richard Goodman
Because French often places its modifiers after its nouns, there is a kind of poetry that English cannot, because of how it works, achieve. So, for example, there is the French expression, l'heure bleue, which refers to that often shimmering time between the hours of daylight and darkness. We say “the magic hour” for that concept. It's sort of sad to write that next to l'heure bleue. French knows what to do here. French knows that the concept of “blue” is critical; that time of soft, subtle waning is about hue. French knows that emphasis should be on the idea of blue, but also that sufficient strength is given to the idea of the hour, to l'heure. L'heure bleue sounds like subtle magic
. From The Soul of Creative Writing, by Richard Goodman. Order a copy.


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Happy Bastille Day! Just like firecrackers streaming through the air... here and there... the following story veers offtrack (I was supposed to reveal the fashion victim of our latest story. You'll just have to "patienter"... meantime, here is an episode that took place just before the fall from fashion grace.)

Following the usual routine, having stepped out of the shower (so as not to say "douche"), I rifled through my husband's trousse, snapped up the stick of Mennen Musk. Summer in the canicular South of France requires an extra-strength solution! Not that that should keep a woman from using un déodorant d'homme in wintertime. 

Having applied a generous coat of protection optimale, I reached into my overnight bag for the pretty bottle of L'Heure Bleue, the one I had selected years ago, as some choose books or lovers: by their covers. My neighbor and friend, D, had helped me pick out the perfume during a crash course on French fragrance, there in a little beauty boutique in Draguignan. How I had hesitated between "The Blue Hour" and "Coco" by Chanel, choosing the former for its name, as some choose entrees on a menu. L'Heure Bleue... it spoke to the supposedly suffering artist inside of me. She was in there somewhere, wasn't she?  

L'Heure Bleue won out. The cut glass flask and its little flourish of an étiquette spoke of art nouveau, transporting the scent-wearer to fin de siècle Paris, over 100 years ago... the Paris of the past... alas!

But here, in 21st century Cassis, the air in the cramped hotel bathroom was now redolent with manly musk: a cause for hesitation.... With my finger posed on the perfume pump, I began to doubt. Might these scents clash somehow? 

The muse answered as she is wont to do in situations which call for an artist's hup two...
ere, here, a suffering artist must start somewhere! Give no thought to the outcome. Spray it onand with abandon. Remember—the idea is to continually risk rejection! 

Fortified with fragrance, I stepped out of the little loo, sporting strong musk and a feast of florally feminine dew. I could have sworn my husband wavered as he walked ever so unsteadily toward me. He looked a little faint, mind you. And his face, the color of it, was... sort of... bleue

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome. Click here to comment. Merci d'avance!

French Vocabulary

la douche = shower
la trousse (de toilette)
= toiletry case
une étiquette = label

  L'Heure Bleue perfume
 The perfume l'Heure Bleue by Guerlaine
Introduced in 1912. Fragrance notes: a floral blend of orientals with powdery undertones. Order it here.

 Marseilles soap Savon de Marseille (Marseille Soap) with Pure Crushed Local. Gentle and moisturizing. World-Famous Since 1688 Flowers. Click here to order.

Coco Before Chanel 
 Audrey Tautou shines in this intriguing portrait of the early life of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, the orphan who would build a fashion empire and be known universally by her nickname, Coco. She journeys from a mundane seamstress job to boisterous cabarets to the opulent French countryside, possessing little more than her unwavering determination, unique style and visionary talent. Click here to order this film.

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter - handcrafted by artisans to last for generations. Order a cookie cutter here.


Interviews, photos, videos from our farm and beyond!

=> See a video interview from our kitchen at Scott's Alaska TravelGram!

=> Visit Pat & Lew's blog and see photos of their visit to our farm, Domaine Rouge-Bleu

=> Bonjour Paris scroll down to Counting Cicadas: naptime in the South of France

 cicada photo by Dave Prout (married to one of our dear Dirt Divas, Doreen.)



A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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