Fleurs des Champs & medicinal plants in our vineyard
en l'occurrence - such a useful expression!

Poilu : a semi-truck, a hairy person, or a soldier?

Today's post is sponsored by Thomas Hulston Collections: exclusive French made clothing now available for purchase online

Bonjour !
Our telephone lines are down again, so I am moblogging--using my tiny smartphone keyboard to compose this blog post. You can imagine how fun that is... so this will be short and sweet :
Short, for today's 5 letter word, poilu, and sweet, for our favorite easy cake recipe. (Quick here's a link to the French yogurt cake. Many of you are familiar with the post, in which Smokey and I make the cake on video... http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2012/08/yogurt-cake-recipe.html )
And as for today's historical word, les poilus, the French term of endearment was lost on me while ambling down Hairy People's Street, in La Ciotat.
Returning home, I shared the snapshot, below, on Facebook and received a few clarifications:
Bruce wrote:
Wasn't "poilu" a slang term for French soldiers during WWI?
Clifford wrote :
Bruce is correct, just as Napoleon's old soldiers were called grognards
Mary Taylor Keates noted:
Poilus... Because of their beards and mustaches--like the doughboy, which I think was an American term
Marilyn Griffith added:
That's funny (in reference to the caption I gave the photo: "The seaside town of La Ciotat. I think the street name reads "Hairy People's Street")
Joe Lillard responded:
That seems a little too literal!
Naomi Bloom wrote :
"Poilu" is also a semi truck, n'est-ce pas ?
Hope you enjoyed today's word. One can learn so much on Facebook...now to sort out the fact from fiction--all the while enjoying the lively commentary...
Flower Power sums up today's photo:
"Let your pit hair grow and eat fruit--sounds like a beautiful life to me! "
Hope your week is off to a good start. I'll be back with more photos soon :-)
To comment, see the link at the end of this email, or go to the blog (www.french-word-a-day.com) and scroll down to the end of today's post to find the comments.
Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone

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Coleen Clemente

You are a real trooper (no not a soldier in WW1 or WW11 or Napoleon) to do this blog on your smart phone. It is so difficult for me to see, much less write on mine. Thank you for doing this. I will review the recipe so I can make it again, and also hope that your telephone lines start working shortly.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Coleen, for your very thoughtful note. I was so disappointed to see the photo did not come through,  and the formatting was one big  run-on. But I will try again next time. Thank you all for reading. (And to see the Rue des Poilus photo, scroll down my Facebook page at Kristin Ingham Espinasse)


I'm guessing the phone lines are down due to the same fierce mistral we're dealing with in the Alpes Maritimes. My internet has gone into super-slomo.
I love learning about the various uses of the word poilu! I'm finding French a never ending experience of discovery. I always thank anyone who corrects or offers a better word or phrase when I'm speaking French.


Poids lourd is a heavy truck. So semi would be another term. The pronunciation is somewhat similar to poilu.


Just left Villefranche-sur-mer where the main street in the old town was Rue du Poilu! Our bakery, our grocery store, many excellent restaurants... so your word caught my eye. Even tho I have walked it many times in the past few weeks, I did not know what it meant!
Another trip a few years ago was more close to you- we stayed in Sanary-sur-mer and both trips, MAIS OUI, included a little Bandol wine. Good luck with your new plantings.

Jean(ne) Pierre

My husband's family home is on the Av des Poilus, les 3 Lucs, in Marseille. That's how I learned the meaning.


Our dear Kristi,
Only you would go through the misery of typing on that itsy keyboard!
Today's post was wonderful(as always!)
Made our day!(as always!)
Natalia. xo

Alice Freeman

I still like "Hairy Persons Street" best. Also "Rue des Mauvais Enfants" in Paris.
Cheers, Kristin...

Alice in VT. xoxo


I don't know of a "Rue des Mauvais Enfants" in Paris, and I lived there for over 10 years. I do know there is a "Rue des Mauvais Garçons" in the Marais.

John O'Connor

During WWI an infantry soldier named Louis Barthas recorded his 4 years in the trenches in a diary. After the war he rewrote his notes and put them away. His grand nephew found them in 1974, offered them to a publisher and the book became a best seller throughout France. The book has been rereleased in the US to mark the 100th anniversary of the war and is a wonderful "you are there" history of the daily life of the Poilu throughout the war.

The book is titled Poilu and covers a history francophiles as well as Frenchmen should be familiar with.
John O'Connor
PS Love your blog, I picked it up from Adrian Leeds' blog

S Jenkinson

A semi truck? I guess that is an American word for what in the UK we call an articulated lorry ie it bends in the middle.

A rather rude French expression for a big truck - especially the kind that gets in your way is une gros cul !

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