Boire la Tasse: Short story by the sea including funny French sayings
Eplucher + More about friendship... and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio!

Best City in which to live? La Bonne Reponse...

House in cassis
Cannes, Cassis, Annecy...what is the best city to live in? Read the response below.

la bonne réponse

    : good answer

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French translation of our opening sentence:

Cannes, Cassis, Annecy...quelle est la meilleure ville pour y vivre? Lisez la réponse ci-dessous.


    by Kristi Espinasse

Saturday night we drove to Marseilles to celebrate two guys birthdays. Alexis and Bernard were collectively turning 100!

At Bernard's house on the edge of the Roy d'Espagne neighborhood, not far from the Calanque of Sormiou , we gathered with a handful of friends who grew up in these ideal childhood stomping grounds near the sea's rugged coastline with its fragrant Parasol pines.

Bernard and alexis
              Bernard and Alexis

Beneath these magnificent trees teeming with cicadas in summertime, we had to raise our voices above the din, and when I could no longer understand the French words flying all around me, I sat back to enjoy the characters at the table, their faces so relaxed, yet engaged and highly animated. I caught snippets of a ski trip to La Grave (known for its hors-piste skiiing, where two of the women stayed in a mountain refuge with 50 others and only one room for all to sleep, one bathroom, and nowhere to change--so everyone slept in the clothes they had skied in all day. "But it was worth it for the sunrise the next morning," Nathalie said. Manu, her friend, nodded in agreement.)

I so admired those women, who weren't the only ones aventuriers: Bernard, Pierre, and Jean-Marc have trained together for triathlons and, on the way to see U2 in concert in Dublin eaten pork and beans for breakfast (a true adventure for the French, who eat toast for breakfast). Meantime David bought a home in Greece (on the island where Mama Mia was filmed!), and that leaves Vincent and Claire, who I am still getting to know (though I sensed the latter's personality in the way she wrapped herself up in fluorescent construction zone tape before leaving the party...more about that in a minute...)

Were you a cicada high up parasol pines looking down on things, you would have quit trilling for a moment, and your ears would've softened as you listened now, to longtime friends catching up on subjects closer to the heart--the mother who has Alzheimer's, the son with autism, and other concerns here in the most beautiful place in the world.

"This is the most beautiful place," I said to Pierre, as the topic shifted once again and the cigales resumed their song. I noticed Pierre's hesitation and so I asked him, "If you could live anywhere in the world--any place at all--where would you want to be?"

Before Pierre answered, a now gleeful 4-year-old ran up and brushed his hand forward from under his tiny chin....

"That means, 'Bonjour,' in sign-language," Bernard said, adding that all forms of communication were encouraged for his youngest child. Next, we all had the pleasure of a personal bonjour from the little boy who continues to hone his social skills - shutting them off and on just as the cicada does in the tree above us. 
New York? Greece? Corsica? I looked back at Pierre, anticipating his answer, when his response took me by surprise...

"Là où sont mes amis. Wherever my friends are. That is the best city, and where I'd want to be."

Pierre's words stop time as wisdom and truth convey a message which twirls through my brain. Not long after, Claire, who I told you about earlier, appears, twirling in a floor length wedding dress decked with bright yellow construction tape. She's on her way to another party where, she says, she may find herself a good-looking maçon!

Claire exits with wolf whistles and winks as an audience of fans cheers her on, and the meaning of friendship is on full display. Even the cicadas are clapping, from high up in the trees overlooking the world's best city, which could be your city or mine. Tant qu'il y a l'amitié.

Friends under the parasol pines
Photo by Pierre, who should be in this snapshot!

French Vocabulary
le refuge = mountain shelter
la cigale = cicada
là où sont mes amis = there where my friends are
le maçon = builder, construction worker
tant qu'il y a l'amitié = as long as there is friendship

Pierre and jm
Voilà - a picture of Pierre and Jean-Marc, about to run a race.

T-Shirt I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports

Net shopping bags like you see here in France - (good for collecting sea urchins, too!)

une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwav
une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwave

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

Finding Gilbert
Friendship is one of the themes in this wonderful story. If you've already read Diane's book about living in Provence, you might enjoy her other memoir about France, La Réunion, Finding Gilbert, a very touching account about how she found the French orphan, Gilbert, who her father had tried to adopt during World War II.

Order a copy here.



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