Many thanks to my friend Beth for sponsoring today's word. Beth writes: Experience Provence at the peak of the lavender season.. Unpack and get to know our French village, with daily excursions to historical sights, markets and secret lavender fields nearby. Join us in our 13th consecutive year, making it easy for you to feel at home in Provence. Early booking discount ends Dec. 31. www.lavenderandvine.net
Today's Word: la bagnole
: car, ride, wheels (automobile)
La bagnole is the term used in colloquial or informal French for "car"
Click here to listen to the following sentence in French (notice in the English version how the play on words is lost in translation)Je suis content de ma bagnole, peut-on appeler ça de l’auto-satisfaction? I'm happy with my car, can we call it self-satisfaction? --Philippe Geluck
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Sometime last spring we bought a used vehicle that ended up being a real lemon! I don't know the French word for flawed car but I doubt they use the term citron. (Funnily, my previous bagnole was a Citroën and it traveled well the first 12 years).
After the Citroën, we paid 6500 euros for the so-called lemon--a 2005 Suzuki Jimny--popular among French chasseurs and a reasonably-priced 4x4. I was wary about its history (more than a second-hand car, this used model had multiple hands and maybe even some toes as we were soon to find out...). But I really liked the shape of the jeep and the color: forest green. Plus, it rides (or rode...) like an old army truck (not that I should know) and reminded me of riding in our Grandpa's 4x4 through the Arizona desert, my sister Heidi at the wheel at 15, and I the copilot at 11. Pint-sized Thelma and Louises, we careened, unsupervised, across the desert floor, tumbleweeds spinning in our wake.
So much for nostalgia--back to the future (last spring, 2019) where my pretty véhicule de loisir went kaput one evening while our son drove it. When the Suzuki would not start, Max and his friend hailed another driver who offered to lend some pinces crocodiles (pause one moment to fully appreciate that term!). Something about the jumper cables ("crocodile clips") intervention seemed to have damaged the engine. (Later, we learned that you cannot use the same crocodiles on a diesel as on an essence or premium fueled car--but don't take my word for it. I am only passing along snippets of info I got from Jean-Marc--and there were plenty of those over the past months as our little Jimny went from one mechanic to the next. Les garagistes were stumped. Someone initially thought the problem was the calculateur moteur (which had been fried from the jumper cable fiasco?). After buying two new calculateurs (the first didn't work) we waited and waited for the mechanic to locate la panne.
After the first four months sans voiture, I quit asking Jean-Marc about the status of our Jimny, now domiciled in a sweaty garage in Marseilles (at least I hoped there was sweat! Were they even working on our automobile?). If not une pomme de discorde, the status of our car became a sore topic! Not only were we paying for car parts we did not need, we were also forking out money for insurance on a stationary vehicle! This went on for 8 months.
Then one day a customer walked into Jean-Marc's wine shop and gave him the name of another mechanic--who immediately located the problem! It ended up being the réglage de l'injection, whatever the heck that means. What it means to me is we got our car back today. Woo-hoo!
After being housebound for almost three seasons, Mom and I now have wheels! If you think I was happy, you should have seen the look on Mom's face when I cruised into the driveway.
"It's like Christmas!" Mom giggled as she used her shirtsleeve to polish a spot on the muddy car. "I can't wait to go for a drive with you! And we'll take Smokey! We don't even need to get out of the car. Just leave us there!"
First things first. I've got to get my driving mojo back! I admitted.
I'd used our family car here and there, but I've fallen out of regular driving in the past 4 years (since passing down my Citroën to our daughter). As I carefully navigated through La Ciotat last night, Mom was full of ideas for our new, mobile future: "Once you warm to the idea," Jules began, "we can tie a little cord around their ankles and take the hens with us, too! They'll love the freedom!"
"What we really need, Mom, is one of those car cameras. So I can record these conversations and your colorful ideas!"
* * *
What do you think about such a program, Dear Reader? It could be like Car Karoké--but with feathers? I promise they'll be the plumes Mom currently wears in her black felt hat. The chickens can stay home.
Smokey says: What's Car Karaoke? Can I play?
Many thanks to the team at Garage des Lavandes for fixing our bagnole! (And for the warm and furry welcome by your mascott!)
From the French Word-A-Day archives:
Don't miss this picture of Mom on her horse (and a spectacular scene here on the beach....)
Also, the Thelma and Louise reference from today's story in the post called "camionnette"
Looking for a holiday gift for anyone in the family? Click here to buy a copy of Words in a French Life, and give the gift of virtual travel.
le citron = lemon
le chasseur = hunter, huntsman
une pomme de discorde = bone of contention
le véhicle de loisir = recreational vehicle
le garagiste = auto mechanic
le calculateur de moteur = Engine Control Unit (ECU)
la voiture = car
la panne = the breakdown (what is broken)
les pinces crocodiles = slang for jumper cables (literally "crocodile clips")
la plume = feather
See any mistakes in this post? I thank you for your help in the comments, below.
I have had the pleasure of dining with Beth (4th from the right) on this very terrace in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. Find out more about her authentic tours at www.lavenderandvine.net
Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice
You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.