How to say "cleaning frenzy" in French! + photo vocabulary!

Old wooden boat in Giens, near Hyérès (c) Kristin Espinasse

Gone fishing! I'll see you in a week, when the next post goes out.
Meantime, keep up your French vocabulary by visiting the French word archives. Thanks for reading and for sharing our language journal with friends and family. See you soon--with more photos and stories from a French life! Bisous, Kristin 

la frénésie de ménage (fray-nay-zee deuh may-nazh)

    : cleaning frenzy 

... and if you are one of those loves-to-organize types, here's another term for you: la frénésie de rangement = organizing frenzy. Share this one with a neatnik!


    by Kristin Espinasse

The Quirky French Household

After a house full of guests leave today and Saturday, I've got a bit of time to get this boat in shape. My sister is arriving this weekend!!

The past week has been full of excitement, with a lot of bed schlepping and sheet wringing. The flurry began after one of the teenagers (there were 6 sleeping here this week) woke with welts up and down her legs. Next, my brother-in-law complained of the same--only in a different place (he hasn't been able to sit down since.) Mosquitos?

Bed bugs! I tore off all the freshly laundered sheets and began rewashing everything. Saperlipopette! We could have used a machine dryer for once! Meantime, Jean-Marc vacuumed and disinfected the mattresses. Result? Bed bugs were not the problem (for the record: no bed bugs at the Espinasse household! I repeat... pas de punaises de lit chez les Espi!).  The culprit was the mosquitoes, after all. We needed to buy a better repellent for this years invasion!

So much for scrubbing sheets and matelas. Meantime, my sister's visit! The house will get a good dusting and a lickety-split polish. No use worrying about appearances--but I am doubtful about some of the household quirks we have here in France. How will these bizarreries come across to those who are unaccustomed to them? (It's been years and years since my sister came for a visit. And this time she is bringing a very special guest. I don't want to cramp her style; as her little sister, I will be a reflection of her! I wouldn't want her significant other to think we're from the boondocks--or maybe even The Twilight Zone....

Anyone who has seen our new old place would be shaking their heads about the boondocks comparison. The truth is, this is an endearing house--cracks, cobwebs, and all. But back to those quirks... every French household has them. For outsiders like me, French homes take some getting used to. But now, after two decades, I don't notice cultural differences so much anymore. Yet I feel the need to explain certain european idiosyncrasies to my sister and her cheri. I'll list several here, in case my upcomping guests are reading:

That's not cardboard, those are our guest towels.
The upside to drying your laundry on the line is this: the bath towels double as excellent skin exfoliators (it's that sandpaper texture they develop after hardening in the Provencal sun. I hope Heidi and Brian will "get it" and, especially, will go with it. Their tender skin certainly will! 
Insecticide? Not!

Here, just a stone's throw from the city, it is normal to find an ant traipsing across your cheek as you slumber through your afternoon nap. I'm used to plucking them off, sending these and other friendly creatures on their way.

And the bees with which we cohabitate are harmless, too. I once had a guest pull back the freshly-washed bed sheets (and the mattress cover beneath them). Her curiosity led to a startling discovery: a row of meticulously formed mud houses. "There are spiders in my room!" she screeched.

"Those aren't spiders," I assured her. "Those are mud daubers. They wouldn't harm a fly. But they might eat one!" As my guest watched, wide-eyed, I scraped away the tiny, hollow mud balls and tossed them out the window.

(Best not to peek beneath the mattress cover when you sleep at my place! But I guarantee freshly washed, air dried sheets--free of bed bugs (I repeat pas de punaises de lit chez les Espi!).

Another concern about my sister's visit: all those spider webs I've grown accustomed to. I take it for granted that not everyone is as blasé as I am about les toiles d'araignées. Apart from an occasional pause--to marvel at their intrinsic designs--I don't even notice them anymore. But spider phobics will! Is my sister's beau one of those? On verra!

French Bricolage or why certain doors and things are off-centered, unbalanced, or defy reasoning

It is definitely a French thing. My friend Cari, also married to a Frenchman, will vouch for this: the French just don't see things "spatially" as we do. That said, most everything in our new (old) house is perfectly balanced (this is thanks to the British family--including a mathematician--who lived here before us). 

As for "most everything" being in harmony, I'm afraid I have to take the blame for first "off-set" to the natural balance around here. It happened when we renovated Max's bathroom. I suggested we reuse a shower door from our previous home. Only I didn't stay to watch the handyman install it.... And the handyman didn't question the size of the sliding doors. Result: the doors will not open completely.

Jean-Marc doesn't see what the big deal is. (Of course not, he's French!)  And he made it a point to demonstrate that even he, big guy he is, can squeeze through the 31.5 cm crawl space that remains. (Brian, if you are still reading, you're just gonna have to do like us and suck it in!)

I hope these tidbits about our beloved home have not been off-putting. I've got to go now--more towels to put on the line. And, Heidi, if you are still reading, brave sister, I leave you with a warm bienvenue chez nous!

Comments welcome here.

 Today we're talking about from quirky households to insects--to guests! Please jump into the conversation and leave a comment.

When you forward this story to a friend, you open up a whole new quirky world for another to enjoy. And they'll learn a bit of French vocabulary in the process. Thanks for sharing!

French Vocabulary

une bizarrerie = peculiarity

le matelas = mattress

le cheri (la cherie) = sweetheart

une toile d'araignée = spider web

le beau = the boyfriend

on verra = we shall see

le bricolage = do-it-yourself 

bienvenue chez nous = welcome to our place

Exercises in French Phonics: A helpful manual for pronunciation! "Really breaks it down for you on how to properly pronounce French words." (review by New Chic) Read more customer reviews, and order a copy here.

Reverse Dictionary 

spic and span = nickel (nee-kel)

 A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. Maison des Pelerins, Sablet.Click here for photos.   

Door curtains in Beaumes de Venise (c) Kristin Espinasse
Let's build our vocab with these pictures I took in the Vaucluse. Notice the green volets, a cement banc, white and blue rideaux de porte, the old rusty boîte aux lettres, and the furry chaton noir. See any other vocabulary in this photo? Add it here, in the comments box.


Bar toutous
The French word for this yellow object is une gamelle. But don't you love the synonym: bar à toutous (doggy bar). Other vocab in this photo: notice all the colorful affiches taped to the window of the office de tourisme in Sarrians. 

Please forward this post to a clean freak or an animal lover--may it bring a smile :-)

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Trajet: Drivers, travelling in Morocco, and the road to Marrakesh

Moroccan Woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
In contrast to the chaos in today's story, we'll begin with a peaceful glimpse of Morocco. Read on, now, for another 'picture'! (Photo taken two years ago, on a family trip.)

le trajet (trah jay)

    : trip, journey

In books: French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student. Order your copy here.

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wav file

Le trajet à Marrakesh était un veritable parcours du combattant!
The ride to Marrakesh was a real obstacle course!


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

The Motorway to Marrakesh

When Jean-Marc was asked to be témoin, or best man, in the marriage of a childhood friend, he could not refuse the honor--never mind the delicate timing (during our busy wine harvest!) or the not-so-convenient location: Afrique

No sooner had our plane arrived in Morocco's "Red City" than I began to suspect that the town's colorful synonym had something to do with blood, for the ride from the airport to the hotel was nothing short of a death march.

I stared out the shuttle window at fellow travelers along a chaotic chemin (was it a highway or an expressway?). It couldn't be an autoroute... or why would 5 lanes of traffic include both man and animal? By 'man', I mean homo pedestrian, and, by animal... well, there were camels and donkeys and dogs... and monkeys walking along the expressway, too!

There on the outskirts of the airport, we were one great procession, weaving, wobbling, crawling (were those toddlers teetering on the curb of the express way? Mon Dieu!) ...zipping, shrieking, and honking our way forward, toward the setting sun.

As the sky darkened, the fragile human and animal pèlerinage began to fade into the background, where streetlights ...when alight... cast a faint lumière on the surreal atmosphere.

Our bus lurched forward, yanked to and fro by the whim of its heavy-handed operator, who seemed faintly amused by his passengers' terror.

Between gasps, puffs, and more sharp intakes of air, I evacuated my fear, to the amusement of those more experienced passengers. The man in the front seat, on hearing me, began a game with the driver, so that each time a member of pedestrian traffic was spared, he shouted: râté! ("damn, missed that one!"). His macabre sense of humor only goaded the driver, who homed in a little closer, each time, to the living, breathing "obstacles".

From my unsecured seat (no ceintures, or seat belts!) facing the menacing windshield, I watched as entire families were transported on a single moped: father (in a protective helmet) at the helm of the rickety scooter, followed by baby, then wife. (The babies--for this wasn't the first family aboard a moped!--were sandwiched in between the driver and the veiled mother--neither of which wore safety headgear!) 

Criss-crossing the swaying flow of traffic, were the elderly and the disabled... who seemed to have wandered onto the highway from a hospital bed somewhere.... I watched a blind man (he would have had to have been aveugle to have ventured into this death trap) navigate across the traffic lanes, with the help of his cane! 

Arriving at a roundabout the traffic lanes narrowed and I heard scraping... I turned to see the metal bite of a donkey rubbing against our bus's window as the fellow travelers (our bus and the donkey) squeezed together when the lanes merged, or bottle-necked.  

Wait! No! But! Ahhhh! Gosh! Eek! Oh!.... I gasped.

"Raté!" the sadistic copilot shouted, in mock disappointment, and I saw that the donkey's hooves were spared from the bus tires. But I could take no more. I closed my eyes and thought about my childhood in Arizona, where drivers stayed to the very center of the wide traffic lanes. If a driver needed to change lanes, he first made his intentions known by deploying what, in America, we call a "turn signal" or "blinker" (a bright light that flashes a clear-as-day warning to surrounding motorists). As for fellow motorists ("motor" being key), in America we classify as "traffic" the collective presence of vehicles (mobile machines with four--or sometimes two--wheels and an engine) on a given road. And people are not normally considered vehicles, indeed, walking anywhere near a motorway meant that you would be committing a crime punishable by law (JAYWALKING!).

Speaking of crime, where were the traffic police? Who were the powers that be that were supposed to be watching over this swaying, scraping, uncontained menagerie? What about safety?

I leaned forward to inquire about traffic statistics, specifically incidents of death: "Just how many accidents mortels happen each year?" I asked the driver.

"No accidents!" he insisted. 

"No accidents?" Just then I watched another near-miss, when a scooter slipped sideways between a donkey-drawn carriage and a truck... were those feathers flying out of the truck bed? Was that a squawk? And what about the poor souls hidden from view--the casualties who were on their way to becoming casualties (or the chickens on their way to the slaughterhouse?) Didn't they count, too?!

"No accidents!" the driver insisted, and I noticed his conviction, which was backed up by his own testimony. Looking out over the streaming sea of innocents, some old, some young, some furry, some bent, he announced.

"God is protecting us."



Well, I couldn't argue with that. Whispering "amen", I stared, with awe, out the window, at the fragile-yet-confident travelers, who advanced toward the hazy horizon, beyond which the mysterious universe traveled on and on.  


French Vocabulary

le témoin = best man, witness

Afrique = Africa

le chemin = road

l'autoroute (f) = motorway, expressway

le pèlerinage = pilgrimmage

râté! = missed (target)

la ceinture = seat belt

aveugle = blind

accident mortel = deadly accident

Exercises in French Phonics is... " a great book for learning French pronunciation" Order your copy here

Sara midda's South of France: a sketchbook Sara Midda's South of France is a place of ripening lemons and worn espadrilles, ochre walls and olive groves, and everything born of the sun. It lies between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, and most of all in the artist's eye and passion. Read the glowing reviews, click here.

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

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


auto ecole drivers school in France lamp post shutter hanging laundry
The shop sign reads "drivers school". Do you have a minute to read another story... about learning to drive in France? I'll never forget the smug feeling of driving to my driving school class... only to feel humbled, when I had to sit beside the 17-year-old students (at 38, I had been driving for almost 20 years! Yet... it was necessary to pass the French drivers exam. Read the story "Conduire" here


THANKS, to those of you who wrote in, in response to my story about the search for a good "skin doctor"! I am moved by your caring words, as former patients and as friends and family of those who have had an experience with skin carcinoma. Thanks also to the doctors who took the time to write in with encouragement and helpful information. Update: this picture was taken 6 months after my surgery. More about that scar on my forehead, here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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un filleul

(photo of my husband, Jean-Marc, and his filleul, Matthieu)

Easy_speak_frenchEazyspeak French teaches 800 vocabulary words; quickly extends conversational skills

un filleul (fee-yul) noun, masculine
1. godson, godchild

filleule = goddaughter
filleul de guerre = adoptive son (in wartime)

Mon filleul va bientôt partir, ainsi la guerre va devenir plus personnelle pour moi. My godson is going over soon, so the war's about to get personal for me. --Garry Trudeau.

"I love Marseilles. When I was young, I loved to feel the Mistral wind blowing through me. I would stand still and just let it whip through my hair. I can no longer bear the Mistral. But I still love Marseilles." --Mme. Chollet

In the spice-scented salon* of the Chollet's home, I marvel at four generations of French women, one as beautiful as the next. The great-grandmother, with her dark chocolate brown hair and large clip-on earrings, recounted her passion for the windy city. Curiously, her lust for Massalia* skipped a generation, to her granddaughter. Her very own daughter (seated beside her, dressed all in black and looking very Cannoise*) prefers La Côte d'Azur, explaining, "Les Marseillais* are violent like the wind that blows through their city! The wind is mild in Cannes."

I sat facing my friend Corinne, her mother, and grandmother, thinking about how my feelings for a city that I once called home had changed. I didn't always like Marseilles. At one point I despised it. Returning now, as a visitor, I am enchanted by this historical town founded by the Greeks over 2600 years ago.

Earlier, as we motored through the 8th arrondissement, past the Bagatelle (where Jean-Marc and I were first married, but that is another story...) I found myself wondering how, newly arrived, I could not see the charm and beauty of this ancient city. Back then, Marseilles felt like a perpetual attack on this desert rat. (I would not recommend moving from warm, dry Phoenix to cold, windy Marseilles; Chicago to Marseilles, why not, but Phoenix/Marseilles--forget it!)

The cruel wind, the absence of a "user friendly" anything, the aggressive, unsympathetic government employees who threatened to deport me, and the lack of edible tortillas were just a few elements that wrecked havoc on the successful integration of this Phoenician, in a town founded by the Phocaeans.*

But now, 14 years later, I can't help but be caught up in the whirl of this action-packed, passionate, multi-ethnic ville.* Marseilles IS violent. Like its famous Mistral wind, it kicks, pushes, whirls, stomps, spits, and sometimes slams, daring you to cling right back to it, for the ride of your life.

My first child came into this world via Marseilles, kicking and screaming like the wind, which might explain his constant joie de vivre. (My daughter was born in Aix-en-Provence, and is reserved like the Aixois, or citizens of Aix.)

But, returning to our story, and to the Chollet's cozy salon, we were about to celebrate the birthday of a little guy who had just turned two. Matthieu, pronounced "ma-tyeuh," is my husband's filleul* (and the birthday boy in question).

Matthieu's mother, Corinne, had prepared five desserts for the celebration and, knowing what a good cook she is, I got in line illico* to sample the gateau au chocolat,* crumble au poires,* Madeleines, gateau au yaourt* and a brownie...or two.

Next we watched the birthday boy (dressed in a t-shirt that read "J'ai 2 ans!" I'm 2!) boogie and chanter.* And what did he sing? A song about St. Tropez! I take it that passion for Marseilles has just skipped another generation.

References: le salon (m) = the living room; Massalia = Marseilles' original name; une Cannoise = a woman from Cannes; les Marseillais = the people of Marseilles; Phocaeans = inhabitants of an ancient district of central Greece; une ville (f) = a city; un filleul (m) = godson; illico = right away; gâteau au chocolat (m) = chocolate cake; crumble aux poires = pear crumble; gâteau au yaourt (m) = yogurt cake; chanter = to sing

Hear French spoken:
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download filleul2.wav
Mon filleul va bientôt partir, ainsi la guerre va devenir plus personnelle pour moi.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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The muguet tradition in France: Lily of the Valley sold on French street corners on May 1st

le muguet (mew-geh) n.m.

 : lily of the valley

Question: So what are the French doing today, the first of May, besides la grasse matinée?

Answer: Waving snow-white porte-bonheurs through the air and wishing each other good luck!

Muguet lily of the valley lys des vallees, may 1st French tradition Along little cobblestone paths in the French hinterland, and at noisy intersections across the city, French vendeurs de muguet are taking over street curbs with buckets of lilies of the valley and shouting Le muguet du premier mai!--cashing in on today's national holiday, Labor Day (or La Fête du Travail).

On May 1st it is the custom to offer loved ones little bouquets of those sweet-scented, clochette-shaped flowers--in a gesture of friendship and in celebration of spring. It's la Fête du Muguet!

Today, commerçants are handing out the friendship flowers: the butcher (who should be off work, non?) is offering un brin de muguet to his faithful clients and some fancy boxed cakes have been seen leaving the chocolate shop with the little white flowers--les lys des vallées--tucked beneath the shiny ribbons that fasten the boxes.

"Ah, bon?" My mother-in-law replies over the phone, étonnée. "Shopkeepers here in Marseilles don't offer muguet!"

After a moment of silence, she quietly admits that no one has ever offered her a bouquet of muguet des bois.... But that doesn't stop my belle-maman from taking un petit brin to her 'little neighbor' downstairs, a custom she took up several years ago, to add cheer to the lonely foyer of another forgotten heart.

Selling lily of the valley muguet in bandol france port on may 1st fete du travail
Woman selling lily of the valley at her tiny pop-up stand on the port of Bandol

Bonne Fête du Muguet! Good luck to you in the challenges you face--bon courage wherever on this globe you may call home

The following lyrics are from the beloved French folk singer George Brassens. Check out his music 

Le premier mai c'est pas gai / The first of May is not cheerful
Je trime a dit le muguet / I slave away, said the lily of the valley
Dix fois plus que d'habitude / Ten times more than usual
Regrettable servitude / A regrettable encumbrance

Muguet, sois pas chicaneur / Muguet, don't be a quibbler
Car tu donnes du bonheur / Because you make people happy...
Brin d' muguet, tu es quelqu'un... / Little bouquet of lily, you are somebody...

faire la grasse matinée = "to do the fat morning" (to sleep in); un porte-bonheur (m) = lucky charm; vendeur, vendeuse de muguet = lily of the valley seller; Le muguet du premier mai! = The First of May's Lily of the Valley (buy some now)!; lys des vallées = lily of the valley, la clochette (f) = bell; commerçant(e) (adj) = businesslike; commerçant(e) (mf) = shopkeepers; Ah, bon? = oh, really?; étonné(e) = puzzled; le muguet des bois (m) = "lily of the woods" (woodruff); la belle-maman (f) = mother-in-law; un petit brin (m) = "a little blade" (a little bouquet); coo-toom (pronunciation for 'coutume' (f) = custom

AUDIO FILE--hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'muguet':
Download muguet.wav

When you order via Amazon your purchase helps support this word journal... 

Floral Lily Of The Valley Luxury Hand Cream, order here

Lily of the Valley cup and saucer - Fine English bone china

Lily of The Valley by Yardley of London for Women Eau De Toilette Spray, order here.

6 Very Large, Fresh, Plump Lily of the Valley Bare Root Plants

children at church fountain in Bandol France on May 1st muguet fete du travail plane platane tree
People relaxing and children playing on the premier mai, or fête du travail in Bandol, France.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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le coin (kwun --silent n) noun, masculine
1. corner
2. part
3. area

le coin bureau = the work area
le coin repas = the dining area

les gens du coin = the locals
coins et recoins = nooks and crannies
va au coin! = go and stand in the corner!
mettre un enfant au coin = to put a child in the corner
rester dans son coin = to keep to oneself
laisser quelqu'un dans son coin = to leave somebody alone
le coin du bricoleur = the DIY department
un petit coin pas cher = a cheap, inexpensive little place
un regard en coin = a sidelong glance
le petit coin = the bathroom, the loo
les quatre coins du monde = the four corners of the world
la maison qui fait le coin = the corner house
chercher quelque chose dans tous les coins = to look high and low for something

Citation du Jour:

Tout ce que l'on cherche à redécouvrir
Fleurit chaque jour au coin de nos vies.

All that we seek to discover
Flowers each day in the corner of our lives
--Jacques Brel

A Day in a French Life...

On my way to Aix-en-Provence last Friday, I pulled into une station-service* to visit le petit coin.* I entered the gas station boutique and walked past the coin-operated beverage machines, pausing to eye the motley duo huddled around a high table: a paysan* in a faded chemise* and an elderly woman. The woman looked like she'd just stepped off stage at le Moulin Rouge. Her maquillage,* in tones of red and blue, was painted thickly above her eyes and across her lips. I was thankful she was not in cabaret attire. I continued to the back of the shop, looking for the door with the "Dames" caricature.

Pas de chance,* the ladies room was blocked off and a sign instructed patrons to use the next room (that would be the "Messieurs"...) No big deal, I thought. I've been in the men's room before, having walked past many a wall urinal on my way to the commode. (In my college semester in Lille we had to share the bathroom with les garçons*). Of course gliding past urinals in a nonchalant fashion takes time
getting used to, and the red never left my face even if my hands shielded my eyes.

Starting toward the men's room I froze in my tracks and couldn't lift my foot over the threshold. Backing up, I decided to check and see if the attendant was done cleaning the ladies room, and so I called into
les toilettes.*

"Oui, Madame," a man's voice echoed from a stall.
"Oh, so I'll just, uh, go next door, right?" I said in French with a heavy American accent.
"Venez. C'est bon." It's okay, I could come in. I was hoping he wouldn't say that...

I tiptoed over the wet floor, and selected the cabin farthest from Monsieur. The bathroom stall walls became paper-thin just as soon as I closed the door; it might as well have been a rideau* separating the toilets, and of course one could hear a pin drop just as soon as I slid the lever shut. I now stood hesitant atop the newly mopped floor.

Soon enough Monsieur began to whistle a tune from Les Misérables, and all I could think was "Whistle louder, please!" and then, as art would have it, I found myself immersed in that sad tune.

Humming along with Monsieur, I studied the diagonal designs left by the dirty mop and thought about the melody. Gavroche...Cosette? Victor Hugo!

My former gêne* turned into a burning quest to name that tune. Busy trying to pin title to chanson,* I forgot about Monsieur as well as my soucis.* Before long I was pulling on the chasse* and scrambling out of the stall to confirm that Monsieur was indeed singing "I dreamed a dream". N'est-ce pas? N'est-ce pas!

By then Monsieur had disappeared. I followed the hum and found another sign, this time propped outside the men's room. A few guys stood hesitant, eyeing the ladies' room, wondering whether or not to cross the threshold...

*References: la station-service (f) = the gas station; le petit coin (m) = the bathroom; le paysan (m) = the farmer; le maquillage (m) = make-up; un garçon (m) = a boy; le rideau (m) = the curtain; une gêne = an embarrassment; une chanson (f) = a song; un soucis (m) = a worry; la chasse (f) = the toilet flush; les toilettes = the bathroom

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

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un rayon

un rayon (ray-oh) noun, masculine
1. a ray, beam
2. radius
3. spoke
4. shelf; department, counter

un rayon d'espoir = a ray of hope
un rayon de lune = a moonbeam
un rayon de soleil = a ray of sunshine
aux premiers rayons de soleil = at sunrise
un rayon d'action = a field of action
le rayon visuel = the line of vision
les rayons gamma = gamma rays
le rayon frais = the fresh food department
le rayon d'enfants = the children's department

Citation du Jour

L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire Il a pour réchauffer le cœur. Un rayon de plus que la gloire, et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur.

Love makes one think, live and believe. To warm the heart it has one ray more than glory, and this ray is happiness.--Victor Hugo

A Day in a French Life...

Loading the grocery bags into le chariot,* I think about how attached I've become to our village's supermarket. The store has undergone two agrandissements* since we moved here, each time to the villagers' collective chagrin, but is still quaint enough to feel at ease while navigating the narrow isles.

Though we don't have grocery baggers in France we now have a system at our supermarket whereby the cashier can load items directly into the bags after swiping them across the product scanner. La caissière* can also weigh les fruits et légumes* for us. Not long ago, we had to wait in line at an electronic scale, stare at a panel of 50 or so produce depictions (looking for the picture of the banana or leek or pomme* in question) push the corresponding button to retrieve the adhesive price ticket, stick that on the see-through bag and worry about if it we did right selecting "pomme* reinette" when maybe it was a "pomme rouge"* after all?

Our supermarket has well-stocked rayons,* and even a "produits étranger"* section where I can select peanut butter (beurre de cacahouètes in French), cranberry juice, tortillas and recently, Campbell's mushroom soup. But I don't buy those things anymore.

You know what they say, "On veut toujours ce qu'on n'a pas chez nous" (We always want what we don't have). Though I can now have a few staples from my American childhood, it isn't a glass of cranberry juice or a PB & J sandwich that will enhance this French life.

Realizing the truth in this, I whip past the jars of peanut butter and veer back to the cheese counter. I am in France, doing like a Frenchwoman. Fitting in, smoothing down the often self-constructed barriers, becoming a part of the ebb and flow of French life. Slipping forward at times, sans beurre de cacahouettes* to smooth the ride.

*References: le chariot (m) = grocery cart; un agrandissement (m) = an expansion; la caissière (le cassier) = cashier; le fruit (m) = fruit ; un légume (m) = a vegetable; une pomme (f) an apple; rouge = red; produit étranger (m) = foreign product; le beurre de cacahouètes (m) = peanut butter Note: in Canada it is beurre d'arachide

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