Water park

Note: French Word-A-Day will return mid-August. In the meantime, you might enjoy these readers' stories: Funny French-language gaffes, Lavender Tips, and Cultural Misconceptions (awaiting stories on this last topic...).

défiler (day-fee-lay) verb
    to march past, to parade

un défilé (day-fee-lay) noun: 1) procession  2) gorge
    => un défilé de mode = a fashion show

C'est au plus étroit du défilé que la vallée commence.
It is at the narrowest point in the gorge that the valley begins.

Audio File: hear my son, Max, pronounce today's word and proverb: Download defiler.mp3 . Download defiler.wav

At a French water park near Nyons I stand, desperate and uncertain, before a table of women's swimwear....

"I think I can help..." the vendeuse* says, leading me to the end of the Lycra display.
"Oh, no... no. No no, that won't work!" I insist, noticing the itsy bitsy teenie weenie (no bigger than a polka dot!) bikinis.

The saleswoman shakes her head. "No, not those..." she explains. "These." Pointing to the ground, she indicates a basket of briefs. There, into the wicker panier,* I stare at the suggested alternative.

Men's underwear?

"Um, I don't know about that...." Meantime, the clock is ticking and I've promised to hurry back to Jean-Marc and the others who are stalled at the poolside entrance due to the dress code.

"Are you sure this will work?" I note the price of the underwear: 8 euros (or, deal of deals, three for 20).
"Yes," the saleswoman assures me.
"Well then, OK. I'll need four. Vous me faites un prix?*

                                    *     *     *
Moments later I am relaxing in the sun, my trusty one-piece suit covering a cozy, wintertime waist, a copy of George Sand's "Petite Fadette"* in hand. Adjusting my shoulder straps, I sense, out of the corner of my eye, a bit of commotion.... and look over in time to witness a peculiar parade: with as little pomp and circumstance as possible, four blushing males tiptoe out of the co-ed changing room....

"Ce n'est pas possible!" the first in line complains, tugging at the itsy short.
"Règle d'hygiène,"* I giggle, pointing out the water park dress code: "le port du maillot de bain est obligatoire ... le short de bain est interdit.*
"But," Jean-Marc argues, "I don't see what the difference is between the swim trunks that we were wearing and.... and ... THESE!"
(Only, if there was no difference, then why was he complaining so?)

I watch the other three models who, for the awkwardness in their gait, may as well be wearing five-inch heels: there's my brother-in-law (a.k.a; "Uncle Jacques"), my son Max, and his friend Alex. All four bathing beauties are wearing unusually long T-shirts (thanks to some last-minute shirt stretching and tugging) as they try, in vain, to cover up.

After a mad dash to the pool, sans T-shirt, the men mermaids spent most of the afternoon waist deep in water, but for the occasional ride down the slide. Overall, the underwear-suits worked out just fine... there was just one small glitch or, rather, stitch: the suits didn't fare so well on the slide.... it must have been that clingy cotton fabric, which tended to "catch" on the slide walls, so as to not always "follow suit" with the scarlet-faced swimmers.
* END *

One misconception that I had about the French was this: all French men wear Speedos. Ever had a preconceived notion about another culture? Share your stories in the comments box.

la vendeuse
(f) = sales clerk; le panier (m) = basket; vous me faites un prix? = make me an offer? (May I have a discount?) ; La Petite Fadette : used copies available here; la règle (f) d'hygiène = hygiene rule; le port du maillot de bain est obligatoire ... le short de bain est interdit = it is obligatory to wear a swimsuit ... swim shorts (swim trunks) are forbidden (a Speedo-type bathing suit is required)

Instant Immersion French Deluxe
In French products: Caudalie Lip Conditioner hydrates and repairs dry, damaged lips with a powerful blend of antioxidants and nutrients.
Histoire de Melody Nelson Serge Gainsbourg
Lavender Honey Grilling Sauce for a Provençal style BBQ chez vous

In travel accessories: Rucksack Collapsible Back pack napsack. Do you ever bemoan the fact you did not bring an extra bag along on a trip, excursion, outing, flea market etc? bemoan no more! This is the answer.

Cambridge Word Routes Anglais-Français: a bilingual reference book in which words and phrases are organised in topic groups, helping learners to explore related vocabulary in a way that is not
possible in conventional dictionaries.

While errors can be found in every French word edition, such "coquilles" make for a good learning opportunity. Thank you to those who wrote in, correcting this sentence from the "fuseau" story (note the spelling of "censé" and the absence of "de" in the second example):

"Qu'est-ce que je suis sensé de faire avec ça?"
The sentence should read: "Qu'est-ce que je suis censé faire avec ça?"
(What am I supposed to do with this?)

*"une coquille" means typo or misprint (in my case it was a mistake... and not a typo...)

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