The book fair in Roussillon. All photos taken by mom (a.k.a. "Jules"). See her, and her gallery of photos, in today's edition.

attrape-tout (ah-trap-too) adjective
    : catch-all

The French word "attrape-tout" refers to a vague political plan destined to seduce the greatest number of voters. In today's story, it refers to a bookseller's plan to seduce the greatest number of potential buyers... Read on.

Audio File
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At the book fair in Roussillon, it took me almost half the day to figure out how to get the French to notice my author's stand. Some sort of "attrape-tout," or prop, would be needed...

My current plan was bombing and, though the French allowed themselves to be lured over by an American-voiced command ("Pardon me! What is Your Favorite French Word?"), it was painful to watch as the Francophones struggled with their own language.

"Difficult, isn't it?" I sympathized, slyly handing over my card, which read "French Word-A-Day".

"There are just so many wonderful words in the French language to choose from, n'est-ce pas?!" With that, I talked a little about my "mot du jour" blog and, when lucky, sold a book, based on the former.

By noon, I tired of pitching the unpopular "Favorite French Word" question out to the book-fair traffic as it flowed past my stand. Then, just as enthusiasm began to wane, I had a stroke of good luck... one that coincided with lunchtime. As I sat at my display table, eating three-cheese quiche, I began to notice something unusual: traffic began to slow--and sometimes stop--right before my very eyes!

"Bon appétit!" a French couple said.
"Oh... merci," I thanked them, covering my mouth, embarrassed.

Seconds later... it happened again:
"Bon appétit!" offered the man with a salt-n-pepper ponytail.
"Merci beaucoup!" I answered, in a muffled voice.

On and on the gastronomic wishes continued...
"Bon appétit!" chirped a woman in motorcycle jacket, and I quit chewing in time to give an enthusiastic nod of thanks...

"GOOD APPETITE!" a distinguished-looking Frenchman said, with cheer.

No matter the age or the outward appearance, the French were now noticing me! For as long as that plate of food remained intact, each and every Francophone that passed my table paused in time to wish me a "Happy Meal!"

So, that's that: at the next book fair I am ditching the "Favorite French Words" ploy... and getting smart--by bringing plenty of tarts!

P.S.: Is it any wonder that the most popular "Favorite French Words" included "vin", "soleil", "amour", and "pastis"? What are your favorite French words?

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