In the moss-covered village of Rochegude... a courtyard, above, located beside the writer's den that I mentioned in a recent post..
parole (pah-rol) noun, feminine
: lyrics; word (spoken)
À la parole on connaît l'homme. --PA Manzoli
Help translate today's quote? ...or share one of the dozens of French idioms and expressions that go with the word "parole" ("avoir la parole facile", "perdre la parole" "tenir sa parole"...). Thank you for using the comments box.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
A Photographic Interlude in the town of Rochegude
Of the many ruelles that wind through the picturesque French town of Rochegude, at least one is carpeted green. "If red stands for royalty," I reflect, snapping a photo of the floor beneath me, "then green must stand for "grace"--and if I were a queen I'd walk on green!"
Stepping down some softly sovereign stairs made of stone and thick with moss, I spot a modern day carriage at the end of the path: it is, in fact, a classic car by today's standards. Admiring the shiny new paint on the Renault Quatrelle, I wonder: will the old bagnole be a good subject and, if so, how to best capture it?
"Make room for the lantern," I begin coaching myself, looking through the camera lens to the street light above. "And don't leave out the Town Hall... Oh--and it would be good to include these!" I think, looking down to the path before me, where a line of smooth, round rocks fills in what may have once been an eye-sore of a gutter. I notice how the stones add style to an otherwise ordinary cement landing, one which follows those velvety stairs.
Approaching the old Quatrelle, I notice there is writing on the back, just beneath the window, and soon find myself singing the old tune that those words represent....
"Baby you can drive my car.... "
All but leaning onto the hatchback, I am now chuckling at some Frenchman's tongue-in-cheek finishing touch over that new cherry red paint: "Beep Beep, Yeh!" Back in the States, it is common to see stickers on the backs of cars (wisdom in under a dozen words) but, here in France, such free philosophy is reserved for friends--and, occasionally, for enemies (during a traffic altercation or, in retail, when a sales clerk smarts back... or even when she doesn't).
I begin snapping several photos of the car when a woman with a stoller passes, only to stop in her tracks. I lower my camera in time to smile at the baby and to answer the woman's inquisitive stare. "C'est rigolo... cette voiture, n'est-ce pas?" I offer.
Like that, Stroller Woman and I strike up a conversation ranging from old cars and collectibles... to joblessness and even weight loss! I learn that Stroller Woman suffers from phlebite and has just returned from Bollène, on foot, as part of her new exercise regime.
"Walking is the best sport!" I offer, cheering her on, happy to think up something to say.
When we have exhausted our repertoire of "Small Talk for Complete Strangers," conversation comes to an abrupt and embarrassing halt.
"Do you have internet?" I ask, the thought crossing my mind to post the photos that I have taken, along with a story, and thereby recruit a new reader--never mind that she can't read English.
"No," Stroller Woman says. "But I will give you my phone number!" I am caught off guard by the stranger's offer and, after an initial hesitation, I search for a pen.
"By the way, what does it say?" she asks.
I follow her gaze, over to the English lyrics on the old Quatrelle.
"Oh, that's a song from the 60s," I answer, taking a clue from the "Sixties" signature on the car.
Stroller Woman looks at me, expectantly, and I so I prepare to translate the song lyrics:
"Chérie, tu peux conduire ma voiture.... Non... c'est pas ça.... euh..."*
I give it another go:
"BEBE, tu peux conduire ma voiture..."
Just then, another villager--and friend of Stroller Woman--appears, greets my one-woman audience, and ignores me. I nod, clear my throat and decide I'm performing for two. Best to start fresh with the lyrics:
"Bébé, tu peux conduire ma voiture!" My eyes are now bright and I think I've got the swing of it.
"Oui! Je vais être une star!" I enthuse, now wiping my lashes, which are soaked with tears due to the cold morning air.
"....ET bébe JE T'AIME!" (This part automatically escapes my mouth and when I look over to the words on the car, I notice these particular lyrics are missing! In my embarrasement I skip quickly to the end):
"BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP -- YEH!"
By now I have to dry my eyes with a mouchoir, the wind having picked up and, with it, the rate with which my tear ducts pour out their watery, cold air barrier. When next I look up I notice my new friend, Stroller Woman, has disappeared! This, before I have even had the chance to give her my phone number.
I see her now, a little further up the street, making what looks to be a getaway--beneath the protective arm of a friend.
The two walk away slowly, cautiously--as one walks away from Insanity, or Madness... or simply a tone-deaf damsel in distress.
BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP YEAH... YEAH? Hey... HEY!!! REVENEZ! COME BACK!
Le Coin Commentaires
Renault Quatrelle (Renault 4) = kind of economy car with a hatchback, see it here; la bagnole (f) = slang for "car"; la phlébite (f) = phlebitis; C'est rigolo... cette voiture, n'est-ce pas? = It’s amusing, this car, isn’t it ?; Oui! Je vais être un star! = Yes, I’m gonna be a star!; le mouchoir (m) = handkerchief
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Film feature: The French Revolution (History Channel)
On July 14, 1789, a mob of angry Parisians stormed the Bastille and seized the King's military stores. A decade of idealism, war, murder, and carnage followed, bringing about the end of feudalism and the rise of equality and a new world order. The French Revolution is a definitive feature-length documentary that encapsulates this heady (and often headless) period in Western civilization.
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