Oreiller (Or how to say "pillow" in French) + My Mother-in-Law teases me about my husband's past love life

rouler de nuit

ile de Groix (c) Kristin Espinasse
L'île de Groix, where we vacationed in 2006. We are heading back to Brittany, to a different island, on Friday.... Note: French Word-A-Day will be on break through August 3rd. 

rouler de nuit (roo-lay-deuh-nwee)

    : to drive through the night

 Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc's French: Download MP3 file or hear this Wave file

Pour rouler tranquille et au frais, roulez de nuit! To drive easy and in cool (temperatures), drive through the night!

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

Yesterday Jean-Marc made a last-minute reservation for a home rental on the Île de Ré. We were unsure whether we would go on vacation this year, due to a certain stand-by situation that has us on a roller coaster of emotion.

Briefly, we will be getting off that roller coaster and getting into our family van for the 9-hour drive west, to the coast of Bretagne. To avoid vacation traffic, or what the French call le chassé-croisé of July-August vacationers, we have decided, once again, to rouler de nuit.

The idea of driving through the night makes me nervous, but for Jean-Marc it is not an issue: my husband enjoys the cool night air, the open road, the backseat peace (sleeping kids), and the music he listens to as he drives (I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot of Manu Chao this year, after Jean-Marc returns from the concert in Nimes tonight).

This year, instead of fretting, I might focus on being a better co-pilot. One thing I can do is listen to my husband when he tells me to go ahead and get some sleep. This time, I'll try not to feel so guilty and, especially, I'll try not to startle every 15 minutes, when I wake up after dozing off....

"Are you OK? ARE YOU OK? You're sure you are OK?" I can't help but quiz the driver each time I spring awake. Jean-Marc responds by assuring me he is wide awake and I should rest easy, only, deep down I know that he is only human, capable of nodding off.... T'es sûr que ça va???

Experience reveals him to be an alert and precautious driver. He's driven us from France all the way to Croatia. He's driven from Sainte Cécile to Sicily. Those long hauls make this drive to Brittany a trip around the block. And should he tire, Jean-Marc knows when to pull off the road and sleep for an hour or two, or to ask me to take the wheel for a spell.

A spell! Yikes, that's just it! I worry about the continuum of the road and how it can coax a driver into a trance-like state. To avoid this trap, some drivers roll down the windows, chew gum, or spritz their faces with a spray bottle. Jean-Marc's precautions include a good nap the afternoon or evening of departure and a good supply of caffeinated soft drinks—along with the other astuces already mentioned.

How about you? What do you do to keep alert while behind the wheel? Thanks for sharing your tips here, in the comments box. We'll see you in two weeks... at which point we hope to have some good news to share with you!

P.S. After two skin cancer surgeries this year, driving in the dark is also a good precaution! Now to figure out what to do on this sunny vacation—when my family is at the beach the day long. How about an early morning swim or a late night dip? And this might be a good time to return to knitting, after giving up? Please share some sun-skirting ideas and activities here in the comments box. Many thanks in advance--and I hope you are remembering to wear sun block, too!

 I leave you with our itinerary...

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French Vocabulary

la Bretagne = Brittany

le chassé-croisé = comings and goings

rouler de nuit = drive through the night

t'es sûr que ça va = you're sure everything's OK?

une astuce = trick, tip, helpful idea


Father and daughter in 2006. 

Smokey says, Why can't I come with you? I promise not to ask "how long till we get there?" and I won't fight with the other kids in the back seat. Please, take me on vacation with you!" (Smokey, you and Mama Braise are headed to Uncle Jacques, in Avignon. He's going to spoil you rotten--fun, games, forbidden food--so no complaining!)

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety