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Zipper politics in France (!)


Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise. You can't help but want to snap a picture of the sign when ambling through Shakepeare and Company in Paris. But did you know it's forbidden to take pictures inside the famous bookstore? Then again, the French are not known to behave in public. Case in point: France's president--who was spotted in the wee hours of the night, outside his alleged mistress's nest. His getaway vehicle? A scooter! 

They French are having a heyday with the scandal--known as the l'affaire Closer (after the name of the magazine that published the compromising pictures). They might have fun with today's photo, too--pointing out that their president took the words of wisdom to heart!

Could President Hollande's alleged mistress be an angel compared to his current missis, Valérie Trierweiler--famously known as "The Rottweiller." And is France's first lady (a girlfriend of the President's) still Première Dame de France? Inquiring minds want to know! Les esprits curieux veulent savoir!

une braguette (brag-et)

    : zipper, fly

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Audio File and Example Sentence
Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence: Click for MP3 or Wav file

  Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire "politique de la braguette"?
  What does "zipper politics" mean?

 Improve your French pronunciation with these Exercises in French Phonetics

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

By now you may have heard about the French president's mistress. I meant to talk about this in the previous post, but Conscience waved her finger once again:

"What's the point in spreading rumors--à quoi bon faire courir le bruitYou'd do well to mind your own beeswax! Mieux vaut t'occuper de tes oignons!"

Dear Reader, as  you are my witness, I did certainly mind my own business, or "take care of my onions"--and my snap peas and my parsley and my fava beans! I sowed hundreds of seeds this weekAnything but give into the temptation to gossip!

But not to acknowledge the country's current scandal would be to act as though one lived in Lala Land and not France (never mind the two are synonymous).

And so here's a brief run-down via the highlighted vocab words below (after all this is a language journal and not a tabloid!). 

La Casque - "The Helmet"
It all began when the president was spotted wearing his casque, or helmet, in the middle of the night. Shouldn't he be wearing a nightcap instead? This was the million-dollar question. And as he hopped onto his scooter and sped away from his alleged lover's borrowed apartment (only 500 meters from his presidental pad!) he was caught by a paparazzo. (Side note: The same paparazzo that snapped a photo of Mitterand's illegitimate daughter)

Jean-Marc snapped this photo of the newsstand and la dernière nouvelle!

La Belle Nana - "The Hot Chick" or "The Doll" or "The Babe"
Holland's purported love interest, 41-year-old Julie Gayet, is younger than his girlfriend by 6 or 7 years. She is also a relatively unknown actress who has dozens of films to her credit, including "Shall We Kiss?", "Les Gens Qui S'Aiment" (People Who love each other) and "Chaos and Desire"...

Photo credit Mireille Ampilhac

While Julie hid out all week the plot thickened... a report surfaced that she was recently awarded a seat at the prestigious Villa Medicis jury! The website "Express" writes: 

Francois Hollande's alleged mistress has been awarded one of the most prestigious jobs in French public life, amid unconfirmed claims that she is four months pregnant.

Enceinte? - "Pregnant?"
Those tabloids sure know how to sensational things! Who knows if the alleged mistress is enceinte but it sure begs the question: If it's true will Julie be the next Première Dame? Can there be two First Ladies? Can girlfriends be First Ladies? Will he marry her? Which her? Can you boot a First Lady out against her will? The honorable role is currently under questioning--what with France's unmarried or "celibataire" president.

(Side note: former president Nicolas Sarkozy must be having a good chuckle after taking the heat of marrying a Top Model when he split from First Lady, Cécilia Attias--who made headline news in France this morning:

"Cécilia Attias réclame un vrai statut de "première dame" (I'm having a hard time translating this one, but one thing's sure: all these women are demanding something!) (And if there is one thing President Hollande has never demanded any woman that is marriage (see two sections down....)

Valerie trierweiler

Photo by "Jackolan1"

Le Toubib - Doctor
When Valérie Trierweiler found out her boyfriend, the president, was potentially involved with the actress, JuJu, she went straight to le toubib. More than seeing a doctor, she checked herself into the hospital. While some French find it no more than a dramatic ploy, I think it does a lot to deflate the "grand legend" that the French are emotional toughies when it comes to la trahison, infidelity. No they're not! They break down just like anybody else!

Se Moquer de - To Poke Fun at"
The French are having a lot of fun with the Françoise-Julie-Valérie-and Ségolène imbrolio (Ségolène is the politician who ran for president before him--and mother of his 4 children whom he replaced with Valérie, pictured above). Someone even made a video game called  "Aidez François à rejoindre Julie!" (Help François get to Julie!). In the video game, you see François riding his scooter towards Julie's apartment--when two hurdles appear (Valérie and Ségolène, dressed in jogging attire).

Here's a peek at that (you may need to click over to to see it. It will definitely give you a chuckle after reading up on the current scandal!

J'me casse maintenant! - Gotta go now!
So  much for gossip mongering. I feel better (much less guilty) when I'm minding my onions, that is, minding my own business! Off now to toss out some more seeds. It's raining here in the South of France--perfect for "setting" future sunflowers--and tomatoes and green beans, too! And far far away from the glamorous and complicated capital!

To respond to today's story, click here. Have anything to add to the news? Were you aware of it? Should the president's private life be fodder for newspapers (and blogs?) Does a politician's love life affect his work? Comments welcome here.

Two places to stay in the South of France:

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in this beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. 

New rental in Provence! La Baume des Pelerins, in Sablet--spacious, comfortable the perfect place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.


"A nice way to start your day with a short read and a new word."

  Blossoming in provence book on French life filled with useful vocabulary, by Kristin Espinasse
Thank you very much, Delilah, for your helpful book review of Blossoming in Provence!:

Great way to learn French ...almost as good as taking a trip to the south of France. The writing is wonderful a nice way to start your day with a short read and a new word.

Click on the following links to order either: the paperback or the e-book


Cheese shop (c) Kristin Espinasse
My friend CJ reposted a clever diddy on Facebook. But I think the picture it's on is copyrighted so I'm reproducing the saying here (on a picture I took of a cheese shop in Salernes). Enjoy, and thanks for sharing this post with a friend!

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