June 25, 2012: “Your Chalet in Paris”

          My French is terrible. Today I was at the boutique in Bargemon, trying to explain to the nice young man who works there that I want to buy some place mats. I don’t know the word for place mats, so I kept calling them “dessous de plats.” But I was clearly mispronouncing “dessous,” which means “underneath.” I was saying “dessoule,” which means “sober.”

          That poor French boy was very patient while I kept telling him, “I want for to make my dishes not be drunk!”

          I try to remember this sort of exchange whenever I notice how Americans often confuse Paris and France. When one says the word “France” to Americans, most of the time we hear the word “Paris.”

          Try it sometime. Tell a neighbor or co-worker, “I’m going next week toFrance,” and they’ll almost certainly respond with, “Oh, I love Paris! How long will you be there?”

          People ask Tevye and me about our “house in Paris” all the time. Sometimes, if we bother to explain that the house is in Provence, people become confused.

          “Provence is an entire region of France,” I’ll occasionally say, hoping to be helpful. “It’s in the south. Paris is a city, way up north.”

          “But you just said you were going to Paris,” is usually the reply.

My cousin Eileen emailed me this morning: “What does the front of your house look like?” It looks like this.

          I’ve actually never been to Paris. Ridiculous, I know. The first few years we were here, Tevye and I used to always plan to jump on the TGV and go to Paris for a weekend, but somehow we never made it. (He’s been. Tevye took his junior year abroad, and traveled all over England and France.) I rarely tell people that we vacation in Provence but I’ve never been to Paris, for fear their head will explode.

          Still, it’s nice of people to ask. Our favorite was the time we were asked, at a funeral, “How is your chalet in Paris?” We love the word “chalet,” even if we’re not entirely sure what it means. But that’s how we refer now to our home in the mountains of Provence. It’s our “chalet in Paris.”

 Thing I Hate Today: Failed pedicures


5 Responses

  1. I would love to eat from your drunken plates! Miss you, so glad to be able to read your “post cards”. xxoo CB

  2. Drunk dishes response is funny. Your house looks warm, quaint and huge.

  3. Dear Robrt Pela,

    It is hot here. When are you returning to complain about it?

    Kim Blake

  4. Those pots look weird. Are they drunk too?

  5. I see the Recycle cans are not put out – and Bob must have policed the area for trash in order to style this photo.

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