The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 25

In this issue, visit France from home - Gascony, and Provence, fabulous day trips from Paris, captivating Toulouse and charming Northern France. Recipes, guides and a whole heap more to entertain and inspire...

I never thought I would

I never thought I would be so excited to see Jean-Francois, the village handyman. But I’d spent endless days indoors not seeing another human (if you don’t count the husband). As I hung a bag for the Bread Man on the gate so he could pop my bread delivery in, I spotted the lanky Jean-Francois in his never-seen-out-of-them blue overalls (except once at the village harvest party), trimming a hedge down the road. We exchanged long distance waves. “Ca va?” he called. “Ca va!” I shouted back, “Ca va?” The Good Life Janine Marsh's life in lock-down France That started the dogs barking in the back garden and he had to yell his answer “Ca va, ca va.” Mon dieu, the first conversation I have had with another human (again not counting the husband) in real life in goodness knows how long consisted of just 3 letters. Now in case you think I’m referring to a sparkling wine that’s spelled the same way give or take a space, I’m not. “Ca va” is the universal general greeting of the French. You might have been taught at school that “comment allez vous” is what you should say when you meet someone, but unless you’re in a formal situation or rendezvous-ing with the President or Prince Albert of Monaco, say that as a greeting to your mates and you will be greeted with a look of astonishment. In fact, the French I speak with my neighbours is nothing like the French I was taught at school. All manner of words come up that fill me with astonishment like “bof” which is how you reply to “ca va” if you’re only so-so, instead of saying you’re well which requires you to reply “ca va”. And my French teacher, a sophisticated Parisienne, never prepared a youthful me for living in the far north of France where they speak with such a strong accent that even the rest of France can hardly understand the locals. But gradually I’m getting this French language malarkey and can hold a conversation quite well. At first it was like a game of tennis, I could volley a word in but couldn’t really hold an extended rally of conversation. These days, after a lot of practice, I can score break points by throwing in some “real French”, there’s always a way to fit “toho-bohu” (confusion) or “Hurluberlu” (eccentric) or “ah, la vache” (which although it literally translates as “oh my cow” means “oh my god”) into a conversation. I still make mistakes though. I once announced to a bus load of Frenchies “je suis chaud”. It was a sweltering hot day, I thought I was saying “I am hot”. Non. It’s a rookie error and to Frenchies it means “I am hot” - as in 9 1⁄2 Weeks the erotic film. Napoleon Bonaparte once said “Du sublime au ridicule, il n’y a qu’un pas’ – “From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step…” and so it is!