Grelotter (greh-lot-ay) means “to shiver.” Now that it is December, colder temperatures are the norm. So is shivering, unfortunately. As a Canadian, I’ve had my share of cold winters. One of the times that I was coldest was during a class trip to Quebec City. Although it was early spring, a storm roared in. Snow and ice pellets pounded against us stinging our faces. It was like being sandblasted. Look at the crazy angle of the icicles! The students who wore ballet flats shivered most of all. Brrr.
The must-see exhibit in Paris this winter is a freebie at the Hôtel de Ville dedicated to 150 photos of Paris by the prestigious members of the Magnum agency. Paris Magnum, la retrospective (par-ee man-yum lah ret-ro-spek-teev) is open from December 11, 2014 until March 28, 2015. See famous photos by Depardon, Parr, or Cartier-Bresson. For this exhibit, City Hall asked Magnum to sort through 80 years of photos in its archives for the most remarkable photographs of the changing face of Paris. Think about photos of the May 1968 juxtaposed with the arrival of the mini-skirt. It’s open from 10 am to 7 pm every day except Sunday.
Tergiverser (tare-zhe-vare-say) means “to equivocate” or hesitate among choices. This is a terrific time of the year for those prone to indecision. Fastachi, a gourmet chocolate, nut, and candy emporium is just the sort of place where you might need to hesitate among choices (83 Charles Street, Boston). Would Dad prefer crystallized ginger enrobed in dark chocolate, fruit gums bursting with just-picked flavor, or artful marzipan. Yes. Tergiversez no longer! Buy everything.
Un délai (uhn day-lay) is a false cognate. It looks and sounds like “a delay” in English, but it means “a time period.” For example, un délai de deux semaines means “for a two week period.” The confusion between un délai and its English look-alike is exacerbated by its secondary meaning of “an extension.” Some of my students have been known to ask for un délai d’un jour, or “a one day extension” when it comes time to submit a project. Hard-hearted Mme. Gilbert usually tells them respecter le délai, or “to observe the deadline. “ Maybe if they used a beautiful calendar by photographer Nichole Robertson (available here) they’d be inspired to look at it enough to keep track of their deadlines. (Hint, Santa, I’d love one of these.)
Paris in Love, Nichole Robertson
The word aléatoire (ah-lay-ah-twar) means “random.” Over the Thanksgiving break, we’ve been playing Settlers of Catan, a board game that our daughter brought home. It’s a fun game based on a little bit of skill and a whole lot of random chance – except when I win, of course. Then it’s all about skill.
On the trip to Quebec with my parents, we ate a lot of very nice meals – always one of travel’s chief joys. One of the most enjoyable meals was also the simplest. We had gone to admire the Marché du Vieux Port (marshay due vyuh por), the Old Port’s Market, but ended up staying for lunch.
The center of the market has a cafeteria – but it’s not just any cafeteria. The ingredients are sourced from the market stalls and the offerings all have a little twist of inventiveness. For example, the grilled cheese sandwich is made with smoked gouda. I had a guédille aux crevettes, a Québecois specialty, which is hotdog bun (mind you, a very yummy one) stuffed with shrimp.
There is plenty of seating inside the café as well as outside. Because we were there on a completely beautiful day, we opted for one of the picnic benches. The wooden outdoor terrace connects to a boardwalk that runs along the water. It’s a perfect spot for cyclists, of which there were many. If you are looking for a quick and delicious lunch in the heart of the rue Saint-Paul antiques district, I think you’ll really enjoy the cafeteria at the Marché du Vieux Port.
Today’s saying is En tout pays, il y a un lieue de mauvais chemin (ohn too pay-ee, eel ee ah uhn lyuh duh mow-veh shuh-mahn), which literally means “In every country, there is a league of bad roads.” We’d be more likely to say, “There will be bumps in the smoothest road” and we’d probably be talking about life rather than the highway. Today, however, this expression applied literally and figuratively in my life. I was driving home to Massachusetts after having picked up our daughter in Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday.
We’d planned to stop along the way last night and finish up today, probably getting in after lunch. When we woke up this morning, it looked a whole lot more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. Huge flakes of snow were falling at a great rate. From what was on the ground, it had been snowing for a while. We set out, thinking that we’d be fine if we just reduced our speed, but it became clear that we were risking life and limb and that there were going to be a few hundred more leagues of bad roads. After three and a half fairly fraught hours and only a few leagues traveled, we pulled off the highway and checked into another hotel. When we get safely to Massachusetts tomorrow (we hope!), we’ll have another reason to be thankful.