Un lève tôt

French singer and actor Jacques Dutronc was born on April 28, 1943. One of his most famous songs is Il est cinq heures, Paris s’éveille. It captures all the essential workers that make Paris start to hum at five AM.  One time, we had rented an apartment near Les Halles. It was above a café that remained lively until two and then at five, the street cleaners and garbage trucks started their rounds. In other words, we had about three hours of sleep a night. My early-morning Paris did not include the beautiful flute flourishes that Roger Bourdin added to Dutronc’s hit. I often think of this song if I have the pleasure to be up early in the morning in Paris. A lot of water has flowed under the bridges of the Seine since the song was released in 1968, but the same types of hardworking folks are cleaning the streets, making deliveries, and baking bread since Dutronc immortalized them in his classic. As for his acting career, he has 39 films and a César to his credit. Not bad. He is married to singer Françoise Hardy and their son, Thomas, is also a recording artist.

Today’s expression, un lève tôt (uh lev toe), means an early riser. Since Dutronc is a notorious playboy, I doubt he was up early when he was inspired by Paris at dawn. It’s more likely that he hadn’t been to bed at all after une nuit blanche (oon newE blansh) or an all nighter. He had a major concert tour in 2010 to support his first new album in 17 years. I bet that involved more late nights than early mornings as well.


About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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