Faire son cinéma

Sophie Marceau wardrobe dysfunction

Sophie Marceau’s ‘slip up’

To dramatize, to ham it up, to make a scene: however you translate the French expression ‘faire son cinéma’, it’s happening at the moment in Cannes.

This is one of the rare French expressions that you can actually say in more than one way: faire son cinema, faire du cinéma, faire tout un cinéma…they all mean the same thing. And the French are masters of the art.

It happens every year at this time when the Cannes film festival kicks off for ten days of glamour and glitz. Drama queen moments abound during the festival when the stars hit the red carpet on the steps or ‘la montée des marches’ of the Palais des Festivals.

Mostly they do a better job of going up the steps than François Hollande did on his recent trip to Haiti (he literally hit the red carpet). The French president is known to be a bit of a klutz and he certainly proved it here:

This year in Cannes Sophie Marceau’s underwear ‘slip up’ hit something of a false note. Since revealing her boob to all and sundry on the red carpet a few years ago, she has lost all credibility with the wardrobe malfunction. How desperate for attention can you get?

What really has the croisette buzzing this year is ‘Shoegate,’ sparked by the organizers’ refusal to let women wearing flat shoes go up the highly photographed steps to the première of the film Carol starring Cate Blanchett. There is a strict black-tie dress code in Cannes but festival organizers have formally denied that there is a ‘high-heels only’ policy. It wouldn’t surprise me. Heels are absolutely de rigueur for French women. As someone who makes it a policy to exclusively wear flats, I won’t be likely to get my red carpet moment.

It’s all the more ironic given that this year’s festival is supposedly dedicated to la femme. 

Here are some of my favorite pics from Cannes this year (I have such a crush on Gabriel Byrne!)

Do you have a favorite red carpet moment – in Cannes or elsewhere?

Faire le pont

pont-du-gard-bridge-franceThe French have a sparkle in their eye and a spring in their step these days. It often occurs in the month of May when the warm weather returns along with a month of long weekends.

Leave it to the French to coin a phrase for the act of bridging between a holiday and a weekend. ‘Faire le pont’, literally ‘to make the bridge’, means to take an extra day off in order to extend your weekend into a mini-holiday. When two holidays fall close together, some lucky ducks will take an extra day or two and offer themselves a full week. This we call a viaduct.

Given the vagaries of the calendar, there are fat and lean years – when holidays fall on a weekend, you lose. There are no comp days.

This year in France we have been especially gatés, with the 1st and 8th of May falling on Friday. Now, with two long weekends under our belts, we are off to enjoy ‘le pont de l’Ascension.’ This holiday always falls on a Thursday, and many companies give their employees the Friday off as well. Those who don’t will allow people to add in a ‘RTT’ (Réduction du temps de travail) day – a work time reduction scheme the powers-that-be developed when a 35-hour week was introduced some years ago.

Some of my fondest memories of raising a family in France involved taking off for that 4-day weekend. By the time I found work in a company big enough to give me the extra day off, the kids were old enough to travel well (and young enough to still want to.) We would pile into the car and head south to the sea. It was like a sneak preview of the summer holidays that lay ahead.

Bouchon LyonOf course, what we had to go through to get there and back was also memorable: les bouchons. At best, traffic was like an accordion between Lyon and Valence. At worst, we would spend hours stuck in the car.

The beauty of Ascension weekend is that in the offing there is still an extra bonus: La Pentecôte.The Pentecost holiday always falls on a Monday so it will only be a three-day weekend.

*Sigh*

Now I find it difficult taking any long weekends in May as I’m self employed. But I’ll make an exception for Pont de l’Ascension and bridge with the best of ‘em.

Bon weekend à tous!

France, mon amour!

MELewis:

Mr. Happy from Oz shares his love of all things French…in well-chosen words that make my almost-French heart sing!

Originally posted on Colin Bisset:

Visiting some countries just puts a spring in your step. I love seeing new places but there’s one country in particular that always makes my heart sing: France. The moment I land at Roissy and take one of its weird springy travelators to the chaotic baggage carousel, I feel right at home.

I’m heading to France in a few days so that means I’m skipping around the house with a stupid grin on my face. It makes me question just what it is about France that makes me feel so happy. After all, politically it’s rather a grim place at the moment.

View original 555 more words

Avoir le cafard

CockroachI was feeling a little low last week. For a few days, everything seemed sort of overwhelming and pointless. Guess you could say the cockroach came to visit.

‘Avoir le cafard’ (literally, to have the cockroach) is the how the French say they’re down in the dumps. They even turn it into a verb: cafarder (which, by the way, also means to snitch on someone). It is the opposite of how you are supposed to feel: ‘Avoir le moral’. To be in good spirits.

You will often hear the French say:  “Ça va? Tu as le moral?”

Most of the time I do. I am an optimistic, happy person. But we all have bad days, occasionally even bad weeks.

I had a job to hand in and it felt too hard. I was afraid of failing and therefore put so much pressure on myself that I became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Then, my accountant made a comment about how I needed to consider whether it was really worth working freelance if this was all the money I was going to make (he didn’t put it quite that way but that was how I took it). The same day my husband announced he was going to the US this week, throwing a bunch of plans we’d made into havoc.

That was when the cockroach moved in.

It was nothing that others haven’t felt before me. It seems the expression was coined by Charles Baudelaire back in 1857, 100 years before my birth, inspired by the way les idées noires (black thoughts) have a tendency invade your brain rather like cockroaches infest a home. Come to think of it, if I really did have cockroaches in my home, that would be depressing.

The good thing is, at least with me, the cockroach never stays too long. I was able to pull myself up by the britches (“Failure is NOT an option!”), stick my nose to the grindstone and deliver the job the following day. The client is happy. I feel much better. And my accountant actually made a good point – one that is causing me to reconsider my priorities – how hard I want to work and how much money I need to earn doing it.

Le cafard packed his bags and left. I found this video and played it to celebrate.

Makes me realize how hard people with depression have it.

The fact is, we all have our shit to deal with. Mine is: fear and anxiety, a noisy and often negative inner dialogue, a tendency to blow my stack when feeling stressed. But the beauty of having a bad day is that, almost always, the next day is better.

How about you?

Tout un fromage

Stinky cheeseThe French expression ‘en faire tout un fromage’ offers up one of those wonderful synchronicities of language. Translation: to raise a fuss about something or, more appropriately, to make a stink. Anyone who has ever experienced the smell of a ripe camembert will surely see the poetic justice in that. There is a reason the cheese stands alone.

Les fromages qui puent – the stinky cheeses – is how the French refer to themselves while poking fun at the Sylvester Stallone-inspired Americans on the political satire puppet program, Les Guignols de l’Info. They somehow make the mockery sound like a term of endearment.

No matter how you feel about raw-milk cheese, there is no denying its tendency to smell a bit strong. I remember being invited to my in-laws home for the first time, entering the kitchen and being assaulted by a waft of something that had died, or done its business. Upon seeing my alarmed expression, my fiancé was reassuring: “Don’t worry, it’s just the cheese.”

fromage-qui-pueWhen it came time to actually eat the stuff, I was surprised that the strong smell had mostly evaporated. Whether it was the wine we washed it down with – Bordeaux bien sûr – or the fact that our sense of smell had attenuated by then, I can’t say. What I will say, however, is that over the years I’ve eaten quite a few French cheeses and it’s not the ones that necessarily look or smell the worst that are the strongest tasting. Although I do point the finger at le camembert for being particularly putrid and prone to repeat. As a general rule, I avoid anything that wears an orange coat. Also I don’t eat the rind, no matter many times my husband and others will chide me by saying, “Mais c’est bon ça!”

As Charles de Gaulle himself once said: “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?” In fact, le général rather underestimated his country’s cheese-making capacities – there are over 1,000. Some of my favorites are included in this list of 100 things to enjoy in France.

Suffice it to say that you need a strong stomach to live here. And you are well served by not having too delicate a sense of smell.

Here’s a video for French speakers (and worth watching even if you don’t speak the language of Molière) that answers the burning question: Which is the stinkiest cheese?

What’s your favorite cheese?