Au boulot!

Monday morning oblige, it’s time to get to work.

Déjà? After running around on Saturday and enjoying a well-earned day of rest on Sunday, getting back to work on Monday can come as a bit of a shock.

In France, as in countries all over the world, the beginning of each new week means we’re up with the birds and back to work.

It’s been a few years since I had to badge in and out of the workplace. In France, official time management systems are a legal obligation. To ensure that the employer gets a fair share of working time or to count up all the extra hours le salarié puts in?  It works both ways.

When I worked full time for a French pharmaceutical company, the ritual of badging in and out each day ensured that any extra time was added to the ‘compte epargne temps’, a sort of savings account that employees could use to add extra time for special circumstances like maternity leave, a sabbatical or even early retirement. Anyone who put in more than a 35-hour week on a regular basis had to watch out though — HR was on the case and cracked down on the workaholics who simply could not leave the office.

I knew a few. It should come as no surprise that I was not one of them.

Now that I work freelance, mostly from home, my commute to the office takes only seconds (although I can easily get sidetracked by other, more pressing tasks…). I no longer have to ‘pointer’ or badge in and out. But the numbers on the invoices at the end of the month will show me up if I slack off.

I figure it’s all about pacing. Slow and steady wins the race, like this 84-year-old florist who was featured on a France TV report last week.

Monsieur Château, however bent over, seems to be a firm believer in the French saying, ‘le travail, c’est la santé’ (work is health).

I tend to agree with him. It’s important to keep doing something worthwhile, to have a purpose in life that gets us out of bed each morning. There’s nothing wrong with retirement and leisure pursuits for those who’ve reached the appropriate age and feel they’ve had enough of the grind. But we all need a ‘raison d’être’ to keep going.

In that spirit, happy Monday to all. Now, au boulot!


  1. phildange · April 15, 2019
    • MELewis · April 15, 2019

      Ha, ha…I had never realized that Henri Salvador did a French version of this classic. Interesting that in English the lion sleeps, but in French he is dead!

      • phildange · April 15, 2019

        What do you think, a French version ? Salvador composed the song in 1965 with his friend Maurice Pon . Salvador was not only a clown, he was a true musician – I have not famous records from his that are elaborate beautiful compositions of several moods, real music, but my heart forever beats for him because he sang the 4 first French rock’n roll songs in 1956 . Music ; Michel Legrand, lyrics : no less than Boris Vian ! These guys understood that rock’n roll was made for a good laugh first, and I felt this way in my young time . If you want to explore French mind, these 4 songs are a path .
        “Rock and roll-mops”, “Dis moi qu’tu m’aimes rock”, “Va t’faire cuire un œuf, man”, “Rock hoquet.” .
        “Rock’n roll-mops” :
        Lyrics :,ROCK-AND-ROLL-MOPS,107564194.html . (Rollmops are rolled pickled herrings, food is never far here).

      • MELewis · April 16, 2019

        Ah, I think we misunderstood each other. I was talking about the other song you posted yesterday – Le lion est mort ce soir. Credit where credit is due: Salvador was a true musician and was indeed the composer of Le Travail c’est La Santé. Thanks for sharing his early rock n’roll history as well. Impressive indeed!

  2. phildange · April 15, 2019

    Lyrics of this deep french concept song .
    Le travail c’est la santé Rien faire c’est la conserver Les prisonniers du boulot N’font pas de vieux os. Ces gens qui courent au grand galop En auto, métro ou vélo Vont-ils voir un film rigolo ? Mais non, ils vont à leur boulot {Refrain:} Le travail c’est la santé Rien faire c’est la conserver Les prisonniers du boulot N’font pas de vieux os. Ils bossent onze mois pour les vacances Et sont crevés quand elles commencent Un mois plus tard, ils sont costauds Mais faut reprendre le boulot Dire qu’il y a des gens en pagaille Qui courent sans cesse après le travail Moi le travail me court après Il n’est pas près de m’rattraper. Maint’nant dans le plus p’tit village Les gens travaillent comme des sauvages Pour se payer tout le confort Quand ils l’ont, eh bien, ils sont morts. Hommes d’affaires et meneurs de foule Travaillent à en perdre la boule Et meurent d’une maladie de cœur C’est très rare chez les pétanqueurs.

    • MELewis · April 15, 2019

      Love this song and the humorous way the lyrics turn the old adage about work and health on its head! Not sure that Monsieur Salvador helped advance racial stereotypes with these lyrics but it certainly was fun and a true reflection on the value of unning after the holy grail of work! 😄

  3. Heide · April 15, 2019

    I think Msr. Château has found the meaning of (a happy work) life: He loves what he does. Any of us who can say the same of our work are lucky indeed. Happy Monday, et au boulot !

    • MELewis · April 15, 2019

      I agree and it helps you understand the meaning of the French word ‘social’ which so often means ‘labour’ relations. It seems the social component of his job is very important to him, and this is something I have seen first hand in every place I’ve worked in France. On top of that, if you love what you do, you are indeed very lucky! Happy Monday to you, Heide! 🙂

  4. Colin Bisset · April 16, 2019

    Purpose is so important, regardless of whether you regard it as a job of work or a job of life… And I’m with you on the tortuous daily route to the desk, those little sidetracks that are so compelling.

    • MELewis · April 16, 2019

      I suppose there are worse job-related risks. But it’s a challenging one to manage!

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