I am struck by how many French expressions there are to say that things are going.
There’s ça va, ça marche, and my personal favourite, ça roule. Meaning: that goes or that works or literally: it rolls.
‘Rouler’ generally describes the action of wheels – les roues. We are big fans of wheels here in France and what I am most struck by (not literally, merci!) is the number of bizarre, noisy and exotic motorized contraptions that come out in the summer months.
It starts with the Tour de France. While those crazy cyclists bust their bananas (again, not literally one hopes…) racing around France, the crowds turn out to see something called the Caravane du Tour. This is a publicity parade of sponsored vehicles pimped to perfection. To wit:
(Note: I personally abstain from following any form of televised sport, but when le Tour comes to any French town, it is a very big deal.)
This is followed by the annual mass migration for summer vacation – les vacances. Essentially this means that everybody and his oncle hops aboard whatever vehicle they possess and heads cross country. If you live in Paris you go south to the Cote d’Azur. If you live in Grenoble you head to Bordeaux. If you live anywhere south you probably go to Brittany. You get my drift.
Aside from epic traffic jams, this is usually when those who work for some major form of transport – rail, air, ferry or even toll collectors – decide to go out on strike. ‘Ça roule?’ is transformed to ‘ça circule ou..?’
Then, when all of those tourists, French or otherwise, get to wherever they are going, they get on a motorized vehicle and trawl around town. Motorcycles, vespas, convertibles, anything goes. The louder and more attention-getting the better.
Whatever the preferred mode of transport ,soon everyone will ride back whence they came in time for la rentrée.
“Ça roule, ma poule?” (How’s it going, my little chickadee?) will be heard echoing throughout France, as we get back to school and business, still fresh from our holiday adventures.
How do you roll? Got a favourite set of wheels?
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