Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 9: Wedding Bells, False Friends and Cloud Manifestos

This has been a perfect week! The weather was neither too hot nor too cold and in our business we were not too busy or too slow. It's so hard to strike a balance in this life, but when you do, it feels as if you've snagged that brass ring.

It was a beautiful week for clouds, which are in general quite wonderful in this part of the world. From the upstairs window, our panoramic view often provides stunning skyscapes. I was bemused to discover that there is a cloud appreciation society out there. In their manifesto they state, in part:

WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at
cloudless monotony day after day.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save
on psychoanalysis bills.

And so we say to all who’ll listen:
Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and live life with your head in the clouds!

That's the kind of society I can get behind! Our clouds have lots of personality and variety. Add a splash of sunset, and voila... a scene worthy of Turner.


As you must know many English words come from French. A reasonable estimate is about 25,000, in fact. Many of these words are used quite differently in English as they are in the original French. Those are called "faux amis", or false friends. One of my favorites in this category is "derange". I had a client ask me this week if it would "derange" me if she stayed past check-out time. Actually people often ask if this or that would "derange" me, as it is a very polite way of asking if something would be a bother to me. Each time this question is posed, I secretly imagine myself becoming completely unhinged. It has happened, but never in front of a client.


Weddings provide us with several clients during the summer. On average we have four or five groups of guests who come to attend weddings. They fill the house with the sweet smell of French perfume, both men and women wear them. Everyone bustles around excitedly and then all leave at once, not to return until the wee hours of the next morning. We always enjoy the happy energy but very rarely see the bride and groom. This weekend, however, we had an extra treat, as we actually had the couple themselves staying with us. In fact Elise, the bride, arrived around noon on Saturday with her make-up artist, hair-dresser and mother, who carried her dress. They put two bags of rose petals and a white corsage in our refrigerator and retired to the chambre verte, with its nice big bathroom (double sinks and large mirror), to get to work. The house was alive all afternoon with their preparations.

The photographer arrived a couple of hours before the ceremony, as did the groom, Baptiste. The Maison Conti became the set for the wedding photos. I think "Quelle belle maison!" is the most frequent compliment our guests exclaim when they first arrive, and the photographer was in agreement. Elise said "wasn't it a great idea to use the Maison Conti for photos?" It's a charming thought that this old house will figure so strongly in their memories of their big day.

Elise and Baptiste stayed with us for two nights, so we were able to revel in all the happy feelings before and after the ceremony. At the boulangerie Mme Guedet asked us "ils sont d'ou?" (where are they from?) Rick heard "ils sont doux?" (are they sweet?) Well, yes, very! I heard "ils sont deux?" (they're two of them?) I hope so! It takes both a new mouth and new ears to really speak French!


Anne and Christine live right across the Place from us, in a little house that doesn't look like much from the outside, but which is adorable once you enter through their front door. A lovely little cobbled terrace separates two buildings which comprise their house. The building in back is a big studio with a loft room on the second floor.

They called on Rick, who we call Monsieur Bricolage (Mr Handyman), earlier in the week. They had bought a huge photograph in a heavy frame that they wanted to hang on their dining room wall. Rick has the tools, hardware and muscles for the job. Anne was so happy to get it hung that she couldn't sleep that night. She told us the next day that she came downstairs at 4am just to gaze at her new installation.

Having the opportunity of making Anne happy is something that gives life in Montmirail a special richness!


  1. know me, I am swooning over your beautiful cloud photos! I need to join that Cloud Appreciation Society!
    What a lovely wedding couple and the bride is gorgeous. I think someday I might have to come and see your wonderful home and town for myself as it looks too fabulous to be true ;-)

    Janet xox

  2. Thank you for introducing me to the Cloud Appreciation Society, I'm delighted to know that I am not alone in my admiration of the wonderful cloud.