June 3, 2022
Dear Frenchly Readers,
The French poet, Robert Sabatier, once wrote, “le rire sucre les larmes.” This means, essentially, “laughter adds sugar to tears.” That’s an important thing to remember right now.
Sabatier died in June, exactly ten years ago, at the age of 88. He was the author of numerous novels and books of essays and poems. His book, Les Allumettes Suédoises, was translated into English and made into a series on French TV. It sold over 200,000 copies. He was born in Paris and died in Boulogne.
In an introduction to Sabatier’s poetry in the tome, Modern European Poetry, Willis Barnstone wrote of Sabatier’s work, “…but the bitter violence that strikes at the reader of these poems has its roots in an earlier joy that persists like a dream.”
Joy. Pleasure. Laughter.
Those are things I am trying to cultivate as actively as I can in the midst of—I’m not even going to list everything that troubles me because you know; you feel it, too.
So, this week, I have spent all my time publishing pieces about ice cream in Paris, bike rides you can do all over France, beautiful and romantic outdoor adventures in the French countryside—like horseback riding and swimming in rivers. And if you are going to be in the U.S., here’s a list of fun and just downright pleasurable events, all with a French twist. For instance there’s a show at expat Edith Wharton’s house, the Mount, in Massachusetts; or an outdoor French concert in NYC. We even have a terrific piece about a French news organization that is focused on solutions-based journalism. In other words, the news coming out of Ukraine is terrible, bien sûr. But these guys will interview someone who is risking their life to get stranded animals out of Ukraine and to safety. They tell it slant. And thank God for that.
We also have 6 Easy Rules for French Summer Dressing for both men and women (it’s helpful, and not expensive!) and French strawberries–what could be more pleasurable than eating, cooking and just generally enjoying a good berry? We have a list of French seafoods and a bunch of goings on in French cinema with some ideas for what to watch (thanks, Andrea!)
And…drumroll…we have a long anticipated next installment of “Rue du Soleil.” This one is called “My Husband Is An Expat Socialite (Or Comme Tu Veux.)” You will love reading about Jerrod (Karen’s husband) enjoying motorcycling into the mountains, playing Pétanque with friends and making guacamole. And when you read how annoying this all is to Karen, you will likely c’est à se taper le cul par terre, or, “laugh your ass off.”
OK: I’m keeping this short today, because there’s only so much good news I can find (and you can handle!) And, also, more importantly, I want you to get off your screen and go out and see a movie; I want you to go for a walk and pick some violettes or fraises. I want you to smile at the sun, dance in some rain, and laugh. Go bike to a goat farm in Provence if you can (because, ummm, why not?)
There is another saying in French: “femme qui rit, à moitié dans ton lit.” Or, “if you can make her laugh, she’s halfway in your bed.” Not so fast….but by all means let’s make each other laugh, even if we get to just laugh at ourselves. So s’en payer une bonne tranche, or, in other words, “go have a good laugh and some fun.”
Let’s rigoler (rig-oh-lay). That’s the French verb for laughter and silly fun. And doesn’t that word sound fun? And silly?
While you rigoler, here are two things to cook this first June weekend: how about this Dorie Greenspan Lemon-Spice Visiting Cake—there must be a neighbor who could use a pick me up? I’m also interested in these strawberry cheesecake bars. Some people gave them the thumbs down in comments, but I think I have a coupla solutions: no red food coloring, and butter, not oil, for the pan. Also, I’m going to add a teaspoon of arrowroot, I think, to make sure it gels and nothing goes mushy. I’ll let you know.
My older son is off to his first dance tonight. What I would give to be a fly on the wall! But I will be lucky if he allows me to stop the car before he jumps out. In preparation this week, he and I watched the wildly inappropriate 80’s classic, Footloose (yes, I had to fast forward a couple of times—he’s only 13!) But the dancing was…Just. So. Much. Fun.
And it reminded me that when all else fails and the world is upside down, as David Bowie says, “Just Dance.” It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a better person. Trust me.
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