Barefoot BloggerExpat Living and Real EstateLearning French

I’m Not Learning French

This article was previously published by Debby Bine (Barefoot Blogger) on her website.  She agreed to share it with Perfectly Provence readers as it is such a classic expat story…

Learning to speak French is becoming an issue for me. Try as I may, it is a bit of a pain. Perhaps it’s because my brain is full trying to deal with everyday challenges.

Like bedding.

Bedding In French @bfBlogger2013

Bedding is something I can’t seem to understand. In France there are more configurations and iterations that you want to know. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I mess up.

For example, I bought two 80 x 200cm beds for my guest room. The guy that sold them to me certainly must not have known there are no sheets to fit that sized beds. Or maybe he did. I couldn’t understand everything he was telling me in French. Apparently the more common measurement for twin beds is 90 x 180cm.

Bedding In French @bfBlogger2013

After searching for fitted bottom sheets for days, through every store and linen section from here to Nimes, I found what seemed a solution.

The package said: 2 x 80×200. There was even an illustration of two beds.  Voila! Since the beds are meant to be pulled together to make a queen-sized bed, that must mean the sheets are sold together. At some level, that logic made sense. I could hardly wait to get home to make up the beds.

Not so fast.

speak-french Bedding In French @bfBlogger2013

The fitted sheets were sewn together … like Siamese twins! Now what to do? I cut the housse in two, of course. So what if there are raw edges on one side of each bed?

Duvet: Couette

Never learned French, never owned a duvet. Two pitfalls for living in France.

Duvets have never been my thing. To me, here’s something untidy about a bed that’s not tightly put together. Therefore, the joy of stuffing a duvet into it’s cover is an art I never mastered. Like learning to speak French.

Here duvets are the norm. Top sheets are not. So to make up a bed properly in France, I had to convert.

Bedding In French @bfBlogger2013

Duvet cover: Housse de couette

Like other bed linens, the couette and the housse de couette come in a gazillion sizes and permutations, except for the sizes I need. Fortunately they don’t have to be form fitting so I found a size that would work for the guest room beds.

Slipping the couette into the housse de couette was a breeze. Especially because there’s a tiny slit in the top to the housee de couette. It allows you to stick you hand in to grab the end of the couette. Perhaps the American version of duvets have a similar design. If not, the French have something on us.

Oreiller vs. Traversin

If the elementary French is boring you, I apologize. These simple lessons are for those like me who don’t know French and for those who are easily confused.

Another head-scratcher. An “oreiller” is an ordinary pillow. Easy enough even though they are all shapes and sizes. It’s the an odd-shaped “pillow” named “traversin” that’s a puzzlement. I’ve seen similar in the States, but they’re everywhere here. The most common size is like the big one shown in this picture. The smaller ones I bought from the same man that sold me the beds. Maybe when he told me I would have trouble finding sheets for the 80cm beds he also mentioned the same problem finding pillow cases (taie) for a small-sized traversin. Again, it was all in French.

Solution? I cut a large taie in half.

French word for the day: “ciseaux” (scissors)


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Deborah Bine

The Barefoot Blogger, aka Deborah Bine, loves to share tales of her solo life in France as an American expat who speaks no French. Retired from a career in advertising and marketing communications, and divorced after a 40-year marriage with children, Deborah left Beaufort, South Carolina and all of her belongings last year to move to the south of France. Now that she has found her "bliss," her passion is to encourage others to break away from whatever is holding them back and to go after their dreams. "We're on life's journey alone. Be certain you love where you are."

Visit Barefoot Blogger here

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