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Weird Things French People Say (And Write)

There are two kinds of people in the world—loud people and people who enjoy eavesdropping on conversations.

I don’t actively spy on innocent French citizens, but summer weather and the number of people outside, sitting on café terraces, offer plenty of opportunities to overhear bits of conversations.

Ten days ago, I walked by two very proper French bourgeoises sitting on a bench in Pornic. “One thing Jean-Luc really likes is dressing up as a woman,” one of them was explaining to the other so I don’t know how the story ended.

There was zero context. Trust me, I would have loved to know what they were talking about—and who the hell was Jean-Luc?!

Yesterday, a guy behind us was arguing over the phone with a government agency because his unemployment benefits were being cut off. I was rooting for him, but sadly, he went right and we took the left street.

At the café downstairs, when I was waiting for Mark making a quick trip back to the apartment to go pee, a guy was explaining a “mistake” he had made. “Basically, I was drunk. And you know me when I’m drunk, right? Yeah, well… I told her I loved her.” “Oh, FUCK!” he friend commiserated with him.

When I was a tween, I thought my parents were the most embarrassing people ever. That’s when my dad introduced me to a little game he had with a friend of his. Basically, every time you pass someone, you have to say something awful very loud. It has to sound natural, though, as if you were engrossed in a conversation. So I’d be walking with my dad he suddenly, he would say, “I didn’t mean to push your grandmother down the stairs, but really, she was asking for it!” Or “see, honey, the most important part is to clean the knife thoroughly, blood is messy.”

“What?” he would argue. “See, now I am embarrassing!”

I love my parents.

When I’m done eavesdropping on people and when the streets are quiet, I read the little notes humans leave to each other. Paying attention to graffiti art is another way to “spy” on people, I guess!

“Police kills” (Boulevard Van Iseghem)
Graffiti (Allée Brancas)
“Macron killed me” (Pont de la Tortière)
“Macron must go” (Rue des Bateaux Lavoirs)
“A big yes to hating cops!” (along the Erdre River, close to the university)
“I’m not bothering anyone, though” (Pont Haudaudine)
Rue Corneille
Math? (Rue Malherbe)
“Police kills, fight back!” (Rue des Bateaux Lavoirs)
“Stop advertising” (Rue du Général Buat)
In very proper French “It is not allowed to come inside this park with dogs unless they are leashed” (Cours Cambronne)
“No justice no peace” (Around Beaulieu)
Skeletton (around Beaulieu)
“Walking humans is allowed as long as they are leashed. Any waste created along the way must be picked up, as well as the entire capitalist society” (Zola)
“Come fast pls” ( Passerelle Victor-Schoelcher)

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