Going to the Movies in Aix-en-Provence? Turn Off the Phone

The Homesman, Tommy Lee Jones’ movie debuting at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is filled with IMG_3357some pretty gritty characters.  But I doubt they scared the audience gathered to watch the film at the Renoir Theater Sunday night.

When a cell phone rang in the theater about 10 minutes into the film, a collective cry arose, but quickly subsided.  When the same phone rang again a few minutes later, the cry rose again, this time to a roar, accompanied with shouts of — “madam, leave.”

The French aren’t known for their patience; their lines at ski slopes and the market often resemble flying wedges rather than neat queues. But I share their impatience when it comes to those who don’t bother turning their phones off at the movies.

I say, “bravo.”  Situation solved.


There are three ways to know you are becoming a regular at the Aix market.

1) The fish vendor packs a lemon with the fish you buy.

2) The vegetable vendor offers you free fresh parsley.

3) The merchants you visit regularly start to say a bientot, see you soon, instead of au revoir, goodbye.


An article by Adam Gopnik in this week’s New Yorker made me chuckle. It’s about the subtleties of language and the difficulties caused both by mispronunciation and efforts at direct translation, which often don’t work.

Titled “Word Magic,” the piece begins with an anecdote.  Gopnik and his family were eating dinner in Italy some years ago when he made a valiant effort to order a sweet strawberry dessert. But he apparently didn’t pronounce the word quite right. And so the waiter brought him a healthy portion of green beans with his coffee.

His kids, apparently, have yet to let him live this one down.  As someone who has ordered poison (poison) instead of poisson (fish), I can certainly empathize.  The former is pronounced with a z, the second with an s.

At least my waitress didn’t take me literally.  “If I served you poison,” she said in French, straight-faced. “You would be dead.”

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