Oh la la !

This phrase must be a favourite. It’s an expression that you just hope, when actually spending time in France, that you’ll hear naturally, floating over the chit chat of wherever you are. It’s the kind of stereotype snippet that you’d add to your sketch of man with beret and baguette; “oh la la” coming out of a speech bubble.

Each month I note down my thoughts about a French stereotype, a cliché image that I’ve run into in my day-to-day living in the South of France.

I suppose oh la la has the best of both words. Firstly, it’s just so quintessentially French. As soon as you hear these three words you know for certain that they must have come from a French mouth. Yes, because of the actual words of course, but more the way that they’ll have been said; the tone, the hand gesture that would have probably accompanied them. Secondly, it’s harmless. Stereotypes aren’t meant to be hurtful but sometimes they can be angled to be. How could oh la la be angled? French?

“Oh my god!”

Wandering around my town, I’ve heard oh la la from old and young, disgruntled and jubilant. Two madames in brilliant fur coats (faux, hopefully!) at a jewellery shop window, a mother picking up her child’s toy again from the street. I think it will be a phrase for me that when I naturally exclaim it, without hesitation or awareness, I’ll know I’ve called France home for some time. Until then, I’ll just happily listen out for it here and there.

This photo has no relevance to this post whatsoever, I just love it so! I snapped it when Alastair and I had stopped en-route to the alps for some coffee. A beautiful, impromptu roadside pause. The best. / June 2017.

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