Monthly Archives: February 2013

Magnificent Scarlett O’Hara

Magnificent Scarlett O’Hara

I met Scarlett O’Hara when I was eleven, or twelve. My Dad and I sat together through the 4-hour movie (and the 30 minute intermission.) Life was never quite the same after that. Merci, papa. I fell in love with her, Atlanta and the American South, where I later spent a year as an international student, thanks to a full scholarship awarded by the Georgia Rotary Club. Once I was in college, she inspired several papers I wrote about the Civil War, antebellum plantations, and steel magnolias. Today, her picture is the first one you see when you step into my home office.  
Scarlett O’Hara. Gone with the Wind. Classic. Timeless. A myth.
Oh, I know. Scarlett O’Hara was a spoiled brat. Vain, selfish, insecure. Look at her here, surrounded by all the county’s eligible bachelors. A little flirt, and so shallow!
16-year old Scarlett and her beaux at Twelve Oaks plantation
Can we blame her? After all, what else was expected of young girls in the antebellum South? Scarlett, like the others, had to know her place, look pretty, and stay sweet until she found a suitable husband and started raising a family. But Katie Scarlett O’Hara is not your average Southern debutante. She is the daughter of well-bred French American Ellen Robillard and feisty Irishman Gerald O’Hara. An irresistible combination. Is it the twinkle in her eye? The way she tips up her chin defiantly? The raised eyebrow I tried so hard to duplicate after watching the movie? As soon as we lay eyes on Scarlett, we know she is no wallflower material.
Coco Chanel once said, “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Something tells me Mademoiselle would have approved of Scarlett. Coco Chanel also had an eye for style. And Scarlett certainly has style. In the movie adaptation of Gone with the Wind, she dazzles in colorful outfits. When in society, she makes a mark by dressing the part.

Scarlett in green…
Scarlett in the burgundy ball gown…
Scarlett in blue…
When circumstances dictate, Scarlett makes do with the resources at hand.

Scarlett’s fashion comeback in the green curtain dress made by her slave, Mammy

But Scarlett O’Hara is so much more than a beauty with a glamorous wardrobe. I was only 12 when we met, and I remember being fascinated with her energy, spirit and determination. What Scarlett wants, Scarlett gets. What stands in her way, she dismisses with an impatient, “Fiddle-dee-dee!” She does not stop there. Great balls of fire, don’t bother me anymore, and don’t call me sugar!” Yes, Scarlett has attitude. She can be scathing and cruel. But some in her entourage do not let her get away with it.

Faithful Mammy keeps an eye on Scarlett
Scarlett: “Sir, you are no gentleman!”
Rhett: “And you, miss, are no lady!”

Scarlett is far from perfect. Even as a young teenager, I could tell my heroine had questionable interpersonal skills, and not an ounce of self-awareness. Doesn’t she spend the whole story chasing her cousin Melanie’s husband, the chivalrous Ashley Wilkes, ignoring all along that her true love is Rhett Butler? That part infuriated me. What did she see in soft-spoken Ashley? 

A young Scarlett, her cousin Melanie and Ashley Wilkes

And yet, sweet Melanie Wilkes, her cousin, doggedly stands by her side, until her untimely death. “Why?,” one may wonder. What sensitive and forgiving Melanie sees is the shining side of Scarlett. Melanie ignores Scarlett’s tantrums and tempestuous outbursts, focusing instead on her actions during the war years, her intelligence and determination, her courage. Scarlett survives the war, and in what becomes a pattern in her life, overcomes today’s trauma, so she can reach tomorrow. While all the men are at war, Scarlett takes on the burden of her family, servants, and the Wilkes family, while running Tara, the family plantation. In short, Scarlett is indomitable. Through Melanie’s understanding and loving eyes, we come to admire Scarlett’s strength. 

The plantation mistress works in the cotton fields

The magnificent scene at the end of Part 1 still gives me the goose bumps. A different Scarlett emerges out of the harrowing war years. Hunger and poverty have damaged her. She is harder, and determined to survive. She will re-invent herself into a ruthless and materialistic opportunist. 

“I’ll never be hungry again!”

As God is my witness, as God is my witness. 
They are not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this 
and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. 
If I have to lie, steal, cheat and kill; as God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”

And as we watch her grow into a powerful businesswoman and a leader, and follow her disastrous and often misguided personal life, we wish – the young teenager I was then, so many years ago, wished – that we could shake her up, tell her to open her pretty green eyes and really look at the people around her. Come on, Katie Scarlett, look at Melanie. Listen to her. A girl needs girlfriends. True friends. Not all women are enemies you need to compete with. And Rhett. What a guy, Scarlett. Don’t let Rhett run away from you. Forget Ashley. He is so “Old South!” Rhett is the future. He understands you. He will be by your side, no matter what happens.


There is no reasoning with Scarlett. Watching her towards the end of the movie is like seeing a runaway train headed for a precipice. It is mesmerizing and terrifying all at once. Then the ending comes. Rhett finally gives up on her, and leaves their beautiful house, with what remains one of the most famous lines in American cinema: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Melanie, her only friend, is gone. Scarlett finally knows who her true love is, and she has lost him. Or has she? With tears in her eyes, she momentarily collapses on the stairs, sobbing, and then she remembers where she belongs, where she came from, Tara, the family plantation where she grew up.
Tara. Home. I’ll go home! And I’ll think of some way to get him back. 
After all… Tomorrow is another day!” 
Magnificent Vivien Leigh
It works. We believe her. Katie Scarlett O’Hara will do it, once again. She will go home, to Tara. She will heal, and regroup. She will bring Rhett back. Or not. But even if she doesn’t, we know she will be all right. 
Scarlett is home again
A bientôt.
Do not miss:
“As God is my witness” scene
One of the most beautiful movie endings… ever!

61 Responses to Magnificent Scarlett O’Hara

  1. At least I find someone who also loves Scarlett!”the girl you’ll love to hate”! No, that girl is a diamond! What were women supposed to do in those times : to get married, have children, getting old in a devoted life. She won’t! She wants to remain young, beautiful , rich and free.She has dreams ! She does not want to become a mother, which is her first sin versus society.. When she does, she’ not a good mother, knows it , but doesn’t care!As well as she does not care of what other women think about her.She knows what she wants, and is ready to everything to get it and to keep it!The opposite of the 1860ies average woman!
    And Melanie?! “she’s the only dream I had that did not die in the face of reality”Ashley says. Maybe that’s what we could say about Scarlett…
    I could spend hours talking about Scarlett, but ,well.. tomorrow is an other day! :o))

    • A diamond in the rough, I agree, Malyss. Scarlett’s greatest strength, on top of her incredible determination, is her total disregard for what people think about her. There is so much power in that! And yet so few people are capable are doing it.

      You wrote a beautiful tribute to our Scarlett, thank you: “The only dream I had that did not die in the face of reality.” 🙂

      Oh, and you and I will get to chat some more about our favorite Southern Belle, in a few months, in Nice… That’s a promise.

  2. Oh! Il y a longtemps que je n’étais pas venue te visiter !! Comment ai-je pu laisser faire ça !!…
    Aujourd’hui je suis heureuse de te lire et d’admirer ton idole… J’avais beaucoup aimé également ce merveilleux film. Je crois que nous étions plus sensible à notre époque que ne le sont mes enfants. Les romans à l’eau de rose berçaient nos rêves…
    Un grand merci pour ce délicieux moment, maintenant je vais débuter ma journée agréablement…
    Gros bisous à toi.

  3. i was not much older than you when i read Gone with the Wind. i remember finishing it and then starting it again. and then i rented the movie. i was hooked. it’s been a while since i’ve watched it..maybe it’s time. maybe this weekend with my 15 year old daughter. love this post!! 🙂

    • Bonjour Pam. I had to go and dig out my anniversary edition of the movie, and I think I will read the book once again this summer. It has been way too long… and there is so much to learn from Scarlett o’Hara, even today.

    • You’re welcome, Claire-Louise. Yes, Vivien Leigh was beautiful, probably one of the most gorgeous women to ever grace the silver screen. It is interesting because if you recall, in the original novel Scarlett is not described as classically beautiful. Yet Margaret Mitchell makes the point that there was something about her, a charisma that drew everyone’s attention.

  4. What a lovely, nostalgic post! You so often take me back in time. I think you have convinced me to watch Gone with the Wind again and you are absolutely right – there’s more to this lady than glamorous dresses (and she even makes a green curtain look stylish!) She’s such a feisty character and it’s definitely one of the most memorable movie endings ever.
    PS In my blog post last week I mentioned a book which I’m sure you would enjoy as it’s about the origin of English phrases – informative and entertaining too.

    • Ha. You are right, Carol. Scarlett was the daughter of Ellen Robillard, a French-American genteel woman from the city of Charleston… I always thought Scarlett and I would have gotten along beautifully… well… if she had finally accepted to trust another woman, that is…

  5. Oh I’m so glad you loved the movie as much as I did. I saw it many times and had the LP record of the soundtrack that I almost wore out.

    Did I ever tell you that I heard Olivia de Havilland read the scripture at the American Cathedral in Paris a few years ago? Still fabulous and still had that wonderful deep voice!

    Wonderful post my dear,

    • That soundtrack is a classic in its own right. I would recognize the GWTW theme anywhere. Like I said in the post, I still get goosebumps when watching some of the scenes.

      I know Olivia de Havilland has lived in Paris for a long time, or at least lived there for many years. She always was a classy lady, “à la” Melanie Wilkes. How old can she be now? In her mid-90s at least…

      Thank you for stopping by.

  6. Loved reading this post! As a Southern Belle raised in Atlanta, Gone with the Wind is required reading from birth. I have loved Scarlett since I was very young. I loved her so much that when my husband and I were planning our wedding he had no choice but to accept that we were to be married in front of the Plantation house that was Margaret Mitchell’s inspiration for Tara and the young woman who use to live there, Scarlett. I passed that house every Sunday on our way to church and knew from the time I was 16 I would be married in front of it. Explaining to our minister why I was getting married there instead of the church though took all my Scarlett moxie, but I did it. In the end, it was so fun watching all my husband’s family from Canada (he’s from Canada) fall in love with the surroundings because they too loved the movie. I think that was the first time I realized just how far reaching Mitchell’s story had touched people. And don’t get me started on my love for Margaret Mitchell, talk about a Southern belle rebel!!! Love, love, love her!

    • All rebellious women are to be loved, admired, and respected, especially if they lived at the time of Scarlett or Margaret Mitchell.

      What a wonderful story, Jeri. Thank you for sharing it here. I am glad you stood your ground while planning your wedding. Scarlett would have been proud 🙂

      I lived in Atlanta for over a year and returned often. Somehow, I never made it to the plantation house that inspired Tara. Now I have another reason to go back!

  7. Wow this post gave me goosebumps! Such a beautiful, strong tribute to one of cinema’s first Mean Girls! What I love about Scarlett the most is written so eloquently here. She really did represent a very realistic portrayal of a woman. We’re not all sweet. We don’t all get along with other girls. We’re competitive and bitchy and cruel sometimes, just because it’s our way of dealing with our inner demons, no matter what they be. Especially when we’re young.

    This movie has it all: melodrama, glamour, beauty, fashion, witty quotes. Hollywood will never be able to top it.

    Love this post!

  8. She was a favorite of mine growing up. Then in my 20s, i sort of secretly liked her though i’d begun to think of her as empty headed and spoiled. (Because that’s what i was supposed to think.) 🙂 But what sixteen year old girl isn’t a little.. (or more than a little,) self absorbed and.. fashion conscious? She grew up through harder times than most of us had to deal with. She wore a dress made out of drapes, for goodness’ sake! lol. And though she’s a fictional character, i’m sure there were plenty of young women like her at that time, so she’s very realistic. I’m also sure she ended up with Rhett in the end. After all, as she says ‘tomorrow IS another day!’

    • All I need to know about that girl is that she survived four years of a brutal war with hardly any man around; running a gigantic estate, and taking care of a bunch of people some of whom weren’t even grateful to her. I suppose she would have been expected to do it all with a smile and always keeping her cool? Scarlett rules in my book. Always has, always will.

    • This movie was on TCM a couple of weeks ago, and i meant to watch, but forgot it was on. I saw it for the first time with my best friend and our mothers when i was 11. I couldn’t stop thinking about Scarlett. And i adored Mammy’s character. I’m glad you posted this. I’ve been thinking about the book and the movie off and on all day in a way i haven’t thought about it in years. Then when i was in college, i remember mentioning this movie to a friend, and said how much i like it. And this friend responded that the only reason that world existed.. the world of plantations, beautiful clothes and parties, was because of slavery. And we (as Americans,) should be ashamed of it. I’d never thought of it that way. Slavery was horrible, i know that. Now i’ve come full circle. The movie and book are both beautiful. The characters are realistic for their time. Margaret Mitchell knew exactly what she was talking about. And Scarlett may have begun as a girl as spoiled and self absorbed, but when the movie ended, she was (for the most part, anyway,) a strong, able, intelligent heroine who learned how to love and be a genuinely good woman. I just wish she’d realized her love for Rhett a little sooner. 🙂 One of my favorite scenes is when she sees Ashley by Melanie’s deathbed and realizes that he really loved Melanie and not her, and she goes after Rhett. If only… Phew, after all this talk about it, i want to watch the movie again. Maybe tomorrow night. With popcorn. It’s around here somewhere. I just have to find the DVD. (And i apologize for writing a book here.)….

    • Loved to hear your thoughts about the book and movie, Mary. Your college friend’s comment reminded me that GWTW has long been considered racist and sexist. I can see why I guess. I spent a great deal of time studying the Civil War period as an American Studies major in college, and I am fascinated with the way the “Old South” and “the New South” are pictured in the book (Scarlett and Rhett representing the New South, probably.) There is a lot to learn from that great story. In fact, just like you, I will have to watch my favorite movie again very soon 🙂 Bon weekend to you!

  9. Love this, Veronique!

    When asked about her all time favorite books, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as a lifelong bibliophile, wonderful writer herself, and a Doubleday editor for 20 years listed three: Gone With the Wind, Out of Africa, and Wide Sargasso Sea.

    When I lived in Montecito…my daily 6 mile loop through the hills delivered me to San Ysidro Ranch at the mid-way point. I loved to be there for the gorgeous gardens, Old Hollywood Ghosts, and love stories rooted there. JFK and Jackie spent part of their wedding trip and Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier married there.

    Here she is accepting her Oscar for GWTW. So gracious.

    Thank you for that inspiring piece.

    • Bonjour Suzanne. Jackie Kennedy had excellent taste, but we knew that already. She, too, could have told a story or two about courage, determination and resiliency in the face of adversity…

      Thank you for the wonderful stories of the CA coast, and the video! Love it!

  10. One of my favorite hairdresser, Ruby Felker, worked on “Gone with the wind”. Ben Nye senior, Paul Stanhope and Monty Westmore were make-up artists/hairdressers I have worked with along the years. All are dead of course, Monty in 2007. The movie was shot in Culver City, California. It was before unions and the movie’s working hours were so horrendous that cast and crew decided that it would be nice to have a union representing them. I had heard stories (not very glamorous ones). If people only knew.
    I have personally fell in love with Charlie Chaplin. DVDs of his work will be coming out pretty soon. What a talented gentleman. I love all his work but “Limelight” touched me deeply.

  11. I recall reading that an interviewer asked Olivia de Havilland how she felt about playing second fiddle to Vivien Leigh in that film. She smiled, and answered “Women wanted to be Scarlett, but they named their daughters Melanie.” A class act!

    • A class act indeed, and I believe De Havilland was right.

      Melanie may not be as charismatic or as strong as Scarlett, but she is resilient in her own way, and what a faithful, dedicated friend she makes. Any woman would be lucky to call her “my best friend…” — Too bad Scarlett learned that lesson too late.

  12. Dearest Véronique,
    That is a LOVELY post about THE SOULD OF THE SOUTH. A part of the world where you studied, where your Nouveau Monde Adventure started. Yes we love he antebellum part of this state, so charming in many ways. Thanks for posting and sharing this!
    Hugs to you,

  13. Hi Veronique. I enjoyed reading your take on this movie. It’s surely is a classic. I need to re-visit this movie soon. I love that last quote too “Frankly my dear,…” I was tired for him. LOL

    • Yes, Rhett must have been exhausted after living with Scarlett for that many years… Yet, he pursued her relentlessly. Some men think they want a strong woman, but in the end, can’t handle them… Poor Scarlett. If even Rhett can’t handle her, who will? Unfortunately, Margaret Mitchell chose not to answer the question… Dommage.

  14. Merci Veronique for re-telling the story of Scarlett. Gone With The Wind is one of the great movies. It’s nice to see the transformation of Scarlett from spoiled to s strong woman who can overcome her challenges. Very inspiring story. Have a good weekend.

    • I am getting my hands on the book again this weekend. I read GWTW in French several times; then later in English in Atlanta, while I was in college. Time to enjoy that beautiful story again methinks… 🙂

  15. A wonderful movie and your post reminds me of how many years it has been since I saw this movie. It is very interesting to hear about your history with and love for this movie, especially Scarlett O’Hara. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

  16. I’m late to the party on this terrific Post, ma chère Véro; however, not as fashionably late as Scarlett would have been. And my entrance is not nearly so glamorous.

    What a glorious, vainglorious, magnificent creature she was. I have always adored her, and the luminous Vivien Leigh will forever hold a special place in my heart because of that definitive portrayal.

    Although Hollywood auditioned every star in the firmament for the role, can you even imagine anyone else as Scarlett O’Hara?

    • No, my dear M-T, I can’t imagine anyone else as Scarlett. I found an old video clip on YouTube the other day. It showed part of the giant undertaking the casting of Scarlett o’Hara became. In the end, there were only three actresses left, Vivien Leigh (who was English and considered “the dark horse,”) Paulette Goddard and Joan Bennett. The other two were good enough, but as soon as Vivien Leigh appeared, there was no doubt who Scarlett was…

  17. What a great write up about the movie and the ever so famous Scarlett & Rhett

    That movie captured lots of us even my Grandmother who was born 1907, she liked it we always cried watching it, she felt sorry for the spoiled brat because it was so hard to get food, my grandmother always quoted Scarlett’s Famous words, As God As My Witness I’ll never go hungry again

    My youngest daughter loves the movie

    • Your grandmother sounds like mine, when she was still alive 🙂 Following WWII, she was determined not to go hungry again. We used to tease her for stocking up a ton of food in a big piece of furniture she kept in the living room… We shouldn’t have. People probably never forget experiencing poverty and hunger. Thank you for stopping by!

  18. Coucou Véronique,
    I have never read anything so beautifully written about “Gone with the Wind”. You have such a talent for writing… I am always amazed by your posts!
    Who wouldn’t fall for Scarlett (and Rhett!)? This was such a stunning movie, the kind of movie which coming generations will enjoy like we all did many years ago.
    Thanks for sharing with us your fabulous comments and these timeless scenes of the movie. Like you, I think one of the reasons why I now live in the US is to be found in this movie I saw when I was eight or ten and which has always remained vivid in my mind… De l’influence d’un film sur toute une vie…
    Anne Touraine (playing with Scarves)

    • Merci beaucoup Anne. How nice of you!

      What can I say: Scarlett (and Rhett) are such inspiring topics, don’t you think?

      I am betting this great movie has inspired many people around the world to get to know the US, and the South better… Well, at least it inspired both of us! 🙂

  19. What an interesting read. I love the movie, but I love the book more. I have read it three times and your post is making want to start reading it again. I love the fact that you received a Rotary scholarship. My husband is a Rotarian and they are a wonderful organization.
    I know that you an your husband are sailors and I just came over to visit and tell you about our new purchase. We just bought a small, older, fixer-upper wooden sailboat and we are so excited about getting started on working it over and getting it ready to sail. I know that you follow Steve’s blog and he will be posting the re-do, step by step until it is ready to sail. She is our 4th sailboat, and after selling our Catalina 25 about 6 years ago, we have been heart broken. This is a smaller boat and with make a great day sailor, or weekend camper. We are so excited and I had to share our excitement with someone else that loves to sail. Have a great day, and smooth sailing.
    Again, thanks for inspiring me to read Gone With The Wind, again.
    Your blogging sister, Connie 🙂

  20. Thank you so much for your visit today and as always your kind and thoughtful comment. I hope you will find the London Part 2 itinerary just as helpful!

  21. I love this post! Gone With the Wind is my all-time favorite movie, too. I was 15 when I first met Scarlett and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen the movie since then! Ahh..I was so in love with Rhett! Like you, I never understood what she say in Ashley! lol Thanks for the great post.

  22. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched this movie Veronique, if I’m flicking around on Foxtel and it comes up, that’s where I stop.. The very beautiful Vivien Leigh was perfection in this role and as for Clark Gable oh la! I’m thinking this just may be the very original ‘chick flick’what do you think, I don’t know many men who would watch it as often as moi haha!

  23. Yours is the best synopsis of my favorite movie. I harbor a lot of guilt for loving GWTW. But, it was the first BIG book I read (in 6th grade) and then afterwards somehow I got to see the movie. It must have been running around the theaters still in the late 60s. Thank you for analyzing Scarlett (I was named after her daughter, Bonnie Blue) and for such great memories.

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“Parlez-vous anglais?” “No, I speak que dalle(*)!

“Parlez-vous anglais?” “No, I speak que dalle(*)!

(*) que dalle: Zilch! Nada!  Louis de Funès (Le Gendarme à New York) La leçon d’anglais (the English lesson)  Last week, I instructed my France travel workshops in the Seattle area. During the (sold out) morning class, “Survival French for the Traveler,” thirty brave souls stayed with me for three hours and alternately laughed, frowned,…

58 Responses to “Parlez-vous anglais?” “No, I speak que dalle(*)!

  1. What great videos and they totally prove your point. What I did not know is that the French are afraid of making a mistake – wow! So tell me, when an American makes a heartfelt, mostly educated effort to communicate in French, what is the general reaction (or thoughts). When a native French-speaker tells me in either language that they do not speak English very well, I find that for the most part they underestimate their abilities. I do enjoy a conversation with mixed French and English which makes neither party feel intimidated.

    I adore the French children speaking English.


    • Bonsoir Genie. And now you know why the French often underestimate their abilities. They speak a lot better than they give themselves credit for. I speak from experience when I tell you that a Frenchman (or a Spaniard, or a German…) is always grateful when a foreign visitor makes an effort to approach them in the local language. Even if it is just a greeting… Who wouldn’t? As for conversations “50-50,” they are the best. They show people can really communicate if they want to, if everyone tries…

    • I’d never thought of this but it makes perfect sense. The French so value their wonderful language and speaking it properly that it makes sense they might be scared of speaking English and getting it wrong. This explains a lot. I have French friends who try sometimes and give up and then go back to French. I can see I need to be more encouraing.They put up with my terrible French, after all! Thanks Veronique and Genie x

  2. Oh that Eddie Izzard clip is classic! And I understood all of his French!

    When we’ve traveled to France, we’ve been really impressed with how well people speak and understand English. (Much better than my French.) The kids are adorable.

  3. After a heartfelt BONJOUR, I always move to , “Parlez vous anglais?” I usually get, “Yes” or sometimes a timid, “A little”. I”m so very grateful!!! I go on to tell them how bad my French is. I think they underestimate their skills as well. I will blame the Parisian’s English for my pitiful French as they enable me. I will add when I have tried a little French they are always gracious even if my Southern accent makes it unintelligible!

    • How could they not want to help you, V? You love Paris more than the Parisians do, as reflected in your beautiful photography! As I said above, they are always grateful when visitors take the trouble of engaging them in French. It does not really matter that it is only one word. By the way, good for you for knowing that “Bonjour” is the magical word in every French conversation. Some people are not aware of it, and they pay the price for it 🙂

  4. Here’s the thing: why make fun of Hollande or Obama’s accent? At least they tried, right? I appreciate anyone making an effort to converse in another language. Dealing with accents and mispronunciations is all part of the learning curve. I am more apt to try if I know I won’t be mocked (not saying you are one of the mockers).

    • Dear Anonymous– Nobody is making fun of Hollande or Obama here. I would only make fun of “ugly tourists,” a breed unfortunately found in every country as soon as people go abroad in large groups, or when they expect the world to revolve around them… I have met many while I lived in Paris. I will confess I did enjoy watching Parisians kick them to the curb on occasion 🙂

      I am a French language instructor specializing in travel preparation. We discuss the French language and culture in all my classes. My students know what to expect and most have excellent experiences when they travel to France, as reflected in the feedback they send me after their trip. I always tell them that perfection is not important and that what matters is to open the door; to engage people with a few words in the local language. After that, “c’est du gâteau” (it’s a piece a cake…)

  5. What a delightful post Veronique! Some people are gifted for foreign languages, others have a hard time. I always take three months of classes when I visit a foreign country. The only time I didn’t was when we went to the Azores (Portugal). Thank God some people understood english, others french or spanish but we felt like fools not even knowing how to pronounce names of villages. Shame on us!
    I am glad the younger french generation has better methods to learn english at their disposal. France should use the same methods Scandinavia uses.

    • Merci beaucoup, Nadège. I agree that France has a lot to learn from Scandinavian countries, or even Holland. I have always been fascinated by how well they all speak English! You are very brave (and astute) to study local languages before traveling. It certainly makes for a more authentic experience…

  6. “My tailor is rich” is actually a very accurate phrase to teach because at the prices they charge, it is the TRUTH. 😉

    It seems I have something in common with the French. I’m completely daunted by learning a foreign language. The closest I ever came to knowing one was Spanish, because I took it sixth grade through senior year of college. And guess what, I barely remember one word. You’re right though, it really has a lot to do with how it is taught. Growing up, my teachers used memorization rather than actually teaching the language itself. And my teachers never had us interact in the language. It was all book work. I remember in high school, I tried ordering in Spanish at a Mexican restaurant and the waitress laughed so hard, after she took our orders, she went over to two other waiters and said something in Spanish and pointed at me and they all started laughing. I was mortified. I never attempted to speak the language to anyone ever again.

    I wish I lived by you and I could take your class. I bet it is a lot of fun. Just from being your friend, I know you’re incredibly inspiring (and motivating!). And you’re the type of person who makes everything so much more interesting. Those are the qualities of the best kind of teacher.

    Rian is actually going to take a French class at a community college here while he’s home from grad school this summer. Maybe if it isn’t too expensive, I could take it with him! 🙂

    Oh, and I love these videos. I thought the clip of the French man teaching English to those guys was pretty funny!

    Anyway, I hope you’re having a great week!

    • Welcome, Jenny, and thank you for the long comment.

      I am sorry you had such a bad experience when you tried to speak Spanish in public. I’d say that waitress was not very bright, or polite, for laughing at you like that… When somebody tries to speak your language, however imperfectly, the least you can do is to encourage them!

      This reminds me I have sometimes seen French people correcting foreigners when they “butchered” the French language, but I still think, that deep down, the culture-proud French were tickled pink that a foreigner would try and communicate with them en français…

      Thank you for your kind comments about my teaching skills. I have always enjoyed teaching/training (my 13-year old would probably say I do it too much…) It’s been one of the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I guess that’s why I am still at it. I certainly wish you were closer so you could take one of my classes, but since you can’t, do try to join Rian. I bet you will enjoy the challenge (just have a strong drink before they explain numbers… 🙂

      Take care, dear girl, and thank you for always making me laugh on FB. 🙂

  7. This is a most fascinating topic! I had never thought that the hesitancy in speaking English by French people could have been due to lack of confidence – but it shines a very different light on the situation. I have always found though, that if I tried to speak my completely appalling French, then a French person was subsequently quite happy to speak to me in English. (Either taking pity or possibly happy that I had made an attempt, not sure which!)

    One thing though that is a particular bugbear of mine, is that here in Australia our education system makes it far too easy to drop learning a second language. Pleased that my bullying has resulted in my eldest two children now studying French at university – but my youngest can’t wait to drop it at school level sadly. xx

    • Bienvenue and thank you for your comment. Not all French people feel bad about speaking in a foreign language. In fact, you will find quite a few (like me, when I still lived in France,) who will enthusiastically demonstrate their language skills when prompted. That’s probably more noticeable in the younger generations. They don’t seem as inhibited as their parents or grand-parents…

      Good for you for encouraging your kids to pursue their French studies. It’s amazing how much bigger and fascinating the world seems once one realizes other languages are spoken/other experiences lived/other beliefs shared…

  8. Veronique, for the forthcoming exhibition, I decided to write my bio in French but to show it also in English as the Fete du Citron will be on and there will surely be English-speaking tourists. I mentioned this to a French friend, Agnes – you met her, my lovely neighbour – that perhaps I should translate it into Italian too. She said, ‘No, the Italians prefer to speak English – it’s more ‘classe’ than French’ That surprised me!

    So I wrote it in English and Agnes corrected the French version – as you know she corrects all the French on my blog, bless her.

    Your classes sound the best fun and a great idea.

    • Ah, my friend Jilly is back. I missed you.

      So the Italians think English is “plus classe” than French, eh? I would certainly agree it is easier to learn and can reach more people. Most people in Europe speak at least two languages: Theirs and English, so the Italians’ take on the whole thing makes sense.

      Good thing you have Agnes to help you. Maybe I will meet her next time I visit… Take care my friend, and good luck for the Expo!

  9. That Eddie Izzard clip is great. I learned just those phrases at school. Never did find a monkey in a tree to be able to show off my French.
    You are spot on about the French not daring to speak because of the imperfections, I have a lot of students like that. What I do find also is that because French is more rigorous it is not as forgiving. In English if you mispronounce something people are more likely to understand you than if you do the same in French.

    • Bonsoir Kerry (or bonjour, for you, in la Belle France!)

      Ha! I can’t believe you actually learned the same expressions as Eddie. That monkey thing must have been a killer; a lot harder to place than the rich tailor, certainly 🙂

      We have all met these students who are shy about speaking in a foreign language. Adults, in particular, tend to feel more self-conscious than kids. They also take themselves more seriously, so they balk at coming across as “gauche,” don’t you think? Fortunately, a good laugh and some humor always helps relax students.

      I am glad we are colleagues of sorts!

    • Thank you so much for posting this here, Kerry. I had seen this video years ago but had forgotten how good Ken Robinson’s speech was. What a smart, funny, articulate man. Sadly, I don’t know if things have changed that much in most of the world’s education systems since then…

  10. Oh I thought had met Agnes but of course I now remember you didn’t and that was entirely my fault. After tiyr vusut she told me how much she’d wanted to meet you. Next time! I always think of French as ‘THE’ language so it surprised me to think the Italians didn’t. I just adore the poetry in French.

  11. Terrifically fun (and informative) post, Veronique! Congrats on your class, sounds wonderful! My son is bi-lingual French-English, his petite ami was French-Italian and also spoke English. And her parents are longtime France residents from Italy that speak both languages. We all went to dinner on the Ile St. Louis. My son spoke English to me, French to his girl, who spoke Italian to her parents that spoke French to me. I had a headache back at the hotel, where the mouse was beneath the table 😉

    BTW once in Paris I had a group of Americans approach me and one very carefully enunciated ‘Ex..cuse me Madame, how to we get to Saint Chapelle?’ I was highly complimented that they mistook me for French!

    Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Bonjour Suzanne. That dinner experience on Ile St Louis would have exhausted anyone except, maybe, a professional interpreter!

      And you were mistaken for a French person too? You must not be walking around smiling, like a lot of Americans! — Kidding! 🙂

  12. Great post, Veronique! I loved the Eddie Izzard routine with the monkey is on the branch…that made me laugh over my morning tea!
    Where were you when I lived in France – I struggled to find a good French teacher!

  13. Ne me lance pas sur le sujet de l’enseignement en France, c’est un truc qui me met en transe , et pas que sur l’anglais! perso, je n’ai jamais eu de probleme avec les langues, j’adore même ça. Mais ça s’est fait presque CONTRE les profs!et ce que j’ai vu avec mes enfants prouve que les choses n’ont pas changé, helas. Tant qu’on n’aura pas compris qu’il faut laisser les enfants parler , même s’ils font des fautes, et ne pas systematiquement les punir chaque fois qu’ils en font, ça n’avancera pas.Mais chacun sait qu’il est impossible de reformer le mammouth..
    je me demande ce que vont penser tes visiteurs americains de notre Cruchot national?!On a enormement parlé de de Funes dernierement, parce que c’etait le 30eme anniversaire de sa disparition;J’aime bien l’idée que ce petit bonhomme soit devenu une icône nationale! :o)
    allez, bisous!

    • Amen, amen! Je sais que tu fais partie de ces Français qui n’ont pas peur des langues étrangères, au contraire.

      Pour l’instant pas de commentaires sur Cruchot (ou le clip news sur les élections que je trouve hilarant…) Ma réplique de gendarme préférée: “Vos fleurs, elles sont tartes!” — ha! ha! DeFunès, la petite teigne et la mauvaise foi personnifiée, mais quel talent!


  14. I smiled while reading this post. No one in France can be as slow as I am learning French. I’ve been scared by my teachers and my father who spoke perfect French which I could never emulate. The French have been extremely patient with my poor language skills – I try to speak French but often have plain garbage coming out of my mouth. Bisous

    • See, another scared student! That is so sad, really. Truth is, some people learn foreign languages faster and better than other; it’s a bit like music or math… Nothing to be ashamed of as long as you get the message across, n’est-ce-pas?

  15. What a wonderful post! The Eddie Izzard clip really made me laugh out loud – hilarious and ‘la souris est sous la table’ – we have all seen these phrases in our text books! Incidentally when I saw your title and ‘que dalle’ it took me back to my year spent in France when a French friend taught me French slang! I’m sure your students love your fun classes.

  16. This was LAUGH OUT LOUD funny, Véro. When my father took English lessons in the 40s (prior to meeting my bilingual mother), the first sentence he learned was — “My tailor is rich.”

    Although he eventually spoke excellent English, he always had trouble with the “th” sound. It either came out as a “d” or a “z.” Naturally, my brother and I teased him mercilessly, as kids will do with their parents the moment they find they can do something better.

    That said, however, I do believe that in the last 10 years or so, you will find more Parisians speaking very good English than when I was a child, despite their aversion to not being perfect at something for fear of criticism.

    • Merci M-T. Ah, your poor dad and the TH sound. Didn’t you just love our gendarmes trying to pronounce it? Cruchot ridicules them, but when his boss butchers it just as much, of course, he LOVES it! 🙂

      I have many French friends who speak excellent English, here or in France. Things have definitely improved.

      A bientôt. Bisou à Dan.

  17. My experience with speaking, or hearing another language spoken, is to answer in a slow, precise voice without using any slang. This validates the other person’s limited knowledge and gives them confidence to continue. I’ve been in many situations where this was helpful to all concerned, and respected everyone’s ego. It just comes down to showing kindness.

  18. Oh but “Bonjour” is the magic word and if you leave it off, you might as well forgettaboutit.! At first I thought that they were acting as if they couldn’t understand my French but then I have been unable to understand their English at times due to their heavy accent. We all do the best we can. My friend Peter, who has lived there for 40 years says, “Virginia speaks a little anglais, a little française, with sign language and a lot of charm!” I think it’s my duty to turn up the charm to make up for slaughtering the most beautiful language in the world!

  19. Bonjour! We have found the Parisians friendly and willing to speak English. In fact in many areas they would often say to me, ‘Just speak in English Madame.” Luckily after 5 months they no longer say that. They do love it when you speak French.

  20. Laughed all the way Veronique. What a fantastic post! The topic rings the bell.
    The funny thing is that in officially bilingual Canada French in public schools outside Quebec is taught in de Funes way. As if teachers were thawed after spending life in ice age and all of a sudden appeared in front of bored bunch of students not knowing WHAT to do and WHY do they need it. That was an astonishing discovery for a Francophile me. I guess I overplayed tutoring my son as my firstborn left the nest to Montreal.
    The junior just hates La Grenouille -ballerina story they are chewing in class for three years now. It should be fun but it isn’t at all.

    Before going to Italy I learned an audio survival kit while driving. It was applicable and compatible therefore useful.
    It helped a lot. At least I’ve never heard the Pff.. On contrary, the strangers immediately jumped into 50/50 and we got along very friendly.

    And in Barcelona when I naively addressed in basic Spanish locals were offended because they proudly speak Catalan but with a puzzled tourist had no problem to switch to basic English.

    What was a huge surprise that even young children in Amsterdam are fluent in English. There were several families on our flight with 3-4 children each, from toddlers to pre teens. The 7 year old instructed me on sightseeing.

    Actually French and English have so much in common, it shouldn’t be such a problem, the latter is much easier.
    I wish I could attend your class Veronique, I’m sure it’s down to earth and enjoyable, no mouse and monkies.

    • Thank you for the wonderful comment, Natalie.

      Your poor son. La Grenouille sounds plain awful. There are so many great textbooks and French language methods out there for kids. Why would they still use a bad one?

      What the examples in your note demonstrate is that where there is a will, there is a way. Catalan, French, English, Dutch. People always manage to understand each other when they really try to communicate. And, yes, children are amazing little creatures. We have many things to learn from them…

  21. Dearest Véronique,
    About wearing fleece year round; that was a very tacky remark in 1996. Obviously that stuck with you forever (almost)… We one time tried to live in American fleece clothes, we got ourselves some jogging suits. But no, I gave mine away (it was not even fleece but velours) and also Pieter’s as we are not born for wearing street pajamas. When traveling ONCE in them, thinking that Americans were smarter so we ought to try them out, we got checked everywhere and they opened our luggage. The street pajamas got given away and we dress the way we were used to.
    Obama had literally NO clue how to put the accents on the words; proves that he is a poor history student too. Not very flattering for a US President facing the rest of the world.
    One has to love languages and than you go for it; it opens a new window to the world!
    Hugs to you – have to get back to our flooded basement… Too much rain yesterday!

    • Dear Mariette. I made up the story about the fleece thing, and also made up several other things in this post 🙂

      I would stay away from velours at all cost, travel or not, and would not leave the house in my PJs ever (Coco Chanel would not approve…) — What were you thinking?

      I won’t blame Obama. At least he tried to look into the culture and history of the country he was visiting, which is more than a lot of people do when they visit France and Europe…

      Good luck with the flooded basement. You would expect this to happen in Seattle, not Atlanta. Remember when Georgia had no rain at all for almost a whole year some time ago?

  22. Oh lala! that was the best 20 minutes ever! I had to make myself a cup of tea at the beginning. I seem to have missed a few posts..loved all the memories of your childhood lollies, I remember a few of these too. I must say that I’ve never had a bad experience in Paris when trying to communicate, contrary to what I had heard and was expecting, I found the Parisians very helpful! And, and, and..OMG I am totally in love, I’ve always thought Bradley Cooper was gorgeous, but Bradley Cooper speaking fluent French…swoooon!! How I would love to speak my favourite language so fluently, I think it would take actually living in France for a few years, that would be very nice also!! Ahh! now I can go to sleep with this lovely image in my head..better not let P suspect haha!

    • Merci beaucoup Grace. Always fun to have you here. I trust all is well in Perth. You would not believe how many of my students return from France – and yes, even from Paris! – and tell me how helpful and friendly the French were. I guess my countrymen have a bad reputation (and the media love to hype it up.) Come to think of it, it is probably better to surprise people in a good way than to let them down once they meet you… 🙂 Bon weekend in the sun, my Austalian friend.

  23. I find this interesting because I, an American student who has been learning French for 10 years, went to France to study abroad for a year and realized everything that had been taught to me in the classroom was utterly useless. I didn’t know how to say you are welcome or how to ask for a piece of cake. I was taught, “de rien” and “je voudrais….” instead of “je vous en prie” and “je vais vous prendre”. Simple things that could easily be changed. I’m currently taking a class called Eloquent French offered at my university. Its incredible how little I know of written French! The French taught to us Americans is this useless blend of written French and spoken French and makes absolutely no sense. Personally, I’m more intrigued by spoken French, but I realize the importance of being able to write as well. I feel like for the past ten years my teachers have been teaching me French for babies because they do not believe us capable of understanding all the grammar and nuances within the language.

  24. I find this interesting because I, an American student who has been learning French for 10 years, went to France to study abroad for a year and realized everything that had been taught to me in the classroom was utterly useless. I didn’t know how to say you are welcome or how to ask for a piece of cake. I was taught, “de rien” and “je voudrais….” instead of “je vous en prie” and “je vais vous prendre”. Simple things that could easily be changed. I’m currently taking a class called Eloquent French offered at my university. Its incredible how little I know of written French! The French taught to us Americans is this useless blend of written French and spoken French and makes absolutely no sense. Personally, I’m more intrigued by spoken French, but I realize the importance of being able to write as well. I feel like for the past ten years my teachers have been teaching me French for babies because they do not believe us capable of understanding all the grammar and nuances within the language.

  25. I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed reading and re-reading this post. I am currently doing Rosetta Stone because I’ll be going to Paris/Provence in May and Paris/Normandie in September. I took French in college but that was forever ago. I laughed so hard watching the British comedian that my husband had to come and watch it with me. Thanks for the very useful information about language and the French! Merci beaucoup!

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For the love of French candy

For the love of French candy

This story was written in 2013. It has been updated. Les bonbons. Les bonbecs. I miss you, sweet (and not so sweet) candy of my childhood. My teeth did not like you as much as I did. I associated with you too often, and spent many Thursday mornings (the French school children’s day off at the…

62 Responses to For the love of French candy

    • I know what we have in common – most of these candies! How fun. You totally took me back to my childhood in Toulouse. My favorite were the Fraise Tagada! I was totally addicted and had to be stopped as a child. Thank goodness nobody can stop me now. Next time I’m in France, I’m going to buy a few bags. I probably could get some online n’est pas? 😉 Now I’m going to listen to the song. Do you remember the song Alexandrie Alexandra? =)

    • @ Splendid Market: Thank you for the kind comment. How is life sur la Côte d’Azur? You have certainly made the most of your stay there. I enjoyed your last story on “Blanc Bleu” at Marché Saleya. Great pics.

      @ Sandy: I have learned you and I have a lot more in common than just candy. Don’t forget my hometown is Toulouse, too 🙂 Fraises Tagada and Les Oursons are truly sinful. I am almost afraid to start sampling them again…

  1. What a “sweet” post. I’m sure junior has his own special memories of favorite Bon bons. I used to love when our grandpa would give us money for penny candy. My favorite gummy cinnamon bears!

    • A “sweet” post indeed. My teeth are threatening to fall off any second due to the sugar exposure! I am pretty sure France does not have gummy cinnamon bears. Cinnamon was never as big over there as it is here in the States, but things are changing, I have heard…

  2. I had forgotten about all those sweet treats, particularly “bonbons acidules”. But very often, I still dream of “petits oursons”.
    This brings back so many memories. Thank you Veronique!

    • I know Veronique, I have been here too long and feel more american than french now. I even cannot stand cold weather anymore. But you have to know that I had the best childhood (in France from my birth until we moved to Paris when I was 10 years old) and if it was possible, I would go back in a heartbeat.

  3. Bonjour ma très chère amie,
    Je suis très heureuse de te retrouver… Merci pour ton très précieux message.
    Je viens de passer un moment fabuleux en te lisant et en revoyant certains des bonbons qui nous faisaient saliver et qui me font encore baver de plaisir !
    Il m’arrive parfois d’acheter une boîte de nounours à la guimauve/chocolat. (pour accompagner le petit café pris au lit le soir!!)
    Mais ce qui me manque toutefois, c’est l’atmosphère que nous procurait le fait de rentrer dans la boutique, de compter et recompter combien de bonbons on pourrait s’offrir avec une ou plusieurs petites pièces, tout en espérant que le marchand puisse être généreux ou ne sache plus tellement compter!! Le marchand de bonbons de mon enfance s’appelait monsieur Philippon et je n’ai jamais oublié son nom, ni son étalage de friandises… Cependant des pièces je n’en avais pas souvent, mais rien ne m’empêchait d’aller coller mon nez sur sa devanture ! Parfois, si monsieur Philippon n’était pas occupé à distribuer ou à surveiller les choix des enfants, il sortait et me donnait un petit bonbon et me disait : “Allez, file!”…
    Tu réveilles aujourd’hui des souvenirs précieux enfouis dans ma boîte…
    Un gros bisous à toi…

    • Welcome back Martine! Merci d’avoir laissé ce gentil commentaire, et de partager avec nous ces souvenirs d’enfance . Ils sont toujours personnels, mais beaucoup reconnaitront “Monsieur Philippon,” j’en suis sûre. Peut-être fera-t-il un jour l’objet d’une de tes belles peintures? A bientôt. Bises à Leo le Toucan.

  4. Merci for the delightful and poignant blog about candy. I have favorites from my childhood also, such nostalgia. You have such a tender touch as you reminisce, so enjoyable. A sweet trip down memory lane…
    A bientot – Cherie

  5. Les colliers existent toujours , et finissent de façon toute aussi degoutante:o)
    Il y avait aussi les bâtons de réglisse, qui ressemblaient à des bouts de bois , et que l’on machouillait pendant des heures; et les longs tubes en plastique remplis de microbilles sucrées; et les “cacahuètes”, qui n’en étaient pas mais y ressemblaient;et les berlingots, vendus dans de grands bocaux…. je me souviens qu’on glanait 5 centimes par ci ou par-là,par exemple en rapportant les bouteilles de verre à la consigne, et qu’on pouvait alors aller à la boulangerie , où chaque bonbon coutait UN centime! …
    Tu fais vibrer des cordes nostalgiques , aujourd’hui, et revenir des souvenirs enfouis!Les bonbons , ce sont nos madeleines de Proust!
    PS: vu Happiness Therapy. Délicieux moment! Bradley Cooper joue vraiment bien, de Niro est carrément sensationnel, et l’ensemble du film est … un vrai bonbon!
    Bonne semaine , je t’embrasse!

    • Les bâtons de réglisse… un grand classique en effet. J’ai eu du mal à faire des choix, tu l’imagines… Les bonbons en madeleines de Proust. Il fallait y penser. Absolument d’accord. Oh, et ravie que tu aies aimé le film avec Bradley. Je pensais bien qu’il te plairait. Bises du Grand Ouest américain, pour ma copine M. et ma chère Nice…

  6. What lovely memories and pictures. I still love liquorice and those very sour sweets that make you look as thought you have sucked on a lemon.
    When I was in the USA I found everything much sweeter than in France, the sweets, the cakes, the soda’s. They were so sweet they set my teeth on edge. The chocolate was so sweet I couldn’t eat it and I am fairly addicted to chocolate.

    • Bonjour Kerry. I agree with you. Our American friends enjoy life on the sweet side 🙂 Too bad i don’t enjoy sour candy as much as I used to as a child… but I will still be happy to get my hands on les Fraises Tagada, les Oursons au chocolat, et les Carambars, of course, when I return to Europe… Bonne fin de semaine dans le Sud de la belle France…

  7. Veronique, I can attest to the fact that they are every bit as good today as they were in your childhood. 🙂 when my girls were small I especially appreciated being able to buy a small amount of candy at the bakery. It was nice treat, a small amount never did them any harm and I didn’t have to buy a huge box and listen to them asking me every five minutes at home for just “one more please, Maman.”

    • Bonjour Victoria. Good point you are making. Being able to buy a smaller quantity of candy is both cheaper, and wiser, and it is still possible to do so in French boulangeries… I am sure you remember the size (and price) of candy boxes in North American movie theaters (usually enjoyed with half a gallon of soda, bien sûr…) 😉 —

  8. A wonderful post again, as positively nostalgic as the fabulous Renaud song ! My youth was spent in Sweden, so my memories are not linked to exactly the same sweets (less “international” those days), but are somehow similar. I never found any “oursons”, “nounours”, then, but today, a bit later, I have become a very good client!

  9. I wasn’t allowed sweets as a child, but as an adult I am partial to Haribo – especially the licorice. I’m not sure if should admit this, but on a recent trip to France I spent an afternoon in the south at the Haribo factory and left with metres and metres of licorice straps (conveniently curled up into round plastic containers) and boxes of ” ‘strawberries”. I was in a hyperglycemic trance for weeks! Bisous.

  10. I remember rock candy, flip chips, peanut brittle and sponge candy covered in chocolate. Of course if given a choice as a child I loved raisins and salted cashews more.

    • I was trying to picture all these, since I am not familiar with them, except maybe peanut brittle (please tell me that was not covered in chocolate, as well!?) — Salted cashews sound pretty good too. I enjoy them on a regular basis. Thank you for stopping by!

  11. A sweet post Veronique; I loved your tale of your first business efforts selling candy on the beach and look forward to hearing about your next brainstorm. For me, I am partial to chocolate over all of these bonbons. Have a great day. A bientot.

    • Bonjour Michel. Merci de ta visite. Wait until you find out about the rest of my French entrepreneur career! You will not believe it! I think my adult tastes have drifted more towards chocolate as well, but I am picky. I guess this means my taste buds have not completely been destroyed by all the sour and chemically processed Bonbons I enjoyed as a child! Phew.

  12. Most French candy–other than chocolate, bien sûr–didn’t interest me, as I don’t like licorice or tart flavors. But I never heard of the Petit Ourson, and I’m wondering how in the world it got by me!?!

  13. sweet! and my kids are obsessed with carembars here. and of course the kinder eggs. i will be trying les petits oursons for sure! merci veronique! 🙂

  14. What a beautiful post, even though I did not have then, nor do I have now, a sweet tooth. My p’tit pêché mignon was a big box of American sweet tarts. Still is, if I’m to be completely honest, and the occasional red licorice twist. I have always gone for the sour and the tart in my candy selection.

    What does that say about me, I wonder?

  15. Hello Veronique

    You brought back wonderful memories of childhood. We had some of those sweets in Ireland too. I love your first foray into retail and I can just imagine you with your little box secure around you neck as you sang out your inventory.
    Incidentally, thank you also for the movie suggestion, Silver Lining Playbook. Well worth seeing, we loved it The music was also uplifting.


    • Bonsoir Helen. I am so happy you, too, enjoyed the Bradley movie. I am going to try and catch it again before the Academy Awards, that’s for sure.

      As for my first business, wait until you hear the end of the story… Some kids play in the sand when they go to the beach in the summer. I was too busy becoming the next Donald Trump 🙂

  16. Mmmm! I have many wonderful memories of the candy from my youth! 🙂 We had those candy tart necklaces too. They were my faves i think. (I say i think, because i had many favorites when it came to candy then.) Still do, in fact. I also like what we called ‘red hots’. They were super hot indeed, and they colored my tongue bright red. I never had a cavity though. And to this day, i have no fillings! Not one. I think i’m pretty lucky.. Love this post, btw. It’s lots of fun!

    • Bonsoir Mary. You’ve got to love candy necklaces. I might have to buy one (again) this summer. I have forgotten what the different flavors were, so I need to investigate further… Extremely important 🙂 No cavity. No filling. Lucky indeed. It was probably the result of all that yummy fluoride you American kids get in your drinking water! 🙂

  17. A lovely trip down memory lane! We actually call les bonbons soucoupes ‘flying saucers’ and I used to love the sherbet inside and unravelling the liquorice wheels too. In the North of England we often called liquorice ‘Spanish’ – I’m not sure why! Maybe because liquorice was imported from Spain or I’ve heard that Spanish monks in Yorkshire (our neighbouring county) cultivated liquorice root! As soon as I saw those Carambars I was transported back to France! I always bring some back to England with me! The Renaud song is so touching and so very appropriate for this nostalgic post. Bon week-end, Véronique.

    • Bonjour miss b. I knew the French and the Brits had a lot more in common than an underwater tunnel and the Hundred Years’ War 🙂 Glad you enjoyed “Mistral Gagnant.” – -I have been watching old Renaud songs on YouTube this week and realized how much I still like his music. Do you remember the great song he wrote about women where he totally CREAMED Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister? 🙂

  18. Dearest Véronique,
    Aha, so many things I do recognize, even though I never really did eat candy. Maybe that’s why I still have all my teeth? Only 4 fillings from age 14… Haribo we had and framboise, poire candy. And you forgot the nougat… Or the Côte d’Or chocolate… We also had cinnamon and peppermint cushions that I got at the grocery but did always give away to my siblings at home. Fun childhood memories!
    Hugs to you,

  19. Il est clair, Véronique, que toutes ces friandises nous rappellent notre enfance. Ces souvenirs sont dans un petit carré de notre cerveau, et c’est toujours agréable de se les remémorer.
    Bon week-end!

  20. I’m wondering now which country introduced these candies first? I ate the same ones in the U.S. only with a different name. I went each Saturday with friends to the movie theater, and the best part was buying candy and eating it during the film….so much to choose from then.

    • A big manufacturer like the German Haribo probably did and they spread to all the other markets is my guess… No matter who did it, I certainly am glad “candy globalization” was already en route, Mem. Bon weekend!

  21. A lovely taste of childhood Veronique.
    I’ve been away from blog land for a while and am pleased to find you well.
    I shall keep reading. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • YEAH!!! Craig and Boris are back! I’ve missed you guys. So good to hear you have been busy, and the new landscaping looks fab. Sometimes, you’ve just got to keep things in your own hands! Boris is even cuter at 10. What a lady killer that furry thing is. Come back soon, y’hear?

  22. Oh je viens juste de faire un delicieux retour en arriere…je me suis rappelee de tout mais egalement les boules de coco et les grandes fraises….l’enfance en France que de merveilleux souvenirs xx

  23. You could write a guide for us Veronique!
    This wonderful and fills in a lot holes in my French candy knowledge.
    So much to learn…so little time and over 600 regional candies in France!
    More candy than cheese.
    Merci Carolg

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