What French Men Don’t Do

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The other day was the annual Foire de Saint Firmin, not the sort of fair where there’s entertainment and junk food, but a fair where a wandering band of itinerant merchants set up shop for a day in a town to ply their wares. In days of yore before everyone had a car and every town was within driving distance of at least a supermarché, if not, as in our case, the truly gigantic hypermarché, these fairs were lifesavers for rural France. You could, and to some extent you still can, buy everything from socks to winter jackets to hams for the cold season at a Foire de Saint Firmin. But this year I noticed that there were few shoppers, and that the vendors had plenty of time to chat with me.

For example, the two ladies selling these rose-covered boots. I wouldn’t have bought them even if they’d had my size, but they were cute, and unlike anything else at the fair, so I stopped to look, parking my dilapidated six year-old blue wheeled shopping caddy by a tree near their stand.

Me: Wow, those boots are cute, too bad you don’t have my size.
Them: Oh, we probably do, what size do you take?
Them (after hearing my size): Oh no, of course we don’t have anything that big. And by the way, have you noticed that your caddy is looking really terrible. It’s not at all pretty. You definitely need a new one.
Me: I like my old caddy, it still works great after all these years, even though you’re right, it looks terrible.

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Them: No, you really need a caddy like this, so pretty, so practical.
Me (to myself): Holy crap, it’s 89 Euros, a $100 shopping caddy trimmed with roses, the most impractical thing ever! How can I get out of this gracefully?
Me (to them): Uh, well, it’s often my husband who does the shopping, don’t you think he would look kind of weird with a rose-covered shopping caddy?
Them: Your husband goes shopping with a caddy?
Me (crossing fingers surreptitiously): Sure, he often does.
Them (exchanging looks of utter disbelief): Ha ha, well in that case, ha ha ha, your old caddy is better. But how about these great gloves for washing dishes?

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Me (to myself): Rose-rimmed rubber gloves? Are you sure those are for washing dishes???
Me (to them): Well, you’re not going to believe me, but…
Them (interrupting): What, now you’re going to tell us that you don’t do dishes?
Me (utterly truthfully): Actually, my husband does all the dishes.

At which point, practically doubled up in gales of laughter, one of the ladies put on a glove and held it up defiantly, saying

Them: I think your husband would look great in these gloves!

So Shel, how about it?

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4 Comments on “What French Men Don’t Do”


  1. I’ve just come upstairs to my computer, leaving behind the tagine and the tarte tatin that I’m preparing for dinner, together with the attendant washing up….I never wear rubber gloves, but ..who knows:)

  2. Catanea Says:

    I think many of these things might be being offered as early Christmas presents for people you have no idea what to buy for, provided you yourself are too un-handy to attach some artificial flowers to any odd rubber or plastic useful stock-thing.
    I expect men buy them, who have no idea what to get their wives, except a piece of jewelry the wife has already conspired with her best friend to “help” the husband select.
    Just a smiling surprise for the gift-giving moment.

  3. Jill Says:

    I love everything about this. And Shel would rock those gloves!


  4. Just found your blog and LOVE the photography (and content too!). Any tips on kind of camera, etc?


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