A year in the merde

by Stephen Clarke – British journalist and writer working for a French press group in Paris

“There are lots of French people who are not at all hypocritical, inefficient, treacherous, intolerant, adulterous or incredibly sexy … They just didn’t make it into my book.”

A year in the merde is hilarious! Paul, an English guy, comes to start a new job in Paris. Smelly cheese, strikes, misunderstandings, daily life situations… the book is a laugh-out-loud account of the adventures of a Brit in France.

Extracts from the book

“Do I call everyone tu or vous ?” Not that I was capable of calling them either.
“Ah, it is quite simple. You, in your position, call everyone with whom you work tu. Except maybe anyone who looks old. And except if you have not been presented to them yet. Most people here will call you tu also. Some will call you vous if they are very less senior or if they think they don’t know you. OK?”
“Er, yes.” Clear as onion soup.

“All I had to do was take my passport, work contract, three passport photos, a recent electricity bill and the marriage certificate of any hamsters I’d owned since 1995, all photocopied on to medieval parchment.”

“If only I could understand [the housing ads].
[…] Here was one at Bastille […] [with] a “SàM avec cuis amér” (oh sh*). My dictionary told me that this probably meant it was suitable for sado-masochists with bitter (amer) thighs (cuisses). However, I suspected that this might not be an accurate translation.”

“ […] you English know how to do in the kitchen – you boil everything.”
“That’s not true. It’s just an old cliché. […] These days we microwave it.”


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