French Dip

One of the things I was determined to do when I retired was to perfect my French.  My husband’s parents were multi-lingual,  he heard French spoken at home,  and he speaks it fluently.   But although I studied French in both high school and college,  my mastery of that beautiful tongue was poor,  and my husband hadn’t the patience to help.  (See Parlez-vous francais?)

So I enrolled at New York’s Alliance Francaise and took classes there for an academic year.  Then as summer approached my teacher Marie-France invited interested students to join her for a two-week language immersion trip to France.   I signed up toute de suite,  three of my classmates did as well,  and we soon began our French sojourn.

Marie-France drove us in her small van around the southern coastal region of Languedoc-Roussillon,  which happily for us produces more organic wine than anywhere else in France.   And as we explored the countryside with our teacher,  she continued to drill us in the language.

One very hot day we happened to pass a lovely lake where dozens of families were swimming.   Marie-France stopped the van and we could see some of the women in the skimpiest of bikinis.  But we couldn’t help noticing that many of the other women,  as well as most of the men and children,  were swimming in the nude.

Marie-France said she had some towels in the van and suggested we take a dip in the lake to cool off.   We told her the water looked very inviting,  but we had no swim suits.

”Ici la France!”,   said our teacher.   And so feeling very French,  we took off our clothes and went in!


– Dana Susan Lehrman


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