How to act French at the weekend

Jam pot for the gardenLast weekend, the town of Alex held a Vide Grenier — a giant garage sale where the locals bring all sorts of odd things to sell. I had to go: I love these events! Bizarre offerings included a variety of champagne bottle tops, a four-poster bed (assembled) and a monoski in excellent condition. The usual household goodies were on sale as well, and needing rustic-looking containers for the garden, I asked a woman how much for the two baskets in my arms that she was selling. She said €5 and I handed over the money without the French haggle. Haggling seems to be an important part of the process, and I felt like a fool for not trying to get her down to €4. No worries: I accidentally haggled over something else: I asked a man how much a large metal pot was and he said it was €10. I said ‘no thanks’ and he asked how much I would pay. I said €5, and something resembling the beard-buying scene from The Life of Brian followed.

“€5 for that? Look at the quality. You must be joking,” he said in French to me.

“It’s just for the garden,” I explained.

“But it’s for making jam!” he said indignantly. “You can’t put it in the garden.”

“I’m terrible in the kitchen, but good in the garden,” I joked.

“Okay, €5,” he said. “And a cherry each for you and your friend.”

Success! Without ever thinking he’d give it to me for €5, I scored a lovely jam pan which will never see jam again (now happily filled with petunia) and couple of tasty fresh cherries, and I’ve learnt the art of the French haggle to boot.


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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4 comments on “How to act French at the weekend
  1. Iain says:

    But you didn’t buy the Monoski?!?

  2. Wendy says:

    No, but I did call someone *else* to see if he wanted it, but he said no. It was impressively undamaged! Did you want it Iain?

  3. Emm says:

    Hee hee. I really enjoyed this little tale! 🙂 Good on you for standing your ground and putting flowers in a prized jam tin!

  4. Iain says:

    Hmmmm. I think I would like a monoski, but it’s probably a bad idea.

    It’s definitely a bad idea, I’d have to get a fluro 1 piece to go with it.

    But I would own a monoski, and that would probably make me a lot more attractive to women.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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