bonnets over the windmill

In the days leading up to Saint Valentine's Day, there were even more almost-naked advertisements than usual on the scrolling billboards and in magazines, and even more seductive displays than before (which is saying something!) in the windows of the shops purveying fancy lingerie.

It was in a French lingerie shop that I learned one says "bonnet" where in English one says "cup." (Only in the context of lingerie, I hasten to add--not for a cup of coffee or tea!) Very amusing to the Anglophone ear, at first, but also rather charming.

In these shops it seems quite normal, by the way, for a boyfriend or husband to be invited to poke his head into Madame's changing cubicle and approve (or not) whatever she's trying on....well, perhaps this happens in the racier lingerie shops in the States and England nowadays; I wouldn't know, but I don't think it would go down too well in the ladies' changing room at Marks and Spencers!

Bonnet does mean headgear as well in French: "bonnet," "hat," or "cap."  A bonnet de nuit is of course a "nightcap" but also, figuratively, a killjoy, a spoilsport, a wet blanket--so different from our figurative use of "nightcap," that last (alcoholic) drink before going to bed.

Bonnets are also what one throws over the windmill, "jeter son bonnet par-dessus les moulins.." And I guess in a sense my husband and I are throwing our caps over the windmill,  kicking over the traces....well, perhaps coming to live in France isn't really as dramatic as that, but it certainly feels like a vault into a new world. 

And yet, after six weeks, I am beginning to feel at home. I have a favourite (sorry, I'm in Europe, I'm leaning back towards the British spellings!) bakery, favourite stalls at the market on Quai S Antoine, favourite place for a coffee. Quite early on I discovered a wonderful shop that sells, among other gourmet treats, leaf tea by Mariage Frères--my current preferred blend is their French Breakfast. I know where the nearby bookshops are, and which newspaper kiosk sells the British papers. I know a bit about the Métro and the tram. All still quite superficial, but it's enough to start feeling I belong. I've hung my hat.