Cows and Kisses

I couldn’t find a photo of a cow, although I have taken them before, but here are some cute, well loved teddy bears at a brocante.

I’ve been fascinated with the use of the word “cow”-vache-in the French language. It can be used all sorts of ways. To call a woman a cow is an insult although it could also mean she is really cool. Call a man that and he is a swine or rat. I heard Maurice use it the other day saying something was “vachement jolie”. I caught the word vache and found out that it means something is really pretty-it expresses enthusiasm. Who knew, huh?

Isn’t she “vachement” cute?



I always get enthusiastic about fabric. I have a drawer full of provencal place mats but maybe I could use a few more.

I have been observing how the French greet each other with that double French kiss. I’ve even asked several French people which is correct-to kiss the right cheek first or the left? They almost always say right cheek but then sort of pause and get a contemplative look on their faces and say, “But, not always.” For a while all I saw were greeting with the right cheek going first but in Corsica almost everyone I saw put their left cheek first. Since being back home I have seen a mixture but, on being greeted by several French people, it was always the right cheek. So based on my intensive scientific research, it probably doesn’t matter which cheek you offer when greeted but the right cheek is probably the safest.

Sideroads of Europe

10 thoughts to “Cows and Kisses”

  1. I remember one night with my French student friends at a restaurant when a rather “cowish” female was being loud and obnoxious.
    “La vache qui rit.” I said.
    We laughed all night over it.
    My only joke in French.

  2. I have always wondered how everyone knew which direction to go when doing the double kiss! I shall remember to “go right” if I am ever lucky enough to be in France!

  3. It wasn’t ever something I’d thought about before – everyone in Bretagne always starts on the right. But with my travels of late, I’ve noticed it’s not always the case. Near Toulouse, people seemed to start on the left. Same thing went I went to go visit Doc in Champagne last weekend. That the number of kisses and the side you start on would vary by region – it’s all so typically French, isn’t it??

  4. Those bears were quite loved indeed! Oh you can have the French language. No matter how hard I tried and tried, it was never good enough for the French to understand. My American accent, I suppose, is too strong to speak French. Go figure. (We can understand their accents just fine, no?) While in France and greeting, now that you mention it, it was always right to right cheek first. I never would have thought of that. Interesting.

  5. Hi Linda,

    Just found your website from A Way to Garden. We have just purchased a home in Montegut Arros, in Gers. It will be a few years before we are there any longer than a couple of months at a time. But for now we are walking on clouds in the excitment of it all.

    We will have a very large garden and hopefully after a couple of years the fruit orchard will come back to health.

    Now I am off to read all of your entries.


  6. Love the photos of the table cloths, mats, other linens and the adorable bears! I’m ready to shop.

    As long as a cheek is offered….sounds great.

  7. Guess I should start practicing which cheek to turn! I am about to start my 3rd week of French lessons – granddaughter going to classes too – and I have to admit it’s coming back, but very slowly! My teacher is American but a true Francophile.

    Great pics – especially the sweet baby girl.
    Couldn’t comment on your blog yesterday – glad it’s up and running properly tonight Linda!

  8. Many years ago my French teacher told a story about trying on dresses in Paris with a friend. The sales lady, in English, raved over how beautiful the friend looked in the dress she was considering. However, her aside to her colleague was, “Elle ressemble a une vache.” She didn’t buy the dress. (Never assume someone doesn’t speak your language!)

    The baby is adorable. And I’m still ticked that I didn’t buy those natural linen place mats and table runner when in Lourmarin.

  9. Okay….I’m confused here…lol
    THEIR right cheek? Or OUR right cheek?
    Do we lean in and aim for their right cheek and turn ours for them?
    This French kissing protocol is definitely confusing…….

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