Monday, July 13, 2009

Jumping off a pont

Though I am far from completely comfortable in French, there are many words and phrases that I’ve picked up here that have infiltrated my English, as they are simply better, or more evocative than their English equivalents. Today, as I was out this morning taking photos for tomorrow’s post, another occurred to me.

Even though it was 9:00 AM on a Monday morning, the city was absolutely dead. This is because of a delightful French tradition called “le pont.” Tomorrow, of course, is La fête nationale, a.k.a. the Bastille Day holiday. As it is on a Tuesday, many French take Monday as a “bridge” (pont) between the weekend, thus creating a four week holiday.

The practice isn’t unheard of elsewhere, but France is the first place I encountered that has a special word for it (though I’m told Spaniards use the word “aqueduct” – with its multiple arches - for when one takes, say, a Wednesday, has a holiday on Thursday, then the last span of Friday vaulting one to the weekend.

The “pont” is not just for slackers, either. I’ve a friend who works for a company that makes laser-fabricated yo-yos here in Strasbourg (don’t ask). He is required to take the pont, even though it isn’t an official holiday.

I haven't abandoned the tour! The photo above isn't intended as a insult to the French: it's tucked into a high alcove on a building on Rue de l'Epine. Apparently, young maidens desiring a husband would rub it for luck. I like how they even painted the reeds of a little marsh behind it, to make it feel at home.

1 comment:

David Beeson said...

Building bridges is an essential part of the business of preserving the human race. With all their ponts, the French show how good they are at it.