Friday 13 January 2012


Today is Friday. We are at the breakfast table, chatting away before the school run. BK1 (7 in march) has been showing a particular interest in music lately. She wants to take her flute with her to play "Frère Jacques" at Golden time*.
I have been thinking of enrolling her at a music class, have been holding off as she will start music at school from September. Now I am thinking of finding a music teacher before then. The following conversation takes place, as usual, in a mix of arabic and french.

Me: "Would you like to have music lessons?"
BK1: "Maybe, yes"
Me: "Well, I will try to find a music teacher, somewhere in our village, not in Tataouine-Les-Bains"
BK1, puzzled: "Where?"

I was rolling with laughter. I had to explain that Tataouine-Les-Bains was an imaginary location to signify a small, very remote place.

It has to be said that Tataouine, a city in Tunisia, well and truly exists.  It used to be a penal colony during the French protectorate of Tunisia. Star Wars fans will recognise here the name of Luke Skywalker's home planet.

Tataouine-Les-Bains on the other hand is fictional. The appending of Les Bains (baths) is sarcastic as Tataouine is pretty arid and dry.

Equivalent expressions, that may be mistaken for real places in France:
  • Aux cinq cents diables
  • Clochemerle
  • Perpète-la-Galette
  • Perpète-les-Andouillettes
  • Perpète-les-Oies
  • Perpète-les-Olivettes
  • Pétaouchnoc
  • Trifouillis-les-Chaussettes
  • Trifouillis-les-Oies
  • Trou-en-Cambrousse
* Golden Time in a Primary school is a time for relaxation and fun as a reward for good behaviour during the week. Arrrgh!


  1. The kind of thing I would say but nobody in the family would understand!!

  2. It helps if your partner lived in France and knew what you meant. Difficult otherwise indeed.
    Allez, je retourner à mes moutons :)

  3. Je ne connais que 3 des expressions citées et je suis française !
    Par contre chez moi on dit simplement Tataouine, sans "les bains". Et je ne savais pas que Tataouine existait réellement, je me coucherai moi bête ce soir.

  4. Tiphanya, je dois admettre que j'ai librement copié la liste de Wikipedia. Moi aussi, que n'en connaissais que 3 avant (perpete-les-oies, trifouillis-les-oies et petaouchnoc) en plus de tataouine-les-bains bien sur :)

  5. Andrieli Vizzoto22 January 2012 at 21:21

    Hi! I've really enjoyed your blog and your family (I'm from a 3 girls family, it is terrific!). I have no kids yet, but I'm reading about raising bilingual children, my husband was kind of in doubt about it, but after I've shown him your blog he defenitely is on board with me in the idea of raisinh our future children bilingual at least. Thank your for sharing your experience, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one you have helped and amused with your adorable girls story!

  6. Thanks Andrielli for your lovely words and encouragements. Wishin you all the best in your future family life :)

  7. Et bien moi non plus, je ne les connaissais pas, ces expressions et je suis francaise aussi!... enfin bref, il est tres sympa ce blog, merci, je viens juste de le decouvrir. J'en profite pour vous parler de mon site:, au cas ou vous ne connaissiez pas... Bonne continuation!

  8. Bonjour Katia et merci!
    Merci de nous avoir informés de votre site, je ne connaissais. Ca a l'air utile effectivement! Je l'ai ajouté à mes favoris :)


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