Monday, 4 April 2011

"Mal habillée"

I have a cold at the moment. Quite a bad one actually. I have been getting through a whole mini-packet of tissues at an average day at work and I cannot go to sleep without a loo roll and a bottle of water next to my bed. Annoying but I will get over it. I was a fairly sickly child, it is quite normal for me to be a bit under the weather more times than most in any given year. But as long as I remember not to leave the house without some tissues, a bottle of water and some Nurofen I can function like the rest of society and everyone else with their normal, healthy immune systems seems to fight successfully against catching my cold off me, lucky them!
But it has come to my attention, and not for the first time in France, that the French have absolutely no sympathy for the sick (not that I go round moaning about being ill but still) unless you are actually sick enough to go to the doctors. If you have a prescription the French will rally round you to go and get it for you coz you must be too sick to go to the pharmacy by yourself if you were sick enough to go to the doctors. But a common cold, they don’t wanna hear about it.
“Eugh. I’m sick of this cold,” I exasperated to my flatmate as I walked to the bathroom for the 100th time to get some tissue.
“You’ve got a cold because you were mal habillée at the picnic at the weekend.”
The next day at work.
Ça va?” one of my colleagues asks as we wait in line to use the photocopier.
“Yea, I’m not bad, just got a bit of a cold,” I reply.
“That’s coz you’ve been mal habillée all week,” she responds.
Mal habillée translates as “badly dressed” and I think it can mean “badly dressed” as in “I don’t like your outfit” but also as in “you are not sufficiently dressed” and I’m fairly sure that in both these conversations what my flatmate and colleague were saying were “you are not wearing enough clothes for the weather and that is why you have a cold”.
First of all it is a myth that you get a cold from not wearing a jumper in the snow or not wearing a coat in the rain. And second of all, I was not mal habillée! It is true I have been wearing summer dresses all week (but still with tights and a light jumper) but that’s because the temperatures have ranged from 17 to 27 degrees! I have been wearing summer dresses because it is hot here in Dijon at the moment!!! Not that the French seem to have realised that, they are still going round in coats, scarves and boots!
Another colleague, who has just come back from a trip to England in the same breath told me what lovely weather they had in England when they were there and how shocked they were to see girls in summer dresses and men playing football in parks with their tops off. “Well, yes,” I replied “that is quite normal when the weather is nice. “But it still spring,” she said, “in France we don’t get the summer dresses out until it’s at least 30 degrees.”
If we did that in England we could be waiting a long time I thought!

Here's proof of how lovely its been here in Dijon all week. Me, Linsday and Kirsty went for icecream on Thursday:


  1. Hahahaha! Put some clothes on Katie!

    I went my whole winter without a coat, every day I got "tu n'as pas froid?!?!?" instead of telling them "no I don't really feel the cold too badly" I just put it down to being "anglaise"... I don't get how these crazy French people can justify all these jumpers and such like, STILL!