Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yachts and Chiottes

Soon after the election of Sarkozy here in France I was walking home and scrawled across a wall in huge letters was the following peu de poésie:

Il qui commence sa limite sur un yacht,
Finit sa limite dans les chiottes.

I regret to say that I didn't take a picture of it because I continued walking while trying to absorb all the words and translate them in my head. So the above may not be exactly what I saw but is an approximation.

Since then, I've asked some people what "chiotte" meant and got varying responses that didn't add up. Today, I entered "chiotte definition" into Google and found out what it meant. I also uncovered a delightful coincidence (more about that later).

So the little poem means:

He who begins his term on a yacht,
Ends his term in the crapper.

Or john or toilet or bog - take yer pick. What this is referring to is that the day after the election, and before he started his term as president, Sarkozy took a "much needed" vacation on a friend's yacht. This was controversial for many reasons, as I stated in a previous post.

The interesting thing is that I tried to point out the graffiti to my boyfriend the very next day and it was gone! Completely painted over. It is the first thing I have noticed that is related to the French government that happened quickly. :-)

Now for the coincidence. The first definition of chiotte that I found was in a post on the Pension Milou blog. Pension Milou "is a 5-star 'pension familiale' for dogs on the Côte d'Azur. The dogs who come to stay, live in the house with me - no kennels or cages. Here you'll read stories of their lives and mine on the French Riviera." niiice. Spend some time on that blog - the doggy pics are righteous.

The Pension Milou post referred to another source for the definition of chiotte, which was the French Word-A-Day blog. And lo and behold, the owner of the blog is an American from Phoenix, Arizona who came to France and married and settled here. You must read her post about the word chiotte.

Another funny coincidence is at the bottom of the same post where she mentions other places where the term chiotte is used:

"The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs & Corso in Paris, 1957-1963 by Barry Miles. "Each landing had a Turkish chiotte: a traditional hole-in-the-floor toilet with a raised footprint-shaped platform on either side upon which to position your feet while you squatted. Torn sheets of newspaper hung on a nail in lieu of toilet tissue." Order the book, here."

And to think, I just posted a story this very morning on my GloboGeek blog called Living in Fear of the Electric Toilet. It mentions just such a bog that I encountered in a Turkish hospital!