Fifi and Léonard received certificates from the Institut de Français this afternoon. Students and teachers gathered in the chateau’s grand salon for champagne, the ritual sing-a-long to Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” and then the presenting of the certificates. Darlene’s teacher from last month, Vicky, returned from her trip to Brazil in time to help Frederic do the honors. Afterward we all took photos of each other and scribbled e-mail addresses in notebooks.
Darlene and I stopped in Nice on the way to Cannes. I bought two more CDs at Virgin Records for my French collection (Raphael’s “Caravane” and Noir Desir’s “des Visages des Figures”). Darlene bought French books recommended by Vicky and the latest Grisham novel, in English.
With my official certificate, complete with official seal in thick red sealing wax, I felt as if the Wizard of Oz had granted me fluency in French. And in truth we have both made amazing progress. Darlene wisely skipped the test this morning, with the blessing of her teacher Patrize. And so while I was happily doing much better on the test than I did the previous two times I had taken it, she spent the morning in Villefranche. Without me around to jump in as translator, she did just fine talking with the server at a café and the proprietor at a patisserie. She returned happy to know she had accomplished her goal, which was to begin making her way on her own in French.
Tonight Françoise’s apartment in Cannes seems like our old home, after our five-week stay here last September. We just had a late snack of fresh bread, olives, and Perrier in the kitchen. Darlene is reading Grisham in the living room. I’m savoring photos of the day when we finished two months of study at the Institut de Français. As my professor Jean said at least three times each day, after savoring yet another nuance of French, “quelle langue!” Indeed. What a language! What a day.