La Trousse

Recently I've been giving English lessons to my Frenchie friend R who completed his masters with me when we lived in Toulouse.  Now we both live in Paris and about a month ago he contacted me to help him improve his essay writing for the big concours to become a part of the Ministre des Affaires Etrangères (Foreign Affairs Minsistry).  Of course I said oui, R being my fellow masters buddy and all, plus he offered to throw in a demi-pêche (peach-flavored beer, my fave) every once in awhile so it made agreeing that much easier.

We try to meet in quiet brasseries so that R can hear what I'm saying and so that we can talk Affaires Etrangères and stuff - you know, twisters in Alabama, the oil spill in the Gulf, bin Laden, DSK - all things I avoid speaking about to anyone and everyone as a general rule. But since I'm just there to correct grammar and give structural advice for an essay, it's all good (plus again, there's that whole demi-pêche thing). 

Anyways, today we met by the Centre Pompidou - R was there before me and had already ordered his juice (I know, weird). I took out the essay that he had written the week before about the devastating twisters and he took out his trousse.  

Yes ladies and gentleman, to know France is to know, La Trousse. La Trousse is on par with the Sanrio Surprises pencil box craze of 1989 except unlike the pencil box, La Trousse never died.  La Trousse is still in full effect here in France - no child has lived without La Trousse.  They line the aisles of grocery stores in August right next to the matching backpacks, just waiting for little kids to snatch them up.  Each year kids get a new trousse that they place right at the front of their desks as they arrive for class in the morning.  La Trousse doesn't stop there - it follows children through college, lycée and université ...and then right on into adulthood.  Which is where I found myself with R this evening. Just me, R and La Trousse.

What is in a trousse?, you may ask yourself.  Pencils, pens (preferably one that has four color choices), highlighters, a marker, an eraser, white out and generally a mini- ruler that the Frenchies use to underline important titles in their precious notes (a word to the wise: tread lightly if you ever ask a Frenchie to borrow his/her notes...they are worth their weight in gold with all that highlighting and underlining that goes on. The Frenchies are very protective of them).

When I mentioned the hilarity of the sacred French trousse, R looked flabbergasted - you mean, you don't have a trousse?!  

I know, I know, hard to believe that the rest of the planet functions without a little leather bag to hold all the pens and pencils of the universe.

And then I took a swig of my demi-pêche, took out my one red pen and showed that Frenchie that la trousse is not the only way!


  1. Yes, so true. Eva, very into fashion and only 6 years old, recently switched her cute Little Pet Shop baby blue trousse for a more sophisticated faux white leather clutch purse. Yes, it is now filled with pens, pencils, and the very important mini-ruler and in her "cartable" (not to be confused with a back pack)...Maybe she has something there, a fashionable trousse...By the way, the other morning while sitting in our garden, my mother-in-law pulled out her brown leather trousse from her Lancel purse to get a pen and note something down.

  2. yes! the chic trousse!!! Eva should definitely market that to the up and coming French fashionistas! ps -oh Huguette, how I love thee and thy fancy trousse hahahaha!! amazing


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