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Start
00:11
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Sam: Bonjour and welcome to French en route! My name’s Sam and I’m a huge fan of all things French. In this podcast, we’ll take a virtual tour of different parts of the French-speaking universe and discover real-life stories — in French, of course! I'll be here to guide you along the way, explain unusual vocabulary and give you some context and background to the stories. And by the way — this isn’t only a language learning podcast, it’s also a fun way to become familiar with the French language and culture, no traveling required!
00:51
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To make things easier, we’ve put together a synchronized transcript that you can read whilst listening. You can find this, alongside images and videos related to each episode, at babbel.com/podcasts or follow the link in the episode description.
01:08
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Today we’re traveling to the Republic of Tunisia, which is situated on the northernmost tip of Africa. Although Arabic is the official language of Tunisia, more than half of the population also speak French, because both French and Arabic were official languages in this region until 1943, so fasten your seatbelts. On y va !
01:43
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Our storyteller today is Jean, who was born in the capital — Tunis — where he lived with his family until Tunisian independence.
01:52
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He’s going to tell us about a little memory from his childhood or, rather — un souvenir — of his cheekiness!
02:00
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So, are you ready? Tunis here we come!
02:07
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Jean: Je m’appelle Jean et je vais vous raconter un petit souvenir de mon enfance ou plutôt un souvenir de mon insolence !
02:16
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C’était l’été 1951 à Tunis, pendant les vacances scolaires, et j’avais neuf ans. Ma famille vivait dans la petite école franco-arabe où ma mère était institutrice.
02:24
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Jean Plaisant 
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02:26
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Jean Plaisant 
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02:31
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Moi, je n’aimais pas du tout l’école, je n’étais pas un garçon très sage et je faisais beaucoup de bêtises. Mais là, c’était les vacances, j’étais libre, la vie était belle.
02:48
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Sam: It was the summer of 1951 in Tunis and Jean was nine years old. His family lived in the little French-Arabic school where his mum was a teacher. Unfortunately, he never liked school at all, he wasn’t a very well-behaved boy and, he says: je faisais beaucoup de bêtises — “I did a lot of stupid things”. But it was the school holidays, he was free and life was beautiful! So far, so good…
03:17
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Jean: Mon père avait ses habitudes dans le quartier. L’après-midi, il allait chez le Djerbien en face de l’école pour parler avec lui et parfois il ramenait des dattes, des loukoums et une tablette de chocolat.
03:27
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03:32
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Alors je l’attendais avec impatience devant le magasin.
03:37
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Sam: Jean tells us: Mon père avait ses habitudes — “My dad had his habits”. In the afternoon he’d head to the ‘Djerbian’ — the grocery store opposite the school. Djerba is a Tunisian island and, rather interestingly, a lot of grocery stores were owned by Djerbians at the time, which is how they got this name. Anyway, his dad would go there to have a chat with the owner and sometimes he’d return with dates, loukoums (which are like Turkish Delight) and a bar of chocolate.
04:10
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Jean: Un après-midi, j’attendais mon père et ma tablette de chocolat comme d’habitude quand un livreur est arrivé. Il était très grand, musclé et fier.
04:25
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Il avait une énorme moustache à la Staline. J’étais impressionné par ses muscles mais sa moustache était ridicule.
04:35
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Je ne pouvais pas m’empêcher de regarder et de sourire.
04:40
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Sam: One afternoon, Jean was waiting impatiently in front of the store for his dad and his bar of chocolate, as usual, when: un livreur est arrivé — a delivery guy arrived. He was really big, muscly and fier — ‘proud’, that is, et il avait une énorme moustache à la Staline — “and he had an enormous… moustache like Stalin”! Jean says he was impressed by his muscles but his moustache was ridiculous. He couldn’t stop himself from staring and grinning. Uh oh!
05:18
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Jean: Le livreur m’a vu. Pour lui, mon sourire était une provocation. Alors il m’a dit: « qu’est-ce que tu regardes, toi ? » Et là, je ne sais pas pourquoi, j’ai eu peur et j’ai répondu : « Moustachu du cul ! »
05:35
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Le géant m’a regardé avec des grands yeux, surpris. Et j’ai répété : « Moustachu du cul ! » 
 Il est devenu rouge et il a couru vers moi pour me punir.
05:47
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J'ai couru aussi vite que possible et j’ai pensé : « s’il m’attrape, je suis mort ! »
05:54
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Sam: The delivery guy looked at Jean. For him, Jean’s grin was a provocation. Alors il m’a dit (“So he said to me”): qu’est-ce que tu regardes, toi ? — “What are you looking at, you?” And then, without knowing why, Jean responded with a totally made up insult: Moustachu du cul ! which, roughly translated, means “Moustachioed ass!”. 
 
Well as you can imagine, the giant stared at Jean in surprise. And Jean repeated the insult! At which point the guy turned red and ran towards the boy. Jean ran too, as fast as possible, thinking “if he catches me, I’m dead!”…
06:38
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Jean: J’ai couru, très loin, très vite, mais il était toujours là, derrière moi. J’ai essayé de courir plus vite mais impossible : il était trop rapide.
06:52
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Alors, j’ai poussé une porte au hasard, je suis entré dans une maison, j’ai monté les escaliers pour aller sur le toit terrasse. Je suis resté caché sur le toit.
06:54
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07:07
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J’ai attendu longtemps … Mais le soleil tapait, j’avais extrêmement chaud alors je suis sorti pour retourner chez le Djerbien. Grave erreur !
07:11
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07:21
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Le livreur m’attendait encore !
07:25
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Sam: Jean tells us that he ran — very far, very fast, but the guy was always there behind him. He tried running faster but the guy was too quick. So he pushed a door at random, entered a house and ran up the stairs to get to le toit terrasse — ‘the roof terrace’. If you go to Tunisia you’ll see that every house has one of these…
Anyway, Jean stayed hidden up there. He waited a long time but the sun was beating down, he was extremely hot and so he left to return to the Djerbien, thinking the coast was clear.
Grave erreur ! Big mistake! The delivery guy was still waiting for him…
08:08
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Jean: Le livreur s’est approché de moi. J’ai regardé autour et j’ai pensé : « cette fois, c’est foutu ». Il était vraiment immense !
08:18
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Alors, j’ai eu un instinct de survie : j’ai escaladé la grille de l’école comme un petit singe et hop ! j’ai sauté de l’autre côté.
08:30
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Le livreur était trop lourd et trop grand pour escalader la grille. J’étais protégé par l’école. Pour moi qui détestais l’école, c’était un peu ironique.
08:44
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Sam: The delivery guy approached Jean. He looked around and thought: “This time, it’s over” — c’est foutu. The guy was really massive, but Jean had a survival instinct: He climbed the school gate like a little monkey and hop ! he jumped down on the other side.
The delivery guy was too heavy and too big to climb the gate and so Jean says he was protected by school. For Jean, who hated school: c'était un peu ironique — “it was a bit ironic!”
09:17
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Jean: D’accord, j’étais sauvé mais je n’avais pas ma tablette de chocolat et j’étais bloqué … Mais bon, c’était de ma faute !
09:29
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Alors j’ai fait une croix sur mon chocolat et je suis rentré à la maison. Soudain, j’ai entendu un vendeur crier: « Cacahuètes, glibettes ! Cacahuètes, glibettes ! »
09:41
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09:47
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Des glibettes ? Génial ! Et j’ai couru acheter des glibettes pour moi et mes frères. Finalement, les glibettes, c’était mieux que le chocolat !
09:57
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Sam: Well, Jean was safe but he didn’t have his bar of chocolate and he was stuck… But he accepted that this was his own fault. Alors j’ai fait une croix sur mon chocolat — “So I wrote off my chocolate” et je suis rentré à la maison — “and I went home.”
The day wasn’t a complete write-off, however, because Jean suddenly heard a street vendor crying his wares: Cacahuètes, glibettes ! Cacahuètes are peanuts and glibettes are roasted, salty sunflower or pumpkin seeds. These you chew and then you spit the shell out on the floor. Jean ran to buy glibettes for himself and his brothers which, he exclaims, were better than chocolate!
10:43
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Jean: Depuis l’indépendance de la Tunisie, je ne suis jamais retourné à Tunis. Car j’ai fait ma vie en France … Mais j’ai souvent raconté à mes enfants cette histoire du livreur moustachu !
11:01
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Sam: Since Tunisian independence Jean has never returned to Tunis, since he made a life in France. But he says that he’s often told his kids this story about the moustachioed delivery guy.
11:14
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Now before we go, I just want to point out one thing. And that’s how you tell a story in French. Jean used two verb tenses here — the imparfait and the passé composé.
The imparfait is used to set a scene — it describes the background to your story: Past states or regular events and habits.
11:39
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The passé composé, on the other hand, is used to indicate an action, one-off event or change of state.
11:48
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If you want to learn more about talking about the past in French, just head to our Babbel French courses! And don’t forget that you can listen to Jean’s story again. Next time, see if you can recognize the imparfait and passé composé verbs forms. You’ll find you understand more of what’s being said each time and you can also listen without my commentary.
12:12
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We’d love to hear your feedback, which you can send us via email at podcasting@babbel.com or directly through your preferred podcast app.
12:21
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And if you’re super keen, you can also fill in the survey you’ll find in the episode description.
12:27
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Thanks for listening and see you for the next episode of French en route … Au revoir !
End

Take a journey to Tunisia, where cheeky Jean tells us how he got into a tight spot!

It’s the summer of 1950 and young Jean is up to mischief. Hear about his mad dash among the streets and rooftops of Tunis and how he got away.

What do you think of French en route? Let us know how we could improve! Follow this link that will guide you to our special survey: https://bit.ly/3iAH2j  Merci !

You can also write us at podcasting@babbel.com to let us know what you think.