Monday, November 29, 2010

I Could Be a Bus



In the French region Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the local inhabitants are called the Ch'tis, pronounced shteez. Like the nearby Belgians, they're often the butt of French jokes. The department #59 on this license plate clues us in that somebody's from that region, so he's not helping their case...

I'd never heard of the Ch'tis until the movie Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Home of the Ch'tis) debuted in 2007. It was a box office smash, and I first saw it after it came out on DVD. Sort of. It was torture to get past the accents (c'est is pronounced shay instead of say, for example) so I quickly snoozed.

But I got through all of it last night when it ran on TV. This light comedy features a post office director (Kad Merad) who attempts to get a new job along the coast. He gets caught in a lie and ends up being banished to the far northern French town of Bergues. His opinion of the region is that it's nothing but unintelligent beer guzzlers struggling with sub-zero temperatures. But by the end, he warms up to the place and agrees with his colleague (Dany Boon) that visitors "cry twice: once upon arrival and once upon departure."

After the film, Ch'ti products seemed to crop up everywhere... Ch'ti candies and the beer they drank in many scenes of the movie, for example... And tourism picked up. So they might be able to complain about the bad rap they get, but they're surely getting the last laugh...

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