Friday, August 23, 2013


This schoolbook tote is a far cry from today's quintessential Eastpak
As September approaches a day doesn't go by without some mention on French television news programs of la rentrée des classes, i.e. back-to-school. Year after year the usual angles for these non-news items are  the costs of school supplies and the ritual of choosing pencil cases and school bags. Here's a 19th-century wooden book box from school days long gone by in the Auvergne. These boxes with leather handles and straps not only carried books, paper and pens, but when placed on laps were also used as writing surfaces in schools lacking desks. And, according to what I've read, the rougher the climate, the greater the need for sturdier cartables as opposed to simple cloth satchels; school children in mountainous areas used to sit on their wooden book boxes to slide down slopes on their way back and forth to school.
un cartable:  a school bag, satchel
une trousse:  a case, a kit; here a pencil case
un sac à dos: a backpack
une sacoche:  a leather or canvas bag
un écolier:  a pupil
la rentrée, la rentrée des classes:  the start of the new school year
la rentrée parlementaire:  the reopening of parliament

©2013 P.B. Lecron

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