Sunday, October 20, 2019

Route barrée

Road closed. It's that sign we dread when we're in a hurry to get somewhere which, thankfully, isn't all that often these days. It's usually followed by a sign that says déviation (detour) and arrows that point the way. Funny, détour is a French word, but it's not used to mean detour in the American sense. The two words' meanings are subtly different.

Road signs and barriers stacked up behind the construction trailers behind our house.

Un détour isn't a temporary route around construction or other closure. It is, if I understand correctly, a curve or meander or simply another route that is just not the most direct way from point A to point B (as in the shortest distance between two points is a straight line). If you've used the famous Michelin touring guides in France, you might remember their rating system for sights: one star, intéressant (interesting); two stars, mérite le détour (worth going out of your way); three stars, vaut le voyage (worth the trip).


  1. Hmmm... I’m not sure I know how to compare “worth the trip” to “worth going out of your way.” Worth going out of your way sounds stronger to me. Here in Andalucía, we usually have detours with no signs to follow the first one that send us on our merry way.

  2. Oh, that's a good thing to know -- I think I hadn't put together that détour was used, but not in the English sense. Ha! Thanks!

  3. Interesting! You find the most unusual sites to photograph - artistically!
    Maybe I'll talk about détour vs. déviation demain à ma classe de français.

  4. Oh you just move them out of the way, yes?

  5. mitch, it's probably my translation. In French, I think the verb "valoir" is more the sense of worth, while "mériter" means something is more deserving. They're close. And, "un voyage" is a much bigger endeavor than "un détour." And I love detours with no indications of which way to go. Not.

    judy, don't count on my interpretations, I'm often wrong!

    mary, this site found me. They parked this stuff outside our back gate!

    michael, shhhh... don't tell anyone! ;)


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