Sans crier gare, il s’est mis à chanter.
sah kree-yah gaar, eel say mee zah shah-TAY. Click below to hear this.*
Without warning, he started singing.
In my household, people do start singing without warning, anything from “balladoo, balladoo-ee, boop, boop” to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. But in many households, such an event would be startling indeed.
Hence today’s phrase. Literally, it means without yelling “watch out!”. Interestingly, the French word gare and the English word warn come from the same ancient Germanic and Frankish roots, meaning to take care of, to keep, to provide.
So you can see how la gare (train station–the place where provisions are delivered) and gare! (watch out!) are related.
None of which changes the fact that, if you are unaccustomed to breaking out in song, you really should crier gare before you start. It’s like yelling “fore!” on a golf course. It’s only fair to those around you, and gives them time to scatter for cover.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: