Caboter: A relaxing, agreeable thing to do along the coastline in France

Boat ride coast near calanque de figuerolles la ciotat cassis 
Ça y est! Part 1 of our La Ciotat renovation ended this week! We've been busy tying up dozens of loose ends, so it was wonderful to get away from it all via a little boat ride up the coast! Read about a breathtaking petite escapade from La Ciotat to Cassis in today's column, below.

Today's word: caboter

    : to navigate from port to port along the coast

Example Sentence, Audio File read by Jean-Marc

Click here to listen to the soundfile

Dimanche nous avons caboté dans les anses de La Ciotat jusqu'à Cassis.
Sunday, we navigated along the little coves from La Ciotat to Cassis

The book Pronounce it Perfectly in French emphasizes speaking, sound discrimination, and standard intonation patterns that are typical of native French speakers. Order here.

Women at DRC
Autumn excursion in France, especially for women - "Women in Burgundy: Life, Laughter, and the French Paradox” October 18 to 27, 2018 - includes two nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.

 
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE 

    by Kristi Espinasse

A Black Eye, A Boat, and delicious Boquerones!

Jean-Marc got a pretty good deal when he rented us a little boat from that guy with the black eye. The pleasure craft was a semi-rigide or bâteau pneumatic, as seen in the opening photo to this post. If only you could see the type who rented it to us. Had he gotten into a fist fight or bar-room brawl last night?

"Normally, I rent out my boat for full-day only," our lanky louer explained, as we stood at the new port in La Ciotat, right across the street from the historic Éden-Théâtre. (La Ciotat is the birthplace of film. The guy handing us our clés de bâteau could've been a young Al Pacino...) "I was able to make an exception, this time, and rent it to you for only a half a day, he said, because my girlfriend gets off work at noon, and, as her husband is watching the kids today, I'm taking her out for un petit tour de bâteau...."

So that's how he must've gotten his shiner, his oeil au beurre noir! And how we got a smokin' deal on our little boat--ours for 3 full hours, which began near Parc du Mugel and ended in Cassis with the most delicious lunch in the whole wide world: a simple baguette-and-sardines sandwich which we ate on our boat which anchored in a turquoise blue calanque.

I recounted the coastal adventure--especially the delectable picnique sur le bâteau--to my mom, in Mexico. Reliving our cruise vicariously on the other end of the telephone line, Mom explained just why that sardine sandwich tasted so darn good. I cannot remember exactly Mom's poetic words, but poetry had something to do with the experience: It's the salty air, the sea's mist, the atmosphere, Mom said. The senses are heightened along the Mediterranean coast.

Everything must taste better when you are relaxed and dépaysé, or "in a change of place." (Some would say everything tastes better in France!) I leave you with pictures of our little périple across the coast.

P.S. Those delicious "sardines" were actually boquerones--or anchovies in vinegar and olive oil. Jean-Marc sells them in the Marseille wine shop where he works, but you can find them online, here. Whatever you do, don't leave any oil/vinegar in the package--soak everything up with the rest of the baguette. C'est une tuerie! It's to die for! ...Which brings us back to where we began--and the guy with the black eye. He's anxious to retrieve his boat as he's got a hot date. Mais gare au mari! (Watch out for the husband!!)


FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW
le type = guy, bloke
louer = one who rents out (apartment, boat...
la clé = key
le bâteau = boat
un oeil de beurre noir = black eye
la calanque = rocky inlet or creek along the coastline
boquerones = fresh anchovies
un périple = a little journey
une tuerie = to die for
gare à, gare au = watch out for
le mari = husband

Coastline littorale between la cioat cassis

Grotte or cave people on paddle boards mediterranean sea  la ciotat cassis
Paddleboarders approaching une grotte, or cave.

Figuerolles calanque beach la ciotat coastline
Paddle boarder heading toward the beach at the popular Figuerolles calanque

Ruiins near cassis france sea
Our little boat arriving going past Cassis and some ruins along the coast. We passed a lot of kayakers, too.

Near calanque En Vau this is Port Pin

Swimming in the calanque en vau near marseilles

Never without my hat, after a couple bouts with carcinoma. If you haven't read my story, here's motivation to wear a hat!

La ciotat shipyard yachts boats

Returning to the famous La Ciotat shipyards, where yachts are now serviced (before, in times past, this was an industrial port)

Sailboat on the mediterranean france calanque cassis la ciotat semi-rigide

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Glâner: a useful, necessary, verb for Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018 Glaner figs Agnes Varda dumpster diving
April 22nd is Earth Day. Reading about our earth's demise has me thinking of a little known French verb -- a verb underdog if you like.  Meet the humble Glaner ("to glean"). Certain French artists highlighted the practice years ago--making the art of gleaning as fashionable as the art of wandering. In other words, it's time to glaner as you flâner! Please read today's story.

TODAY'S WORD: 
glaner (glah-nay) verb

   to pick, to gather, to glean


ECOUTEZ/LISTEN:
Listen to Jean-Marc read the following text: Download MP3 or Wav file

Quand vous ferez la moisson dans votre pays, vous ne moissonnerez pas vos champs jusqu'au bord, et vous ne glanerez pas ce qui pourra rester de votre moisson; vous laisserez tout cela au pauvre et à l'immigré. - Leviticus 23:22

When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...
by Kristi Espinasse
 

In the dramatic opening scene of her memoir The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls is riding in the back of a New York taxi, wondering whether she has overdressed for the party to which she is headed, when she sees something that knocks the wind right out of her Park Avenue sails.

Out there on the curbside, an older woman wearing rags is rooting through a dumpster. On closer look, the garbage picker is Jeannette's own mother! 

As I read the page-turner memoir, I could only imagine how a daughter's heart seized up on seeing her intelligent, artistic, and once athletic mother resort to rooting through the trash. What had brought her to this? And, more curiously, why was the waste picker smiling?

It wasn't until I saw the fascinating documentary, The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse), by French filmmaker Agnès Varda, that I began to see this touching scene quite differently, and even to recall a few gleaning episodes of my own. Before writing about those, I will share some of the eloquent descriptions I gathered from viewers' reactions to The Gleaners:

... a wonderful documentary that reminds us of how much we produce and waste in the world and how the disenfranchised (and artistic) make use of that waste to survive... The characters Varda encounters are equally compelling and interestingly are not portrayed as whiny or blameful of others for their situations: they simply state how they live and we are left impressed with their ingenuity. (anonymous)

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when we are introduced to a wizened Chinese man in Paris living at home among a heap of dumpster gleanings. He has taken in a boarder—a happy-go-lucky black man who hunts the day long for discarded food and items that he himself will repair and give away to those less fortunate than himself. "Somebody might need this," the ragpicker says. Evenings, the Chinese man will cook up the dumpster chicken in one of the ovens that his resourceful roommate has brought home. As the men prepare to dine together, seated on crooked chairs and ever amazed by their "fortune", I have to reach over and hit the pause button. Have you ever seen such sweet faces, such sparkling eyes, than on these two lovely men who care for one another and for others? 

In another scene, we observe a clean-cut wirey man stooping here and there as he scours the market stalls in Paris at the end of market day. Here and there he pops a broken piece of celery or apple or lettuce into his mouth... "Beta carotene! Vitamin K! I'm a biology major," he explains, adding that though he earns a salary, he still needs to eat and by the way, he's vegetarian! He admits that cheese is a little more difficult to find, but there's plenty of tossed out bread. We later learn that though he holds a scientific diploma, this biologist chooses to sell papers outside the train station. In a touching "who'd have thunk it?" scene, we see the same garbage picker volunteering his time, each evening, to teach refugees English. His carefully illustrated blackboards featuring, among other objects, a hand-drawn bike and its phonetic word equivalent, attest as much to his selfless and caring soul as to his professionalism and skill.    

There are several other heart-awakening moments in which Agnès Varda steadies her lens on the outcasts who in turn teach us more about the art of living than we will ever glean from the pages of any New York Times bestseller on the subject. The rag-wearing, sometimes toothless characters could write volumes on the subject. Meantime they have more meaningful pursuits: getting by, while managing to smile at life. 

As for my own dumpster days—as a privileged child—I'd root unselfconsciously through the trash bin (one we shared with the neighbor), ever amazed at the ongoing source of riches (in this case--cans of Hamm's beer which could be recycled for cash after stomping the cans flat!). Our neighbor, a single, middle-aged woman, regularly replenished the trash bin with this blatantly underestimated source of income! I began to feel sorry about her loss, which to me related to her pocketbook and not her liver health (I had no idea that all those cans equaled addiction). 

I regret losing the desire to salvage things (publicly, at least, though the occasional foray through a stranger's trash still happens), but I am grateful to live here in France, where gleaning is alive and well and rooted deeply in the culture! How many times during family outings has an uncle or a cousin or a grandma stooped to pick up a tumbled down apricot or a chestnut, or paused to uproot a lonely asparagus or a bunch of herbs from the edge of a neighbor's yard. "Have you seen what they charge for this at the markets?" my in-laws shake their heads. Soon they'll make up a fresh batch of herbs de provence--more fragrant and delicious than can be found on any supermarket aisle. 

When my husband returned from the States after his multi-city wine tour he brought me an unexpected surprise: two charming rush-bottom chairs!

"I found them in the airport parking lot," Jean-Marc explained, "beside the dumpster." I admit, if he had brought those home 15 years ago--as a consolation gift for his two-week absence, I might have been hugely disappointed! Nowadays, I don't want the ill-fitting T-shirt that he had quickly rung up at a pricy airport trap shop. (I'd rather have a couple of bars of chocolate, or, in this case, some adorable chairs!) 

Each time I look at the chairs, I feel the same kind of affection one feels when looking at some of the characters in Agnès Varda's documentary. They are quirky. They are imperfect. They are charming. They are lovely. And, as one of the men in the film said, "they are needed."

Gleaners-and-i

    - To see a preview of this wonderful film, click here.
    - Rent the entire video here or let us know if you found --gleaned it -- it somewhere ! Thanks.

Film maker Agnes Varda turns her camera lenses toward modern day gleaners--the poor, the dispossessed, the ecologically aware and the alienated--to paint a new but still somewhat romantic image of those follow along behind the parade of life, picking through its remains. - Jean E. Pouliot

I enjoyed seeing parts of France not normally seen on the screen or by tourists. In fact in some ways this documentary could serve as a kind of travelog so widely does Varda and her camera travel about the French countryside and cities. - Dennis Littrell

 Global culinary tours
BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Dégouliner: the rain trickled, dripped, and poured but it didn't keep us from touring La Ciotat

Cement church tiles in la ciotat France salamander
Something about these reptilian tiles tells me they are not as old as our church (built here in La Ciotat in 1603. The cement tiles, it turns out, were set down 8 months ago, during a partial renovation). I do like them, though, and you? Some say the salamander is symbolic. Of what, I wonder? My friends from North Dakota and I had hurried into the 400 year-old église to escape the deluge outside. More, in today's column, below.

Today's word: dégouliner

    : to drip, trickle, bleed 

Example Sentence and Audio File, text read by Jean-Marc:

Click here to listen to the sound file

Couler lentement, goutte à goutte ou en filet. La sueur lui dégoulinait dans le dos. Peinture qui dégouline du pinceau. -les-synonyms
To slowly pour, drop by drop, or in a stream. Sweat trickled down his back. Paint that drips from the brush.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

Il y a des jours comme ça!  Grrr! I've lost the previous version of this post--poof, just like that! At times like this I am tempted to jeter l'éponge, or throw in the towel. Speaking of sponges and serviettes (oh, the power of French words to get us back on our feet again!), we could have used those last week, during le déluge. Instead, my friends from North Dakota and I ventured out into la pluie--unwilling to let a few too many raindrops gâcher notre vie!

Brian Miranda Erin  Smokey golden retriever
First stop: home! Brian, Miranda, and Erin stopped by our (still-under-renovation) house, to pet Smokey.  Wearing K-ways with built-in capuches they were ready to face the upcoming cloudburst, or rafale de pluie.

Church door la ciotat France notre dame de l assomption vieux port boats
Beautiful carved wooden door and anciennes tomettes carrées. Looking out to the Vieux-Port from inside Notre Dame de L'Assomption

Briocherie la ciotat franche vieux port potted tree
How would you like to live behind a briocherie? Would you be tempted to stop there each morning? I hope you are reading closely, because this is a first hint about some news we have to share with you. Here's hint number two: the next time someone asks me the following question, I may be able to say "Oui!"...

"Kristi, do you know of a place I can rent in La Ciotat? A darling little place overlooking the port? One where I won't mind climbing 3 flights of stairs to get to that magnificent view?"

Enough hints. On to the next pictures (all taken by Erin) which have nothing to do with the upcoming news (except that they are near the historic old port of La Ciotat--just like that neat short-term rental unit!)

Kristi miranda brian la ciotat square
Standing with Miranda and Brian in La Place Sadi Carnot. This little square is usual alive with bistro tables and people enjoying the sun, but, as stated earlier, pas de soleil today! A note about Place Sadi Carnot--it was part of the ancient cemetery, surrounding the church, in Roman times.

Cafe de l horlage

Boucherie orientale
The scent of roasted chicken drew me and Miranda (still wearing her trusty capuche) right into this Boucherie Orientale.

Voilà, those were just a few more photos from my friends visit. You can see part one (Cassis) here. And Miranda has written more over at her blog. If you click on the smaller photo near the end of this blog, it'll start the seconds-long video of the stormy sea. What a contrast to those beautiful and peaceful tree blossoms in the foreground! 


FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW

dégouliner = to trickle (rain), drip (paintbrush), run (make-up)
gâcher la vie = to ruin one's life
une église = church
une éponge = sponge
le déluge = downpour, torrential rain, The Flood
la serviette = towel
K-way = windbreaker or raincoat
la capuche = hood
les anciennes tomettes carrées = old square terracotta tiles
la rafale de pluie = cloudburst, blowing rain, rain squall

Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School (Sexy Slang Series)
Paris-themed mini umbrella 
T-Shirt "I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France."
La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports
Nothing says "summer in the south of France" like these wonderful quick-drying towel used in Mediterranean countries


Women at DRC
Autumn excursion in France, especially for women - "Women in Burgundy: Life, Laughter, and the French Paradox” October 18 to 27, 2018 - includes two nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.

 

 

Dogwood blossoms or some other kind in la ciotat on the beach
"Cercis siliquastrum." These beautiful arbres de Judée, or Judas trees, are blossoming all over town! You can just see the raindrop on the edge of that lower branch of this "redbud tree"... the drop about to dégouliner or trickle down to the ground. I hope you enjoyed today's périple, or trek through La Ciotat. See you in a few days.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy