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Entries from April 2014

Favorite word for car in French

2cv

A car is une voiture in French. But the word "bagnole" has so much more character--and this 2CV, especially. Speaking of character, read about it in today's story!

la bagnole (ban-yol)

    : car; ride, set of wheels

Paris Monaco Rentals

France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France. Click here for pictures.


A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Last Sunday I hid in our bathroom as our guests collected their purses and coats. "I'll be right back," I said, promising to meet up again in the parking lot, where we were about to drive to the beach.

Hightailing it to the loo, I locked the door and sat down to collect my thoughts. This particular W.C. is hidden behind another "guest" restroom--the one I keep as tidy as possible in spite the crackling paint. But all my efforts to conceal the parts of our life that are not up to snuff were about to crumble like the paint next door.... 

As I sat on the throne of our hidden W.C., my guest's words echoed in my mind: "We'll need to take your car." 

My car? But my car was worse than a mess! Sticky with after-school snacks, it attracted dust, parking receipts and dog hair (heavier items--such as books--collected on the floor). This accumulation of horrors is my secret shame, and it was about to come waltzing out of the closet with a toothless grin on its face. Like drunken kin who show up to the party unbidden, so was I at heart: undisciplined.

But no, it isn't true. Just because my car is a mess doesn't mean that I'm one too!  And so went my reasoning as I sat on the pot, in the dark--the light-bulb having burst weeks ago.

And then another light went off.... It occurred to me that if I sat there long enough things might work themselves out on their own! I leaned forward, putting my ear to the bathroom door. I could hear Jean-Marc chatting with our guests. Knowing my husband, he was busy redirecting everyone towards the other bagnole--our guest's car. I needed only to wait out the crisis a little longer--then appear in time to dive into someone else's back seat, in time to avoid humiliation.

Alas, when I exited the petit coin I was surprised to discover one of our guests getting into my car! At that point I was left with one all-consoling thought:

Character. Remember. It is what you most admire in others. So why not begin to appreciate it in yourself?

Shifting the car in reverse, I heard the familiar jingling. Besides dust, who else has a sheep bell tied to their gear stick? I smiled at my graceful passenger and we both laughed as my car lurched out of the driveway, jingling all the way to the shimmering blue sea.

*    *    * 

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French Vocabulary
w.c. = water closet, toilet
la bagnole = car
le petit coin = powder room

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Have you read Chef Alain's award-winning book?: Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food yet? Yum! http://buff.ly/1g5FSrh


Creperie du hameau

Had a wonderful time at our meetup yesterday, meeting a handful of delightful readers. Will have more photos and a story for you soon! Beside me, in dark blue, is Najima, who, along with husband Frédéric, run this delicious crêperie in the port of Madrague (near St. Cyr sur Mer).

See another cool French bagnole in the post "Where to Rent a Car in France"

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


peau de banane: soothes the skin, whitens teeth

Mediterranean-forest

Early this morning, three enormous sangliers crossed the field beside the potager. Jean-Marc and I scrambled to the window, eyes glued to the massive boars (not pictured) that had come out of the forêt. As we stood gazing, a loud snapping broke the silence. It was Smokey, on the terrace below us--bolting toward the trespassers

Tout est bien qui finit bien. All's well that ends well. It took seconds to reach my dog and get him safely into the house. Ouf! Another exciting start to the day. Now let me tell you about yesterday... just after today's word.

Join Jean-Marc and Kristi for the April 28th wine-tasting in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. 10 euros. Email jm.espinasse AT gmail.com 

peau de banane (poh-deuh-bah-nan)

    : banana peel

Audio File: hear the following example sentence. Download Peau-de-banane

Frotter l'intérieur de la peau de banane sur une piqûre de moustique ou autre insecte, apaise la sensation. Cette astuce marche aussi pour les piqûres de plantes. --facon2parler.com

Rubbing the inside of the banana peel on the mosquito or other insect bite, will calm the sensation. This tip works for plant bites too. 

New

Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.


A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse


And yesterday we were off!--as though bolting from an Olympic starting block. But no matter how industrious my husband and I try to be--as work-from-home beings--some days every project backfires.

Reluctantly, I left the writing at my desk to begin peeling off bed sheets (the kids--we currently have a house full for spring break--had drowned a mattress in hot chocolate). But as I sat scrubbing, a pan of soapy water beside me, I heard my husband shouting in the side yard....

As I ran from the house, I found Jean-Marc slapping himself silly. 

"Mais! Qu'est-ce qui se passe?!"

Boulders and path
  Smokey's mama, Braise, at the scene of the itchy drama.

Standing below two boulders that offset a path leading up to the kitchen garden, Jean-Marc had just cleared away the overgrown bushes--this in an attempt to create a waterfall. (I noticed the flimsy garden hose was now rigged to the top boulder... fancy that!)

"I think it was a cactus," my husband said, breathless. "It itches all over! Go check the medicine cabinet for anti-itch cream. Hurry!"

My mind was reeling as I pictured the contents of our First Aid kit. Normally there were sparadraps, tape and disinfecting spray. Married to a winefarmer, I'm always prepared for harvesting accidents.... But plant bites? What did we have for those?

No! Turning over the useless bag--the trousse de premiers secours--I kicked it aside and reached for the sack of green clay. I had hoped for baking soda, but I must have left it in the kitchen sink, while cleaning. Running a bath, I tossed handfuls of argile verte into the tub. Jean-Marc appeared, still jumping like a bean, in time to hop right into the cloudy waters.

I was counting on the green clay to "pull" the poison from my husband's skin, but it was clear he still needed something to soothe it. That's when it dawned on me: la peau de banane!

As luck would have it, we had a kitchen counter-top FULL of the fruit! Lately, I've been keeping an arsenal of the high-glucose snack, which helps both my brain and my mood (writing these stories quickly drains the cerveau--and bananas are the perfect way to refuel it! Plus, both my husband and I tend to be edgy given we live on the edge of our passions--as though that might somehow balance them.

I returned to the bathroom with an armful of bright yellow produce and a bright smile to boot! And you, dear reader, should have been a fruit fly on the bathroom wall, witnessing this odd production chain: it took one person to rip open the bananas and chew like mad before tossing the empty skins to the green man in the tub, who caught the flying banana peels in time to scrub his hairy arms and legs like a girl fixing to go to the beach. Only this was no beach. This was just another day in the life of an ordinary couple--

An ordinary couple with extraordinary dreams. To reach them we would have to scoot from the edge...to the center of our passions. This, at the risk of meeting that formidable tipping point. And aren't we all frightened of that? 

As I sling banana peels at my soul-mate, I wonder. Perhaps I can't speak for you--or even for my husband. I only know that I do have a dream. I just can't seem to grasp it. Maybe that's because it has begun to change shape? Like chasing a chameleon, it's hard to know what I'm looking for. But it is the search that keeps this engine going. That, and bananas. 

 
Comments welcome, click here to read them.

I think it's been a month since my First French Essais came out. Please consider ordering a copy if you haven't yet. Your book purchase helps others to find my book in a sea of memoirs, by putting these short stories on the radar at Amazon. Merci beaucoup! :-)


French Vocabulary

le sanglier = boar
le potager = kitchen garden
ouf = phew
le sparadrap = Band-Aid
la trousse de premiers secours = first aid
le cerveau = brain

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

SmokeyBell

Smokey, parsley for pesto and for fingernails, and some sheep bells which make opening the kitchen window a delightful country melody.

Caro feely

Here's a wonderful photo-vignette of my book, by winemaker and author Caro Feely (taken at her vineyard!). Check out her fascinating memoir on starting a vineyard in France--it's called Grape Expectations, and delightfully so!

Grape Expectations: "this is a unique insight into the world of the winemaker, and a story of passion, dedication, and love"

Click here to order Caro's book.

My desk

I enjoy writing from my father-in-law's card table. Its fuzzy green top peeled off long ago, before I met my husband. I never had the chance to meet Jean-Marc's dad, Gerard, but sometimes wonder if he is watching over us.

To comment on this post, click here.

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


See you at Monday's meet-up & How to say fingernail in French

Old-airplanes

No time to go into details about this week's blog hijacking. Just happy to be back on line! Hats off to my blog provider, Typepad, and their indefatigable SWAT team! (photo of airplanes taken yesterday, from the garden)

Join Jean-Marc and Kristi for the April 28th wine-tasting in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. 10 euros. Email jm.espinasse AT gmail.com

ongle (ohngl), masculine

    : fingernail

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

L'ongle peut être considéré comme un témoin du plus ou moins bon fonctionnement de l’organisme. The nail can be considered as a warning of the more or less smooth running of the organism. 

HulstonExclusive French made clothes now available to purchase on-line. Thomas Hulston Collections.


A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

My husband and I were reading the morning news in bed when I caught sight of mon ongle and gasped. 

"Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" What's the matter? Jean-Marc asked.

"It's my fingernail," I said, turning it from side to side before the morning light. The top of the nail was dented and there were ridges running vertically up and down the surface. It wasn't like that before, I thought. Not this one!

"Regarde." I pointed out my thumbnails to Jean-Marc, adding that both were so deeply grooved they were beginning to crack in the middle. This I was already aware of. As a matter of fact, the "pouce problem" had caused a lot of frenzied internet searches. But the index fingernail, that was new.

"Pourquoi ça fait ça?" my husband asked.

"I don't know. I'm trying to find out." According to Google, horizontal or vertical nail ridges meant anything from disease to trauma. I'd ruled out that latter, certain not to have smashed my nails playing pétanque recently.

"You know, it's like those roses you plant at the beginning of the vine rows...." Using a familiar language, I shared with my winemaker husband what I had just learned: our fingernails are an indication of our health. "When the roses begin to whither, the vigneron has enough time to move in and treat the grapevines before they, too, drop off. Same thing with les ongles."

Maybe a nutritional deficiency was causing my nails to weaken? It's true we are eating less meat...

"On mange plus de viande rouge," I pointed out. 

"C'est vrai," Jean-Marc agreed, only his nails didn't seem to be affected.

"Mange des lentilles," Jean-Marc offered, reading my mind. He was right, there were other sources of iron besides boudin and foie de porc (two entries that ranked highest on the fer list, followed by grissons--whatever those were....).

"Et le persil--that's full of iron!" I remembered.

Jean-Marc laughed, citing all the liters of parsley pesto I'd been making lately, as if by presentiment. But my husband got an extra good chuckle when I shared yet another possible cause for the nail anomaly:

"Le vieillissement. Look, it says aging could be the culprit!"

I stared at my iPad, where a screen full of grooved and cracking fingernails haunted me. I'd done yet another "ridges in fingernails" search and was now facing the results.

"Donne-moi ça," Let me see, my husband said, reaching for my iPad.

"Really?" 

Jean-Marc paused and I saw the concerned look on his face. He was clearly surprised that I would question for one moment his sympathies. 

Aha! I recognized the low-profile bully that still lurks within me: her name is LSE.*  She whispers stuff like "you're weird" and "who cares about your stupid little problems?" But this time I caught her! Just in time to push her off the bed and refocus on the person seated next to me.

That the half-naked man beside me wanted to look at some ugly deformed nails in an effort to understand what was bothering me--this was deeply revealing.

Something between alchemy and the laying on of hands, my husband's words were mysteriously healing. It no longer mattered what it was that was eating at me (or my fingernails). The important thing was--

LOVE.

 *    *    *

Comments: click here
*LSE (Low Self Esteem) can attack anyone at any age, anytime. It doesn't matter your race, what country you live in or your profession or religion. It tells you you're unworthy, not good enough. It focuses on your failures, no matter your successes. Help kick its butt by spreading love

 

French Vocabulary
qu'est-ce qui se passe = what's happening?
regarde = look
le pouce = thumb
pourquoi ça fait ça? = why's it doing that?
la pétanque = game of boules
le vigneron = winemaker
le persil = parsely
le boudin = kind of sausage
le foie de porc = pork liver

Seed-basket

Some of you asked what was under the borage flowers (in a previous photo). That was my mother-in-law's tapenade! Here's more flowers and some kale too. I love to carry this seed basket to the garden, never knowing what to sow next. Yesterday it was les belles de nuit, or "beauties of the night"--which were pushed into the wet soil like girly adversaries in the mudboxing ring!

 "La Trouvaille"--a true find in Provence! Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. Click here.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Book award

It didn't matter that the library, above, wrote--suggesting I enter my book for an award. I still questioned whether I wasn't an impostor. Looking at the entries before mine--intellectual books, researched memoirs--it seemed dishonest to apply. But I did! I sent in my First French Essais for The American Library's Book Award. Wish me luck! 

To comment on this post, click here. Thank you for reading, and sharing.

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


Winetasting meetup + Three ways to say "spring fever"

Smokey

In springtime humans can be found before the mirror, trying on the contents of their warm-weathered wardrobe. Dogs are not immune to this desperate behavior. They just do it with a bit more panache. Smokey, the trilby looks great on you. So it's three seasons old. Fashion is a state of mind!

Join Jean-Marc and Kristi for the April 28th wine-tasting in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. 10 euros. Email jm.espinasse AT gmail.com

I promised you 3 ways to say "spring fever," in French. On second thought, they don't seem to have the same expressive term in France--but if they did it might sound like this:

  • l'agitation printanière or
  • la lassitude or as google translates it
  • la fièvre du printemps

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following:
Download MP3 or Sound Wav

On ne dit pas "spring fever,"  mais l'agitation printanière, la lassitude, et la fièvre du printemps... ça nous arrive en France aussi!  We don't say "spring fever," but springtime agitation, lassitude, and spring fever... it happens to us, too.

New2

Style & comfort in the beauty of the Provencal countryside. 4 bedrooms & a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. Villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

 

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

That student of writing who resides inside of me knows she should take advantage of this occasion to stretch her composition muscles. But a familiar ailment that strikes all étudiants this time of year is weakening my ability to concentrate. I've got spring fever!

Yesterday, I hid out in the bushes all morning. (To skip class, in French, is to go to "bush school"--or l'école buissonnière--so called for the leafy escape route kids take on their way away from class).

My dog ditched too, and that explains the odd duo hiding in the parsley patch on Thursday. I was set, this morning, to tell you all about our garden escapade--Smokey's and mine--but the thing about spring fever is this:

Ça dure. ça dure...

*    *    *

Comments
Anyone else got spring fever? Share it in the comments box. Meantime, Smokey and I are headed back out to the vegetable patch. We've got sow much to do, not including spelling or composition!

French Vocabulary

un(e) étudiant(e) = student
faire l'école buissonnière = to ditch school
ça dure = it lasts

Vocab (following the next photo)
le couteau= knife
les petit pois (mpl) = peas
la mâche = lamb's lettuce

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

  Japanese-knife

 Look what Jean-Marc brought me from Tokyo! The spelling only adds to the charm! I didn't realize how dull my knives were until trying this razor sharp couteau. Chopping salad greens is easy peasy (and those are not les petits pois: here we have fresh fava beans, snow pea blossoms, arugula, celery, and mâche

Borage

The pretty blue flowers are borage and my friend Rachel taught me this tip: borage leaves are edible! When collecting the flowers, snap off a few leaves from the plant. Using scissors, add the cut leaves to vinaigrette. (Classic vinaigrette: Three tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon vinegar, salt and pepper. Even better with a dash of mustard.)

Everyone should have borage growing in the garden--for the bees, to say the least! And they are a favorite in companion planting, owing to their ability to nurse strawberries and tomatoes and to protect many kinds of leafy greens, such as spinach.

Order Borage Seeds here
If this medicinal plant is not growing wild in your neighborhood, you can order seeds via this link 

Paleo French cuisineMore tips and French recipes in Chef Alain Braux book Paleo French Cuisine -- now available in two formats.

=> Buy the ebook
=> Order the paperback 

 

 

  1-IMG_20140416_170038
Who needs sci-fi when you've got a garden? Jean-Marc and I were adding to our drip system when we came across this horned alien in the celery patch. The pink creature's tail looks very much like the sainfoin flower growing nearby...

Sainfoin

Voilà, that's all for you today.

Wait--one more thing! I am very excited to tell you about this interview at Bonjour Paris. Thank you very much, Janet Hulstrand, for the memories you brought back by your thoughtful questions. Here is a screen shot of our talk. Read the full interview here.

 
BP interview

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


A Hussy to the IRS + Next meet up (at the docks after midnight, wink wink!)

Dogs-of-france

Hey, IRS. I've got my purse out (little red-rimmed bowl to the right) and I'm fixin'--yet again!--to hit on the sailors here at the port. Read on and see what the Internal Revenue Service seems to think I'm up to! (Note: today's edition is best viewed online, where all images will appear with the story text. Click here.)

    => Join Kristin and Jean-Marc on Monday, April 28th! Details at the end of this newsletter. 

faire sa sainte nitouche (fer sa sent nee toosh)

    : to act like a prude, to be a prude

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc, God knows I should:
Download MP3 or Wave file

"Elle fait sa sainte nitouche," dit le fisc Americain, "mais on sait où elle habite!"
"She acts like a prude," says the IRS, "but we know where she lives!"
 

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click here for more pictures.

 


A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

A Hussy to the IRS

"Listen to this," I say to my husband, waving the letter I've just received from the tax authorities. The Internal Revenue Service, or le fisc américain, has been trying to correct my name and address for some time, and this latest attempt is downright hurtful.

"Kristin Espinasse, 'Pute de Port!' That's what they've written this time--instead of 'Route de Port'!"

They haven't even gotten to my house number--line three, after my route (normally line two)--before I've taken the first blow to my ego.

"Tiens. Donne-moi ça," Jean-Marc snickers. Grabbing the envelope, he's shaking his head in appreciation. But when his eyes meet with an icy regard, he's quick to wipe the grin off his face. "You are not a slut, Darling. Look, there's an "o": poute--not pute!

"Go ahead then, you pronounce it!" I dare the Frenchman to make Poute de Port sound any better, with or without the self-respecting "o"!

I stop to listen, unconsoled, then do what any so-called Loosey Goosey would do: turn to Facebook for pity... with this outcry:

See Facebook message

A few seconds later, the sympathetic responses begin to roll in like drunk sailors--except the first reply leaves me standing, hands on hips:

Hidden income

 

Comments
To respond to this story, click here. If you are reading via email could not see the images in the story, above, click here.

Book Update
First French Essais received a surge in book reviews the eve of Tax Day. How to explain it? Meantime, if you have enjoyed First French Essais, thanks for rating my book on Amazon. Your review may help someone to find my book in a sea of livres.  

French Vocabulary
le fisc américain = the IRS
tiens = here
donne-moi ça = give me that

Two places to stay in Provence:

 "La Trouvaille"--a true find in Provence! Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. Click here.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Fishnets

Keeping with the sailor theme, here are some hand-tied fish nets hammocks, in the town of Sète.

Le Petit Journal is the free weekly newsletter from France Today. Subscribe here to get a dose of French travel, food, lifestyle & culture straight to your inbox every week!"

Kristi and jean-marc

Join Kristi and Jean-Marc at Port de la Madrague, Monday 04/28 from 3:30 to 5 PM for a casual meet up at a friend's restaurant. We will provide tapas and 3 samples of Chief Grape's wines (enjoy his first Bandol rose!). A 10€ participation is asked. Email Jean-Marc at jm.espinasse@gmail.com for details.

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


grandir: Growing up in Paris + a link to Tuesday's exciting talk!

Apres-midi meet

Scene from Adrian Leeds' Après-Midi meet-up. (Mom, can you find me in the crowd? :-) Check out Adrian's Parler Paris & sign up for more Paris news! Next meetup (with Kristi) is April 28th, in St. Cyr Les Lecques. Check back next week for more info!

grandir (grahn-deer)

    : to grow up

Audio File: Listen to my son Max pronounce these French words: Download MP3

Grandir. Qu'est-ce qu'elle a grandi ma soeur!
To grow up. My sister has really grown up!

New

Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

 

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

This week's trip to Paris was the chance to meet an impressive young lady. Assertive, efficient, and street smart--I can't believe how my 16-year-old has matured!

You wouldn't know it from the way she orders from a menu, and I had to fight the urge to clue-in the restaurateur: Mademoiselle is not old as she looks! If the fancy menu is off-putting, it is because she still prefers the nuggets on the childrens' menu.

But don't let her simple taste fool you, Jackie is quickly becoming a seasoned citoyenne du monde! I am amazed watching my daughter take the initiative--outside the restaurant when our ride doesn't show up as expected. "Mom, take the restaurateur's offer. Let him call a taxi!"

It is the same timely advice she gave me last time, back at the hotel, and if I hadn't listened then we might have missed our first appointment. Thanks to my child's quick-thinking, we were on time and efficace....

"Donne-moi ça. Hand me that," Jackie says, grabbing my suitcase of books as soon as we arrive to the Marais, where I'm scheduled to speak at Adrian Leeds' Après Midi. I watch my girl beeline it from the cab straight to a bistro table to begin setting up the book stand we never even talked about. I don't know where this assertiveness is coming from, but I can't argue with it. 

She would make a great assistant! I realize, as I skip off, not quite knowing where to spend so much new-found freedom. Turns out my daughter has an answer for that too!

"Mom!" Jackie signals. In hushed tones she points to a table where a man with salt-and-pepper hair is seated. "You need to sign Mike's book."

"Mike's book?" I am a little confused, until my daughter waves a couple of bills. "Oh! you've already sold some books! Good for you, Honey!"

From the serious look on Jackie's face, this is no time for sweet talk. This is business!

"Vas-y! Hurry up. Mike's over there!"

I notice how she recalled one guest's name when she might easily have said "Monsieur." My daughter may not remember to put her dinner plate in the dishwasher, but her memory is sharp as a tack when it comes to business manners!

1-Capture plein écran 11042014 120001

During my talk, Jackie silently cheers me from a table in the back and before long the presentation is over and we are sitting side by side at the book stand. Jackie is back in business mode and she's swiftly elbowing me.

"Mom, Susan's been waiting!" Seems I'm chatting too long with each guest. Time to get a move on!

1-Capture plein écran 11042014 105219

As savvy and professional as my daughter is, I am reminded she still has a lot to learn about selling.

"Look!" Jackie says, when we've packed up our stand. Opening the bright red money pocket she points out 300 euros.

"Can you buy me a pair of shoes?" She's remembered my promise to buy her something special while we are in Paris.

"Sweety, we have not made 300 euros. We have made more like 80 euros." I have to explain that the books weren't free to begin with. We have first bought the books and paid to have them shipped. "We have to deduct our cost for the books. Also, twenty of those euros were already in the billfold, in case we needed change for our customers."

Jackie's disappointment is palpable and I almost regret breaking it to her that the writing life is not as lucrative as she imagined!

Wrapping my arm around my daughter, on our way down the cobbled streets of the Marais, I'm delighted to see her smile return. And a million-dollar smile at that...

"Eighty-euros," she calculates. "It's enough to buy those shoes!"

*    *    *

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All About Tuesday's Talk!
Don't miss Adrian's write up of my talk! Click here.


  Adrian Leeds Kristin Espinasse

Adrian and Kristin at Tuesday's Après-Midi gathering

A very big thanks to Adrian Leeds, of Parler Paris, for inviting me to speak at her Après-Midi. Be sure to sign up for her free Nouvellettre for a taste of life in Paris and France: http://www.adrianleeds.com/parler-paris

Sponsor's message:

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

Attendees
I am now struggling to put names to faces (look at this endearing brochette). One of the challenges, at events like this (besides fear of public speaking), is to remember names--and sometimes faces. The idea of not recognizing someone in unthinkable. 

All photos by Adrian Leeds (or Adrian's camera :-)

Jim haynes
Several of the women who attended emailed me beforehand, to offer good wishes. Talk about feeling support before even arriving to the event! And there was even a big surprise: Jim Haynes showed up! I have been wanting to meet this character ever since reading about his Sunday Night dinner. For 36 years Jim has served dinner at his home--to over 130,000 guests! Eating at Jim's has been on my bucket list for some time, but I never dreamed I'd see him so soon! Jackie tells me that when Jim arrived at the book stand, he hesitated between the two books, and ended up buying Blossoming in Provence. "I think he wanted the other," Jackie said, "but he was 5 euros short."

When I heard the news I wanted to chase Jim down the street. But it was too late to give him a copy. Mr Sunday Night Dinner disappeared, as quietly as he'd come.

Jackie and jim

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


High heels & the Paris Metro = une mauvais idee?

Vespa and Golden (c) Kristin Espinasse
La dèche (pronounced "desh") means broke or down-and-out... only it's clearly la vie en rose for this shop dog, which lives in La Ciotat.

HulstonExclusive French made clothes now available to purchase on-line. Thomas Hulston Collections.


A quick story for you today. By the time you read this I'll be in the train on my way to the capital! In this short edition we've already seen the vocab word (above). Come with me now to see what's in my suitcase for Paris....

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Paris Obstacle Course: Help Kristi get to her talk in the Marais!

It's Sunday afternoon and I am packing for Paris, for the talk I'll give on Tuesday. I've got three small bags to break up the weight of 41 books, one bottle of wine, and a bouquet of flowering thyme from the field outside. I know the last item doesn't count, but when you're pushing your packing limits even herbs de Provence are enough to tip the scale! Thankfully they don't have weight limits on the train, but a woman's back has her limits, no?

I think I've brought too many books, which won't make commuting in Paris any easier. After much debating, I've decided that on the day of my talk I'm not lugging books up and down subway stairs. The price of the public transit ride (2,40 for my daughter and me) will go towards a driver! 

I know it is a splurge, using a car service, but I've checked out the fee and the 12 euros it will cost are a bargain when you factor in "peace of mind." Besides, I have not worn heels this high in years. Tuesday's race to the Marais (I'm meeting a reader on the opposite side of Paris, just before the talk...) is not the time to practice my stride. Walking from the car to the podium will be enough of a test!

Wish me luck, and if you want to help my daughter and me win a free ride to the talk (and possibly earn one for yourself!) sign up for Uber car rides using this promotional code.

I leave you with three good reasons to use Uber:

  • No need to tip or exchange money sur place (the fare is charged to your credit card, the one you registered when you signed up to the service).
  • Easy to hail a driver! Using SMS, you simply text Uber and a driver appears within 10 minutes. You don't even need to know where you are, your phone automatically positions you on the map!
  • No driver meltdowns. Uber drivers are not known for arguing with clients, or refusing a ride when you are jet-lagged and lugging heavy bags (and a baby and a screaming toddler).  And you don't have to walk blocks to find a taxi stand, Uber drivers will find you!

The above observations are personal and not written in stone, curbside! But chances are you will be pleased with this car ride service, which operates all over the world. Note: this is not an Uber sponsored post, but if you do sign up for Uber, with this promotional code, then Jackie and I may get a free ride on Tuesday :-) Our feet will thank you for it!

P.S.: I tried to get my husband to join--so I could get the free ride thanks to him--but the sign up page said "an account already exists." Too bad for Chief Grape, who could have used the service this week--when he'll be promoting wine in London and Tokyo!

P.P.S.: Now, I know what you are thinking: That Kristin, she's going to rack up a lot of free rides with Uber, now that she's rallied her subscribers!

But so far all I see, when I click the promotional code link, is a message saying the other guy (you) gets the credit (or $20 off your first ride"). However, if things do work out that way, and several of you sign up--and that somehow qualifies me for many free rides--then I will dream a new dream: like using so many free rides for a book tour, so we can finally meet! 

Meantime, fingers crossed my daughter and I will win a ride to the Marais on Tuesday. So thanks for checking out Uber and signing up! Here's that link and bon voyage!

Update: Jean-Marc emailed me this morning from London. He was able to sign up and we will both get credit toward our rides! Uber says the promo code is still good for friends so visit this page and consider signing up. And if I did bring too many books and don't sell them all in Paris, I can always get a ride back to the train station.

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Mr sacks goes to japan
Jean-Marc is bringing one bag to Japan and we can see where his priorities lie: wine and swim trunks. That's old Mr. Sacks on the top of the heap. If you have not met Jean-Marc's beloved purse, go here now!

Two places to stay in Provence:

 "La Trouvaille"--a true find in Provence! Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. Click here.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. 

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


Spit, wrinkles and my braless hairdresser

Salon

Next post goes out Thursday. "See you" then (or see you in Paris, on Tuesday afternoon!)

la bave (bav)

    : drool, slobber, spit; slime

Sound File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

La bave du crapaud n'atteint pas la blanche colombe.
The spit of the toad doesn't reach the white dove.
(Sticks and stones may break my bones.)



A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

I feel guilty switching hairdressers. The other lady was nice, and so calm you could hear a bobby pin drop in her salon tout vide. Last time I was there, I saw the second customer ever--the hairdresser's mom--who swept the floor as her hair dye dried the color of blood (no icky or spooky connotations intended: French women really seem to love this Ronald McDonald shade of red!).

No matter the somber atmosphere, I might have been a customer for life, turning a blind eye, each time, on the orange tracks my hairdresser left across my head. Parting my hair another way, I could hide the mistakes, but facts were facts: this woman had a bad aim and was color-blind!

My new hairdresser (recommended by a reader) is the bomb! In a red fishnet top and cheek-defining jeans, she keeps her salon interesting. As she paints my hair blonder she hums alongside the blaring radio and if she doesn't like the song she hums another one

Yesterday's appointment was as amusing as any. Eva surprised me with a kiss on each cheek (on only my second visit) and an unusual amount of blinking....

"C'est la bave du grenouille. Frog spit," she explained. "A woman came by earlier and did a demonstration. It only took a couple of drops and voilà--nature's answer to botox!"

Just beyond Eva, another blinking woman greeted me. "I think it's working," Alex said. "Yes, my face feels tight! How does it look?"

The women studied each other, eyes a blinking. Oui, ça marche! they laughed, amused by the instant effect. 

I settled into a salon chair and scrutinized my own face in the mirror. Beside my mouth I recognized a deep verticle line that comes from sleeping on my left side (it's just a pillow imprint, it'll go away. That's what I've been telling myself all along). Could frog spit erase that?

No! I wouldn't exploit a frog, ever! And even so, not for 159.99 a bottle! Besides, there were plenty of frogs in my back yard. Armed with a cotton swab, I needed only to chase them via leaps and bounds!

As my imagination subsided, I looked up to find the salon crowd scrutinizing their own faces in the mirror. A collective frown begged encouragment. 

"Ah, but we have had our day!" Eva chirped. "It's the new generation's time to shine!" With that, she sent an affectionate clin d'oeil to the youngest customer: her 19-year-old niece, who had just begun modeling.

I sat admiring the lovely and si timide client, who reminded me of my cousin Audrey. Eva was right, and no amount of plastic or spit could aide in the jealous place-guarding. Time to give up our seats to a new crop of darlings! 

But looking back into the mirror, my critical regard moved from my mouth to my eyes, where more wrinkles formed on either side. Raising my eyebrows the lines disappeared, only now my attention caught on my forehead, where a scar branded it like a side of beef!

"That was skin cancer." I said, pointing out la cicatrice.

Eva's eyes narrowed for a closer look and her voice grew soft. "Mince!" (Oh no!)

The fair-skinned redhead in the chair behind mine chimed in with more sympathy. "We all got too much sun in the 70s! Now I wear sunscreen everywhere!"

Suddenly the salon was achatter as each woman questionned her suspicious spots. But when my hairdresser's shirt flew up, I was at a loss for words!

Braless was the first thing that came to mind, followed by Man. I wish mine looked like that!

Obviously, I could not share the compliment with Eva, who, five years older than me--and over 50--looked amazing, naturally. And yet all those years of topless sunbathing had not gone without incident: I saw the familiar skin-colored nodule.

It might have been nothing, but just in case I urged Eva to see her dermatologist. She promised she would and returned to her fun-loving self in time to finish my balayage. As she worked, I couldn't help but think that while the sun may harm skin cells, it sure hadn't damaged this one's elasticity. Eva was looking good!

Driving home from the salon, I regretted not sharing the compliment with my hairdresser. Obsessive thinker I am, I spent the remaining journey coming up with witty delivery lines for how to tell Eva that she was the bomb, now and forever?!  

Then it occured to me. I could have picked up the vial of frog spit and waved it, offering "You sure don't need any of this stuff, not THERE anyway!"

Yes, I could've said that, however simply, however absurdly. Or I can just hang low and chase frogs in my backyard--much less awkward, n'est-ce pas

 

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To read my skin cancer story, click here.

Selected Vocabulary
tout vide = entirely empty
ça marche = it works!
un clin d'oeil = wink
la cicatrice = scar
mince! = oh, no!
le balayage = highlighting
n'est-ce pas = isn't it?

 

Lemon tree
Woman may do funny things as they age, like consider frog spit serum, but men wear funny things. Here's my husband's get up: unlaced steel-toe boots, pajama pants, a Harley Davidson jacket, a puffy-fronted baseball cap. But who am I to pick at him, when he's helping build this garden! Welcome, New Lemon Tree. We love you!

Lemon-tree-fava-beans
A row of leafy fava beans cheerily welcomes the new lemon tree. "Bienvenue!"

1-IMG_20140403_120508
Anything that can't be eaten will soon leave this bed (bye-bye euphorbia. You are pretty, but carrots are pretty and delicious!)

Secret-life-of-france
See you in a week, with more photos and stories. Thank you so much for reading. Speaking of reading, I recently saw this book at Amazon. Looks like a good one! It's available on Kindle, click here.

"Finally a great book on what the Parisians are like and why"

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


Francophiles love this word (and so do the French)

Brasserie le bolero

A stroll through Marseilles, some cheesy characters, a faulty ego and a sack of steel? De quoi faire une histoire amusante. All you need for an entertaining story!

flâner (flah-nay)

    : (to walk) to stroll, wander
    : (to do nothing) to laze, idle, lounge about

These flâner definitions are as charming as the word itself: to amble, lounge, lollygag, to traipse, sashay, drift... May they carry you away to a delightful place today!

Also le flâneur/la flâneuse = idler, lounger

Le Petit Journal is the free weekly newsletter from France Today, where Kristi is a columnist. Subscribe here to get a dose of French travel, food, lifestyle and culture straight to your inbox every week!" 

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Flaneur for a Day

When Jean-Marc mentioned he had some deliveries in Marseilles, Tuesday, I hitched a ride with him to the city. I had administrative paperwork to take care of, and was grateful the American Consulate could accommodate this last-minute ride share, by penciling me in!

"But I'll have to drop you off early," Jean-Marc warned. "An hour before the consulate opens."

That wouldn't be a problem, I assured my husband, happy not to have to drive or find parking in centre ville. There was only one little pépin, or glitch, to this free ride: I'd be sharing it with a carload of wine and a gigantic surfboard! 

"C'est la planche à voile de Pierre..." Jean-Marc explained, as he lifted the bars beside the armrest so I could crawl to the seat. Crammed in with the board on one side and the bars on the other, my breath suddenly shortened and I sensed a panic attack coming on, years after keeping anxieties at bay. It was time to refocus. Seated there in a sort of windsurfing vise, I reasoned: this is indeed another absurd situation--one only my husband could create!--but it would make for a good story, eventually. Now sit tight!

In Marseilles I learned that absurdity is in the eye of the beholder. Currently beholding a 6 pound set of steel balls, I huffed and puffed carrying out an errand Jean-Marc had given me ("In your spare time, please stop by Fred's office. He has a gift for Max....")

It was the least I could do, deliver Godfather's present to my son. I just wished I had known, beforehand, what was in the package (a set of bocce balls!). I could then have adjusted my planning--and done the pick-up after my hour-long stroll up and down the streets of Marseilles, from Rue Breteuil to the Vieux Port and back to the consulate to catch my ride home.

Then again, those heavy steel balls (or boules or pétanque balls as they are called here) were a kind of carte blanche in the city, opening many doors and opportunities....

Standing in front of Les Arcenaulx, a favorite artsy spot (you can have tea in a room full of books! and then visit the art gallery upstairs). For years I have enjoyed peeping in beyond the great doors, to the escalier lined with old mailboxes--each with a character all her own!

No sooner had I arrived, a three-kilo sack of steel balls dangling from my side, then the gaggle of old ladies in the entry quickly cleared! I now had an unobstructed view of les boîtes à lettres! As the women sent surreptitious glances, I snapped away.

mailboxes - les arcenaulx (c) Kristin Espinasse

Now, a little farther down the square, when I spotted a couple of construction workers in a third-story window, I didn't hesitate to ask for their photo. 

And when they balked, I smiled, lifting my little bag of boules. Photo? or a game of pétanque? With that, they chuckled, hamming it up:

  Workers
Then they turned the tables--asking me for my photo! As they pulled out their smartphones I smiled up at them, feeling very small, wondering how gray were my temples, how thin was my skin? It was painful standing there like that, until I let go of my ego just as these two strangers had. 

Beaming from the unexpected exchange, I hugged my camera and package close, and wondered where the lucky charms would lead next.

After strolling past the friendly fishmongers lined up along the Vieux Port (and enjoying the school children who squealed seeing the octopus and other splashing fish on display), I needed a rest. The pétanque balls were heavier than ever and it felt good to set them down on the café table at La Samaritaine--my mom's favorite café, and an institution in Marseilles! 

Seated just inside the front door, I had a wonderful view of the Ferris wheel--and more memories of Mom came flooding back (how she dreams of riding the "Paris Wheel" as she calls the Ferris wheels of France, no matter where they are).

Ferris wheel in marseilles

Lost in a tender rêverie, the waiter's voice was startling to me. "Boules?" he questioned, the appreciation written across his face was unmistakable.

"Oh, they belong to my son," I said, wishing for a wittier response.

And when it came time to pay the bill, the clever response came (only it came from the waiter):

"Voici, Mademoiselle!"

Touché! The mademoiselle remark did wonders for the spirit, young as ever--no matter the weather! (And for his compliment, the waiter got a big tip and who cares whether he was honest!)

Watching the waiter erase the ardoise, or menu board, and add the day's special, I knew it was l'heure: "time," as the French say. Time to go meet my husband. But not without a great sigh of appreciation. The morning stroll through old Marseilles was enough to refuel this creative wagon and its sometimes overserious passenger....

...which brings me back to the car ride and the reminder that the day's voyage had begun with such absurdity! Come to think of it, that's an awfully unfriendly word for what is nothing more than innovation on my husband's part! And creativity leads to more creativity until, before you know it, you are floating through a new experience buoyed by exciting new characters--your heart soaring so high it might pop, but for a handy sack of steel balls to keep you safely grounded. 


Comments
To comment click here. Thanks in advance! 

l
a planche à voile = windsurf board
un escalier = stairs
la boîte à lettres = mailbox
c'est l'heure = it's time

1-max-playing-boules

 Delivered Fred's present to his godson, Max--who immediately put the boules or pétanque balls to good use :-)

If you enjoy this letter, please share it. And when you purchase games and books at Amazon (such as these recommendations) you help support this free French journal!

Petanque set

 

Polished Alloy Boules (Petanque) set: Shop here.

 

 

Grape expectations
A must read for anyone who's dreamed of owning their own vineyard, at times gritty, at times joyful, Grape Expectations is an inspiring story of how one couple changed their lives."  —Jamie Ivey, author, Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog

 

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