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Entries from March 2018

How to say "not-to-be-missed" or "must-see" in French + tonight's winetasting in Marseilles with Château de Pibarnon and Chateau de Roquefort

Wine tasting 29 mars 2019


Today's expression: à ne pas manquer

    : not to be missed, a must-see, do not miss


Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence, in French

Click here to hear the sound file for "a ne pas manquer"
A ne pas manquer ce soir (le Jeudi 29 Mars) à partir de 18H30 au Vin Sobre Obélisque de Mazargues....Dégustation exceptionnelle de deux Grands Crus de Provence qui sont le Château de Pïbarnon et le Château de Roquefort représentés par leurs propriétaires respectifs Eric de Saint Victor et Raymond de Villeneuve

Not to be missed this evening (Thursday, March 29th) from 6:30 pm at Vin Sobre (wine shop) at the Obélisque of Mazargues...An exceptional wine tasting of two vintaged Provence wines: Chateau de Pibarnon and Château de Roquefort, represented by their respective owners Eric de Saint Victor and Raymond de Villeneuve.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

This photo below is saturated with whimsy. From the message on the ardoise...to the photo bomber on the right--and not to miss the smiling Frenchman in the center--this scene radiates la joie de vivre. So I'm making it my birthday greeting to my husband, who turns 51 today--like the famous boisson by Pernod Ricard.

Jean-Marc won't be drinking pastis. He is gearing up for a special wine-tasting featuring two characters he admires in the world of wine: Eric de Saint Victor et Raymond de Villeneuve (click on their names for some colorful scenes...which brings us back to the image below and my wish for mon mari on his special day:

Jean-Marc, May you forever be surrounded by terrific copains, may you trek to your heart's content, and may you feel, each and every day, the love and support of your family.  And one more thing I almost forgot: though you didn't inherit the same DIY gene as your sister, the furniture-maker, or your brother, the builder--ça fait rien!--may you never resist that creative spark within you--whether it propels you to build a quirky mop-spear--or a blood, sweat and tears vineyard

J-o-y-e-u-x  A-n-n-i-v-e-r-s-a-i-r-e, Chief Grape!



INVITATION: If you, dear reader, are within a one-hour radius of Marseilles--tonight's wine-tasting event is à ne pas manquer--not to be missed. Jean-Marc and I would love to see you! Here's the address, see you at 6:30!

Le Vin Sobre Mazargues
Cave à Vins et épicerie fine à Marseille
2, av. Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
13009 Marseille - France 
Tél. 04 91 30 68 35

FRENCH VOCABULARY
à ne pas manquer = not to be missed
une ardoise = slate board, black board
la joie de vivre = love of life, zest for life
la boisson= drink
le pastis = anis-flavored French liqueur
mon mari = my husband
le copain (la copine) = friend
ça fait rien (ça ne fait rien) = that doesn't matter, no biggie 
joyeux anniversaire = happy birthday

The following picture was taken outside Allez Hops! -- our friend Dan's beer shop in Nice

Jean-marc espinasse le soleil brille in front of allez hops beer shop in Nice France

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Raconter des salades (Fountain Guy takes us for a ride) = today's expressions: se faire empapaouter or se faire berner:

Global culinary tours

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


se faire berner 

    : to be deluded, to be duped, taken in

se faire empapaouter

    : to be had, to be screwed

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the following text in French:

Click here to listen to the sound file

Se faire berner ou se faire empapaouter, voilà deux façons pour dire que nous nous sommes faits prendre pour des cons
To be duped or to be had, two ways to say that we were taken for idiots.



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

I love breaking down words and finding meaning--or forcing a meaning if necessary. Take the enormously hilarious French word "empapaouter": from this, I get "to out papa". Only, we're not outing papa in today's story--we are outing the man who was hired to repair our fountain (here-to-for called Fountain Guy). 

Come to think of it, we are "outing papa"--or exposing a pathological liar--for Fountain Guy's first mensonge was, "My daughter was in the hospital...so I couldn't show up the other day." This was his excuse when Jean-Marc called to remind him of our appointment here in the front garden where a lovely, broken down, fountain was in need of repair and remodeling. After getting three devis, or estimates, we chose Fountain Guy. 

When Fountain Guy finally showed up, after a few initial delays, I greeted him at the front gate. "I'm so sorry about your daughter."

Fountain Guy looked confused, so I elaborated, "I hope she is out of the hospital."

"Merci," said he, proceeding to the fountain, to have another look at it. Over the next 6 months, he would repeat this entrance (if he entered our yard at all): there would be another hesitation on his part, another excuse ("the parts are in my garage and my wife has the key" or "I don't have my truck so I can't transfer the material today" or "my other clients are giving me a hard time"). 

Early on I made excuses for Fountain Guy. He's young. He has a little problem with time management. And, out of desperation to believe his intentions were good, I said to my husband: He seems to be having personal problems.

Fountain destruction

But my husband wasn't buying it. Il ment come il respire! Jean-Marc insisted and, 6 months into a sentimental project which should have taken a few weeks, our petit bassin looks worse than before: the center column was knocked out, leaving a pile of rubble--and six inches of murky water currently attract the first mosquitos of the season. When Jean-Marc tried to pump out the water, he discovered the pump had broken. He was about to resort to pouring bleach into the pond, when I protested: Pas de javel dans le jardin!

"Anything to keep the mosquitos away!" Jean-Marc argued. The fountain situation now had us at odds with each other! This was no time to divide. It was time to unite! 

LA CONFRONTATION
I usually hide behind Jean-Marc--making him do the "confrontational work". But I had had enough of Fountain Guy. It was time to out mama! Time to let the big mama residing within me give this guy a piece of her mind:

HERE COMES MAMA....
The next time Fountain Guy showed up with another excuse as to why he could not work today, I said: "This isn't working. At this point it would be best for you to return our money." Now, dear reader, if that didn't sound fierce to you, you can imagine how flimsy it sounded to Fountain Guy who did not flinch....

PRISE EN FLAGRANT DELIT (Caught red-handed)
Taking Fountain Guy to small claims court for the 300  euros would be complicated. We had no choice but to give him two last chances, which would have turned into 2000 last chances if Jean-Marc hadn't caught him en flagrant délit!  This happened when Fountain Guy didn't show up again. So Jean-Marc rang him. Incredibly, Fountain Guy answered and said, "I can't come today. I am working at a construction site in La Seyne-sur-Mer."

My husband hung up in frustration and went along with his day, which began with a doctor's appointment. After the doctor didn't show up for the appointment (!), Jean-Marc left the medical office and headed to Darty (electronics store) to look for a cable for our T.V. ....and who did he see dressed to the nines in an elegant suit and standing in the very same aisle? 

RACONTER DES SALADES
Fountain Guy looked like he'd just seen a ghost! Jean-Marc's words were brief: "I am not your father, he began... "Je ne suis pas votre père. Mais, si je l'étais, je vous conseillerais de dire la verité plutôt que de raconter des salades!" (I'm not your father. But if I were, I would advise you to tell the truth rather than to tell lies.)

Post note: This was a sentimental project as the repair of our fountain was a thoughtful housewarming gift from several readers here, thanks to Margaret, who suggested it. The experience with the fountain guy cast a very dark cloud over the project. The good news is we have been reimbursed...and will be able to find a new fountain guy. I already have dependable somebody in mind: Mr. D.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
un mensonge = a lie
un devis = estimate, quote
mentir = to lie
il ment comme il respire = he's lying through his teeth
le petit bassin = the children's pool (or little pool)
pris en flagrant delit = to be caught in the act
raconter des salades = to tell stories, to tell fibs

-Bonne Maman lemon tartlettes and many other French grocery items available here.

-365 Days of French Expressions. See the book.

-La Roche-Posay sunscreen
- rated the best by Consumer Reports!

-Eiffel Tower Peace Sign T-shirt, order here.

If you haven't yet read my book, please check it out. Many thanks! Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

First iris in our La Ciotat garden
First iris in our garden here in La Ciotat

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Audacity and "avoir du culot": going beyond the limits in Elba, Italy

Cove Elba Island
A quiet cove at Elba Island, off the coast of Tuscany.

avoir du culot

    1. to have the audacity, to have balls, to have some nerve

365 Days of French Expressions. See the book.
 

Avoir du culot: listen to this phrase and the following sentence

Avoir du culot: Il faut avoir du culot pour dépasser ses limites.
To be daring: You've got to be daring go beyond your limits.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

My husband has a gift for finding hidden jewels in nature. To get to these turquoise-colored creeks or calanques or coves, he will scale cliffs, repel from flat rocks, or simply jump in when there is no other way to "get down there"

But one of Jean-Marc's biggest challenges is being married to a poule mouillée--a wet chicken (French speak for "coward").  And my challenge (besides being married to him) is knowing and respecting my own limits: while I now understand that I do not have to keep up with him and his risk-taking friends, I do need to accept those invitations that are more in line with my Wet Chicken Adventure Level. Make that Wet-Chicken PLUS Level, for I've come a long way.

While I will never again follow a group of Frenchies through a railroad tunnel (to them it was an obvious shortcut, to me it was la folie!), I will, as of last week, trespass... It was during our getaway to Elba Island, off the Tuscan coast of Italy, that Jean-Marc and I visited a lot of public beaches, but one day we decided to drive to "Algue Cove"... Wandering through a neighborhood of stately villas, we searched for a path to the sea. We soon found one, but it was marked "Strada Privata"....

Villa in elba

"I'd rather not," I said, hurrying ahead of my husband. "Let's just go up here. Surely there's another way." And there was, if you didn't mind the north side of the peninsula where the wind was so strong our hair was twirling above our heads--making one of us look like an upside-down broom. Speaking of which, there was no clean way out of this predicament: if we wanted a tranquil beach, à l'abri du vent, we were going to have to soil our values and break the law (or at least the neighborhood rules)!

In the end it was no big deal. Those stately houses on this elite peninsula were all closed up this time of year. Il n'y avait pas un chat! We easily made our way down to the sparkling inlet, where Jean-Marc found us a nice spot on top of some flat rocks overlooking the turquoise sea. As my husband settled in for a nap, a strange impulse came over me....

Scoping out the cove and all of the visible houses (shutters closed in winter) until certain nobody was around...I threw off my clothes and hurried into my one-piece swimsuit. Now tiptoeing down the rocks, careful not to wake Jean-Marc, my adrenaline was so high I hardly felt the ice-cold water after quietly slipping in--and there, in the middle of tiny bay, I began splashing.

To no effect! Jean-Marc was oblivious to my antics. Now I was freezing--but determined as ever to prove a point. First I'd have to wake him up!

"Hey-oh! COUCOU! Jean-Maaaarc!"

My husband opened one eye. Then two. Now he was wide-eyed, just as anticipated! "Eh ben!" he said. (That's French for "well, what do you know!")

And that was exactly my point: that I am not always this way or that way--from picky to prude (I won't list every fault in between). "Things are not always black and white!" Having shouted it out--all those mysteries that still swirled within me--I blew my old man a kiss and swam like a flock of wet chickens back to shore. (Mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée!)


FRENCH VOCABULARY

la calanque = inlet from the sea
la folie = madness
pas un chat = nobody around (not a cat in sight)
coucou = hi, hey there!
mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée = better a wet chicken than a frozen chicken

It's almost swimsuit season. I like this one. See others here.

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated the best by Consumer Reports!

Eiffel Tower Peace Sign T-shirt, order here.

If you haven't yet read my book, please check it out. Many thanks! Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

Kristin Espinasse 2018

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Chantier or construction site + A hole in the wall is better than un trou dans la tête! Caution while sleeping....

Kitchen renovation france
Our kitchen here in La Ciotat. See a before picture at the end of this archive post.

Today's Word: le chantier

    : construction site, building site, work zone

Book: 365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day

Depuis notre retour de l'ile d'Elbe, Kristi, Smokey, et moi, vivons dans un chantier. Nous essayons de "go with the flow," c'est-à-dire de lâcher prise
Since our return from Ebla Island, Kristi, Smokey, and I are living in a work zone. We are trying to go with the flow, or "let go."

Click here to listen to this sentence with "le chantier"


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Pulling up to our driveway after our one-week escapade, I asked my husband if he had papillons in his stomach--because I sure did. Butterflies galore! We were about to see what our La Ciotat home, where we moved 7 months ago, looked like one week into the renovation. Our contractor, Monsieur D., had sent photos during the week, and we were amazed at the progress we'd seen in the 5 days since the demolition.

Opening the front door the salon appeared much bigger than before thanks to the removal of the hall wall. And everything was so tidy--nickel chrome! as my friend Sophie used to say (she's the one who used to answer, "in the crapper" or dans les chiottes! every time her husband asked where were his glasses, keys, or other absentmindedly-placed things. But I digress--je m'écarte du sujet! And today's topic, which is also the word-of-the-day, is our chantier.... 

Looking around the rez-de-chaussée of our 1960s-built house, a thin veil of microfine dust hung in the air. Beyond, I could see the exposed walls of our kitchen, where all the sunny yellow tiles had been removed. A pang of nostalgia now pushed away all those butterflies, but they would be back. As everyone says, It will all be worth it in the end!

Kitchen remodel before after
The day the realtor showed us the house

Moving through the fog, we could see the flagstone floor which looked even cleaner than before. Jean-Marc and I were impressed, but that sentiment soon turned to perplexed as we headed upstairs to set down our suitcases....

There, beside the tête de lit--alarmingly close to where we rest our heads as we read in bed--was a hole in the wall the size of a golfball! We stood staring at that neverending trou until finally Jean-Marc picked up the phone and called Monsieur D., who hurried right over in time to say.... "Whoops!" (or some combination of French words that amounted to uh-oh spaghettio. Indeed, our Sardinian chef de chantier had made a wee error in calculation when it came to rewiring one of the downstairs bedrooms.  

We were quick to forgive Monsieur D. as, up until now, he had been nickel chrome, or impeccable, in all his work. That said, I took extra precaution in taking my nap yesterday...moving my pillow all the way to the foot of the bed, where I cautiously rested my head as the pounding and drilling continued downstairs. A few feet away from the vibrating wall, I made a cozy nest for Smokey, who slept on the floor beside me and a slew of displaced things. Two more months to go....

***

Click on the center of the screen, below, to watch the video--where you will see the hole in our bedroom wall. The photo begins on our nightstand, where you'll see one of my favorite books, The Man Who Planted Trees, available in French and in English, below.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

papillon = butterfly
le salon = living room
nickel chrome = impeccable
c'est nickel! = it's perfect! it's fantastic! it's amazing!
dans les chiottes = in the crapper
s'écarter du sujet = to digress
le chantier = the work zone, construction site
le rez-de-chaussée = ground floor, first floor
le trou = hole
le chef de chantier = contractor

One of my favorite books is Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees, (available here). It is short and sweet and has an important message. Do check it out. It is also available here, in French

Paris Peace T-Shirt available in a rainbow of colors

Embryolisse - face moisturizer from France with so many uses. See the reviews!

SMOKEY

Smokey sleeping during chantier

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Postcard from Elba, Italy...and the French word for "puddle of water"

MVIMG_20180312_165335

We made it to Elba Island after driving all the way from La Ciotat. To break up the 9-hour road trip, Jean-Marc organized two overnight stops: one in the Ligurian town of Albenga--and the other in Lucca. We didn't get to see much these famous Italian towns as it rained non-stop (the pluie turned to hail as we crowded beneath a tiny portico, in Lucca, along with a handful of other pedestrians surprised by the downpour). Day three on the road and the rain would not let up. The threat of aquaplaning was on Jean-Marc's mind as he carefully avoided every freeway puddle, or flaque d'eau. For once, we appreciated all those never-ending tunnels that northern Italy is known for. They offered a stretch of dry, non-slippery road! 

Bref (for this is, after all, just une carte postale), we're here, and dry! I have a story for you when we return from this little island off the Tuscan coast, where the sun is so bright it's warmed the shallow coastline inviting us in for a winter swim....

Ciao, ciao, ciao, ciao,*

Kristi 

*I counted twice as many ciaos as I overheard one Italian saying goodbye over the telephone, before finally hanging up.   

MVIMG_20180312_180250

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Echapper belle: What we are avoiding, alluding, dodging, and running away from this week!

Port of la ciotat old wooden fishing boats pointu Mediterranean France
After moving to La Ciotat seven months ago, we love our new city more than ever. But there is one thing driving us far far away this week...

Today's French word: échapper

    : to escape, outrun, slip away from

...and the popular French expression échapper belle (to have a lucky escape, to escape by the skin of one's teeth, to just make it out in time)

AUDIO FILE

Click here to listen to "echapper" and the following phrase

Pour nous échapper des gros travaux de démolition qui commencent dans notre maison, nous partons une petite semaine sur l'île d'Elbe, en Italie.
To escape the major demolition work that begins at our home, we are going to leave for one week on Elba Island in Italy.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


We have spent two weeks eating our way through cupboards of crackers, chips and dips, gobbling up all the cheese and charcuterie in our frigo, emptying the last drops of olive oil and sirop de pêche, and just this morning I took down my daughter's art school sketches from our kitchen wall, as well as my grandfather's pendule à coucou

Tomorrow we turn off our home's chauffage central, drop off our golden retriever, Smokey, at the dog sitter's, and begin an 8-hour journey east, past our old vineyard in St Cyr-sur-Mer, past Bandol, past Toulon, and our old village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens... 

....past St Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Menton, and over the border where we will stop, as we always do, at the very first station d'essence--because only in Italy can you get a gas-station espresso that rivals anything served in a 5-star restaurant! 

As we get farther and farther away from the sound of sledgehammers, we will breathe a sigh of relief. On va souffler un peu. For the first time in our life as homeowners (having lived on-site through 5 demolition projects beginning when our son, Max, was in my womb), we will have escaped renovation. One week of it, anyway....

This blog will continue in a week or so from a dusty office above the demolished kitchen, where work will continue through May 15th (the cut-off date for this renovation as our now  23-year-old returns from his exchange program in Mexico and will need a place to stay. We'd put him in the upstairs bathtub--but that's where I'll be doing the dishes for the next 8 weeks.

I'll send you a postcard from Elba, when we get there--so check your inbox. Elba, off the coast of Tuscany, is the island in Italy where Napolean famously retreated... only home renovation wasn't the reason for his exile. Or was it?

Smokey and bianca chiens dogs
No renovation pictures yet. For now, a peaceful picture of Smokey and Bianca (Smokey can't wait to see her tomorrow. Bianca belongs to the dog sitter). Below, you'll see a video of our garden last week, when it snowed. Click on the photo (or arrow) to start the video.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
la charcuterie = cold meats
le frigo = fridge
sirop de pêche = peach syrup
la pendule à coucou = cuckoo clock
le chauffage central = central heating
station d'essence = gas station
on va souffler un peu = we're going to breath a sigh of relief

Napolean a life
Napolean: A Life - “A thrilling tale of military and political genius… Roberts is an uncommonly gifted writer.” – The Washington Post Order the book here

Teisseire French syrop -- for flavoring tea, sodas, and more. I love it in sparkling water. Order here
Book: 365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day
Paris Peace T-Shirt available in a rainbow of colors
Embryolisse - face moisturizer from France with so many uses. See the reviews!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Abasourdi + Chez le dermato: The French don't see the skin doctor (or the dentist) twice a year

Leaves stone building
I try to illustrate every post with photos, but it's a bit challenging when the topic is the doctor's office. Who wants to see a picture of that? So enjoy this random shot instead!

Today's word: abasourdi

    : stunned, taken aback, thunderstruck
    : deafened

Book: 365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day

Listen to the following words, read by Jean-Marc: 

Click here for the soundfile

Je suis abasourdi par le nombre de personnes qui veulent «connaître» l'univers alors qu'il est déjà suffisamment difficile de se repérer dans le quartier chinois de New York. I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. --Woody Allen


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Twenty-two years ago, when my brother-in-law, Doug, came to visit us in St Maximin, he was left abasourdi (thunderstruck) at the dry cleaners. The red-haired owner, of a certain age--who rocked a jaw-level blunt cut--turned him away. (Or rather, turned his chemises away.) "There are too many shirts! I can do three. C'est tout!"

I felt the same way, recently, at the dermatologist's. Just like French dentists, skin care doctors aren't business savvy. It's not that they reject your money--they are simply mal à l'aise with the business of healthcare. So when a proactive patient shows up at their door, they are, like my brother-in-law, a bit thunderstruck. 

Since going under the knife in 2011 to remove a tumor from my forehead I am careful to get to the dermato yearly--sometimes twice a year. But this is the first time I have been chewed out by my doctor for anything other than too much sun exposure (tell that to my 9-year-old self in the Arizona desert). But I'm ahead of myself--just like I'm ahead of skin cancer--or try to be. So let me back up and tell you what it's like to visit a French dermatologist....

I brought my husband with me. Not for moral support--I brought him in for a check-up! As a former wine farmer, he shares a common pépin with other agricultural workers: skin cancer. He had his first carcinoma frozen off during our previous "couples appointment." (I like to save both the doctor and us time--by this two-for-one rendez-vous). 

Jean-marc vines tan
My husband, Jean-Marc (aka the guy who records the sound files for this word journal)

"Who'll go first?" My 60-ish doctor piped up. Like the dry cleaner, mentioned above, she wore a blunt-cut--hers a little longer than the redhead's... and both shared a quirky and bold character--two things I love in people.

Vas-y! I said to Jean-Marc, watching my husband walk into the examination room and strip off all his clothes. Now I know what the doctor means when she says, "il faut TOUT enlever."  As she probed Jean-Marc, both his body and his lifestyle, I perused Doc's antique-filled office. What a great desk! I thought. Look at all those statues from far off exotic places... She must be a traveler! 

"You can join us in here," Doc suddenly said, and I wondered, for an instant, if she might've mistaken me for a kleptomane? Now I'm being paranoid--which is what brought me here in the first place, i.e. those spots on my face.

I took a seat on a stool near the foot of the examination table, where I had quite an eyeful of my husband (from his toes right up to his nose. As my eyes traveled up along his backside, I was noticing his cute butt...when Doc suddenly said, "I'm going to have to freeze this one. You've got the beginning of a carcinome basocellulaire." She was talking about a patchy red spot on his back. The freezing would be painful, but not as bad as a freezing below one's lower eyelash--I should know!

"But what if I blink or move my eye?" I remembered asking the doctor, on a previous visit as she aimed her fuming ice wand at my eye. She answered casually: "Ce sera une très mauvaise idée...."

Memories. Memories. Presently it was my turn to be examined. I'd stripped off my clothes (including my culottes!) and stood there on the cold floor tiles waiting for the doctor, who was back in her office, completing my husband's medical file as he handed her his carte Vitale, or health care card.

"Déjà?" The doctor said, looking my way. Any confidence I'd gained following my husband's example fell to the floor along with my jeans and underthings. Looking away, I saw a giant roll of paper--and wondered if I could help the doctor along by lining the examination table...better yet I could roll myself in it....

I'm so glad I didn't because my next two moves would infuriate le médécin who'd reappeared beside the examination table, leaving my husband to peruse the well-decorated office across the way.

"Just hold your horses!" she said, snapping at me. (Well, maybe she didn't say "horses"...but her words stampeded forth so abruptly they left me in tears.) What had I done besides not wasting a moment to tell her why I was here? I had said, "j'ai ça... et ça...et ça"... quickly pointing out three suspect growths. Perhaps it was my get-to-the-point American way? Any vitesse on my part had to do with not wanting to hold up any clients that were patiently waiting in the salle d'attente

"I have my way of doing things here!" Doc barked, proceeding to systematically examine me from head to toe. Eventually, she softened. "I understand you have had a bad experience with skin cancer, and it's normale you are concerned," she said, looking at the scars on my forehead and nose. But not every bump is cancerous. With that, my dermato handed me an ordonnance for Fluorouracil--for use on those "suspect" spots. "This way you can treat them yourself. This cream will provoke a reaction if they are cancerous. For the rest, You only need to see me once a year."

I looked at the prescription for "Efudix"...Wasn't that the cream that turns your face into one big scab? For two months? If and when I use it I'll have to hide out somewhere.... Maybe my doctor, the traveler, can recommend a place?

Pas de panique. Today's takeaway is simply this: when you go to a doctor in France, take your sweet time.  Why not carry that lesson out of the doc's office and into your life. Prenez le temps. Pas de stress. Isn't that the main thing when it comes to good health?


FRENCH VOCABULARY
abasourdi = taken aback
la chemise = shirt
mal à l'aise = uncomfortable with something
le dermato = dermatologist
le pépin = snag
vas-y = you go ahead
il faut tout enlever = you must take everything off
culotte = panty
la salle d'attente = waiting room

Paris Peace T-Shirt available in a rainbow of colors
Embryolisse - face moisurizer from France with so many uses. See the reviews!
La Tisanerie French Tisane - a warm, soothing drink before drifting off to sleep

Sunglasses sunhat protected from uv rays

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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Meaningless small talk leads to a meaningful connection! + parler de pluie et du beau temps

Superette minimarket
An invitation to talk to strangers...in today's vocabulary-packed story.

parler de pluie et du beau temps

    : to talk about the weather, to talk small talk, to shoot the breeze

synonyms: tailler une bavette, bavarder, commérer

365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristin Espinasse

"Bavardons"

I'm so glad I opened my mouth at the minimarket checkout line. "Can you imagine?" I say to my daughter, recounting how I met a new friend. "Had I quietly waited there I would have missed an incroyable coincidence!" I would have stood right beside a fellow American from Texas without ever suspecting she was anyone other than a local, a Ciotadenne

Earlier, I was walking to my neighborhood supérette on a rainy day. It was the kind of pluie that falls like a continuous mist--so light you wonder why you are holding an umbrella over your head when the sky is a giant upturned bottle of Evian spray. Dewey as the morning grass, I entered our local convenience store. Il n y avait pas un chat!  I collected some milk, some croquettes pour chien (items that were needed and added weight to my sac à dos, allowing me to feel like the adventurous pilgrim in Walk in a Relaxed Manner. After weeks of keeping to my New Year's resolution, I must have been truly "in a relaxed manner," for my thoughts tumbled right out of my mouth, there at the caisse, or cash register:

"It looks like nobody shops when it rains!" I said, looking around the empty store.

The owner smiled, "Il n y a que les anglaises qui sortent." Only English women go out in the rain...

"I'm from Arizona," I playfully corrected.

That's when I heard it...a distinct American accent. I turned to see a younger woman had just joined me in line. Long thick brown hair with les franges, her smile revealed a mouthful of pearly whites.

"Really? I am from Houston!" she said, after which everything dissolved into an excited swirl of vraiments--leaving the store owner visibly dizzy as his only customers livened up the checkout.

"Really? Do you live here? In la Ciotat? No! Really? How long?! Three years? I've been here 6 months. Your name is Christina? Really? Mine too (kind of) yes really!

The vraiments continued over coffee at my house and macaroons at Christina's a few days later ...

Macarons and pear tart made by christina la ciotat sea mediterranean
        Christina made both the macarons and the pear tart!

Your family is from Mexico?!
  Really? My mom and my son live in Mexico!!!  (And on and on our conversation flowed.)
 
So the next time, I say to my daughter, who's still listening to my histoire assez étonnante, the next time you are standing in line feeling all shy or unsociable, take a risk and shoot the breeze! You just never know where it may lead....

FRENCH VOCABULARY

bavardons = to chat away
incroyable = unbelievable
ciotaden(ne) = one who lives in La Ciotat
la supérette = minimarket
la pluie = rain
il n y avait pas un chat! = there wasn't a soul in sight ("there wasn't a cat")
croquettes pour chien = dry dog food
les franges = bangs
le sac à dos = backpack
la caisse = cash register, checkout
vraiment = truly, actually, really
une histoire assez étonnanté = an amazing story

Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School (Sexy Slang Series)
T-Shirt I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France.
Gourmet French Macaroons

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

  Macarons la ciotat  mediterranean sea palm trees shipyard

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California