Winetasting invitation! + "Allez, zou!"

  1-yellow flowers blue door
If flowers could talk (and who says they can't) then these are shouting ALLEZ ZOU! After oggling this sunshiny plant forever--and owning it, for a time--I broke down and ordered the Helianthus grosseserratus or "sawtooth sunflower" seeds. If you, like me, believe your garden or balcony or windowbox cannot live without this jumble of happiness, then order some seeds like I just did!

And now for some French to keep you in the know:

Allez zou!

    : let's go!, off you go!

from allez! (interjection) and zou (sound) (like shoo!)

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

I was going to write you a story when I realized that today's definitions are as entertaining and inspiring as anything I could cook up for you this morning! (So later I'll tell you about our secret magic wine barrel--the one that grows 300-year-old olive trees and maybe lilacs and figs and ladders to heaven, too! Thank God real life keeps fueling these anecdotes. A writer could not make this stuff up!) 

Now for those definitions I was telling you about. You can listen to them too! Just click on the following links and hurry down to the French words beneath. Allez. Zou!

Sound File: Download MP3 or Wave file and listen to Jean-Marc read all the French text, below (the first is by Wikipédia):

Dans la langue française, zou est une interjection, sûrement d'origine occitane, qui invite à un changement brusque et soudain dans l'attitude. In the French language, "zou" is an interjection, probably of Occitane origine, that invites a swift and sudden change in attitude:

  • Allez zou ! On s'en va. (Come on. Let's go.)
  • Allez zou ! J'achète ce pull-over. (Oh! I'm going to buy this sweater.)

And here's a wonderful definition from Zoucom.com

  • Zou!–petit mot d'origine provençale qui appelle à l'action. Il signifie tout simplement « Allez! ». Zou!—a little word of Provençale origin and a call to action. It means, simply, "Go!" 
  • Zou! est le terme rassembleur par excellence; il est le point de départ des petites comme des grandes aventures. Il précède le premier pas de toute initiative. Il indique la volonté de laisser toute la place à l'action et aux résultats. Zou! in the most excellent rallying term; it is the starting point for both little and big adventures. It preceeds the first step in any initiative. It indicates the will to leave everything to the action and to the results. 

Did you enjoy this last definition and find it as cheering as I did? Did you read it a second time, too? May it be just the invitation to begin  your weekend. Allez, zou! Have a good one!

Comments
To respond to this post, or to add to it, click here.

 

Two places to stay in the South of France:

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in this beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. 

New rental in Provence! La Baume des Pelerins, in Sablet--spacious, comfortable the perfect place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

1-DSC_0394
Remember those "sawtooth sunflowers" I told you about, earlier? They, and we, lived here once upon a time--along with these beautiful plants you see in the photo (all gifts from Malou and Doreen, "the Dirt Divas").

When Caroline and Thomas bought our vineyard, Caroline thoughtfully dug up and sent back some of the plants--the first, "eurphorbia" (I'd heard it was an alternative treatment for that skin cancer, but Caroline urged me NOT to experiment. I listened to her... but wanted the plant, anyway). Caroline also collected seeds from my favorite sawtooth sunflowers (previously dug up at Malou or Doreen's and transplanted in front of our grape vines). But I've somehow misplaced the seeds! (They've got to be here, in a pocket... somewhere. Hence, my recent online order!

The good news is--and the reason for this long-winded introduction--you can soon meet Carolyn and Thomas at their upcoming winetasting (near Nice). I'll be there too and if you ask me, I'll even pass you a few of the sawtooth seeds I've been going on about! I'll put them in my pocket (on second thought maybe that's a bad place, after all?)

Very excited to have received this invitation from Julie and Dan, who are happy to extend it to you, too! Julie and Dan write:

You are cordially invited to a wine tasting on Saturday, 01 February 2014. Domaine Rouge Bleu (www.rouge-bleu.com) is a Côtes-du-Rhône winery, ideally situated between the revered appellations of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines of Domaine Rouge Bleu–Dentelle, Mistral, and Lunatique – have  garnered accolades from numerous concours events and wine publications, including Wine Spectator, RVF and Guide Hachette.

The proprietors, Caroline Jones and Thomas Bertrand, will lead a tasting of select Rouge Bleu cuvées and vintages and share their philosophy of terroir and their passion for the principles of bio-dynamic farming and natural vinification. Please join Caroline and Thomas at: Le Tire Bouchon 198 Chemin des Comtes de Provence 06650 Le Rouret 06 95 08 74 70 

*    *    *

Hope to see you there! I won't forget those seeds--and maybe I'll have some others...

  2-DSC_0049
Collecting cosmos seeds at Domaine Rouge-Bleu. About to stick them in my pocket. And then forget all about them.

1-DSC_0053
Enjoy this bouquet and have a bright and wonderful weekend. 

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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  ♥ Send $25    
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


aphte

Scarecrow (c) Kristin Espinasse
Only scarecrows are immune to canker sores. The rest of us are sitting ducks! (photo taken in the Queyras Valley, in the French Hautes-Alpes)

If you are new to this word journal, I hope not to scare you away with an ugly first word. (You could always skip to the story column and learn sores--I mean scores--of flowery vocabulary...)

I've been nursing a burning and painful aphte for a few days now. Is it all those oranges I've been eating? Or a food allergy or hidden stress? Or maybe an acidic mouth? Jean-Marc tells me to sprinkle baking soda on it and there he goes again, citing yet another "remède de grand-mère". His grandma must have been a wizard... or une sorcière...

un aphte (pronounced "unnaft")

    : a canker sore, a mouth ulcer or lesion

Terms and phrases found in an internet search:

soigner un aphte = take care of a canker sore
soulager un aphte = to find relief from a canker sore
traiter les aphtes récividants = to treat recurring canker sores
guérir des aphtes = to heal canker sores
un aphte sous la langue = a canker sore beneath / under the tongue

Un aphte est une ulcération douloureuse... A canker sore is a painful ulcer. --French Wikipedia
Le mot aphte vient du mot grec "aptein" qui signifie brûlure. The word aphte comes from the Greek word aptein which means "burn". --capitaldents.com


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

Lackadaisy is not a flower

I woke up Sunday morning in an empty bed. Jean-Marc had left in the night to make it to the Nice airport by 5 a.m. and so begin his USA wine tour.

Beyond the bedroom window the skies were gray and the forest was capped in black clouds. On closer look there was a steady stream of rain, just as my husband had predicted. The cold, wet weather led to a guilty inclination to linger in bed. But if Jean-Marc were here, I thought, he wouldn't be indulging in la grasse matinée or so called "fat morning"—no! he'd be kicking around in the utilities room or the cellar or in his maritime shipping container which doubles as our extra-storage room (I think it is his French equivalent of The Sunday Garage, where husbands tinker and putter on weekends).

Wherever, he'd be getting stuff done! And so would I... with him by my side. But without him would I turn into a couch potato? I found myself seriously considering this fate on Sunday morning while languishing in a half-empty bed. I reached for my IPad, thinking to share my potato-metamorphosis on Facebook... but then—quelle horreur!—if I went over to FB I might lie in bed all morning until I began to sprout little green shoots!

I sprang out of bed and ended up in the covered carport, that mythic hangout of weekend industrialists. Looking around at the piles of wood and the piles of stuff that needed a home, I heard myself nagging my invisible family, "Ceci ce n'est pas un débarras! This is not a junk room!" How many times had I said it in the months since moving to our new old home? 

I noticed an old shop table belonging to Jean-Marc's grandfather.... I could use it to set out rows of plastic garden pots and begin filling them with compost and vegetable seeds—lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peas!

Only, returning inside to get the seed packets, another inspiration hit when I remembered Mom's suggestion that I not hoard flower seeds. "Use them!" She recently urged me. Mom is right: why not gather all the soon-to-expire seeds and toss them around the perimeter of the house? A rainy day was a perfect day to sow wildflowers!

There began an exhilarating back-n-forth sprint beneath the gentle rain. As my rubber-soled slippers collected mud and my pajamas grew soaked, I perfected a system whereby I would fill a pouch (whatever could be found in my flower seed box—an envelope, a coffee filter, the rest of a seed packet) with a mix of semences... next, I dashed through the kitchen, out the carport and beneath the wet sky, scattering seeds all the way!

I haven't a clue what many of the flowers were called or what they looked like (some seeds were taken from mixed wildflower packets) but I had fun imagining which ones I was haphazardly tossing....

And so I scattered "pennycress" and "love in a mist" (I guessed) along the path beneath the front porch...

Then up the stone stairs leading to the back yard, I tossed the orange Mexican poppies (in honor of the lovely stranger on crutches) and purple "Granny's bonnet".

I lined the pétanque court with "starflowers" and "physalis" (aka amour en cage) careful that not one seed should hit the special yard (real French men do not like "love in a cage" encroaching on their playing field).

I scattered Cosmos and Bachelor's Button in the dog yard... until it occurred to me that all the tall flowers might attract ticks. Zut, trop tard...

I knelt beside the sweet stone cabanon and covered the floor before it with "pinkfairies" and "roses of heaven", as well as baby's breath and pieds d'alouette, or larkspur. I tucked in several mammoth sunflowers that would tower over the little hut, come late summer. I also planted some artichoke seeds for the vibrant purple contrast beneath the sunny yellow flowers.

As I rested on the ground I could smell the freshly turned earth which woke up all of my hibernating senses. I felt my heart beating and my skin was tingling from the fresh air and the rain. I thought about my bed, the place I secretly wanted to spend my morning. How dead it seemed compared to this!

I don't ever want to be a lazybones, I admitted to the little flowers, still in seed form scattered all around me. And I'm not sure if it was the "baby's breath" or the "love in a mist" or which flowers whispered back first, but I took the hint: Keep coming back... they suggested, one after the other. With water! 

I smiled down on the cheering chorus of seeds. Yes, that ought to keep these lazybones out of bed! That plus I can't wait to see what the little cheerleaders will grow up to be, whether Poppies or Soapworts or Busy Lizzies.

***

To comment on this story, click here. Share your own stories of lackadaisy, or maybe you wanted to share a home remedy for canker sores? Click here to read the comments.

French Vocabulary

quelle horreur!
= Awful thought!
une semence = seed
la pétanque = game of petanque or boules
zut, trop tard = shoot, too late


  Camomile (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Flowerboy" Among the seeds tossed out on Sunday were camomile, the actual plants were gifts from the Dirt Divas. I had save the flower heads (unsure of where exactly the seeds were...) I tore up the flower tops and threw them round... hoping they'll turn into what you see in the photo above (our garden back in Sainte Cécile).

Jacques and Kristi weaving lavender
Brother-in-law Jacques and I, weaving lavender wands or les bouteilles de lavande. Have you planted lavender in your garden or in pots on your window sill? You, too, could make a lavender wand this summer! Watch Marie-Françoise make one here. Photo taken in 2008.

Italian gardening (c) Kristin Espinasse
Space-saver gardening, for when you don't have a field to scatter seeds--this is just as sweet!

Thanks for forwarding this edition to a friend. 

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


How to say crutch or crutches in French

Spaniel and cafe (c) Kristin Espinasse
""The rare Frenchman who uses the crosswalk" Computer is back and so are some long-lost photos from years ago! Youpie! Yay!


une béquille (beh-kee)

    : crutch, stand; kickstand (bike)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file

Elle marche avec des béquilles. She walks with crutches.
mettre une moto, un vélo sur sa béquille = to put a motorbike or bike on its stand.
se déplacer avec des béquilles = to get around on crutches


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

I was staring up at a flower seed display with packet after packet of possibilities when I heard a tap tap tap coming up from behind me. Turning, I saw a woman on crutches who was now looking up at the same rack of flower packets.

"Bonjour," I smiled, quickly turning back around in discretion. A moment passed before I thought to scoot over so that the newcomer could see the entire display.

"Ne bougez pas. Vous ne me gênez pas du tout," she assured me. Her hair, gathered up in a large twist, was the color of Mexican poppies ...or maybe honey-colored nasturtiums? ...the ones I was debating  whether or not to buy. I liked the idea they were edible plus pretty to look at. I had recently bought a pack of blue starflowers, or bourrache, for that very reason. Come to think of it I had recently bought quite a few packets of flowers, so maybe I'd better head off now, and meet-up with Jean-Marc, who was two aisles over, in the "automatic watering systems" section of the store.

But before leaving I felt the urge to say something to the middle-aged lady with the béquilles. During the handful of minutes that we had stood staring up at the flower seed présentoir, I sensed her endearing presence. We had only exchanged a brief greeting and that is when I saw what my dear aunt Charmly would refer to as stardust. It's that heavenly sweetness that emanates from a kindred spirit.

"Wouldn't it be lovely to have them all!" I said to the stranger, betting on the possibility that she, too, was overwhelmed by what the French call l'embarass de choix. There were so many flowers to choose from. I went to put back the seed packet I had been holding when the lady with crutches responded to me.

"Which one is that?" she asked.

"Oh... cosmos," I offered.

"Cosmos?" She had never heard of the flower before.

"Ah," I said, smiling. "They grow this high..." I motioned with my hands," and are covered with fuchsia flowers. (I was thinking of the cosmos that my mom had so loved, back at our farm in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. The thought of Mom fawning over those flowers threw me back in time.)

Perhaps emotion had cast a fragile shadow over me, for next the stranger offered an affectionate compliment.

"Hold on," the woman said, as I  returned the seeds to the display. "I will plant them and they will remind me of you."

It was such an intimate and generous thought that it caught me completely off-guard. I thanked the woman with the Mexican poppy-colored hair and quickly hurried off.

It was a strange reaction and, even as I was walking away, I wanted to turn back... to say something back to her just as nice! But what?

Two rows over, in the watering section of the store, I stood there debating. I should go back and get the seeds that she had been looking at (morning glories, I think they were...) and tell her I'll plant them and think of her, too! But as the seconds turned to minutes I convinced myself that the window of opportunity had passed. At this point it would be too awkward to return.

Hélas this touching encounter will be filed under Missed Opportunities. Meantime somewhere in France dozens of cosmos will bloom this summer. I see the woman with the Mexican poppy color hair hobbling up to admire them. She's finished with her crutches by now, and a part of her is even jogging down memory lane.

***
Post note: Recently, I discovered in my seed collection a packet of Mexican poppies (a gift from Malou a few years ago). I will scatter them and think of the golden-haired stranger. She won't have the joy of knowing my gesture (as I had knowing of her plan) but that brings me back to stardust, which must--like the emanating and far-reaching light from which it is born--illuminate kindred spirits the world over. Somehow she will know.

To comment, click here. Share your remarkable experiences with strangers or talk about another theme in today's edition. Thanks.

French Vocabulary

le présentoir = display rack

ne bougez pas vous ne me gênez pas du tout = don't move. You're not bothering me a bit

le bourrache = borage

les béquilles (f) = crutches

hélas =  alas

un embarras = a difficulty (more here)

l'embarras de (or du) choix = embarrassing variety of choice, multiple possibilites

Au présentoir des fleurs je suis resté bête devant l'embarras de choix.
At the flower display I was stumped before all the choices.

avoir l'embarras du choix = to have too many solutions

Rainbow over the vines (c) Kristin Espinasse
Months before we moved to our first vineyard, in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, we would visit it. Here is a picture of Jean-Marc beneath a rainbow... and on the verge of a colorful future in winemaking. You can also see the kids and our dog Braise.

Jean-Marc will kick off his USA Wine Tour in March!  Click here for more info and to see what other cities he'll visit. 

The Dog Wash (c) Kristin Espinasse
A blessing in disguise is what Jean-Marc calls my latest computer crash... for when my PC was repaired, we recuperated all the pictures that were lost during the first computer crash! It is fun to see the kids, in 2007. That's Braise they are washing... in an old grape bucket from Uncle Jean-Claude's vineyard

Pronounce It Perfectly in French - with exercises in sound discrimination and accurate sound creation. Order your copy here.

 

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


convive

Alsace window (c) Kristin Espinasse
A stylish window in Alsace. I love decor... even if decorating intimidates me. Read on, in today's story.


le convive (kon-veev)

    : guest

Audio File: listen to me read the sentence below (I may have made an error, by not making a liason between "convives" and "étaient"...: Download MP3 or hear the Wav file

Nos convives étaient sous le charme de la bouteille de lavande tressée par Marie-Françoise.
Our guests were charmed by the lavender bottle, woven by Marie-Françoise. 

Blossoming-cover-kdpBlossoming in Provence is the perfect gift for a traveler, Francophile, or language lover, and the stories, with their in-context French vocabulary, make learning effective and easy! Click here to buy a book, and thank you! 


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

Dégage, Marthe! (Move over, Martha!)

After a spell of I suck at almost everythingespecially decorating and cuisine—it was time to snap out of it, to quit wallowing alongside the dust bunnies and get on with the art of living!

An opportunity quickly presented itself when Jean-Marc invited colleagues over for dinner last Sunday. Rather than panic, I looked around the house and realized that, with a few thoughtful touches, our guests could be both comfortable and delighted.

After warming up the foyer—using candles and books and extra cushions before the fireplace—I turned my attention to the dinner table... comment l'embellir? Table artistry is not my strong point, but did it truly take strength to arrange a pretty table? Bien sûr que non! It only took thoughtfulness.... 

I was thinking about flowers when it dawned on me that dozens of deep purple marguerites were blooming in our driveway!

The flowers automatically brought to mind a trio of ceramic "poire" vases that were, thank goodness, unpacked after our move!

I hurried to get the little pears, snipping une poignée of purple daisies, in passing....

"Never throw out your books!" Mom always says, "they're great for decorating!" Good idea, but could you use books as a dinner centerpiece?

Pourquoi pas! I sang, running back upstairs, this time for the extra books. The excitement of decorating carried me from room to room, searching for forgotten treasures; meantime those nagging doubts began to be buried beneath all the growing enthusiasm.

Voyons voir... I would need small books... don't want to take up too much space on the dinner table... A stack of missels came to mind. But wasn't that too personal? Too revealing? Too preachy? 

Who cares! Transparency = Freedom! Hallelujah! Let it all hang out! I grabbed the prayer books before taking the stairs, two by two, hurrying back to the dining room.  

While arranging the books and the flowers I remembered the lavender wand that Jean-Marc's aunt had woven for us, as a souvenir from our vineyard in Sainte Cécile (on moving day she and her daughter Audrey came by to help. Noticing that the lavender in the driveway had not completely faded, Marie-Françoise began harvesting several of the flowers....).

The centre de table was coming together naturally, nothing like the designing conundrum I had imagined it to be... and when the guests arrived the "little centerpiece that could" suddenly came to life!

"Do you know what this is?" our French convive asked our American convive as she held up Aunt Marie-Françoise's lavender wand. And so a conversation between strangers began....

Joining in the conversation with my convives, I tell them the story of the bouteille de lavande, how it was handmade by Aunt Marie-Françoise. Pointing to the colorful ruban that held the flowers together, I shared the amusing details of this particular lavender wand.

"You know those ribbon loops that are sewn inside women's sweaters... to help when hanging the garment?" I questioned my guests, whose faces began to light up in recognition.

"Well... one day it occurred to Marie-Françoise to cut out the satiny loops from inside each of her sweaters... She tied all the colorful ribbons together, to make one long variegated strand with which to weave the lavender wand!"

Just like the smooth fiber weaving in and out of those flowers, our dinner guests, former strangers, began to connect in time to enjoy a cozy dinner.

I realized that I need not panic ever again when it comes to creating a centerpiece. Create a story instead. Better yet, put out a few favorite items... and let the story write itself. 

***

Post note: After the dinner party, that centerpiece (pictured below) continued to give off meaning: there was the winemaker's theme that revealed itself (for the little porcelain pears were a gift from a Sonoma Wine makers, Jann and Gerry); the bottle of Domaine Maubernard was a gift from one of our French guests (who made the wine), and our American guests are our friends Phyllis and Tim at French Country wines!

As for the hallelujah books, that theme hasn't yet revealed itself... such is the mystery of heavenly things! 

 To leave a comment, click here. What did you think of Marie-Françoise's creative use of the satin sweater loops? Have you thought of a second life for some item? Does decorating intimidate you? Ever had a small victory, like me? Thanks for your comments.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

comment = how to
embellir = to make attractive, to embellish
la marguerite = daisy
la poire = pear
une poignée = handful
pourquoi pas? = why not?
voyons voir... = let's see...
le missel = book of prayers
le centre de table = centerpiece
le convive = guest
la bouteille de lavande = lavender bottle (synonym for lavender wand, a hand-woven collection of lavender flowers, connected by a ribbon (see a picture of Marie-Françoise making one here)
le ruban = ribbon 

 

 

  Centerpiece

Hallelujah / lavender wand /wine centerpiece. Why not? Have another idea? Share it in the comments box! Also pictured in this photo, a second lavender wand--woven by Eileen in Charlottesville, VA. I love the French/American duo, between the French made wand and the American made wand. One more note: the little plate beneath the candle is a part of a plate set, left to us by Maggie and Michael. The plates come from a Swiss hotel that Maggie's father bought, once upon a time. Maggie and Michael left us several beautiful items when we bought their house, last fall.

Did you enjoy this post? Thanks for sharing it with a classmate or a teacher or anyone interested in French language and life!

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


panier

Pêle-Mêle in the Panier (c) Kristin Espinasse

Though you can't see it, this basket has a hole in the bottom... which reminds me of a wonderful French idiom: "un panier percé" ("a pierced basket" or a spendthrift!). The expression is très imagée (one can easily visualize money falling right through the hole of the basket, as the reckless spender practices that iffy prescription known as "retail therapy"!


le panier (pan yay)

    : basket

(from the Latin panarium, "bread basket")

Audio file :Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following "panier" expressions:
Download MP3 or Wav

mettre tous ses oeufs dans le même panier = to put all of one's eggs in the same basket

réussir/marquer un panier (basketball) to score a basket

un panier-repas = a packed lunch, lunch bucket

le dessus du panier = the pick of the bunch

un panier à salade = a prison van, or paddy wagon

 

Would anyone like to add to/comment on these panier expressions? Thank you for sharing them in the comments box.

 

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

The following meditation "Soyez Enfant" is in honor of my mom, The Ultimate Babe! 

Au fait
, or by the way, this is Jules's cherished panier (pah-nee-ay)... so well loved and so often used... that it finished with a great hole in the bottom of its "shoes"

I tried to find different uses for the wicker panier (so as not to have to store it, or, worse, throw it away) but its latest incarnation (as a laundry basket) proved a flop (too many disappearing socks!). Then, just yesterday, when trying to find "lodging" for a homeless flower pot... SHAZAM! the little panier whispered here - I - am!

I leave you with this thought for the day, from a favorite Frenchman, François Fenelon. This passage is from a chapter called "Knowledge Can Stand in the Way of Wisdom"....  

Soyez enfant

L'enfant n'a rien à lui
Il traite un diamant comme une pomme
Soyez enfant.

Rien de propre.
Oubliez-vous.
Cédez à tout.
Que les moindres choses soient plus grandes que vous.

Be A Babe

A baby owns nothing. 
It treats a diamond and an apple alike.
Be a babe.
Have nothing of your own.
Forget yourself.
Give way on all occasions.
Let the smallest person be greater than you.

Let go*English text from the book "Let Go" by François Fenelon. Order a copy here

Le Coin Commentaires
Please join us now in the community corner: comment about today's word or story or bilingual "Babe" passage -- or add your own thought bubble for the picture at the end of this post. You might take the opportunity to ask a question about France or French life. Click here to leave a message.   

 

P1000698 
Smokey says: Strange... but, for some reason, I don't feel so lopsided anymore... 

To see the flowers on the other side of this doorstep, click here.... and thanks again to Doreen for brightening up our entrance!

 

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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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


The muguet tradition in France: Lily of the Valley sold on French street corners on May 1st

le muguet (mew-geh) n.m.

 : lily of the valley

Question: So what are the French doing today, the first of May, besides la grasse matinée?

Answer: Waving snow-white porte-bonheurs through the air and wishing each other good luck!

Muguet lily of the valley lys des vallees, may 1st French tradition Along little cobblestone paths in the French hinterland, and at noisy intersections across the city, French vendeurs de muguet are taking over street curbs with buckets of lilies of the valley and shouting Le muguet du premier mai!--cashing in on today's national holiday, Labor Day (or La Fête du Travail).

On May 1st it is the custom to offer loved ones little bouquets of those sweet-scented, clochette-shaped flowers--in a gesture of friendship and in celebration of spring. It's la Fête du Muguet!


Today, commerçants are handing out the friendship flowers: the butcher (who should be off work, non?) is offering un brin de muguet to his faithful clients and some fancy boxed cakes have been seen leaving the chocolate shop with the little white flowers--les lys des vallées--tucked beneath the shiny ribbons that fasten the boxes.

"Ah, bon?" My mother-in-law replies over the phone, étonnée. "Shopkeepers here in Marseilles don't offer muguet!"

After a moment of silence, she quietly admits that no one has ever offered her a bouquet of muguet des bois.... But that doesn't stop my belle-maman from taking un petit brin to her 'little neighbor' downstairs, a custom she took up several years ago, to add cheer to the lonely foyer of another forgotten heart.

Selling lily of the valley muguet in bandol france port on may 1st fete du travail
Woman selling lily of the valley at her tiny pop-up stand on the port of Bandol

                                       
Bonne Fête du Muguet! Good luck to you in the challenges you face--bon courage wherever on this globe you may call home

The following lyrics are from the beloved French folk singer George Brassens. Check out his music 

Le premier mai c'est pas gai / The first of May is not cheerful
Je trime a dit le muguet / I slave away, said the lily of the valley
Dix fois plus que d'habitude / Ten times more than usual
Regrettable servitude / A regrettable encumbrance

Muguet, sois pas chicaneur / Muguet, don't be a quibbler
Car tu donnes du bonheur / Because you make people happy...
Brin d' muguet, tu es quelqu'un... / Little bouquet of lily, you are somebody...
.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
faire la grasse matinée = "to do the fat morning" (to sleep in); un porte-bonheur (m) = lucky charm; vendeur, vendeuse de muguet = lily of the valley seller; Le muguet du premier mai! = The First of May's Lily of the Valley (buy some now)!; lys des vallées = lily of the valley, la clochette (f) = bell; commerçant(e) (adj) = businesslike; commerçant(e) (mf) = shopkeepers; Ah, bon? = oh, really?; étonné(e) = puzzled; le muguet des bois (m) = "lily of the woods" (woodruff); la belle-maman (f) = mother-in-law; un petit brin (m) = "a little blade" (a little bouquet); coo-toom (pronunciation for 'coutume' (f) = custom

AUDIO FILE--hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'muguet':
Download muguet.wav

When you order via Amazon your purchase helps support this word journal... 

Floral Lily Of The Valley Luxury Hand Cream, order here

Lily of the Valley cup and saucer - Fine English bone china

Lily of The Valley by Yardley of London for Women Eau De Toilette Spray, order here.

6 Very Large, Fresh, Plump Lily of the Valley Bare Root Plants

children at church fountain in Bandol France on May 1st muguet fete du travail plane platane tree
People relaxing and children playing on the premier mai, or fête du travail in Bandol, 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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline