Read about "Josey" (from our former stomping grounds of St. Maximin) in today's story... and don't miss a photo of Smokey's Ma and Pa at the end of this edition. s'occuper (so-kew-pay) verb to keep oneself busy Italian Josephine made homemade pizza the size of a hamburger patty, only there wasn't any viande, just a bony anchovy... Read more →

Never miss a word or photo! Have French Word-A-Day delivered--free--to your inbox. Louper (loo pay) verb to miss (a class...) After his hearty lunch of poulet rôti, spicy eggplant ratatouille, and rosemary potatoes (and seconds of all three!), I suspect that my son is brimming with health and not at all as sick as he claimed to... Read more →

Rue de la Paix (Peace Street) in Les Arcs-sur-Argens. More about war and peace in today's story column. Guerre (gair) noun, feminine war, warfare At Cafe de la Tour I found a seat close to the porte-fenêtre for a nice view of the village square on market day. The serveuse cleared away the dirty ashtray and demitasses... Read more →

A little bar/restaurant in the bay of Locmaria, on the island of Groix. Conjoint (kon-zhwan) noun, masculine spouse Just off the coast of Brittany, on a small island habitée by Groisillons and teeming with French tourists on wobbly bicyclettes, there is a quaint port called Locmaria, where The Drunk Boat overlooks the bay at high tide (and... Read more →

This week we reunite with three characters from the archives, French personnages who have touched me in one way or another. I hope they will touch you, too. Note: a sound file for today's word, and more, can be found at the end of this letter. * * * Pantoufle (pahn-too-fle) noun, feminine : slipper The man... Read more →

Cruisin' through the Tuscan Vauclusian countryside yesterday... My husband still gives me driving lessons (from the passenger seat). I tell him I've been behind the wheel for 23 years. Apparently, says he, it's time to learn to shift gears. Conduire (kohn-dweer) verb to drive . In the winter of 2001, I left work at the vineyard each... Read more →


A cat in the china closet (the bowls think it absurd). Shop window in Brittany. Sosie so-see noun, masculine look alike The man approaching me said, "In Hollywood, women pay good money to learn to walk like that!" I remember being a little confused by my neighbor's greeting, as we crossed each other while out for a... Read more →


Without a modicum of foi, life can be a three-ring circus. Foi (fwa) noun, feminine faith My daughter says that books are like cigarettes, une mauvaise habitude, and would I please put the reading aside for one night? "Of course, Sweetheart," I promise, returning the book to its shelf. Is that a tremble in my arm? Sweat... Read more →

petite amie

Church in Cairanne. In today's story: a tart, a church, and a twist in this tale.... Petite Amie (peuh-teet-ah-me) noun, feminine girlfriend On Friday, the lendemain of Jean-Marc's fortieth birthday, a florist's van pulled up to our front gate. I watched as the driver handed over a lipstick-red ceramic vase with a single orchid inside. Halfway up... Read more →

Photo taken in Serre Chevalier, near Briançon Sapin (sah-pahn) noun, masculine fir tree . When Max came into the kitchen announcing, "Papa a acheté un sapin," I folded the dishtowel, set it down and took a deep breath. I knew the Christmas tree would be trunk-size—all the better to fit into the back of an economy car—and... Read more →