Road Rage, A Flat Tire & Jamais Deux Sans Trois (Bad Things Come in Threes)

Jules passenger looking over the vineyard in St Cyr sur Mer
"Precious Cargo." Jules, at Mas des Brun vineyard in St Cyr-sur-Mer (That's Jean-Marc in the pink shirt, behind his tractor)

TODAY'S WORD: Jamais Deux Sans Trois

    : bad things come in threes

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last week may have been the most challenging since my husband left for New Zealand. On Sunday, owing to an old and faulty serrure on our front door, I found myself locked out of the house upon returning from church. I hurried around the corner to Mom’s, put all the groceries I’d just bought into her frigo, and ran back to carefully work the key lest it break inside the lock. Forty-five minutes later, the sluggish lock relented. Quel miracle! Another answered prayer, along with the relief of stepping into a cool house! Despite the initial victory, the week was full of trials, each day punctuated by some disaster or another, whether that was Ricci busting a stitch (she nibbled the area) following her operation or the bathroom sink leaking again. And can you believe it all ended with un pneu crevé?

I was lying in bed at week’s end, agonizing about the car when my daughter came into the room. It was 11 at night and she’d just finished a long shift at a bar in Cassis. “Don’t worry about the flat tire, Mom. I'll take care of it.” The next day Ms. Fix-It bought one of those aerosol tire inflators–le dépanne-crevaison for 15 bucks (everyone should have one in their bagnole!), filled the tire with air, and drove to a nearby garage to have both back tires changed. Next, she phoned Max’s girlfriend, Ana, to ask her to drive Grandma and me to the next appointment in Gardanne. (Having unknowingly pierced the tire on the way home from Thursday’s rendez-vous, Jules and I were lucky the tire didn’t burst, sending us skidding across the autoroute!) 

Autoroute south of france
Who wouldn't be skittish when 18 lanes merge after this toll?! Better hurry over to the right, exit Toulon!

"Mom, you are out of practice. Let Ana drive you this time!” As bad as the week was, it was a lesson in asking for help, something that is hard for so many of us. Why is that so? 

Meantime, there was at least one funny moment (and a few misunderstandings) among all the little fiascos last week. The first malentendu happened when Mom showed up at the house, ready for our ride to the clinic. After Mom had carefully washed from head to toe with iodine for her clinic visit, I was surprised to see her wearing the mink hat she had found at the charity shop a few years ago.

“Mom, you’ll need to take off that hat,” I said, remembering that only sterile clothes could be worn after the special antiseptic shower.
“Well, I didn’t know my hat was controversial!” came Mom’s response.

“Oh, Mom!” I sighed, growing increasingly agitated.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that I understood Mom’s words. It was a simple misunderstanding between us (she thought I was judging her fur hat, while my only concern was the iodine bath!). I wish, instead of getting mad, I had simply asked Mom, “What do you mean by that?”

Onto misunderstanding number two and three…

Back in Marseille, arriving for Mom’s eye appointment, I was slowing down in time to look for a parking spot when the guy behind me began blaring his horn. It's been a while since I've experienced la fureur routière, or road rage, given I don't drive often. I cannot share with you here the string of four-letter words he hurled at me, this after an already nerve-racking drive to Marseille. Finally, I pulled aside, letting Monsieur Gros Mot pass. That is when I noticed another patient returning to his car. Quelle chance!

Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez?” I asked the man who was paused at the wall beside his car, his back toward me. He didn’t seem to hear me so I got out of my vehicle and began to approach when I recognized his curbed posture. Oh! Le monsieur fait pipi… 

Discreetly as possible I returned to the car and, for his dignity and my own, peeled off out of sight to the lower parking lot where, lo and behold, I ran into Monsieur Gros Mot again. I studied my pire ennemi: a thin man wearing a cap. He had found a parking spot and was now darting into the clinic, late, late for a very important date! I made a mental note to have a word with him in the salle d’attente. It might be a very awkward moment but after chauffeuring my precious cargo to her doctor's appointment, only to be raged at, my adrenaline was just ripe enough to give Gros Mot a piece of my mind.

Meantime, Mom pointed out a parking spot under the shade of a mulberry tree, and with great relief our 45-minute trajet ended. We made it to Jules' appointment on time.

The doctor, wearing a surgical cap and glasses, seemed pressed, nevertheless, he was thorough. He hesitated before leading us past a full waiting room, to an office where he had another machine. There he took the time to examine Mom’s eyes until he concluded, “I cannot give your mom the eye injection today. She has inflammation in both eyes. C'est l'uvéite.” 

The eye doctor dictated a note to a colleague before giving me the address of a specialist in Gardanne. All I could think at that moment was, how am I going to drive there, given the morning’s stressful voyage? (Thankfully Jackie and Ana would solve this problem for me later that day.)

On the way home, hesitating at a fork in the road before the freeway entrance I hit a curb and the car lurched. Ouf! That was close! I made it onto the freeway and even passed a few semi-trucks. It wasn’t until later that evening that I saw the flat tire and realized our good fortune after Mom and I didn’t have our tire blow up!

There was a lot to be thankful for including the experienced eye doctor who had taken his time with Mom. 60-something with a wiry build and longish salt and pepper hair, it suddenly dawned on me: the doctor looked just like Monsieur Gros Mot back at the parking lot….

No! He couldn’t be! I thought, of the potential ironic twist in our morning adventure. Then again both men were pressed and in a hurry... Could it be that Gros Mot was the eye doctor who was late for the afternoon shift? The thought of a villain-turned-virtuous amused me to no end. Well, speaking of endings, Tout est bien qui finit bien! All’s well that ends well. We had a caring doctor (no matter who he might have been before he walked into that office). It all goes to show it is never too late to put your best foot forward, de faire de son mieux :-) 

Update: Ana drove us to the appointment at the specialist’s in Gardanne, where Mom received some bad news. It is a severe case of bilateral uveitis and she’ll need to go the the hospital in Marseilles for more tests and possibly some antibiotics to treat an infection. Please keep Jules in your thoughts and prayers. And thanks to our angel driver Ana, who offered to drive us to Marseilles for an afternoon of testing, this Tuesday, for Mom.

To leave a comment or a helpful correction, click here.



Click here to listen to the French pronunciation

jamais deux sans trois = bad things come in threes
la serrure = lock
le frigo = fridge
quel miracle! = what a miracle!
le pneu crevé = flat tire
le dépanne crevaison = aerosol tire repair and inflator
la bagnole = car (in informal French)
l'autoroute (f) = freeway
le rendez-vous = appointment
le malentendu = misunderstanding
la fureur routière = road rage
quelle chance!
= what luck!
Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez? = Excuse me, Sir. Are you leaving?
faire pipi = to go pee
Monsieur Gros Mot = Mr. FoulMouth
le pire ennemi = worst enemy
la salle d'attente = waiting room 
le trajet = trip, journey
l'uvéite = uveitis, inflammation of the uvea
ouf! = whew!
Tout est bien qui finit bien! = All’s well that ends well
faire de son mieux = to put your best foot forward 


Mille mercis to the following readers for sending in a blog donation this past week. This is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Lori R.
Erin K.
Donna B.
C-Marie P.
Patricia N.

I love your work! --Lori

Thank you for the fun adventures, Kristi!! And good health to Ricci and blessings to Jacqui!! --C-Marie

Ana and Max
My son Max and his girlfriend, Ana. Picture taken in a Photomaton, or photo booth. Did you catch a typo in this post? Thanks for letting me know in the comments.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

A Phantom Pregnancy, A Hysterectomy & A New Job + French word for Stubborn

Smiley faces wooden shutters La Ciotat France
Spotted in La Ciotat centre ville: Notice the little slippers, les chaussons, dangling from the highest window. Below, can you see the smiley faces on these pink pots? Smiles here at home, as well, now that our dog is feeling better after undergoing surgery one week ago. Also, read to the end to find out who got a new job!

TODAY’S WORD: BUTÉ (bew-tay)

  : stubborn

Other French words for stubborn include têtu, obstiné, and entêté

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It all started with an unusual stream of yippy yelps, followed by moaning, crying, and whining. Next, came the overly amorous advances toward our couch pillows, les coussins, and the realization our chienne was acting very odd lately.

It must be the breed, I shrugged. American shepherds are highly vocal, intelligent, and need a lot of attention and care, in addition to loads of activité physique. Perhaps Ricci wasn’t getting enough exercise, now that Jean-Marc was away in New Zealand? My morning beach strolls and evening circles around the block were not enough to work out all that pent-up energy in our 3-year-old toutou.

But when the local male dogs began making a demi-tour along the boardwalk, bee-lining down to Ricci at the beach (their owners shouting “Reviens!”) we began to suspect our dog was in heat again.

Jackie figured it out first: “Elle est en chaleur!

“But it’s only been two months since her last cycle,” I said, unbelieving. 

“Better take her to the doctor,” Jackie urged.

 A trip to the véto produced more than a few surprises. The first was an encounter with a reader of this journal, who revealed herself with a soft-spoken Bonjour, Kristi.  I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard my name spoken by a stranger! Stéphanie was on her way out with her cat when, on our way in, we held open the door in time to make the connection. During a few aller-retours (there were a total of 3 cats to transfer to her car) we learned we were near neighbors! 

"A bientôt pour un café!" Waving goodbye to our new friend, Jackie and I continued to the front desk, where we were led into the examination room with Ricci—in time for surprise number two and three…

Not only was our dog in heat, she was in the middle of une grossesse nerveuse—a phantom pregnancyas evidenced by the lait maternel she was producing, and also by the échographie. The ultrasound also revealed water in her uterus. The vet explained that not only was this not safe, but it could affect fertility which made me wonder if this is why our dog—a former chienne reproductrice—was retired from breeding and put up for sale?

We made an appointment for an Ovario-hystérectomie (for a week later, the time for the "Finilac" medication to suppress or  end the lactation) and then waited nervously until Ricci came out of surgery.                                            

The past week, post-op, has been a challenge given our dog is one stubborn patient, refusing to drink enough or to "do her business" (faire ses besoins) as usual. But then this isn't business as usual, after an invasive procedure, and who wouldn't be bull-headed when struggling with a large plastic cone? While we call it an “Elizabethan collar,” the French have their own shameful synonyms for the plastic contraption designed to keep dogs and cats from licking their surgical wounds:

1) la collerette de la honte (cone of shame)
2) l'abat-jour (lampshade)

While those are amusing terms, our cone-headed convalescent is not smiling. Elle boude. She’s also refusing to come when I call her, obliging me to pick her up and haul her up and down the stairs. And, once in bed with me, she runs circles around the mattress like a bull in a china shop, her roughhousing punctuated by an abrupt KICK! as she settles beside me, finally, only to groan.

"She’s such a drama queen!" Jackie laughs, seeing through the act. Because the moment we remove the cone Ricci’s hummingbird energy instantly returns. But put the cone back on again and she reverts to a slug….

She is stubborn! In fact, I think she wins The Most Stubborn among all our feisty family members. Just to be sure, I check with Jackie…
"Who is the most stubborn? Grandma Jules or Ricci?"


"Really?" I’m surprised.

"Ok, who’s next after Grandma and Ricci?


"Me?” (And here I thought I was a pushover!) "Oh well, stubborn people rock!"

"True!" Jackie laughed. Well, that makes Grandma Jules a rock star…and little Ricci a Rockette. As for the other stubborn members in our family, I'd say Max, Jackie, and Jean-Marc tie for 4th place!

Off now to cater to our doggie drama queen. One more week of the cone, er—la collerette de la honte—and Ricci can hold her silky head high again. I think I will be as relieved as my dog when that annoying, clumsy piece of plastic is finally removed. Bon débarras!

My daughter, Jackie, and Boo-Boo (one of the million terms of endearment for our dog. How many do you have for your animal de compagnie?) 

And now for some good news: Jackie has a summer job bartending in Cassis before she enters business school in the fall (à be continued...).

To leave a comment or to alert me to a typo or mistake, click here. The comments box will ask you to note a "website url" but this is unnecessary (in case you were wondering). 


Sound file: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French terms below

La Ciotat = La Ciotat
le centre ville
= town center
le chausson = slipper
= stubborn
le coussin
= pillow
la chienne = female dog
l’activité physique = physical activity 
le toutou = dog (in slang)
le demi-tour = U-turn
Reviens! = Come back!
Elle est en chaleur = she’s in heat
le véto (Veterinaire) = veterinarian
à bientôt pour un café = see you soon for a coffee
une grossesse nerveuse = a phantom pregnancy 
l’échographie = ultrasound, sonogram
le lait maternel = breast milk
une chienne reproductrice = breeder
réformé(e) = retired
l’hystérectomie = hysterectomy
faire ses besoins = do your business 
la collerette de la honte = cone of shame
(m) = lampshade
elle boude = she's pouting
bon débarras! = good riddance!
un animal de compagnie = pet

Sincere thanks for your blog donations—every bit helps to keep the wheels of this website & its newsletter turning. As a reader in France wrote recently, after sending in a check:
"It is a very small support but as we say in French "les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières." Small streams become great rivers. --Odile

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Micheline J.

Ricci dog with blow up surgical cone
I bought this blow-up cone online but it did not work for our long-nosed dog! So it is back to the plastic collerette de la honte.

La Route des Souvenirs/Memory Lane: Picture of Mom with some delightful locals taken after Jules moved to La Ciotat from Mexico in 2018. Wish Mom luck as she returns to the clinic today for another injection. (And wish Ricci luck as she'll be on her own with her big cone while I drive Mom to Marseille.)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Bougeotte = Wanderlust, the need to move about + A New Attraction The Paris Airport

Charles de Gaulle airport paris photo by Dmitry Avdeev
Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Photo: Dmitry Avdeev


    : wanderlust, travel bug
    : restless, ants in your pants, move about

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

Special thanks to those who have signed up for one of Jean-Marc’s Provence Wine Tours. For anyone interested, there are a few places left so don’t delay.  And now, if you are new to this journal, here’s a brief intro to my husband of 30 years, “Chief Grape.” 

After graduating with a degree in accounting, Jean-Marc made a career U-Turn to pursue a growing passion for winemaking. We left Marseille in 1995, after the birth of our son, for St. Maximin, where Jean-Marc became sales director for Château Ferry Lacombe. Next, a headhunter wooed him over to the prestigious Château Sainte Rosaline in Les Arcs-sur-Argens (where, incidentally, this blog began). From there our future vigneron did a brief stint at GAI (an Italian bottling machine manufacturer) before buying his first vineyard in Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes where he made his first award-winning wines, including Lunatique. Five years later he acquired his dream vineyard near Bandol. (If you read our memoir you know how this ended.). Pulling himself back up by his rubber bootstraps, Jean-Marc stepped out of that bucket of grapes and into his first boutique, creating a successful wine shop here in La Ciotat only to develop la bougeotte, itchy feet or wanderlust, once again! When Jean-Marc suddenly sold Le Vin Sobre in 2023, he left many of us wondering just what would Chief Grape think up next? 

A little over a year later and he can finally spill the grapes….

Introducing “Bougeotte": Disco, Wine & Spirits Bar.
Combining three of his loves: travel, spirits, and dance, our intrepid traveler’s comeback is sure to make a splash at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where it is set to take off this fall. Catering to wine lovers and those who are looking for something physical to do during a 2, 4, 8 or more hour layover, the disco bar will be known for its pre-departure dance-a-thons.

Needless to say, we are all doing a happy dance, given a very real risk of losing our Chief to New Zealand (where several headhunters have already tried wooing the French winemaker over to their wine cellars once his contract at Whitehaven Winery is finished at the end of the month). 

Working together as a family, this new boogie business fits neatly with the skills of each family member: our son Max (also in the wine business), graduate of Montpellier Business School, is securing the airport rental space and the alcohol license. Our daughter Jackie (former bartender), recent graduate in web design, is in charge of the bespoke drinks menu & the website, and Grandma Jules, after a recent slumber, is ready to put her people skills to use at the hostess stand. I offered to handle the coat/baggage check, where I can sit at a desk with my laptop and write (think of all the colorful characters I’ll have for inspiration…). Ricci our American Shepherd, will be our in-house emotional support dog for weary travelers and Max’s girlfriend Ana, a kinésithérapeute, or physiotherapist, will advise on dance moves to combat the effects of long-haul travel. Finally, my sister-in-law, Cécile, a movie set builder, with skills in masonry and ironwork, will design the wooden dance floor and the main attraction: a fantastic wrought iron cage suspended in the air by a giant chain. We call it our safe haven for that customer wishing to consume more than a few drinks. Once their alcohol level returns to “well-behaved passenger” level (to be verified by a lazer wand, pictured below) a door on the cage will spring open and our tipsy-no-more traveler will make it to their gate on time!  

My best friend Susan, CEO of Critics Choice Vacations, is flying in on Saturday to help set up a CCV antenna booth, where we will be able to rebook passengers who, reeling from so many dancing endorphins, have decided to extend their Paris layover in time to join us for our Dimanche Dance-a-thon (Kristi’s favorite as it is gospel music only on Sundays. Oh Happy Day!). 

That reminds me, I am also in charge of communications and my first job is to program ChatGTP to write a press release. (See below.) Oh, and for those of you who have already reserved a Provence Vineyard Visit with Jean-Marc this summer, be assured Chief Grape (soon-to-be "Chief Disco") will honor every appointment through September 23rd when Bougeotte Disco, Wine & Spirits Bar opens. Better bring your dancing shoes because he’s so excited about his new Paris project he’s liable to danser le Mia*.

*video at the end of this post

Le_Café_de_la_Danse photo by Blisten
Bougeotte Underground Disco. If you look closely, the glass wall in the back looks onto the underground Paris catacombs which extend all the way out to Charles de Gaulle. Who knew they were that far-reaching!

Cage in paris
Le Cage. That wand you see will be used to measure alcohol level via the palm. photo: Antoine Tavneaux. I leave you with our press release:


**Introducing Bougeotte: Paris's Newest Airport Disco Set to Open at Charles de Gaulle Airport**

Paris, France - April 1st, 2024 - Travelers passing through Charles de Gaulle Airport will soon have a groovy new destination to unwind and dance away their travel fatigue. Bougeotte, an innovative airport disco conceptualized by renowned entrepreneur/winemaker Jean-Marc Espinasse, is set to open its doors on September 23rd, 2024.

Derived from the French term for a person who loves to move around or travel, Bougeotte promises to be a haven for jet-setters seeking a unique and energizing experience at the airport. Strategically located just after customs, the disco will offer travelers a refreshing escape before embarking on their onward journey.

One of Bougeotte's standout features (apart from “Le Cage”) will be its signature drinks menu, by Jackie Espinasse, curated to combat the effects of jet lag. Patrons can indulge in anti-inflammatory concoctions such as the "Melatonin Margarita" and the "Pistachio Pina Colada," specially crafted to rejuvenate weary travelers and set the mood for an unforgettable night (or day) of dancing.

In addition to its eclectic beverage selection, Bougeotte will feature a large-screen TV displaying dance moves tailored to alleviate the discomfort of long-haul flights, including the notorious "jambes lourdes" (heavy legs). Guests can follow along and shake off the weariness of travel, embracing the rhythm and energy of the disco.

Jean-Marc Espinasse, the visionary behind Bougeotte, expressed his excitement about the project, stating, "Bougeotte is more than just a disco; it's a sanctuary for travelers to unwind, connect, and immerse themselves in the joy of movement. We're thrilled to bring this innovative concept to Charles de Gaulle Airport and provide travelers with a memorable experience that transcends the ordinary—while sparing them from the usual airport money grabs, i.e. all those duty-free shops."

Bougeotte invites international travelers with an upcoming layover in Paris to join in the celebration of movement, music, and Mourvèdre. Mark your calendars for September 23rd, 2024, and prepare to experience the magic of Bougeotte at Charles de Gaulle Airport. 

For more information and updates, visit Bougeotte's website at

Media Contact: Kristin Espinasse  [[email protected]]

Did you fall for this year's April Fools story? I'd love to know here in the comments.

Nightclub photo (by Blisten): this is actually La salle du Café de la Danse à Paris
Cage photo (by Antoine Tavneaux): A Faraday cage in operation: the women inside are protected from the electric arc by the cage. Photograph taken at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris (Discovery Palace) 


Mille mercis to the following readers who sent in a donation following my "fou rire" post. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Anne U.
Kitty W.P.
Natalia R.
Maureen D.

With thanks and love from Kitty WP, Niagara Region, Canada

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety