6 Postcards from France: Les Cartes Postales

square postcards from La Ciotat France

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE: KRISTI'S POSTCARDS FROM FRANCE
Bonjour! I have created a limited series of cartes postales from photos I have taken around our seaside town of La Ciotat. These postcards are meaningful as they feature scenes close to home. One pack of postcards is $24 and contains these 6 cards:

1. Horse and Trainer in the Sea
2. Smokey and the Doves
3. The Barber Shop and The Bulldog
4. Villa on the Mediterranean
5. Sunrise and Doves
6. Lili The Cat

--The postcard size is just under 6 inches (5.9 by 5.9)
--The back is completely blank. 
--Each card weighs .30 ounces

Voilà for my special edition of 6 postcards from France. I hope you enjoy them and will consider buying a set for yourself--or for a friend!

The $24 price for 6 assorted postcards (envelopes not included) includes shipping from France. Allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.



Postcards from france boxer and barber shop
Our dining table has become a processing center. Here are stacks of 6 postcards about to go into their envelope. Next, come the French stamps--and on the back of your package another exotic timbre to seal the envelope. Lots of licking is involved: envelope, stamp, stamp, stamp!

Postcards from france boxer and barber shop
That's my daughter's thumb. Jackie was watching me assemble the sets of cards before tucking them into the envelopes and sealing them shut.

"Can you imagine if you sold 2000 of them?" Jackie mused. "You'd have to hire a bunch of lickers!"

Haha! For the moment, I have 33 sets ready to ship. This is a one-woman production. Though I may eventually hire my daughter. She has prettier handwriting and could address the envelopes! 

9771B216-D3F3-4867-B575-EDCF9B6A4FD2
Thank you for reading about my home-based postcard enterprise. Don't forget to ORDER HERE and thanks in advance!

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


A Common Mistake + favorite English word translated to French

The kasbah Agadir Morocco North Africa
The Kasbah. Agadir, formerly "Santa Cruz", is located on a seismic line. Agadir was rebuilt after the 1960 earthquake that killed 17000 people and destroyed 60 percent of this city. More about our visit to this former French colony, in today's post.

NEW: The audio section has moved and is now a dual-recording. Jean-Marc pronounces the French and you'll hear my Arizona accent for the English! To access the French/English sound-file, scroll to the vocabulary section. Reading via email? You will need to click over to the website for the full edition.

TODAY’S FRENCH WORD: se ressaisir 

    : to pull yourself together, to buck up

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I love the slightly old-fashioned expression “to buck up” and its various definitions:

To buck up is to become encouraged, reinvigorated. To pluck up courage. To improve, smarten, to raise the morale of, to cheer up… In French, to buck up could be translated to se ressaisir.

After selling his wine shop, and following his last day as a business owner and gérant, Jean-Marc wanted to travel somewhere warm and sunny for some renewal and cheer. He finally settled on Agadir, Morocco--a 3-hr direct flight from nearby Marseilles.

By Sunday morning we were walking along an exotic beach when my husband turned to look at the giant, white-tipped vagues which draw so many surfers to the area.“I wonder if la mer is warmer here?” 

“The sea?” I grin, but it’s too late, he can’t take it back. And now it’s my turn to have a little fun with Jean-Marc:

“But this is not the sea! It's the ocean.”

How my spouse loves to correct tourists who visit our own station balnéaire, who innocently confuse the sea and the ocean as I often did. But here, on vacation in North Africa, it must be the relaxed state he is in that’s caused the confusion. “Oui, l’océan!” Jean-Marc smiles. "Je sais. Je sais."

“But do you know the difference between the ocean and the sea?” Quizzes Monsieur Smartypants, only to answer his own question: "Une mer est entourée de terre…a sea is surrounded by land.”

"I know, I know." But the truth is I'm just scraping by when it comes to geography. Witness this letter I received from a reader, following my previous post: Richard writes: “A lovely story, but if you were in Agadir, the sun was setting in the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean!”

Oups! The funny part is both Jean-Marc and I missed the error when proofreading the essay.

Here on Agadir plage, on the Atlantic, the beach is so wide and deep and smooth the locals play soccer on the endless sandy field. The sun is rising when a young man with a stick draws a large rectangle over le sable. The rectangles extend down the plage for a half kilometer as a dozen or more teams enjoy early morning practice.

There are a few other women walking on the beach at this early hour. Their heads and sometimes faces are covered with scarves. Up on the hotel terraces overlooking the shoreline, bikini-clad tourists (mostly French) will soon be sunning themselves. Just when I'm feeling super foreign, I notice the soccer players are all playing ball dans leurs chaussettes! As a mom, I can suddenly relate to their moms, who are not going to be happy on laundry day. As exotic as the women here look to me, we are all dealing with the “outdoor sock issue” back home.

Back in our hotel room overlooking the pool and the sea—l’océan—I am tugging at the one-piece bathing suit I’ve ordered online. Yay, it fits…even if it doesn’t fit in with the barely-clad Frenchies. I take that back. It looks like more French women are wearing one pieces....

I’ve settled in poolside when another woman arrives. She sets her beach bag down four chairs away from mine. When she removes her paréo, I see she’s wearing the same black one-piece as me. I reconsider walking past my sosie to get to the pool stairs, where I was headed for a swim. Oh buck up! I think instead. I’m tired of hiding from everything and everybody. Vive la liberté! Freedom calls!

Only, the water in the heated pool is not as warm as the “piscine chauffé” sign would lead one to believe. It is so cold that I regret I didn't follow my husband who just dove into the sea. I mean the ocean. Oh, you know what I mean! 

I leave you with my favorite English verb, to buck up. For the rest of this year, I will be practicing it--even if I never did buck up and dive into... l'Atlantique!
***

Kristi berber horse agadir morocco
That's me being taken for a ride--in both senses. I could have ridden this sweet horse forever, this gentle cheval erased all my fears... for the brief moment we were together. (The unsolicited ride began "for free" and ended up costing a Moroccan day's salary. Thankfully, the berger and the tourist came to a settlement wherein each left with their dignity intact.

Soccer practice agadir
Remember the soccer players? Those are socks--and not shoes--on their feet. Ouch! They also kick the ball barefoot! 
Camels view from kasbah
Part of the panoramic view from the Kasbah.

BOOKS: The Conquest of Morocco
"...in the mad scramble for African colonies, Morocco had one great attraction for the Europeans: it was available. In 1903, France undertook to conquer the exotic and backward country. By the time World War I broke out the conquest was virtually complete." --from "The Conquest of Morocco"

FRENCH VOCABULARY
se ressaisir = to buck up
le/la gérant(e) = manager
la vague = wave
la station balnéaire = coastal resort, seaside resort
l’océan (m) = ocean
je sais = I know
une mer est entourée de terre = a sea is surrounded by land
oups = whoops
le sable = sand
la plage = beach
dans leurs chaussettes = in their socks
le paréo = beach cover up
le sosie = twin
vive la liberté = long live freedom
la piscine chauffée = heated pool
l’atlantique = the Atlantic

AUDIO FILE & SOME HISTORY
Following the vocabulary list, there is a pause in the recording. Then you will hear the sentence below. (I get a little tongue-tied toward the end!) Do you enjoy these husband/wife recordings? Let us know.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me pronounce the French and English


La langue française fait partie de la vie quotidienne des Marocains. C’est un héritage d’une période de colonisation durant laquelle elle avait même été proclamée langue officielle des institutions coloniales. Aujourd’hui encore, plus d’un demi-siècle après l’indépendance du pays, la langue française reste très répandue au Maroc, notamment dans les secteurs des entreprises privées et de l’éducation. (credit: LeMatin.ma)

The French language is part of the daily life of Moroccans. It is a legacy of a period of colonization during which it was even proclaimed the official language of colonial institutions. Even today, more than half a century after the country's independence, the French language remains widespread in Morocco, particularly in the private business and education sectors.

Agadir riflemen war 1913 tirailleurs maroc
The handwriting from 1913 reads "north-east side is camp of the riflemen. What else can you say about this postcard? Share your history knowledge in the comments section and add to this post. Merci!

Camel and shepherd berger kasbah agadir morocco


Moroccan pastries corne de gazelleSWEET OF THE WEEK, NO 8: North African pastries, made by our Algerian friends (thanks Sidi and Sidi's mom who made them). Here's a Makroud, a baklava (my favorite!) and a corne de gazelle. So delicious and satisfying with or without mint tea. Ants love them too so don't hide them in your nightstand.

La ciotat france mediterranean sea paddle board sunrise
January sunrise. From shore to shore. From surfers to paddle-boarders. After the ocean in Agadir, here is the sea in La Ciotat, near Cassis. Please check out the book list in the side column (or end) of this blog. New books have been added.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Bonjour from North Africa + A Gift from Strangers!

Ocean sunset jean-marc agadir morocco north africa
Twilight in Agadir, Morocco, in Northwest Africa. Jean-Marc snaps a photo of le coucher du soleil.

Do you want to continue receiving these emails? Each week my overzealous, automated listserver sweeps several subscribers into the "inactive" bin, eventually deleting them! Here are two ways to ensure you receive this journal in your inbox from here on out:

1. Regularly click on the links in my newsletter. This action identifies you as an "active" reader of French Word-A-Day. For example, you might click on the "Read The Whole Entry" link, which opens the full edition of this post
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TODAY’S WORD: le crépuscule

    : twilight, dusk, gloaming, nightfall

EXAMPLE SENTENCE & AUDIO FILE
Listen to all the French in today's story via the sound file below. Then scroll to the vocabulary section to check your language comprehension.

Le crépuscule c’est la lumière incertaine qui succède immédiatement au couché du soleil. The twilight is the blurred light that immediately follows the sunset.

French-English Audio file here

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE…by Kristi Espinasse

“Just 5 more minutes,” my husband says, as we gaze at the glowing red Moroccan sky. Jean-Marc’s bare feet are planted in the wet sand on the smooth shore of Agadir. We’ve been standing a long time before le coucher du soleil, until all that remains are ink black lines drowning out the fiery blaze beyond. The horizon resembles molten lava.

Jean-Marc is transfixed by the final curtain on this radiant show called “Nightfall.” Only 5 days ago the curtains were drawn on an episode in his own life. After a chapter called “Rouge-Bleu” and another called “Mas des Brun” (2 vignobles), Jean-Marc has reached the end of the current chapter “La Cave”. He has sold his wine shop and for once in his life he doesn’t have a plan. Looking straight ahead can be blinding.

“Don’t stare at the sun,” Jean-Marc cautioned, taking my hand as the soleil made its descent into the Atlantic. Looking away I catch another glorious scene: all the colors of the sunset are reflecting on the wet sand. C’est merveilleux!

As the sun goes down I close my eyes and carefully make a wish. My vœu is to grow closer and closer to my husband, like the colors melding together on the horizon. 

When next I open my eyes, something magical happens…

THE NEWLYWEDS (Les Jeunes Mariés) 

A few strangers approached us from behind, waving a smartphone. “We were adjusting the settings on our new camera when we got this picture of you two….” The young couple pointed enthusiastically at the phone’s screen.

Jean-marc kristi holding hands sunset morocco

Jean-Marc and I were caught off guard but were soon reassured by two smiling faces. “We just got married,” the strangers offered and the joyous sparkle in their eyes was contagious.

Vous êtes en lune de miel? You are on your honeymoon?” Jean-Marc asked, and so began a little conversation in the sunset's afterglow.

Before we said goodbye to les jeunes mariés, I typed my email address into the woman’s phone, thanking her for her offer to send copies of the photos. “It will be a nice souvenir of our trip. Merci beaucoup!” I say, gazing at the image of a peaceful couple—us—holding hands before the sunset. In an instant, our 28-year married life flashes before me. Next, I think about the newlyweds innocently beginning their own nuptial journey. Whoah! Like molten lava it will be beautiful, it will sizzle, and it will sometimes burn.

One thing that will help any marriage, new or decades-old, is the support from friends and family--even the benediction of strangers, and in this case it was reciprocal: in their photo, the young couple captured an ideal image of our union and in return we left them with a blessing.

Tous nos vœux de bonheur pour un long et heureux mariage! All our wishes of happiness for a long and happy marriage."

Back in our hotel room, I found an email from The Newlyweds, containing the peaceful photo—our best version of our married selves. Sweet and united. “Closer and closer.” Remembering the sparkle in the young couple's eyes I turned to my husband and smiled: In this next chapter we could be newlyweds….

It was just an idea—an inspiration. Because at this point we don’t have a plan for this next chapter. It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone…. Only I don’t want a husband zombie roaming around the house all day. That’s been my turf for the past 5 years while JM was away at the shop all day. I wonder…is anyone out there hiring? I’ve got a stellar candidate who is thoroughly knowledgeable in French wine and who appreciates a good sunset anywhere in the world.  

***

Jean-marc kristi sunset
24/7 or full-time housemates in this new chapter. (Only now, at the close of my story, do I understand the irony in my “closer and closer to hubby” wish :-)  Currently, I have put Jean-Marc to work making lunch as I finish typing up this post. Earlier, he washed the windows, changed a burnt-out lightbulb, and swept the front patio. I'm going to keep him busy! (Photo credit: Majdouline B.)
 
IN BOOKS: Your Name Is Renée: Ruth Kapp Hartz's Story as a Hidden Child in Nazi-Occupied France
Ruth kapp hartz your name is renee
While in Morocco I had the chance to read Ruth Kapp Hartz's story "Your Name is Renee". I have read many Holocaust accounts and this one is especially touching as it is the survival story of a friend and reader of this journal--and it takes place in France. Thank you, Ruth, and Stacy Cretzmeyer (who told Ruth's story) for this unforgettable read. Interestingly there were several mentions of Morocco as Ruth's father initially avoided deportation by joining the French Foreign Legion in Morocco. Please check out Ruth's book.)

Ruth and kristi
Ruth (center) and Monique visited us at our vineyard in 2009. 

Barry ruth jm moniqueBarry, Ruth, and Monique tasting Jean-Marc's wine at our first vineyard.

Kristi in kitchen at domaine rouge-bleu
Ruth also sent this snapshot from our kitchen at the vineyard. It's a sweet souvenir. Merci, Ruth. I hope others will read your highly recommended book.

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

le crépuscule = twilight, dusk

le coucher du soleil = sunset

le vignoble = vineyard

le soleil = sun

la cave = wine shop

la lune de miel  = honeymoon 

C’est merveilleux! = it’s magnificent

le vœu= wish

les jeunes mariés = young married couple

Tous nos vœux de bonheur pour un long et heureux mariage! All our wishes of happiness for a long and happy marriage.


Moroccan cookies patiesseries desert
Sweet of the Week, No 7: "Les Pâtisseries Marocaines." On our third night in Agadir, we ordered room service. We shared a vegetarian pizza and, for dessert, these chewy honey and nut cookies. I hid several in the nightstand and was punished for hoarding them when a bunch of ants invaded my side of the bed!

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety