Braise and John, harvesting the grenache. Read John's letter to his grandson, Vincent, in today's story column, below.

~~~Cara Black will be at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in Paris!~~~
If you are in Paris on September 25th, don't miss this author. Cara will be reading from her latest book, "Murder on Rue Paradis". Further details at the RW Books blog (

la gamme (gam) noun, feminine
    : range; variety, gamut

And this note from Dan: "Gamme" can also be used in music for "scale". (For example: "Travaillons la gamme de Sol", "Let's practice the G scale").

Audio File:
Hear my daughter, Jackie, read this example sentence. La gamme... Le paysage provençal... ses raisins, ses tournesols, ses champignons, ses cerises... toute la gamme de couleur couleurs. Download gamme.wav. Download gamme.mp3

Would someone like to translate the sentence? Thank you for adding your interpretation to the comments box!

Journal, sketch and keep notes in Francophile style with Moleskine: check out the Paris Notebook

Terms & Expressions:

  toute la gamme = the whole range
  haut de gamme = high end, luxury (product)
  bas de gamme = lower end (of product line)

Vignettes from our Vendangeurs*...

John-writing The following is a letter from one of our voluntary harvesters, John Boruff. He wrote it to Vincent, his two-year-old grandson back in South Bend, Indiana. I hope you will enjoy it and will share it with a "little someone" that you know. John writes:

Dear Vincent,

There are many colors to see here in the Côtes du Rhone while picking grapes during the wine harvest.

The leaves on the grape vines range from pastel to deep 
vert.* Hiding among the leaves on the vines are clusters of violet* grapes waiting to be picked. With black gloved hands, using rouge* and jaune* clippers, I snip the grapes from the vine. The harvested grapes are then put into a black bucket to be carried and emptied into a red and gris* tub or a big orange trailer. The full tubs of grapes are carried to a little white truck with a yellow top. The tubs are lined up on the flat bed of the truck to be returned to the farm. If the v-shaped trailer is used, the trailer is pulled by an orange tractor with a black cab with a gray cap enclosed in glass. The v-shaped trailer has an auger in the bottom used to empty the grapes from the trailer.

Once the grapes arrive at the farm, it is time to crush the purple fruit to make the juice that goes into the white vats used to make the red, blanc,* or rosé* wine. Vincent, you would have fun checking out the chrome knobs on the front of these vats.

Tuyau The grapes from the field are pumped from the big orange wagon through a long red hose into a chrome drum which rotates within an orange frame. The wine juice drips from the rotating drum into a long orange metal pan. Another red hose is used to pump the juice into the vat to begin the wine fermentation.

Vincent, there is another process to de-stem the grapes before pressing. I will tell you about that when I return home in just a few days. By the way, the rainbow-colored wine harvest is being watched over by a golden retriever dog named "Braise".*


Comments welcome here and mille mercis to John for sharing his letter to Vincent!

In children's books & music:
  The Grapes Grow Sweet: A Child's First Family Grape Harvest
 In music: Songs in French for Children

le vendangeur
(la vendangeuse) = grape harvester; le vert (m) = green; le violet (m) = purple; le rouge (m) = red; le jaune (m) = yellow; le gris (m) = gray (grey); le blanc (m) = white; le rosé (m) = rosé wine; la braise (f) = embers

SmartFrench Audio CDs: a step by step approach for understanding French

The Roads to Santiago: The Medieval Pilgrim Routes Through France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela. According to legend, St. James the Apostle preached throughout the Iberian peninsula. His bones found their way to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela and today many pilgrims make trips to the shrine. This fully illustrated book covers all the routes to this holy place from Paris and
Spain. Providing readers with historical context for the routes, it showcases all the stunning monuments and magnificent landscapes along the way.

Words in a French Life: Lesson in Love and Language

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.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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The variety of the provencal countryside … its grapes, its sunflowers, its mushrooms, its cherries … its entire spectrum of color.


La gamme... Le paysage provençale... ses raisins, ses tournesols, ses champignons, ces cerises... toute sa gamme de couleur.


The variety...The provençale countryside...its grapes, its sunflowers, its mushrooms, its cherries...all its color variety.

Diane Stanley

I just looked at the French songs for children advertisement on your site. It looked interesting, but then after reading several reviews, I learned that there were no lyrics to go along with the music. How sad! For us non-native French speakers, we still need lyrics to be able to fully understand the music. These days I only buy French music when I am sure there are lyrics inclosed. Words are just as important to me as the music, as I like to sing along. It really takes more time to look up the words for each song on the internet, and sometimes those words still don't always match the songs completely.


What a wonderful grandfather John is! Wow! Lucky grandson too!

Merrie Dail

Re: French children's songs. While it is more challenging to research translations, there are wonderful opportunities to learn the history of each song. For example, 'Sur le pont d'Avignon' - the old bridge has a very interesting history and makes the song about so much more. The quest can be a fun time for child & parent to find pictures and back-story.

Dan Serfaty

"Gamme" can also be used in music for "scale". (For example: "Travaillons la gamme de Sol", "Let's practice the G scale").


Dear John!

What a wonderful letter! The whole process is so clearly and colourfully explained. Absolutely delightful!
It is the base for a marvellous booklet for children, isn't it?


For some reason, after reading of the harvest and all the colors, my brain brought up a quote from 'Out of Africa'... I loved it in the book, and the movie... it goes something like, "If I know of a song of Africa, does Africa know a song of me? Would the air over the Gnong hills quiver with a color I had worn? Or would the children invent a name in which my name was?" (Please read that in Meryl Streep's wonderful accent.) Anyways, just thinking about life, our fleeting time on earth, and this ageless quest of picking grapes and making wine... humans have been doing it every year now for... centuries. I wonder who picked these grapes a hundred years ago? Drinking wine is like drinking a labor of love, I need to be more conscious of that next time I have a glass, or two.

I don't know you Kristin, but I would love to help with your grape harvest sometime.


Hey Dad! What a great letter! Vincent will love it. Sounds like you are having a great time. Oh--and if you come across one of those "garde-mangers" in your off time, it would make a great Christmas present for Laurent (or me). Laurent keeps talking about how we need one. :) Lots of love from your daughter.


To Diane Stanley, a site for lyrics of French Songs:
I searched with the word Avignon, it shows 2 different songs, and you're off on an adventure!
To Kristin, I feel that "toute la gamme de couleurs" would be the correct spelling, as gamme infers more that one couleur....
A votre santé!


If you want words to a French song, just go to the Web. Marin Rappeneau is the son of a friend of a friend. She gave me his CD, but it didn't have the words written out. I just went to the Web with the name of the song et voila!


I had French in high school and loved it. Now both my daughters are taking french classes. It has rekindled my love for the language. I so much enjoy your web site and the emails. I share them with my girls. Thanks!

Ravindra Abhyankar, India

La gamme : I listened to the recorded sentence about the various shades of colours found in the 'vie provençale' (life in provence) because of the grapes, mushrooms and sunflowers.....Of course that's my interpretation of the sentence and not the exact translation..........


The whole range... The provencale countryside-- with its grapes, its sunflowers, its mushrooms, its cherries-- runs the whole gamut of colors.

Leslie Clark, Granger, IN

Great letter to your grandson, John. You have described your experience so well. Vincent is a lucky boy. I envy you on your wonderful adventure to France.


can i contribute on a piece of universally mis-used english...somebody above suggests "gamme infers more than one colour"
...she means "gamme implies more than one colour" infer is to derive meaning from somebody elses statement
...sorry...not trying to be a smart arse but we're all here to learn aren't we?

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