petite amie


Mustard field
A week or so ago in France: mustard fields. Makes you want to throw your arms open wide, and run right through les champs jaunes. Ah, freedom!

Headlines from the French press for you today, and several author and poet signings in Paris. Check out these events at the end of this letter:

                                    : : : Merci! : : :
Thank you for the "mini-bios"* that you are sending in. It is a real pleasure to get to know each other via your words and stories. From newbie fathers to newbie empty-nesters--and the rainbow of "kin" in between--we make up one flourishing Francophile family. Check us out, here and leave your own mini biographical sketch while your there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Wine Growers Fair~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If, by chance, you happen to be in London this month... please stop by and see us at the French Wine Growers Fair. More info (and free tickets!) here.

élu(e) (ay-loo) adjective
    : chosen, elected, successful

le président élu = president elect

Example sentence and sound file: Download elu.wav .Download elu.mp3 

Barack Obama élu président des Etats-Unis"
Barack Obama elected president of the United States. --Le Figaro

The forecast is looking good here on our cobble-stoned corner of France today:


...pouring rain, the kind that makes a bride-to-be nervous. The rain reminds me of our wedding day, back in 94', and the gray skies that threatened to "gâche"* it. The outlook didn't look good until one of the French guests chimed in. "Wonderful weather!" she seemed to be saying. Next, she shared this old French adage:

"Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux!"*


I woke up, this rainy morning, with news from my husband:  "Obama a gagné!" You wouldn't know it from the weather. Then again, a certain French adage would have you see things differently: who says sun is the ideal backdrop for success? Besides, I have always loved the rain. It is soulful. It is romantic, as is Paris... as is a wedding... as is a new Prez. Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux!

It is still dark out and, tip-toeing over the puddles, on my way to the get bread, I steal into the warmth and light of the boulangerie.* Behind the glass counter I see croissants... and I see doughnuts. There are brownies, too. I feel that flutter of patriotism and half-expect the baker to say "Hello!"

The next client who enters offers a customary "bonjour," eyes fixed to the paillasson* where he dries his caoutchoucs.*

"Bonjour, Monsieur," I reply. Seemingly light-years away from home, I am grateful for the cozy tradition of community. Fourteen autumns later, book-ended by gray skies, I am still in France, still trusting those French proverbs about rainy days and happy futures. And, more importantly, I am still listening to my husband (never mind the stubborn "ear muffs of impatience" that I can still pull on like blinders). Yes, I am still tuned in to my "better French half," who tells me with genuine delight:

"Félicitations, chérie. Tu as un nouveau président."

Comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome in the comments box.

la pluie
(f) = rain; gâche = (borrowed from the French, "gâcher" = to ruin, to spoil); Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux! = a raining wedding equals a happy marriage; Obama a gagné = Obama won!; la boulangerie (f) = bakery; le paillasson (m) = (door)mat; les caoutchoucs (mpl) = galoshes; Félicitations, chérie. Tu as un nouveau président = congratulations, dear. You have a new president

~~~~~~~~~~~~Homework / Extra Credit! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some headlines from this morning (French) press... would you like to translate them? Thank you for using the comments box as your scratchpad:

"Barack Obama élu président des Etats-Unis" --Le Figaro

"Victoire écrasante de Barack Obama, premier président noir des Etats-Unis" --AFP

"Elections US - Barack Obama, la renaissance du rêve américain" --France Soir

"McCain, très digne, félicite Barack Obama" --Metro France

"Le nouveau président-élu des Etats-Unis Barack Obama a reçu l'appel de son rival John McCain concédant sa défaite" --Métro Montréal


"La lame de fond démocrate a emporté des bastions républicains" --Le Monde

"La victoire de Barack Obama «n'est pas un raz-de-marée"
"La victoire d'Obama marque la réconciliation de l'Amérique avec le monde" --L'Express


French Alphabet Blocks -- complete with letters, numbers and animal pictures
In French Music: Pop à Paris - More Rock n' Roll and Mini Skirts
Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
Chansons Pour Noel: Songs for Christmas (in French)

~~~~~~~~Paris Book Signings - Meet authors!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meg rwb poster pic format  Meg, at The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in Paris, just sent me a note with some upcoming events--and you are invited!

November 14th: Anne Marsella will read from "Remedy" and present her new book "Patsy Boone". The latter is French but Remedy is in English.

Agnes Desarthe will be reading from her book Chez Moi.

November 25th:  There will be a poetry reading with Beverley Bie Brahic, Elizabeth Haukass and Jonathan Regier.

December 4th: Meg writes that she and the RWB equipe will be with Robert Camuto for the Paris launch of his new book Corkscrewed at Juveniles, a bar-resto where there will also be a wine tasting to go with the book signing.

For more info, check out the Red Wheelbarrow blog:

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


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Deb Christmas

How do you say, "Hallelujah!" in French???



"Elections US - Barack Obama, la renaissance du rêve américain" --France Soir

Barack Obama, the rebirth of the American dream

"La victoire d'Obama marque la réconciliation de l'Amérique avec le monde" --L'Express

The victory of Obama marks the reconciliation of America with the world.

those were my two favorites!


In my husband's Paris office today, the French workers were coming up to him and "congratulating" him on his new president! And all understood why he was late - we stayed up till 6:30 am to see the final results and hear both excellent speeches. I love France but will love the USA even better when we head home next summer! Go Obama!


Dear Kristen,

Just to start off by saying that I really enjoy receiving your blog! An American married to a Frenchman and living in the outskits of Paris, I always enjoy learning new French words and the ways they are used!

I thought I would mention that in todays blog the saying actually goes "Mariage plus vieux, mariage heureux." Though many people relate it to the forecast it actually is not that at all! The mistake has been made throughout the years because when it is said of course there is no audible difference between "pluvieux" and "plus vieux"!

Keep up the fabulous work!

Kind regards,


James R. Wilson

"Barack Obama élu président des Etats-Unis" --Le Figaro Barack Obama Elected President of the United States

"Victoire écrasante de Barack Obama, premier président noir des Etats-Unis" –AFP Crushing Victory by Barack Obama, First African-American President of the United States

"Elections US - Barack Obama, la renaissance du rêve américain" --France Soir US Elections—Barack Obama, the Renaissance of the American Dream

"McCain, très digne, félicite Barack Obama" --Metro France Very Dignified McCain congratulates Barack Obama

"Le nouveau président-élu des Etats-Unis Barack Obama a reçu l'appel de son rival John McCain concédant sa défaite" --Métro Montréal The New President-Elect of the United States Has Received the Call of Concession from Rival John McCain

BARACK OBAMA ÉLU À LA MAISON BLANCHE! --Radio Suisse Romande Barack Obama Elected to the White House !

"La lame de fond démocrate a emporté des bastions républicains" --Le Monde Substantive Democratic Blade Cuts Through Republican Strongholds

"La victoire de Barack Obama «n'est pas un raz-de-marée" Barack Obama’s Victory « Not a Tsunami »

"La victoire d'Obama marque la réconciliation de l'Amérique avec le monde" --L'Express Obama Victory Marks the Reconciliation of America with the World

Diane Ohanian

Thank you for the French headlines, Kristin. Yes, France Soir is correct that this is the rebirth of the American many ways.

A majority of Americans today are, to put it simply, overjoyed at this victory. We have in Barack Obama an intelligent, caring and honest man who wants the best for our country, the planet and all the peoples of the world. He is a man of peace and, hopefully, will be able to change the United States for the better in endless ways.

I have received some wonderful congratulatory messages from France today. This is a wonderful day to be an American.


"Elections US - Barack Obama, la renaissance du rêve américain" --France Soir

Despite the evil responses I'm sure I'll get for saying this, one man does not a "renaissance" make. Whether speaking of "renaissance" in terms of finances or equality, the US spent a long time getting into its current situation and expecting 1 person to fix it all in the span of 4-8 years is simply unrealistic. It's unlikely anyone could live up to such a lofty headline. I remind everyone that the historical "renaissance" covered several hundred years and references multiple "grands hommes".


What a pity, as Annie, points out, that it's actually not mariage pluvieux but plus vieux. The former sounded perfectly plausible to me, given a similar Italian one: sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata. Not to worry if it rains on your wedding day because a soaked wife is a lucky wife.

Fred Caswell

This sentimental octogenarian cried repeatedly knowing that he has now lived to experience another momentous and startling event, hearing this kind and disciplined man deliver still again an eloquent and inspiring acceptance call to all Americans -- all the world. WHATEVER HAPPENS next, I believe he, with all of us who believe in him, have given our country a huge growth spurt, opening unlimited possibilities for reaching new horizons. and moving us a bit closer to government "...of the people, by the people, for the people", keeping the goal of equal opportunity for all.

Senator McCain was magnanimous in delivering a concession speech portraying his greatness.

My home-made Barack Biden lawn sign was destroyed. My hopes and fears will be on our new president's safety for the next four, and even better, eight years.

For now, in my mind, we have been greatly blessed. Godspeed, Barack!


No question but that it is a day on which all Americans can be proud.

And, according to a French friend of mine, the always irreverent Le canard enchaîné kept to its punning tradition with the headline, "L'Amérique n'a plus peur du Noir" (which can either mean, "America is no longer afraid of the dark," or "America is no longer afraid of the Black man").


But, Stacey, France Soir is not talking about a "renaissance of America," but rather a rebirth of the American dream, and I think that is a fair observation. (I hope this does not count as an "evil response.")

Mary Catherine Pace

I enjoyed reading what your readers wrote about themselves. They all sound like such interesting people! It makes me want to have a party to meet you all! I loved watching the French news coverage of the American election. They made me very excited to be part of this historic election!

Johanna DeMay

Bonjour Kristin,

During the past month we've been enjoying unusually warm weather in New Mexico. Brilliant blue skies were the perfect backdrop for the red and gold of autumn trees.

As I walked the neighborhoods to canvass for Barrack Obama, I was grateful that our good weather continued to hold. And on Tuesday, when a promised storm failed to materialize, again I was glad that voters would not have to brave the challenge of bad weather, on top of the long lines.

Last night rewarded all our hopes and hard work. We went to sleep exhausted, well past midnight. And this morning, I woke up to the sound of a gentle rain on our roof. Our high Sonoran desert has been suffering a decade-long drought. This morning's rain seemed like an unexpected blessing, a sign of good times to come.


my favorite is the 3rd - the rebirth of the american dream :)

Bruce T. Paddock

Everything you say is true, Stacey, but as dkshane pointed out, you're refuting something the newspaper did not say.

The "American dream" is that every one of us can accomplish whatever we want to (assuming we have the ability and put forth sufficient effort). Tuesday night, 40 million Americans realized that that applies to them, too.

McCain said something it being a proud moment for African-Americans. I'm a WASP, but I turned to my wife and said, "I'm pretty damn proud myself right now."



I wouldn't have missed the historic event and speeches, so, I followed the elections and fantastic reports made by BBC1 and ITV1, until the very end. I went to bed around 6am.

1) --> "Hallelujah!" = Alléluia!

2) --> Mariage “plus vieux”, mariage heureux (Christophe Chenebault).
Easy to understand the use of "pluvieux".

This saying reminds me of a well known proverb (Russian origin)
--> “Mariage prompt, regrets longs”

and the English proverbial saying:
--> “Marry in haste, repent at leisure”. (used in the 16th century and printed for the first time in "The old Batchelor", comedy written in 1693, by W. Congreve).

3) --> Translation –
--> I agree about the “rebirth” of the American Dream (not Renaissance).

I read James's translation. Here are a few alternatives / suggestions:
--> Victoire écrasante de B. Obama = “Landslide” for ...
(remporter une victoire écrasante = to win by a landslide)
--> “A” very dignified McCain ...
--> The “newly-elected President” of the United States “received a concession call” from his rival John McCain
--> La lame de fond démocrate ... = The Democratic “groundswell” ...
--> a emporté ... = won ...
--> la victoire d'Obama = Obama's victory


Thank you Kristin for sharing with us this slice of your landscape seen from the gorgeous mustard field and through the trees.


I watched the 1300h (all Obama) telecast on TF1 yesterday and it was evident the presenter was overjoyed.


I'm not as elated as others are by the election of this relatively unknown candidate who has past associations that are troubling. We always hope things won't turn out as bad as we fear, but Obama's stated plans to disarm this country and to raise taxes in bad economic times with the market needs more cash are troubling. Only after the election, on Wednesday, then the Associated Press agree that we have elected a man who is "an enigma." People seemed to get caught up in something here...something emotional; I'm not clear about what it was. But we always hope for the best.


Dear Kristin,
I love your blog. As a self-avowed lifelong Francophile I get a vicarious thrill from your beautiful and insightful glimpses in French life.
As for the election- I thought Mccain waas very gracious in his concession speech.
We will hope for the best.

Bruce T. Paddock

I hope this isn't too inappropriate, because I know this is not a political blog. But I would like to mention to Betty that Obama has said repeatedly that he would cut the taxes of 95% of the people in the country, and he has never to my knowledge said anything about cutting military spending, limiting military purchases, or reducing the number of people in the armed forces. Given that, it seems rather inaccurate to say he "plans to disarm this country and to raise taxes."

Bruce T. Paddock

Sorry, Kristin. But thank you for your wonderful blog, and for brightening the day of this - and many other, I gather - homebound francophile.

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