livre d'or
tel quel


How much is that doggy oie in the window? Photo © Kristin Espinasse taken in or near Buisson (Vaucluse)...

Which do you find more charming in the photo above: those curvy curtainettes, those bucolic beads, the patched up window pane, or that oisive oie--or gazing goose--in the window upstairs? Or maybe it's the whimsical frieze above the door? Or simply, shutters? Share your thoughts in the comments box.

Word of the Day:

oie (wah) noun, feminine

    : goose

[from the Latin avica, from avis -- bird]

une oie sauvage = a wild goose
une oie des neiges = a snow goose
faire l'oie
= to act silly
une oie blanche
= a white goose (also "a naïve, silly girl")
le jeu de l'oie = game of snakes and ladders
le pas de l'oie = goose-step
  avancer au pas de l'oie = to goose-step along

... and this, from the comments box (remerciements to "Dkahane"):
A road intersection in the shape of an X (as opposed to a +) is known as a patte-d'oie. And once we reach a certain age, les pattes-d'oie (crow's feet) start appearing in the corners of our eyes.

Reverse dictionary (English term / French equivalent):
goose pimples / goose bumps = la chair de poule (chicken skin)
silly little goose! = petite dinde! (little turkey)
to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs = tuer la poule aux oeufs d'or

Did you know that the male goose is le jars and the young birds are les oisons. Do you know any other "oie" expressions? Would you like to talk about one that you've seen here or fill us in on a further meaning? Thanks for sharing in the comments box.

I can't remember which of our holiday dinner guests had suggested goose
(was it Alicia or Misha, who had driven up from Les Arcs-sur-Argens via London? Or was it Florence or Olivier, who'd arrived from Collioures via Brussels?). Or maybe the tipster was my do-it-yourself sister-in-law, Cécile, who'd rigged a faulty gas tank to her car's back seat in order to make it here for Christmas... the voyage took forever (driving at 80 km/hour so as not to splash too much...) and, as for a Frenchwoman's fragrance, hers was authentically essence.* Talk about splashed on!

Never mind, it doesn't matter who brought it up, goose that is--goose, not as a main course, rather goose as a force: one for hen-hungry thieves to reckon with! (Did you know some people steal chickens? My neighbor, down the way, tells me it's the gypsies. Toujours les gitans!*)

But back to the dinner table where I, under my husband's influence, was talking about why it would be futile to have chickens what with hen-hungry hounds in the environs... That's when my guest came to the rescue: offering suggestions (including "get a goose!") regarding poule* posterity--this, to my husband's chagrin....

You see, I have been pestering Jean-Marc about chickens ever since he promised them to me, just as soon as we wrapped up the 2007 grape harvest. For the record, we got plenty of fruit from that harvest--but not one friggin' feather! The 2008 harvest flew past, still no chickens.

Nowadays, there's an ongoing joke around my house and anything to do with eggs, feathers, or potential chicken coops triggers it. It goes like this:

(Me) "Oh look! An over-sized wine-barrel. Think that would make a good chicken hut?"
" Jean-Marc and the kids respond, in thick American accents. "PEWL, elle veuh lay pewel."*

Yes, I still want chickens. Only I haven't yet figured out how to build a simple PEWL EYE YAY* (part of our agreement was that I would have to come up with chicken digs, hence, every playhouse, garden shed, u-haul trailer--anything roughly chicken-hut sized gets me calculating "Would a chicken fit comfortably in there?" I ought to ask my self-sufficient sister-in-law for help, and just build one!)

But all that is beside the point. The point being the cute goose in today's photo and how she might just be the antidote to all this feather fever that I've suffered.

For, while chickens are delightful (see them strutting through the grapevines, en masse) and practical (eggs ever on hand!), they don't, as I am told, throw their wings up in a fury, honking obscenities, when trespassers approach--nor do they frighten gypsies (those known hen heisters).  But take a goose, oh a goose, a silly goose and she'll stand her ground--and stand yours while she's at it. Yes, that's what I need around here: more than a chicken, I need a championner.

*     *     *

French Vocabulary: l'essence (f) = gasoline; toujours les Gitans = It's always the gypsies; une poule (f) = hen; PEWL, elle veuh lay pewel = (Jean-Marc's imitation of American wife pronouncing the French words "Poule, elle veut les poules"; PEWL EYE YAY (pronunciation for poulailler (m) = henhouse

The Snow Goose (my dad sent me this book and I loved it!)

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Nancy LoBalbo

Oh those curtainettes certainly! You see them EVERYWHERE in the little villages. They make even the smallest little corner of town look cozy & inviting. Something so gentille and civilized about them. If I were Queen, I'd make them a requirement in every home in my country


I wanted to buy one of those rideau de bois but they were so expensive to ship,



Warren Plauche

Looks like one for the painter's muse box - lots of interesting, if chi-chi embelishments to the architecture. Beaucoup euros into that one, je pense. Look for a watercolor version after the requisite brain marinating time. Warren


I live in rural Lancaster PA-- there was a news article about a local farmer who used an old school bus as a chicken coop for his "free-range" chickens. He drove the bus to different areas of his farm so the chickens would always have fresh territory to forage. Sounds like a great idea for a vineyard-- but maybe an old haywagon would be more picturesque! Or better yet, an old citroen deux-cheveux...


When at le Carrefour mondiale de l'accordéon, Montmagny, QC Canada, the very best place to stay is L'Oisellière. The snow goose is important to the people of that region.

Kristin Espinasse

Great ideas! Wait till my mom sees your comment -- she'll be beside herself with the planning. She's wanted to get an old gipsy caravan rolled onto the property for ages (they are too expensive! But they are perfect for curtainettes :-)

Thanks for the school bus story -- inspiring. We'll get those chickens yet.

Hendon Chubb

When you say "toujours les Gitons" I think you meand " toujours les Gitans". According to my Petit Larousse "Giton" is a "jeune homme entretenu par un homosexuel". Gitons seem likely to be more interested in cocks than in hens [forgive the vulgar play on words].

Kim Renzetti

I love it all! The color of the house, and the trim, light and dark. The curtains are lovely, and the green of the plants just makes the photo pop.

Kristen, I thank you so much for your website and descriptions of your life. It has been most enjoyable to me.


C'est tout ensemble, bien sur. Et n'oublions pas les couleurs...

Linda Hampton Smith

Je l'adore!!! Ce type de sujet est si bien pour mes aquarelles. Bonne Nouvelle Année à tout le monde. Amicalement, Linda from ""

Kristin Espinasse

Hendon : Thanks for the edit!


My oldest friend (we met in kindergarten at age 4) who lives in a village outside Cambridge in the U.K. has two geese as pets, not potential food. They aren't aggressive or noisy, and they look very nice ambling about her property. They strike me as slightly brighter than hens, which are really, really stupid (I have a friend here in the U.S. who has those).

As for goose as food, blech! I had goose once years ago (when I was still eating meat and poultry) and found it far too rich and heavy.

Ellen Cassilly

Kristen, I was just reading your book last night and thinking that I had not read a word of the day for a while. I too am having the same conversation with my husband about my desire for chickens. I will be doing a bit of chicken house research and will pass it on to you.
Greetings from Durham, Ellen Cassilly (Friend of Corey Amaro and Skip Anderson)


If 'oie' is masculine, why do we see:
une oie sauvage = a wild goose
une oie des neiges = a snow goose
une oie blanche = a white goose (also "a naïve, silly girl")


C'est tout ensemble, bien sur. Et n'oublions pas les couleurs...


A goose. Perfect. And, you may get a golden egg. A goose is even more elegant than a swan.


The color of pink.

Mini Lover

I love the goose framed by the square window! I am just starting work on a miniature mas Provencal that has windows just like the one in the photo--what a whimsical touch to put a goose in one!

Jules Greer

What a great photo Kristi - looks like Warren and I think alike. As soon as I glanced at your photo my mind began a painting, of course I pulled back my lens and put you in the painting with a befuddled expression on your face as you called out for Loosie-Goosie as you tramped out to the clothline with more wine-stained t-shirts in laundry basket. I vote for the GOOSE - he'll protect the chickens when they arrive. As a matter of fact I know right where some beautiful geese live and I know the owner would happily give you one once you deliver that wonderful photo I took last year of his pond and geese. Also could you send those photo's I took, I want to paint his managerie (is that a french word?) - why don't they have spell check on this comment box?

Moving on to Elena's comment, I have begged Kristi and Jean-Marc for a Gypsy Caravan to live in down by the creek at the vineyard. I have sent them numerous photo's and also a photo of the perfect black and white Gypsy horse to pull the caravan around. If they gave me one for my 63rd birthday I could attach a trailer to the back of the caravan with unique artistic cage built out of the bamboo down by the creek. What a great way to spend these later years of my life...I'll bet I could get that rig over to the village for my afternoon apertif.

Jules Greer

I forgot to say that the chickens could live in the beautiful cage, on the trailer behind my Gypsy caravan. I could then hook up my beautiful horse and move the chickens around the vinyard as Elena suggested. Think of the paintings this life would generate - I could travel all over the neighborhood, visit all of the little villages and paint, paint, paint. Eat your heart out Warren.....




Oie is not masculine, it is feminine.

Kristin Espinasse

MK & Agnes: thanks for the edits. I must still be in vacation mode....

Kristin Espinasse

Mom : you're making me nervous. Aperitifs and horse-drawn parades through town do not mix. I know what you're up to, you in your leopard bikini. I'm on good terms with the mayor so no showing up at the soup kitchen for seconds either!


You go, girl! (How would I say that in French?) Get a goose or two. Les oies sont tres francaises.

Fred Caswell

All the comments above were posted (actually received) from 2:52pm and later -- here is a petit roman from the USA at at a bit past noon the same day.

As a very young ecolier I owned a pet rooster. "Raymond" was as cocky as his genre go, protecting his small family of hens and keeping most humans who threatened his extended family at a safe distance. Of course, Raymond and his "owner" had a special relationship which meant that persistent and passionate pleas saved my feathered friend from the dinner table, a fate not sharded by his wives when their egg-laying production slackened and depression times called for a sacrificial decapitation. This took more "pluck" than many of the family possessed but not Nanny Bouchard!

Alas, this must have had a negative effect on Raymond's disposition. One day on my return from kindergarten or first grade, he made a mortal error by attacking his benefactor as I tried to cross the invisible property line. After fighting off my belligerent "pet" with a stick, ma famille was surprised with the first words from my mouth upon entering the safety of our kitchen -- "You can kill Raymond any time now!" This was the first time my young heart was broken and the last time I literally wanted the culprit's head chopped off (figuratively, maybe, for future heart breakers but not literally).

Kristi, I so much hope you enjoyed this posting as your thrice-weekly slices of life give me great joy that I always anticipate.

Merci Bonne Annee a toi et tes famile et amis! Love & best of wishes toujours -- Fred

Andrea in Akron

The goose! Only because my former boss and dear friend keeps an unlikely window display of a plastic lighted goose in his window, visible on a busy street in Boston. I've often wondered what his neighbors think, but knowing it is keeping vigil there makes me think all is right with the world.


Love the story as well as the story of Raymond "the coq".I too have been begging for chickens,and,I found just what I want at this web site Of course I cannot have it shipped to the U.S. but with the help of a local carpenter I hope to have it built in the spring. One doesn't need more the 6 chicks if you are raising them for your on personal use. Good luck!

Diana, Pug At The Beach

I love it all! But I want to know, is the goose real?

My friend Nancy had a chicken that escaped from her fenced yard and wandered the neighborhood on a regular basis. Turns out the chicken crashed a neighbor's wedding but was a welcomed guest because she was a regular visitor! All of this was unknown to my friend until one day when the bride thanked my friend for raising such a comical chicken. And I thought Pug (At The Beach) had a personality. He's been trumped by a bird!

Merrie Dail

While in Lacoste last year visiting my daughter, I spent a day wandering it's ancient and narrow cobblestone streets (alleys?) just to photograph doorways - a fascinating history lesson. They remain some of my favorite photos. Good luck with the chicks or geese Kristin! I had longed for black pygmy goats when my children were small; after my oldest's comment, "What are you thinking - Dad will go nuts!", we settled for lop-eared rabbits. Happy New Year to one and all!

Christine Dashper

Bonjour Kristin, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. The goose of course!! She is so wistful. Perhaps all her friends are out chasing chicken theives and she is missing the action?

I suggest you simply arrive home with the chicks and une oie or deux(after having arranged living quarters of course), eventually Jean-Marc will see that 'he' had a great idea! This is how I introduced our beautiful ginger cat into our house almost 9 years ago and guess who are the best of friends? I always tell my husband it was lucky for us 'he' had the great idea to get that cat!

Have a great day


Kristin...If you can find a copy, I highly recommend The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. It was first published in the 40s. Talk about the glories of chicken raising!
Bonne Annee!


Ah..for me it is the shutters, and that wonderful color! It took some convincing, but I had my husband build them for our home..and even managed to get the color I wanted, which is a nice mellow purple. I had loved them in Albi and other places..and they are so practical for heat or cold or security. (Thieves aren't called gypsies here..but there are folks who take what is not theirs, no matter what they are called. And the words my husband calls them do not belong here!) Lovely photo, and love that goose! Cerelle


Have a look at this site:

Fred Caswell

Kristi,I have a fan! --Denise, who loved my Raymond story!!!

Maybe there is a latent ecrivan inside de moi?? Do you feel challenged? Threatened?

I can almost hear your reply --"Dream on, mon ami!" <3 et :) Moi

Jan Leishman

Bonne Annee a tous! We have an empty chicken (chook in Australia) run which my husband built. It it so deluxe we once thought we might move in there and let the chooks have our house. Sadly our chooks were all eventually taken by foxes (after Roger the rooster, their protector, fell off his perch and died) and we were too heartbroken to replace them. I wish I could send the chicken run and their little house and their perches and automatic feeder bin to you.


I love ALL the elements of the photo. What draws me in the most is the frieze above the door. It adds such charm.

I hope you get your chickens soon, I can tell you're getting quite plucky about it! (relax, that was just a yoke)


oh and....

Happy and Healthy New Year to you, Jean Marc and the kids!


A road intersection in the shape of an X (as opposed to a +) is known as a patte-d'oie. And once we reach a certain age, les pattes-d'oie (crow's feet) start appearing in the corners of our eyes.

When Jean-Marc and the kids were giving you a hard time about the pronunciation of poulailler, did you remind them of that old French dictée puzzler, "Les poules du couvent couvent"?


Geese might be a better choice if you are sensitive about your pets safety. I had chickens (which, contrary to common misperceptions are actually documented to have the intelligence of a 4-5 year old child) and discovered that they are very vulnerable to other wildlife. Here in Florida I found that dogs, hawks, bobcats, opossums and snakes are very into a quick chicken dinner. Snakes are more interested in eggs and chicks. Unless you are with them every minute that they are running around, chickens are easy targets. Their shelter must be very secure at night. For myself, it was too heart breaking to continue raising them. Geese are probably a bit safer from smaller prey. I don't know what dangers there are in the French countryside (foxes?). If you travel, you have to find someone to guard them.

There are a lot of good books available on raising chickens and other birds such as geese. You will learn a lot about the diseases, lice and other concerns associated with adding poultry to your lifestyle.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the stories (yes, Fred, I accept your challenge!) and for the helpful links and, dare I say, for the lice? (Yikes! I didn't know chicken's caught those!)

Dkahane : mille mercis for the excellent expressions! Off to add them to the post, with remerciements to you!

Diana : not sure if the goose is real. To be honest, I had not noticed her when I snapped the photo (so taken was I with the shutters, the curtainettes...the door beads). The goose showed up once I uploaded the image! Maybe she's a goose ghost?


I just like the typically French arrangement and having had an 'oie' for Christmas dinner I now know what it means in French, so one more for the vocabulary. Apologies to the 'oie' I did feel a bit guilty.


K - the textbook I use teaches the kids
"bête comme une oie" = silly as a goose (exactly like the English expression)


Ellen Cassilly

Here are some fun Chicken tractors:

Alice Halliday

Hi Famille Espinasse

Happy New Year! I too am longing to have chooks but am worried about the rats that might tag along as well to enjoy the hen food. Perhaps a goose or two would keep them at bay?


For me, it's the whole composition of the picture that's wonderful. My compliments to whomever it is that takes all these wonderful pictures, you have a great eye.
Kristin, perhaps this will solve your chicken coop dilemma. I ran across this article in the archives of the Oregonian, just this past week. It is from the Foodday section, the week of 11/26:


Chère Kristin,
I wish you and your beautiful famiy, a sparkling 2009, filled with love,
happiness, joy, good health and good wine...!
I hope to meet you all one day.
Une bonne nouvelle année...!

Pete Hyland

It seems to me that every photo of windows in France (make that Europe) shows shutters and they're always functional, not just decoration. I even like the ones that are falling apart. And frequently they're closed which would indicate that they get used. When I was growing up our house on Staten Island had shutters and they were functional, just never used. Too bad because they would have come in handy during the hurricanes. I like functionality----a use for everything and everything gets used. But hey, I could wax poetic about the curved tiles over the doorway and then take off from there. As a professional photographer, I've said it before and I'll say it again--you do have a great photographic eye. Bonne Annee.


The frieze--and the color of the wall--attracted my initial attention, but once I noticed the goose, that's what I kept going back to.

I think geese would be preferable to chickens as pets. Having been up close to chickens in my youth, I was not terribly impressed. Of course, those were "working" chickens. Maybe that makes a difference. We did have a neighborhood rooster when my son was a toddler. Not ever sure where he originated, but he would stroll through backyards, visiting, each day. Surprisinly, none of the cats or dogs ever seemed to bother him.

Another alternative, if they are available in France: button quail. They're so small I think you can raise them inside.

Best wishes to you and the family for the new year.

Rita Day

This goose is clearly Goosey Gander who wandered upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber in the English nursery rhyme. It must Monsieur Oie, I suppose? Perhaps he is looking for 'the old man, who would not say his prayers' prior to throwing him downstairs by his left leg. Alternatively. the house is so lovely he seems to have taken up residence there: I know I would if given the chance. Rita in Durham England.

Devra Long

La Famille Espinasse,
Bonne Nouvelle Annee!
Belated Bonne Anniversaire a Kristin!
When we lived on our farm in Tennessee we had a pair of Gray Toulouse geese named Lucy and Charlie; what characters they were!! Lucy had attitude and was very standoffish and Charlie was very protective and would chase everything and anything that got close to them, even our donkey Abner!! Kristin, I do hope you get your chickens; there is nothing like finding fresh eggs in the morning!
Dev in Madison, Alabama


Well, if you say PEWL they're gonna laugh, no two ways about it. Just say POOL.


I may be mistaken but I think "une patte d'oie" is an intersection shaped as a Y (which actually looks like a goose foot).

Happy new year to all and bonne année !


the goose...oh that is too funny


I love the goose at the window, watching the passers-by down below, with an air of great mystery, ... keeping an eye on what's going on... and hypnotising me (can't get my eyes off that goose, and I am even ignoring shutters and curtains ...)

L'oie... Oh! The wonderful “JEU DE L'OIE” of my childhood! We had a lovely “coffret en bois” (wooden box) with 4 games: inside -> “les petits chevaux”, “le backgammon”, and outside -> on one side, “les dames” & on the other side... “le jeu de l'oie”, with great pictures! I wonder whether the box has survived... I'll have to find out. Our favourite games were “le jeu de l'oie” & “les petits chevaux” (the little horses)! I know, that's so innocent and unsophisticated, compared with these computer games for children nowadays... but it was great fun!

“L'oie” is also an amusing French word to play with!
“L'oie” (the goose) sounds like “loi”, (law)
“Une oie” (= a goose), sounds almost like “une noix” (a walnut!)
“Cette oie” (= this goose), sounds like
“c'est toi” (= it's you), and like
“sept oies” (7 geese)

Aaah! [“cette oie”] qui fait la loi!.. / [C' est toi] qui fait la loi ?
Up to you to decide who rules here → him/her, or this goose!

(“la basse-cour” = the poultry yard)
[C'est toi] dans la basse-cour? / [Sept oies] dans la basse- cour!
Hmmm, who is shouting so loudly? You? Or 7 geese?

Oh, Kristin!!! I love “cette oie” à la fenêtre, spying on the photographer and playing little tricks. L'oie inspired many of your readers. In fact, les oies inspired some known and not so well known painters - or was it rather "la gardienne d'oies" (the goose keeper) they found attractive, or the 18th & 19th century rural set up? ...
And what about the very popular " Contes de ma mère l'oye"? the 8 famous fairy tales from Charles Perrault, published at the end of the XVIIth century? There is also one of Grimm' tales called: "La gardienne d'oies"...

Alors.....“Une oie” (or more) for Kristin? .. or … “des poussins”? .. or both?
Franchement je ne sais pas! There are so many things to think about before embarking with free-range poultry, to give them the best possible quality of life and enjoy eggs and white meat on the table. This gives some good general ideas, but I think you will spot some most interesting articles, for info & inspiration, in this section of the “frenchentrée” website.


Hello again!

“Il y a quelque chose qui me chiffonne” = something is bothering me,
so, here is a little note.

French cats say MIAOU, MIAOU, and French chicks? PIOU-PIOU-PIOU .... which does NOT mean that "POULE", (= a hen) should be pronounced PIOULE / like “pewl”. I would agree with Abra and pronounce “poule” like the English word "pool" but NO puff of air getting out of your mouth when pronouncing "p".
Reproducing what Jean-Marc & your cheeky children say is ok, but can be confusing, so, it would be perfect if you could add a little note about it at the bottom of the text, for the sake of clarity.
This also applies to POULAILLER --> [pou] like poo, and then, [lailler] like the French article "la", followed by "yé".
As far as hens are concerned, tell your charming children "Non non non" (3 consecutive French “non” = one emphatic English “NO”), you don't want “les” poules, but simply “des” poules …

Now, a totally different note:

Kristin, I know you are not at all a "Perrette" type of person as the one described in Jean de la Fontaine's fable "La laitière et le pot au lait". However, there was something in your dream of having chickens that made me re-read "La laitière et le Pot au lait".
Thanks for that!

Translation of the fable in English:


Bonjour Christen,
I am absolutely addicted to this blog now :) Je lis chaque jour and making notes in my notebook. The expressin " Tojours les gitans" reminded me Peter Mayle's book " A year in Provance", I just loved the humor and his perception of people in provance. Cant wait to take my hubby there, can't wait.
I am about to read your book now, so excited! Thank you.

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