la Grande Ours


Welcome to Sunday morning in the French wine-making town of Rasteau, a smile around every corner... Read on, in today's story column. All photos © Kristin Espinasse

un sourire (soo-reer) noun, masculine

    : smile

Just a smile for you today. For more about the French word "sourire" visit the smile post.


On a photographic escapade through the town of Rasteau, I ...

...met a foul-mouthed French dog (photos, below)
...watched an immigrant scrub her tiny window sill with soap and water--
...made a mental note for once and for all to plant a vine of passion fruit!
...gazed at a stone Virgin Mary, wrapped in ivy, high on a hilltop
...heard a scream (the cranky dog's owner, calling the latter home?)--
...observed a moment of silence before a WWI memorial statue--
...wondered what all the dormant, flower-bare window boxes might look like in springtime, summer, autumn... anytime but winter--
...and glimpsed this sunshiny reminder to smile (taped to the window of an inconnu*; see it below)

But you know the saying: it is those things that you've left undone that you'll regret one day. And so:

On a photographic escapade through the town of Rasteau... I failed to:

...skip to the other side of the street to say hello to the lady washing her window sill--
...wander into the café, where the locals were playing cards, and saluer* BONJOUR Messieurs!*
Snap a photo of the charming, chipped iron gate beyond which a window dressed with lacy curtainettes screamed, "I am Provence, hear me roar!" (I couldn't imagine who might be watching me back, through the fine veil of *privacy*: it seemed right to respect the other's). out to the man behind the open garage door and say "In America, we open our garage doors on Sundays, too!"
...climb onto the rail and slide down two flights of cobbled stairs: wheeee!

...steal the Valerian growing out of the stone walls, sporting raspberry red flowerettes even in wintertime!
...take a minute to rest--on the bench facing the hilltop church--and confess my sins which mostly stem from impatience, impatience even to sit down and smile for a while.

I leave you with that message that I saw stuck to this window framed in green, my favorite color. If you would like to help translate it, please do so in the comments box, for all to see and enjoy:

DSC_0048 Un Sourire
(listen to this text: mp3 or wave)

Un sourire ne coûte rien et produit beaucoup,
Il enrichit ceux qui le reçoivent,
Sans appauvrir ceux qui le donnent.
Il ne dure qu'un instant,
Mais son souvenir est parfois éternel.
Personne n'est assez pauvre pour ne pas le mériter.
Il crée le bonheur au foyer, soutient les affaires,
Il est le signe sensible de l'amitié.
Un sourire donne du repos à l'être fatigué,
Il ne peut ni s'acheter, ni se prêter, ni se voler,
Car c'est une chose qui n'a de valeur
Qu'à partir du moment où il se donne.
Et si quelquefois vous rencontrez une personne
Qui ne sait plus avoir le sourire,
Soyez généreux, donnez-lui le vôtre
Car nul n'a autant besoin d'un sourire
Que celui qui ne peut en donner aux autres.

PS: One last regret: I didn't stand there before the sourire sign, scratching my head like Columbo, reciting the lines of the Sourire poem
aloud (for the secret benefit of passers-by). How else to call attention to the wonderful words therein, so as not to keep them to oneself?


Comments, corrections...and stories of your own... always welcome in the comments box. Merci beaucoup!

*French Vocabulary: saluer = to say hello; bonjour, messieurs = hello, gentlemen!

Archive Pics
If you follow this word journal on Twitter or Facebook, then you might have seen these articles posted over the weekend.
Over a dozen ways to say "Darling" in French
"To be going down hill" and more pente idioms and photos from 2005

Cartes-postales Cartes Postales: an album--with vintage flair--for post cards

SmartFrench Audio CD : beginner level

Berlingot Featured product:
Les Berlingots

The Berlingot is a tiny sweet in the shape of a cube, or dice. Its name is said to come from the game of jacks, or osselets which was called berlingaù in Provençal.


I just loved this green house... with the upside down green wheelbarrow and overall chaotic feel. I could have photographed it from another angle--if the little yippy-yap yowler in the front hadn't chased me off his terroir.

(c) Kristin Espinasse
And yet another passion fruit vine, draping itself across France.

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