clock tower in Rasteau's vieux village
The clock reads une heure dix-sept. Three minutes till take-off! Read about our promenade pédestre in today's story column.

tituber (tee-too-bay) verb

    : to stagger, to totter

tituber de fatigue = to stumble along

French Verb Conjugation:
je titube, tu titubes, il titube, nous titubons, vous titubez, ils titubent (pp = titubé)

Audio File: listen to today's word & verb conjugation: Download Wave or Download MP3

A Day in a French Life...

Kristin Espinasse

Sunday found us staggering through the sweet-scented hills of Rasteau, wine glasses in our hands, soiffard* songs on our hearts.  An occasional tumble or slip... was not (in my case, at least...) the fault of the wine, which all but poured from the heavens along our 6-kilometer-long trek, or gourmet getaway....

The wine-fueled cacophony surrounding us, book-ended only by French hiccups, reminded us that we weren't the only ones "getting away";  nearly 2000 people turned out for the 10th annual "Escapade des Gourmets" in which hikers were lured onward and upward to the Vauclusian hills by the aroma of good wine and good food, stocked up and served around every boisterous bend in the pebbled path below us. 

Beginning in the old village of Rasteau, we hiked up to the first étape* and  were rewarded with a savory mise en bouche* -- but not before presenting our carte de membre honoraire. I reached into the little cloth poche,* provided to all participants back at the check-in stand. There, in the pocket, which hung from a string around our necks, we could tuck our wine-glasses, wine notes, and member card, to be presented at every halt, or étape, before sampling each of the gourmandises.* For those of us who don't drink alcohol, or who were pacing ourselves, water and orange juice were provided.

After the first appetizer (une tranche de caillette* and a few toasts de tapenade*) we stepped soberly forward... but not for long. At the second étape, another kilometer or so upland, we were served une tranche de foie gras* and a glass of vin doux naturel doré.* That's when the giggling began... and complete strangers began to cozy up beside the band. The first animation* (there would be several such distractions both to entertain hikers and keep minds off the miles...) was a two-man reggae band, "Manbouss".

"Rastafariing" our way back to the route, we were on our way to the third stop when the rain began to trickle down. I put my camera away and enjoyed the scene surrounding us, the heady scents of genêt* and pine intensifying the experience.  The collines* were carpeted with flowers! There was my favorite, "Lily of Spain," (valerian) in red, and hills of electric blue blossoms.


More mets provençaux met us around the next corner... and the dégustation des vins continued. This time a feuilleté provençal* and several côtes-du-Rhône rosés. By now the crowds were gathered beneath the trees, for shelter against the rain, and at this point those saucy chansons paillardes began. I asked one of the young women in our group, Céline, to tell me about these "drinking songs". "Oh, you know," she said, the lyrics are not very fine..."* I have heard these songs for as long as I have lived in France (indeed, they were sung at my own wedding... near 3 a.m. in the morning!), now I could put a name to the songs, even if the raunchy face-reddening lyrics still escape me. These bar-room ballads certainly don't escape the French, whether at a bar, at a marriage, or in the heaven-scented hinterlands of Provence. 

After three more stops (for jambon braisé,* which we ate while seated on pine-needles, cheese, which we savored while sitting on a steep slope, and dessert, enjoyed at the church at the top of the old down) we finally rolled into Rasteau (or titubed into town) chatting all the while with strangers, who were, now, more like old shipmates, or merry matelots,* in time to navigate the winding French roads... with the help of us designated drivers who had filled up on orange juice and eau.*

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own -- are always appreciated and welcome! Thank you for using the comments box.

Note: over a dozen more photos from Rasteau, and the surrounding hills, will be featured in this weekends Cinéma Vérité. Don't miss it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~Selected French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~
soiffard(e) =
drunkard; la dégustation (f) de vins = wine tasting, la mise (f) en bouche = appetizer; la poche (f) = pocket; les gourmandises (fpl) = delicacies; une tranche (f) de caillette = a slice of caillette (round pork sausage); la tapenade (f) = a crushed olive paste; le vin (m) doux naturel doré = a sweet golden-colored wine; une animation (f) = organized activity; le genêt (m) = scottish broom; la colline (f) = hill; les mets provencaux (mpl) = Provençal dishes; le feuilleté (m) Provençal = Provençal pastries; fine = refined ; le jambon (m) braisé = braised ham; titubed (tituber) = Frenglish for swayed; le matelot (m) = sailor; l'eau (f) = water

Art Show / Vernissage in Aix-en-Provence : Monday, May 11th from 6-8 pm, Atélier Marchutz: 5, Ave Général Préaud (Art show of American students who come to Aix-en-Provence to paint en plein air.)


Three Random Words:
le taon = horsefly, gadfly
périmé(e) = out-of-date, expired
le gavage (m) = force-feeding

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