Attacked by Puppies!
Tug of War in French, with puppies


Santons, outdoor flea market, brocante, and grenier dans la rue in Suze la Rousse (c) Kristin Espinasse,
A brocanteur and his santons in the town of Suze-la-Rousse.

languir (lahn-geer) verb

    : to yearn

Verb conjugation:
je languis, tu languis, il/elle languit, nous languissons, vous languissez, ils/elles languissent => past participle : langui

Audio File & Example Sentence: Listen to this sentence: Download Wav file or Download MP3


Je languis de vous voir à Paris! Venez nombreux -- amenez des amis!
I long to see you in Paris. Everyone's welcome -- bring your friends!

A Day in a French Life...

by Kristin Espinasse

Such characters in the town of Suze La Rousse! I look at all of the lively locals who I had missed when visiting the village last fall, with my mom (known to many of you as "Jules"). Mom and I had hoped to spend more time in the village, but the chill in the air sent us quickly back to the warmth of our car, with the promise to return when the weather was warmer.

C'est un été indien! Alone now, I listen to the French tchatche* about the extended summer that we are enjoying, as I stroll solo through the central parking lot, where a bustling brocante* is well underway. Noticing a basket of santons on the ground, I stop to talk to the brocanteur,* who, I soon discover, has as much character as all three of the santons that he is now holding.

Santons, outdoor flea market, brocante, and grenier dans la rue in Suze la Rousse (c) Kristin Espinasse,

The brocanteur tells me he is half Portugais* half Français* and I can see that he is wholly one of a kind. With his chiseled cheekbones, his salt and pepper hair swept back into a ponytail, and his piercing black eyes... He would be the perfect character study, I muse, for any aspiring novelist... 

He might be a villian... or a viscount
A policeman
... or a prisoner
A hick... or a high-society socialite
A sailor
... or a swordsman
A male model
... or a monk
A French farmer... or a Finnish funambulist*...

Oh, the possibilities. Yes, he is the perfect character study, I muse, for a forlorn fiction writer... With that, I sigh, and begin to negotiate a price.

"The santons start at 15 euros each," the brocanteur informs me.


I point to my camera with its telephoto lens--hoping to give him the impression that I am a professional.
"I am here to take photos, not to shop," I begin my argument, "...but if you'll take twenty-five euros..." I bargain, "for these two santons and... and... for that pichet* over there," I add, (quickly pointing to anything to seal what I calculate to be a good deal...) "then you have yourself a sale!"

With that, the character of my unwritten book yields--as any one of his alter egos might while facing a feisty female-- and wraps the old santons, in newspaper, and the jug, in papier à bulles,* and I, the aching to be inspired novelist wrap my hands around my camera lens to capture my hero on film... if not in words.

Santons, oudoor flea market, brocante, and grenier dans la rue in Suze la Rousse (c) Kristin Espinasse,

To respond to this story, click here and access the comment box. I love to receive your feedback, even if I don't always have the chance to respond. Mille mercis!

To see the photos that I took in Suze la Rousse -- please subscribe to my private photo blog. You'll discover the villages that surround my own (Camaret, Tulette, Serignan...) via a gallery of images for each village. You might also give a gift subscription to a friend -- for the perfect Francophile cadeau! Click here for more information.

*   *   *

Gview Note: if you are planning on attending the American Library in Paris event this Wednesday, Oct 7th, then please be sure to let me know so that I might look for you! Mille mercis to Ann Mah for organizing this event!

~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~
(tchatcher) = to chat; la brocante (f) = second-hand goods, fleamarket; le brocanteur (m) = seller at a fleamarket; portugais = Portugeuse; français = French; le funambulist = tightrope walker; le pichet = pitcher; le papier (m) à bulles = plastic wrap with "bubbles"


golden retriever puppies, identification ID tags, in France (c) Kristin Espinasse,

Puppy Update!: Two of the puppies have left the nest! The happy "parents" are Christian, Marie, and Marie's son, Thomas. (Marie and Christian are cousins.) Marie has a Westie named "Cesar" and Christian has a golden retriever, "Sally". Wish them all the best!


Tune Up Your French :
This book is structured around numerous key areas for improvement, covering everything from tricky grammatical structures to gestures, slang, and humor.

Map of French Cheese (Fromages de France) on Printed Towel:
Printed with a map showing France through their famous cheeses

Staub Heart Shaped Fondue Set : Feast like the French!
(for cheese or chocolate )

Globe-Toddlers Adventures in France!
With 55+ words in French and English, Adventures in France DVD will help your child's vocabulary expand.

Provendi Revolving Soaps
The practical and very neat Provendi revolving soap fixtures have adorned public school washrooms throughout France for years.

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


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catharine ewart-touzot

great story and pictures, takes me certainly back to when I was living in France and doing the same (buying not photographing, which I truly regret I missed doing).Are there more, to be seen of your santons collection? Good to hear and see that the lost/ found/ pregnant dog, now mother is now doing what all mothers in all times have done..say good by to her babies.

Bill in St. Paul

Ah, les brocantes! Such an interesting part of France, to see them set up their wares, everything from clothes to ...whatever, old faucet taps (surely they are antiques!), doorknobs (more antiques, I'm sure), etc., and then to see them pack everything back up. When we stayed in L'Isle sur la Sorgue for two weeks a couple of years ago we saw les brocantes several times and wondered who les brocanteurs were. Do they make a living doing les brocantes or do they have any other source of income? They didn't appear to be selling a lot but we then weren't there in the middle of the day.

Great story, Kristin. I'm sure that he was with the secret police.


J'adore les brocantes and the santons are so precious..I never spotted any while in I know..Your ponytailed gent is charming on did so well:)

I love the few treasures I brought back..daily reminders..of a trip of a lifetime for me.

The adoption photo is priceless too..Happy post~


Kristin, est-ce que tu languis d'écrire un roman? Nous, les lectueurs nombreux de French-Word-Day, aurions hâte de le lire! (Do you long to write a novel? We, your many readers would be eager to read it.)

John Doyle

Kristin: I'm glad you're still thinking about additional writing.
John Doyle


There is definitely a story there, with your mysterious "fidalgo". For you to see that many characters possibilities in those deep, dark eyes of his tells me that you must not be forlorn!! Try the site: Suite 101 and pop out a short story about him!!

How is everyone handling the puppies departures? :-(



Lovely post here! As I write my daughter age 2 is playing with her castle, bugs, and sea shell collection giving mommy a brief moment to read! Oh how i love your posts! We love flea markets and it's wonderful that you share such a fun story - it made the morning great!



Wonderful story...good bargaining! And oh the puppies! How cute and how happy the new owners look! Merci for the morning entertainment :-)

Pat Cargill

Au revoir les petits puppies...we have loved watching you grow and play in the photographs--have a wonderful life! Kristin, you no doubt will write, whether childrens' books or novels--or here. Whatever, your audience awaits.

I like that Leslie used le mot du jour in a sentence. Merci! I am copying it and today's words in my notebook and recommiting to studying French "a little every day." (Faire un peu chaque jour - not sure this is correct, but using what I know!)


Catharine: yes, I have a few more Santons (much smaller) which I began collecting only last year. If I put together a crèche this year, I'll see about taking some more photos for you...

Bill in St. Paul: good question about "do they make a living". I would guess that many of them need to keep another job (and work the brocantes on the weekend)--apart from the professionals.

Leslie, John, Karen, Pat et ami(e)s: thanks, as always, for the writing encouragement. It's helped so much and continues to!

Pat: "faire un peu chaque jour" sounds good to me!" so glad to hear of your reddoubled efforts :-)

Karen: everyone is handling the puppy departure well!

Robert Carlson

Hi Kristin,
Lovely story. I just returned from a memorable two weeks in Normandy & Paris, and came across a number of flea markets, one right in front of St. Sulpice! I'm too shy to bargain and always pay the asking price, but the French have the most amazing things for sale. If I only had room in my luggage!


Well, I for one learned a new word today: "santon." Although I could guess what it meant from the story, here's the definition I found on Wikipedia, for anyone else who may be as clueless as I was:

Kate of the North

Kristin, your readers who are interested in all things "France" might enjoy this radio series that can be listened to via the internet. It can be found here and starts tonight.


Thank you Kristin for another great story. I agree that the brocanteur is more someone else than a brocanteur. I think he is a spy!

and thanks Kate of the North for the radio link.

Bon Lundi (over already?) a tous!



I know a brocante dealer. Some of the things which he has are incroyable! He had many broken tables and desks and 2 barber chairs which were not in very good condition. Some things were very nice: fireplace reflectors (the things you put in the back of a those huge fireplaces to reflect the heat) and some lights, etc. My brocante dealer does this full time, but lives a very simple life.

Santons are really wonderful. I bought one several years ago. He is a Pétanque player, very handsome and very well made. I bought him in Les Baux de Provence.

It has to be so sad to have the puppies leave. I will miss the pictures of them, but wish them happy lives with their new families. Au revoir les chiots.

I'm sure that you could write a novel.

Sheila Bosworth Lemann

What a compelling and educational post on les brocantes! And thanks for the pronunciation guide to "languir", a verb I hadn't come across before in speech or in writing. Merci mille fois.


You got a very good deal on the dressed santons. Several years ago a friend and I went to Marseille for the Foire aux Santons and they were much more cher there, as they are in the U.S. We only bought the small santons made of clay, but we made up in volume what we lacked in size. You should really go to the Foire--it is magique!

Marianne Rankin

Do the French say "ete d'indien"? Or is that franglais?

I saw a few santons years ago. As I recall, they belonged to one of my French college professors. But his were "just" figurines - very attractive, and I would have been glad to have one. But they weren't dressed. Whatever clothing they had was painted on. The santons in the picture are quite interesting. I suppose they could be added to indefinitely if one can think of enough professions or activities.

Bonne chance aux toutous!

Denise L.

I have never met a brocante (flea market/farmers' market) I did not like (!) - your photos brought back in my immediate memory the brocante/farmers' market in St. Cecile - I could have spent much more time there. Alors, no santons for sale in St. Cecile; I was not really looking for any - nothing against santons, but I'm not much for dolls and figurines. Your lens nicely captured your mystery man's wares, as well as the late afternoon light in the puppy photo - very nice. And les toutous aren't too bad, either - good luck to them, sweetness each and every one!

Jules Greer


Wouldn't it be fun to have all the puppies
return for their first BIRTHDAY PARTY....



Elizabeth (Betty) Cleveland

Oh, Kristin, I love this message. I first encountered Santons on my first trip to France, 1977, a three-week joy traveling eurorail for three weeks. My companion introduced me to the darling Santons. I have brought them out every Christmas as an adjunct to the Creche. You always make me nostalgic and if I were not in such a rush (what else is new?) I would write you a book. Talk about would-be fiction writers, also poets. We are, as the latest phrase goes, "in the moment." You take care. Je t'embrasse!!! Betty


Marianne: I do hear the French say "un été indien". I don't think it is Franglais. Does anyone else know?

Mom: I love your idea about a birthday party! I'd like to put this on my 2010 "things to do" list :-)

Denise: I'm not a doll/figurine person either. I began to get interested in santons when my daughter showed an interest. Last Christmas we made our first Santon crèche -- nothing spectacular -- but we were proud of the little pastoral scene that we had created.

Betty: Nice to see your note. Je t'embrasse aussi, mon amie.

Janet and Kate: thanks for the links; and Sheila and Kathleen, for the encouragements!

Sophia: good to know that the price was a good deal. I thought so too. The tiny figurines with painted faces and clothing sell for as much. Cost has a lot to do with how old they are (my cousin has 50 year old santons! She meticulously repaints them, as needed)

Sheila burrell

My santon, that I purchased from a friendly shopkeeper in Nimes last September, is one of my greatest treasues/memories of my visit there. I ope to add another next year.

Sky Hackett

J'aime le reve, Kristin. Viscount or villian, policeman or prisoner...aren't we all capable of being one or the other in any given moment? That's the mystery, freedom, and beauty of being human.


Please let us know when you find out what names the puppies were given!


Sky: Yes, indeed we are (capable of being "policeman or prisoner, villian or viscount") Thanks for your comment.

Kirsten: Glad you asked: so far "Etoile" ("Star") is going to a truffle farmner (she'll be trained to hunt for truffles)... and "Epice" (Spice) will go to Christian (see photo with today's edition). Marie and Thomas have not yet named their puppy. I'll be sure to let everyone know! By the way, it is the year of the "E" so most people will be naming their dogs after this letter.


What an extraordinary looking human. I was captivated by your portrait of him. He seems both male and female and has the 'backless' eyes of an itinerant psychic. It makes me think of the power of certain images, ie icons, photos of mother Meera, etc. Powerful stuff - he would keep you awake at more ways than one (lol)

Denise L.


That's a pretty good reason to show interest, and I'm certain Jacquie (spelling?) was pleased (silently or otherwise) with your joint effort on the creche.

I also did not know it was the year of the "E" - those are excellent toutous names! I hope you get photos of Braise's star truffle finder in action sometime down the road. :)

Cheers (and all good luck - tomorrow is the fun day!) -

Christine Dashper

Hi Kristin,

Great photographs as always and a lovely story. I also wanted to wish you all the best in Paris! I hope it goes really well. Enjoy!

all the best


I became captivated by santons years ago when a friend brought me a small one from Provence. On my trips I have collected over 30 by the artisan Simone Jouglas, who has now passed away. One, featuring a farmer riding on a wagon full of bags of grain pulled by a donkey, was sold to me only when I promised Mme Jouglas that I would take it home in a carry-on, not send it by mail! The granddaughter of one of her close friends is now carrying on the tradition of santon making, using her molds. What expressions are reflected in the older faces she uses!

Janine Cortell

I have been collecting santons for over thirty years and I so enjoyed seeing the ones you bought. You certainly did get them for a very good price. Janine Cortell


must check fake bag to take huge discount bggTvKQY

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