I took over a dozen photos of Isle sur la Sorgue on Sunday. See them in Saturday's Cinéma Vérité!


concours (kohn koor) noun, masculine
    : competition; examination

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Notre fille a réussi le concours de saut d'obstacle sans fautes (sans faire tomber les barres).
Our daughter succeeded in finishing the obstacle-jumping challenge without fault (without knocking down the bars).

A Day in a French Life...
Kristin Espinasse

For my daughter's latest concours de saut, we arose avant l'aube to drive the 45-minute journey to Isle sur la Sorgue...

The weather forecast was bleak so we wore our K-ways and brought our parapluies. After an early-morning averse we were rewarded with mild temperatures and a drizzle- and drip-free day... in time for my daughter to complete the CSO challenge sans fautes!!!


Aunt Marie-Françoise, Uncle Jean-Claude, and Kiwi The Canine arrived in time to félicitent our 12-year-old cavalière and to join us for a picnic of merguez, frites, and Domaine Rouge-Bleu rosé, bien sûr!

Seated in the grassy parking lot, either par terre or, if lucky, on a portable chair, we watched Jean-Marc pass around his wine to the other cavalières' parents and, comme ça, we properly celebrated our girls' performances.

Speaking of our own girl, encore bravo! Jackie!


We left Braise and Smokey behind (grosse faute), for there were almost as many dogs at the event as horses! Our goldens would have had a blast... and loved meeting that precious bouvier bernois puppy)...

So that our dogs wouldn't be completely left out, we decided, on returning home, to re-enact the concours de saut -- or obstacles-jumping challenge! Because we are used to setting up these kinds of obstacles in our home (...), we set up the CSO course illico presto. The only new addition to our game was maman.... and maman waited patiently for her turn, just after Braise, who set the standards pretty high as you can see, here:


I don't mean to make excuses for my own pitiful performance, but I had a housedress handicap... (After a sleepless night and an exciting day at the horse event, I couldn't wait to get home and change into my pajamas).

Anyway, I was off to a running start....


... hoping to lift-up over the bar, with the help of my hands... My daughter had to lower the high bar (really, just a mop handle) for me and, I admit, remove the second obstacle-bar (which was actually a fishing pole.)

On clearing the bar and landing I received félicitations from an ever-encouraging eye-witness, Braise. Cowabunga! Braise says. (In the background you can see one of Jules's paintings and the bike shebought me so that I might experience endorphins instead of "story stress". Thanks, Mom, but as you can see, I am enjoying endorphins this way, too!)

That's Smokey, Braise's son, who cheated by passing under the bar instead of over it. Cheater, cheater, potiron eater! Just in case, let's do a replay and see if we can catch him en train de tricher... I see one paw under the bar, n'est-ce paw, n'est-ce paw!, and you?

Fashion note: those are my son's socks and the slippers are from Jean-Marc. The robe was a find, by my belle-mère Marsha, at a troc shop in Sun Valley. My mom wore this very robe to the cancer clinic in Marseilles. Not counting the previous owner (wonder who she was?) the robe has quite a history (and quite a few holes, now that the pupster, Smokey Dokey, high-fives me each morning (missing my hand, his claws catch at my robe). My sister bought me the pj top... and the pj bottoms were purchased in the latest century (before leaving on a trip with friends, and wanting to have matching pjs. Now to get in sync and actually wear the top that goes with it...

But back to our home-style concours de saut... Here comes Jackie to steal the spotlight.

Talk about putting Braise and me to shame! Is it any wonder that she's the one who wears the jodphurs around here? Congratulations, Mademoiselle -- we are so proud of you!

Many thanks to Jackie for taking the "concours" photos of Braise et moi.
Comments, corrections, weather forecasts--and stories of your own--are always welcome and enjoyed.

French Vocabulary
le concours (m) de saut
= jumping challenge; avant l'aube = before dawn; K-Way (so named after its brand, like "Kleenex")= raincoat; le parapluie (m) = umbrella; une averse (f) = shower of rain; CSO = Concours de Saut d'Obstacles; sans fautes = without fault; féliciter = to congratulate; la cavalière (le cavalier) = horsewoman, horseman; la merguez = kind of spicy sausage; une frite (f) = French fry; bien sûr = of course; parre terre = on the ground; comme ça = like that; la grosse faute = big mistake; bouvier bernois = Bernese mountain dog; illico presto = right away; la maman (f) = mom; la félicitations (f) = congratulations; le potiron (m) = pumpkin; en train de tricher = in the middle of cheating; troc = trade


Les Fers à Cheval (c) Kristin Espinasse

French Demystified: A Self - Teaching Guide

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany

Learn French In A Hurry: Grasp the Basics of Francais Tout De Suite

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Jean Marc (l'autre)

Tres bien, Jackie. I remember well the intensity of young equestrian competitors (the youth classes in horse shows are REALLY meant to protect the adults). And pour maman, might I suggest a proper shoeing avant le concours? Pink fuzzy slippers would do the trick I think. So Rouge-Bleu is going to stand for wine, goldens, and Selle Francais. Thank you for sharing.
It's a grey and cloudy 44 degrees in Jackson, MI this morning.


I know many high schools here in the US that would love to have your daughter on their track team. She's great. Thanks for the photos and story. Smiling is a great way to start a Monday morning.


I Love the concours. Reminds me of my daughter. She too is a horse rider. When she was little she would set up courses outside and with Lucy our 2nd golden they would jump the course with her. Memories! Thanks for sharing in the fun! Robin


Bonne forme Jackie! Félicitations! Maman et Braise, bravo! Mai pour moi..I'm with Smokey. Bon Journée!

Bill in St. Paul

Great story! Congratulations, Jackie, on your CSO sans faute.

We spent two weeks in 2007 using l'Isle sur la Sorgue as our base. It's a great town, not too big and not too small, but I don't remember seeing a place for the CSO.

In the picture where Smokey is walking under the broom handle, the "look" on his face seems to say (at least to me) "Why are you jumping over all this stuff when it's so much easier and safer just to walk under it? And look how hard the floor would be to land on."

Here in St. Paul, it's cloudy, light drizzle or mist, and 49, heading for 51, very rare for November in Minnesota.

Peggy Ritchie

I'm with Bill and Smokey; why go to all that effort when you can just keep all feet on the floor? On the other hand, I'd miss all the joy of leaping for the sky that Jackie and Kristin demonstrate so well.
Sunny, windy and 16 degrees in Mirabeau, Vaucluse today. I've no idea the weather back home in Ameliasburgh, Ontario.


Talk about putting Braise and I to shame.

It should be "Braise and ME" - not the nominative case. To check, read the sentence without the other object - Talk about putting I to shame.

Pet peeve. Grammar is like nostalgia - where one finds the present tense and the past perfect.


Congratulations to Jackie. Nothing like riding a horse. In my highschool days I too rode, no jumping, sometimes polo, and I looooved riding so much so that I applied to the Equestrian School in France for studies. I was talked out of it, and perhaps a good thing. But I do love horses as much as I do love dogs, and kitties, and their lovely owners too.

I am so impressed with Braise, and you of course. I love the photo where you are jumping and Braise is watching you,,,,priceless.

More congrats to Jackie....and where are those horseshoes,,,I want one.

Love from Still warm Pasadena...only the evening chill a bit!



Jean-Marc (l'autre): pinky fuzzy slippers would sure be pretty... but I'll go barefoot next time -- for Safety's sake!

Laurie : thank you for the grammar help -- much appreciated (and so often needed :-)

Merci, les amis. Enjoy the day, no matter the state of the sky (I guess that's easy to say, when writing from sunny Sainte Cécile...)

Marianne Giordano

I couldn't help but notice Braise's face, watching you so adoringly. She looks so proud. Your daughter looks so graceful and athletic.....she takes after her mother, bien sur.

It has been a very nice couple of days here in Patterson, New York. Today is a bit more cloudy and cool.


Patricia Anzalone

AGURI Jackie!
I note Jackie's style as more olympic with her arms pointed downward; while yours are up, more ballerina style. I wonder if that helps her jumping height...
Braise and Smokey obviously know they are all part of this exercise! Joining in with their family!
Dreay, drizzly and in the 50s in northwestern Virginia.


It is probably inevitable that some French mistakes pop up now and then.........but mistakes in English?

Would you ever write, "He put I to shame"?
I don't think so. So then why would you write,

"Talk about putting Braise and I to shame!"

Objects--direct and indirect--require object pronouns.

Sandy Maberly

Loved the light hearted story today Kristi. There's always something fun and exciting going on at your house!
As for the English grammar corrections...I'm sure that your readers mean well and don't make a habit of casting the first stone.... but really people, don't you think a personal email would have been more appropriate in this case?
Ne t'inquiet pas, Kristi.... the rest of us out here in cyberland appreciate each and every word, whether it is direct, indirect or even... heaven forbid....indiscreet! :-)

Betty Bailey

Bravo, Kristin. Oh to be young like you!

It's a foggy morning here in the Dallas area but the golden trees brighten things up nicely as nous (époux et moi) drove to a mall for our walk.

bonnie poppe

Braise jumping the bar with her ears flying is one of the best dog photos ever! Thanks for the fun family photos, your robe slippers handicap didn't slow you down much, did it?
bonnie, roquebrun languedoc

Kristine, dallas

Thank you for another charming entry in FWD! I always look forward to reading about your life in France. A life I so wish to have!

And the photos today~ what joie de vivre in your house! Love it!!

Again, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family although I imagine you don't celebrate.

(foggy, with a peek of the sun every now and again in dallas, texas)

Fabulously Broke

Super cool :)

Thank you so much for posting such a charming entry. I look forward to your posts every day..

And your family looks like such a fun one too! :) Haha.. I love the idea of a competition inside the home


Right now, it is STILL foggy like there's a lot of smog and pollution which is awful here in Montreal, Quebec

I cannot wait for better weather :)


Congratulations, Jackie! As a teenager in Southern California I always road either bareback or in a Western saddle. My one foray into an English saddle landed me on the hard ground. I admire your dedication to your sport.

Do you have agility trials in France? If so, Braise would do beautifully. Look at the concentration on her face as she floats over the hurdle ... and her encouragement to Kristin as she attempts her jump. Yes, I think Braise is a real competitor.

Michael Armstrong

Kristin, your photo of le cadenas vert at Saint-Paul-trois-Chateaux is terrific! It has so much going on; it should be on a wall somewhere.

On attend les photos de L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; Nancy et moi y avons visité en mois de mai passé. C'est un beau village; quel marché! Nous venons de déguster notre première bouteille de Domaine Rouge-Bleu Dentelle, grace à vos amis au Texas. Jean-Marc, c'était superbe! Bonne continuation!

Michelle C.

You are too funny Kristen! So nice to see an adult throwing caution to the wind and having fun with her daughter (and doggies). Where were the boys? Probably afraid that they would be shown up by the girls. You truly know how to enjoy life. Keep it up and you will always stay young. And congrats to Jackie. She is surely living the dream of many young girls. I can remember going through my "horse phase" when I was around that age. Unfortunately my horse riding was confined to my imagination and dreams.
(Grey and overcast with showers in Rhode Island.)

Fred A Caswell

With all that jumping maybe "Hi!" is the best way to respond to your post above.

As the cadet of my siblings, life sometimes found me testing my physical abilities all by myself on our covered porch. Once, having rigged some kind of bar of string/rope, it was quite surprising and affirming to actually clear almost my own height. Bien sur , the body was very slender and years of growth short. Now satisfaction is achieved by jumping from one side of a rut in our driveway to the other, sans faut, with vieux jambres!

Still the same weather in Rhode Island.

J'habite a Middletown; ou habitez vous, Michelle C.? Fred

Marianne Rankin

Felicitations, Jackie, d'avoir gagne le CSO sur cheval et aussi a la maison!

Kristin, terrific photos of Jackie and Braise.

I firmly believe that aging is at least partly a state of mind. I haven't had a chance to jump over a bar for a while, but would have joined in if I'd been there, in spite of being a good deal older than Kristin. We keep in shape by being active, mentally and physically.

Here it is pouring rain. Hope it will stop by tomorrow, and warm up past the 49-degree F current temperature.

How cold does it get in Saint-Cecile in winter?

Michelle C.

Bonjour Fred, J'habite a Tiverton. Not too far from you there in Middletown. Although with the small size of Rhode Island, no other RI town is too far off!


Kristin, I adore your blog and like many other readers, I eagarly await each installment. I always enjoy your pictures and your prose as they help to remind me of my days living in Toulon nearly 30 years ago. One item visible in your pictures perplexes me however. It looks as if you have a postcard display stand in your home. I'm missing something right?
Sunny and cold today in the SF Bay Area, high of 60 degrees.

Jennifer in OR



Not a dog comment, but need your take on classic french duck confit and duck cassoulet! My friend has me going on this and researching all my french recipe books and internet to make the best.

Diane Scott

Hi ho Silver!

Kristin, you are a vision of equine grace. LOVE the slippers!

I would have followed Smokey's lead. The dog is a brilliant pragmatist :-)

Diane Scott

P.S. Your "pigeons #2" composition from "Cinema Verite'" graces my desktop, and the fellow in front greats me with his beady little eye each morning. I adore pigeons! Thanks for the lovely snapshot of a day in France.

Christine Jackson

Loved this story! So fun to see your darling family and hear of your experiences. This is my favorite type of post. Congrats to all of you for your jumping success.

And don't worry about the grammar. Most of us make small mistakes like that all the time and, in my experience, the more I am speaking foreign languages, the more I forget in English! Since you are speaking French most of the time, voila!

35 degrees F (cold!) and sunny here in Salt Lake City

Bob Haine

My wife's sister and her family have a Bernese Mountain dog named "Bolt", who succeeded another named "Boris"--they are great dogs, full grown almost the size of a St. Bernard, full of love and lots of energy!Surely Braise and Smokey would have enjoyed meeting and frolicking with the little pup!



Do you live in a postcard shop? What is that thing to your left in the jumping photos? It looks like one of those twirl-around stands with postcards on it.........


Christine Jackson

Yes, please explain the postcards! I have been confused too, thinking that you must be in a restaurant!


Methinks this is a wonderful lighthearted post...Jackie you are a true champion of style in the "concour" although Braise must come a flying second! Thank you all for the giggle!

Pat Cargill

Congrats, Jackie, and what an adventurous high-flying famille! Ah, chere K, that is a tile floor you are headed for in all your wild and wooly clothing! Where is the mattress to land on!!! Ha, you have delivered us many laughs today...a few days later. Great photos...LOVE the one of Braise sailing over the bar. Merci!


You are wonderfully inspiring, Kristin! Nothing is out of reach for you... we can always try activities adjusted to our own size, right? I'm looking forward to sharing more grown-up hobbies with my toddler daughter. She'll probably outshine me, too, but hopefully love me for my efforts to imitate her talents on a small-scale. Thanks for sharing your life so openly!
P.S. I've added a postcard rack to my Christmas list. If I'm blessed enough to receive one, will think of French-Word-a-Day when I see it. :)

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