la question mille francs + French words "le délire", "le plumeau", "la poubelle" and cleaning out my writing den
How to say "baptism" in French or Comment dire "baptême" en anglais

Aubade: a beautiful French word with a beautiful meaning

 Remparts (c) Kristin Espinasse
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une aubade (oh-bad)

    : dawn serenade

donner une aubade à quelqu'un = to serenade someone

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

On ne sait jamais ce que demain sera... One never knows what tomorrow will bring and for Tessa and me that meant that someone would sing!

After finishing our writer's room chore, we got into my car and set out to explore... driving past bare vine fields, lone cabanons, and the almond blossoms of promise. 


Speeding past the flowering forsythia and irises in the brook beside the road, we felt Hope's hallelujah as we shook off Winter's sock it to ya! Beaten in our hibernal caves, we were venturing out with an emphatic olé oollée!

Sauntering into the town of Tulette, un village avoisinant, we parked in front of an ancient moulin and took out our cameras for a photographic spin. Tess is an aquarelliste who takes photos with an artist's objective in mind: her "captures" will become colorful canvases. I thought about what attracts me to a certain scene: character, quirkiness, and charm to name a few. And people, I love people too!

With that Tess and I headed like bees over to the town fountain, where we met Lolo and Driss! Strangers no more, Lolo and Driss "le Marocain" graciously posed for pictures before the former offered an impromptu tour of les environs.

In front of the town Mairie, Lolo pointed out the Provençal words that amounted to "liberty". He talked about the moulin (beside which we had parked) and told of the fresh water that his town once enjoyed... until a new mayor came along and upset the source—joining the town to an industrial water line.

Lolo marched into town hall one day and "exchanged words" with the mayor.
"Why don't you just take this pic," he said angrily, and go outside and chisel off the word liberté from the sign above the door?!"


Lolo, when he is not fighting for his fellow Frenchmen's rights, enjoys pointing out the Renaissance architecture. Before we said goodbye, just outside the town renovated ramparts, Lolo shared a little about himself.

                                              Lolo has charming fossettes (dimples)

"Je chante dans le chœur...

Tess could not help herself, "Will you please sing for us?!" And that is how we found ourselves serenaded by the man who almost chiseled liberty. It would have been a sacrifice, defacing the sweet sign above the town hall's entry, but l'eau, just like the air we breathe, is a human right that should not rhyme with industry.

Tess held back her tears until Lolo got into his car and put it in gear.  The serenade, which the French call "aubade", was a gift from above... as is freedom, as is love.

:: Le Coin Commentaire ::

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French Vocabulary and Sound File listen Download Wav or  MP3

une aubade
donner une aubade à quelqu'unon ne sait jamais ce que demain sera = one never knows what tomorrow will hold
le cabanon = little stone hut (check out our Facebook page)
avoisinant, avoisinante = neighboring
un village avoisinant = a neighboring village
le moulin = mill
le moulin à eau = water mill
aquarelliste = watercolorist
le Marocain (la Marocaine) = Moroccan
les environs = the surroundings
la Mairie = town hall
la source = spring (water)
je chante dans le choeur = I sing in the choir
le pic = pick(axe)
la liberté = freedom
l'eau (f) = water
A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey

Smokey says: that's my mom. Isn't she bee-yoo-tee-full! And those are my sisters who harvested her milk last September, when everyone else was harvesting grapes!


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Leslie in Massachusetts

Bonjour, Krisin
I loved your story, pictures and especially the word for today. The word clearly rang a bell (il m'a dit quelque chose, a useful phrase I learned recently) but I didn't think I knew it as a French word, and indeed when I looked it up in an English dictionary, I remembered having looked it up once before. In English, it is defined as a song or poem about lovers parting at daybreak or about waking, rising, and greeting the dawn. The word is from Old Provençal and aubades originated with French troubadours. Here is a link if you'd like to learn un tout petit peu de plus about the aubade as a literary form. Here in Eastern Massachusetts we have been having lots of rain, some flooding even, but spring is progressing, things are just starting to be tinged with green and pink.

Jim Herlan

minor correction: choir is "le choeur" not "la choeur."

Odile Gouget

Hi Krystin, this is a very interesting article, as always ! But I'd just like to point out that "choeur" is masculine in French. It should therefore be "Je chante dans le choeur". I actually happen to sing in a choir too !!! Enjoy the first days of spring in Provence !


What a wonderful word and thanks to Leslie for the origin info. Aube. Dawn. Love it. Would love to hear the word pronounced in a true Provencale accent if possible.

Evelyn Jackson

Lovely story, lovely photo of you with the guys!Wish you could have recorded his serenade to you. Thanks for including the photo of Tess...I follow her blog and her watercolors are amazingly beautiful. It's nice to see what she looks like!



I love the pictures you took in Tulette.

Wonderful to see Tessa - associated in my mind with the "aquarelle" of the tulips and the Spring cleaning of your 'writing room'... and now, being such a perfect 'companion' in Tulette and... your private photographer!
I love the photo she took of you, where you sit between 'Drice le Marocain' and 'Lolo le choriste'!
A photo that says a lot about 'happy moments'! As for Lolo, he is -certainly- a person to add on your list of "personnages"!

No point telling you how much I also love the story, strongly coloured, of course, by that picturesque 'character', what he talked about... and the musical touch he gave at the end of your wonderful encounter.

Aubade rhymes with "sérénade" and makes me think of "troubadours" singing 'a dawn serenade' -> to the woman they love!


The almond trees are blossoming. I guess that means the cherry trees are blossoming in the foothills of the Pyrenees. We've got a wet snowstorm here today, but the buds are swelling on a few rose bushes. Sniff.

celso Gonzalez-Falla

Tell Tess that she looks absolutely lovely and happy.


You brightened my day (here in cold, gray Wisconsin) and put a smile on my face Kristin.
Mille Merci's!

Cheryl in STL

I love this story and the photo of you, Lolo and Drice at the fountain. You have really brought those men to life in your story. I've been subbing ever since I got back from Paris and finally have some time off--your stories and photos were truly a gift for those "back to work" days! Merci mille fois!

Looks like spring is just about ready to pop here in St Louis---and not a day too soon!

julia Frey

"for Tessa and I "

Kristin! You're losing your English. The first person object of a preposition is "me." The sentence should be "for Tessa and ME"

(just a friendly reminder, until your next trip back to the US).



Charming story! Loved it!

From Mindy in Manhattan Beach, CA


Hi from Spain where I am enjoying your blog (and your book that I am in the middle of reading). I hope to be a neighbor one of these days.... after my villa here sells. Off I will go to Provence!


Bee-you-tee-ful story, Kristin. And thanks for the new word--"Aubade".

Today, dawn broke bright but chilly in Detroit. My daffodils have broken through the mulch in the front yard flower bed and the maple tree is full of buds. Since the neighborhood kids are out in full force enjoying fresh air instead of furnaced forced air, Ian and I dismantled our dilapidated basketball hoop in order to provide a new and improved, plexiglass backboard. What's 60 bucks to keep the kids coming 'round?


Kristi, Just seeing you makes me miss you. It sounds like you are doing more of following your heart and just getting out and about and doing what you love - observing and talking to people, which is close to your heart.
I guess I'm the slow one around here because I had no idea who Tess was and apparently she has her own blog. So do tell . . .what does she blog about? And what is the link?
PS I'm still looking to find a writing class this summer in Paris. I haven't forgotten. And don't you foret, either! Bisous, rk

Ophelia Paine

What a great outing and delightful vignette, Kristin. Love the new word, the photos, Lolo, tout...

In Nashville, the sun has shown up at last with daffodils, redbud, forsythia, and Japanese magnolia in full celebration. Has spring ever been more welcome?

Can you please give us the link to Tessa's blog? Did I miss it?


Hi, first time commenter here. See, I read your blog as an email at work where we're forbidden internet access, and I could not comment (or see your great photos!). It always brightens my morning, reading your anecdotes. I have grown fond of your mother as well. I am accessing this comment box through my phone.... Well, back to the grind. Merci!

Samantha, 27, Elgin, IL

Dad in Palm Springs, CA

How wonderful it is to see your smiling face on my computer after I wake up in the morning! I love it that you are now interviewing strangers in different places...what fun and adventure you are having...just like your mom! You have created a joyous life for yourself and your readers. We are all so proud of you.

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Another Beautiful story. Sunny and should be 75 today. After all the rain we had everything is blooming here in Phoenix. There are so many wildflowers of all colors it is breathtaking.

The French Easel

One of your nicest posts! Merci bien!


Lovely story and what cute fossettes Lolo has. Cute puppy pics too!

Sandra Vann

Comme toujours, belle...merci beaucoup!
I really loved the post and photos and Spring encouraging message of hope today. We in Boulder have about 10 or so inches of new snow. The sun is trying to come out and the tulips as usual will survive with the other bulbs. Sometimes March in CO you have to remind yourself and Mother Nature that it is truly Spring now! We had 70 degrees recently...major Spring fever on the pedestrian mall! We would much prefer to be in your region now ...well always, werecall the almond trees blooming one March in the South of France when we visited, the greener grass. Wonderful.
Enjoy. What a lovely story, sweet and touching as always. We hope to get back to France soon! Two years of not being there for the first time in almost 25 for me except when I was working in S. America...
All the best. You inspire me to write daily.
A bientot. Profite! Sandy

Candy in SW KS

Snowing like crazy here in SW KS! I love it! Means the flowers, trees and grass will be brighter and more verdant! What a precious story - I love linking music with freedom. In fact isn't that why we pursue the arts with such abandon, whatever our artistic persuasion might be? There is such a liberating feeling in using our talents - a place beyond ourselves which connects us to something grander than ourselves. That is true freedom. Oh, guess what I found in my Dictionaire de la Langue Francaise when I looked up "aubade" - a song of the dawn? It is the opposite of "serenade" - a song of the evening. I had never made that connection before.

Kristin Espinasse

Chère Candy,
Wonderful thoughts about how artistic pursuits bring us freedom. Yeah! Robin, here is Tessas blog, enjoy:

Thank you all for this encouraging feedback. I wonder if I am the only one who wants to head out again soon and meet the locals? Allons-y! So many warm-hearts out there wanting to share, sing, and dream alongside us.

Susan Strick

at first i misread what lolo had said as "je chante dans le coeur" -- i leave it to all the friends of this comments page to interpret that!

Christine Dashper

Merci Kristin for this wonderful story. I truly enjoyed it. Its simplicity made it very special. Have a great day!


(I leave it to all the friends of this comments page to interpret that!)
I'll have a try

Hi Kristin, here are a few guesses ...

1) First of all, are you sure you heard the words "dans le"? Sometimes, we miss a word and we concentrate on the next one and our subconscious fills the gap (or invents the sound(s) in between)
"coeur" could be "choeur" - same pronunciation.
I'm thinking of the expression: "en choeur" (which sounds the same as: "en coeur", but, "en coeur" would not mean anything. On the other hand "en choeur" does mean something.

There is an expression:
"chanter en choeur" = to sing together
"Chanter tous en choeur" = to sing all together
By the way "chanter en choeur" is found at the end the old French tune:
"Bon anniversaire,
Nos voeux les plus sincères...."
--> ....... et que l'an fini,
nous soyons tous réunis,
Pour chanter en choeur,
'Bon anniversaire'!"

Still, I am not too happy with "Je chante en choeur" as you can't , on your own, 'sing together'...... Sorry!

2) What about the last word being -> "encore"...???
The way of pronouncing "core" might have sounded to you like "coeur"??? - of course, the word "coeur" (= heart) is in your thoughts... so...,you 'heard' it... (?)

Lolo might have said something like: "....mais oui, j'aime chanter ... / j'ai toujours chanté, et à mon âge, je chante encore" (yes, I like singing.../ I've always liked singing, and at my age, I'm still singing...)

ok, "Je chante encore" would make sense, but did he really say "dans le"?


3) What about if Lolo said "dans le choeur"? -- meaning, "dans le choeur de l'église"....

In architecture, "le choeur" of a church = 'the chancel'
Having a good voice, Lolo may belong to a choir (une chorale) and the group may sing in the chancel of the church???

In this case, the 2 words "dans le" would be absolutely fine... and Lolo might have said:
"Je chante dans le choeur" (de l'église).

4) When I first read the story, I immediately thought Lolo said / might have said:
"Je chante à la chorale" (dans la chorale)
= 'I sing in the choir'

Kathleen Hurder

Cher Kristen- My first blog with you and I open to the petite village of Tullette!!!
We own a house in St. Roman de Malegarde,
2 miles away!!! I'm a retiring teacher from San Diego (this June), looking forward to spending the fall, August through October, in Provence for the grape harvest. Any suggestions?? Would your parents (family)be interested in staying in cool San Diego by the beach??? Kathleen


Cher Lolo,

One day, via "Cinéma Vérité", we might see some of the fine examples of Renaissance architecture you pointed out to Kristin...
Now, we can all share the important motto of your town: "toustems libre" = de tout temps libre / toujours libre.

You are a 'freedom fighter' yourself and have all my deepest respects. I think Kristin's story has chiselled out, with words, your love of "la liberté".

Whether you sing "en choeur", "encore", "dans la chorale", or "dans le choeur de l'église"... never mind... the essential is that you did sing spontaneously, "de tout votre coeur", stirring up emotions and happiness, now shared with all of us.

"Mille mercis!"

Ann Marie Corcoran, Sydney, Australia

Dear Kristin, I loved your story meeting those charming men in such a beautiful town. France calls. Maybe I can get across your way from the Languedoc.

Jennifer in OR

Marvelous post! I loved these characters, and the passion for liberté.


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

"Les paroles de Lolo viennent du coeur"
= 'Lolo's words come from the heart'.

"Lolo chante de tout son coeur"
= 'Lolo sings with all his heart'.

"Je le remercie du fond du coeur"
= 'I thank him from the bottom of my heart'.

Linda Hutchison

This is my first experience with your word a day and I am so impressed with all the response following. Really enjoyed your thoughts and daily report. I am writing from Covington, LA and we are experiencing the beginnings of spring only this week after a very unusually cold winter. The wonder of spring is deliciously exciting as always. Looking forwarding to more of your blog.
Linda H in Louisiana

Sheila burrell

Je,aussi,chante dans le choeur, mais pour l'
avantage a les personnes agees. Merci Kristin.
Sheila, Port Townsend, WA

nadine goodban

Je crois que Drice s'ecrit plutot Driss...
mais assez de corrections... votre style est unique et fort sympa, riche et image, vivant et bien colore (je ne retrouve plus mes accents...)

Continuez de nous ravir avec votre style bien a vous!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Linda! So happy you found us. Bienvenue!

Julia, Odile, and Jim, merci bcp for the grammar help -- always needed and appreciated.

Leslie, audbade... aube... serenade at daybreak or greeting the day with song. I love it! Thank you for the info. Will you join me in signing a salut to a new day? Wouldnt this be a good new habit and right start for the journée? :-)

Tom, wonderful epistle. Thanks for sharing a slice of life chez vous.
Samantha-at-Work: dont let us get you into any trouble now! :-)

Susan: Lolo might as well have said I sing from (or in) the heart :-)

Newforest: I am so happy I made this mistake, for look at the lessons that have come of it. I enjoyed your guesses about what Lolo might have said. One of your guesses was correct: Lolo (who has an AMAZING voice) sings in the chorale of Avignon. I did not have the time to write more about his talent, yesterday... but Ill add this now: Lolo gave Tess and I a copy of his latest CD. Tess and I sang along all the way home from Tulette. There is a lot of lighthearteddialogue (introducing the songs), or Provencal bantering. It is just delightful. So, indeed, Lolo sing in the Chorale. And many thanks for translating the Provençale words toustems
libre = de tout temps libre / toujours libre! Just as Debbie said, it would be lovely to hear these words and aubade in Provencale. (will see now,if I can manage one of your hearts 3

Kathleen, welcome! Did you say you will be here for the grape harvest... let us know if you want to pick grapes chez nous :-)

Ann-Marie, you are not far. Email us!

Nadine, merci pour Driss. It may be... I wrote Drice down on paper and le marocain (as he introduced himself) nodded. Im wondering if he was being shy. I will ask him, should I have the chance to cross paths with D again.

Thank you all for such enthusiasm and for being the lovely learning and sharing community that you are helping to build.

Sandy Maberly

Gosh, it's hard to get a word in edgewise these days! So many nice comments as well as those from new readers. Nice to see how many people continue to be reached by your words and pictures. Thanks for sharing such a fun filled experience!


Ooohhh music!
I just serenade my French husband on our anniversary day last week... with Mariachi and all... for him to feel some Mexican love! It was quite a surprise for him!
So girls, you can serenade a man too! ;)

Andrea @ Austin, TX


"Driss le Marocain"...
Hi Nadine,

I've just read your remark to Kristin about "Drice" (being probably written "Driss") - this lead me to a bit of research and I learned that:
-> "Idris" (a prophet of Allah) is "Driss" in the Maghrebian language, and
-> "Driss" is a very popular first name given to Moroccan baby boys.


sorry, not lead me to, but --> this "led" me to.....

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the info, Newforest. And merci encore, Nadine. Enjoyed learning about Idris and Driss in the Maghrebian language. So interesting. Now to fix Drisss name in the post....


Une histoire charmante!

There is something so magical about music. When I think of special travel moments over the years, so many of them involve music.

And of course it's even more delightful that this was a personal concert, offered by Lolo. He must have been pleased that you asked him to sing, Kristin, and look at the pleasure it gave you and Tess.

And thank you, Newforest, for the interesting comments/variations on what Lolo might have said!


Oh, and I also meant to mention that I believe "aubade" can mean a song to a bride on the morning of her wedding.

Judy Miller

Bon jour Kristin,

I am in search of the chaussures de sport you are wearing in the photo by the fountain. (I hope I have coined the term properly)...

What is the brand? I am not really a "sneaker" wearer...but have need to replace a pair...can you share?

Thanks Kristin.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Judy, the shoes are my daughters and I think they are Converse. Hope you find a pair you like!

Lisa Denise

I visit France often and love reading your articles and stories as well as viewing the beautiful photographs. Thank you!


Je voulais mentionner qu'il est possible que Driss ne sache pas lire ..... (ca devrait surement interesser Newforest aussi) (?).

elizabeth taza

This is my first French Word ..... what lovely people you are, it is shear luck that I have come across this site, it will bring sunshine into my life, thankyou,

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