Aubade: a beautiful French word with a beautiful meaning
Joyeux Anniversaire, Jean-Marc + se reposer sur ses lauriers

How to say "baptism" in French or Comment dire "baptême" en anglais

Around the time I met my husband... Il y a vingt ans. We've been following each other's dreams ever since. Read on in today's column (photo of Jean-Marc. His picture is taped to my computer screen).

le baptême (baa-tem)

    : baptism

le baptême de l'air = first flight, first ride in an airplane
le baptême de l'eau = first swim, sail... first time in the water
le baptême du feu (baptism of fire) = first combat
la robe de baptême = christening robe

Note: le baptême was word of the day on August 15, 2008

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

The brook below is pocketed with pluie and the mallard ducks are hiding out. A storm is brewing outside my window and it is a good thing, I think, that Jean-Marc finished planting yesterday... given the hue of the horizon: deep grumpy gray.

Hier, the sky was bright in patches and the sun shone down across the barren field below and cast clouds across the campagne.  If you were a canard colvert or some such feathered friend flying over France, the field would have been just another peaceful patch along a cozy country "quilt". But down below, where three men toiled and soiled, peace gave way to parched...

With over 4000 baby vines to be planted there was no time to stop and refuel let alone refresh oneself. Thirteen varieties of white grapes were going into the ground at an alarming, no-time-to-hesitate rate. By the end of the day all plants would be laid. No machines were used, just six hands to manoeuvre or "man work" the earth.  Jean-Marc was thirsty, but stoicism won out: the future "father" wanted to get his infant vines planted in time for nature's baptême (rain was just around the coal gray corner).

Like the mallards that return each spring to have their ducklings, our farmer-Frenchman is helping the earth to give birth. Jean-Marc will have to wait another year and a half to take his babies home... but that doesn't stop the proud père from dancing over the newly planted loam.

***Video of Jean-Marc and équipe!***

These guys ROCK! Do not miss the following video (click over to the site if you are reading via email).

Note: those "sticks" that are being planted are actually baby vines topped with red sealant. The vines will soon push through, just as one man's dream continues to do.

I think the words in the video go so well with my husband's dream:
One love.. you've got to share it... it leaves you darlin' if you don't care for it.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

The comments corner is now open! Talk about today's story or share one of your own. Can't think of anything to say? Here are some ideas: what city do you live in? (my Dad's favorite question). What is your favorite French word? How old are you? (One of my Mom's favorite questions!)  Click here to comment.



French Vocabulary & Sound File

Download MP3 or Download WAV

il y a vingt ans = twenty years ago
la pluie
= rain
hier = yesterday
la campagne = open country
le canard colvert = mallard duck
le baptême = baptism, christening


  Flowering almond tree and classis French car in Orange France
An old French Citroen, outside the town of Orange, and a beautiful almond tree in blossom.

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Hi Kristin,
Three men, 4,000 baby vines and all by hand? How did they do it in one day? They must have been pretty exhausted!

Dianne de Poitiers

My favorite French noun is "bibliothèque" because it's fun to say and I love books. My favorite French verb is "chercher" because both sylables are spelled the same and if you conjugate the whole verb, your mouth turns to mush and it makes people giggle.

Dianne de Poitiers

Oops, I spelled "syllables" wrong. Mes excuses!


Thanks so much for your wonderful blogs each week! We bought some of your wine while in Chicago at Binny's. It was delicious. Not every location carries it, so we needed to call ahead to locate it. Maybe we can stop by and see you and your vineyard early in September when we'll next be in France.

Bill in St. Paul

Wow, in an eight hour day that comes out to planting a vine about every 7 seconds, fast, but back-bending/breaking work. It looks like it was a beautiful day for working outside, though, soon to be like that here in Minnesota.

(Kristen, don't forget passer à l'heure d'été samedi nuit.)


manoeuvre or "man work" - love that! I find french words daily in my English conversations and never fail to smile!
What back breaking work planting is!! Hope they all got a nice back massage at the end of the day!

Kristin Espinasse

Lorrie, thank you for making the effort to locate our wine! Wed love to pour you a glass when you are here in September.
Bill, thanks for the reminder about the time change. Ive been wondering about when that will take place!


That darn pop up add at the bottom of the video I could not click away-

So I couldn't watch the little sticks with the red tops being's so frustrating!

Make them go away-


I've said it before but I love your blog. I have been researching my grandmother's young life where she and her family lived in the Savoie region of France, and when I go to the website I am whisked away to a time and place so different yet so familiar..then I come to your place and I am whisked across the ocean to the France of today, with a young family and their dreams. Today I have the word La Pluie, taped to my computer monitor. It's rainy and dreary here in NJ (Poet's weather!) and I'm learning French one word at a time with your help! Warm regards!



I went to youTube and found the video-and it's wonderful! I also watched the pruning videos.

I have to ask why the pruning shears sound like a macaw or maybe they are electric??????? It sounds that way in both videos....

And I have to ask if the vines they are pruning are the same ones that were planted?



Hi Kristin,
Maybe it's me but I couldn't see the red tops. You mean those little tiny sticks that were being "thrown" or placed about every 12 inches were BABY VINES???? and there was red "vines" on top of them??? I never would have known. It doesn't look like there is anything on them at all! I assume you were the videographer, K? Love the music that accompanied the video. Who was the artist? Bisous, Robin


Ok Roseann. I'm a little slower on the uptake with the YouTube video . . . so can you explain what you did to get there - or maybe you can Kristi - but I didn't har or see any pruning shears on the video I looked at. I only heard lovely French music. So where exactly was this video? A link to it would be super! Robin

Kristin Espinasse

Robin, I shouldnt have mentioned the red tops, for they were not visible in the video (I always remember being surprised by the way the vines are sealed until the growth starts. The artist is U2 and I think it is a duet (not sure who the other singer is.) No, I was not the videotographer.

Roseann, Jean-Marc uploaded the video on his Youtube site... not sure how to take away those ads, but they should disappear soon enough for you to see the vines going into the ground. (I had the same thoughts as you! Grhhhh then I watched until the ads passed.

Lisa : enjoy your Poets weather (loved learning that phrase!)

Kristin Espinasse

Robin, try this link for the video:

Enjoy :-)


Robin, here's the link to Jean Marc's youtube videos:

The music: ONE, by Mary J. Blige & U2

Andrea @Austin, TX


Bravo, Jean-Marc, et ses amies! Et bonne chance pour le vin dans cette annee! You guys work so hard, it had better be a success.

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

What hard work!! And Jean-Marc and the other guys are so fast! What professionals! :)

Have a great weekend!

Belle Merwitzer

Hello, Kristin,
I am new to your site. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and will be visiting our family in Marseille, who live on the outskirts in St. Barnabe.Daughter Amie is living a
life as a writer and Yoga Instructor and mom to Eva and Claire... 5 and 3. She is married to a Frenchman who she met at ASU while she was a French Language Major!
In preparation for our month of June visit,our family I am diligently reading your blog.
You've helped me get in the spirit of all things French. I am a FRANCOPHILE, with some very rusty H.S. French!
I wish you and your husband the very best with your newly planted children!

paris (im)perfect

I agree with Annette - that photo of Jean-Marc is what struck me. Hoping to make it to 20 years with my Frenchman (our fourth year anniversary of meeting is next week - April in Paris!) I love that you have his photo stuck to your computer. So sweet!

Chris, Utah

The photo of Jean-Marc had to come from an older "carte d'identite" (another vocabulary word)...the staple marks and the franking gave it away.


That's a lot of planting in a day, Kristin - I get charged when I fill up a container with herbs! Kudos to your sweeet hubby and his helpers for such dedication. I'm certain that the little plants feel his love and will produce luscious fruits when they grow up.

Kristin Espinasse

Sion, happy anniversary of meeting your beau!
Chris, I think it came out of his drivers license...


Interesting... My video had no ads across the bottom, and the You Tube one had ads but supplied an x in upper right to close out the ad. Or it was the other way around and You Tube had no ads, etc. This was on the Mozilla Firefox browser.

I was curious about this, so I opened Internet Explorer and went to French Word a Day and watched the video. There were the ads, and no way to close them out. So it's the browser, or your settings on the browser. My Firefox is set to block pop-ups. My IE isn't. Maybe that's the difference?

Anyway, I'm amazed at how the planting process yields such straight rows of vines. I know they use a wire for the horizontal, but the vertical is eyeballed! And with their backs to the other vines. I am in awe of people so at ease around the soil.


This is simply impressive and something to be proud of. Passez un bon fin de semaine Kristin!



Kristin, thanks for bringing us this blast from the past. I'll have to show the video to my wine-loving husband. Bravo to anyone who dedicates their lives (and backs) to the earth. My favorite French word is "doucement -- quietly, gently, slowly." It's impossible to say with any anger in the tone. I hear it in streets and bistros most frequently directed at dogs and children - a gentle reminder to behave. But it seems to articulate French life as I've experienced it.

It's cold here in Missouri, but at least the sun is shining bright. There's hope for spring yet.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Loved the video! The U2 song is perfect. Planting the vines, growing the grapes, making the wine ... a labor of love. The labor behind the wine is something we should all remember when raising a glass in toast ... to the vintner!

If anyone one reading these comments has rented an apartment in Brussels and make a recommendation, I would love it. Returning to beautiful Provence in September but going to Belgium for the first time in July.

Jennifer in OR

Lovely video, and viewed with Safari I have no ads to block the view. Blessings on your vines! Belle's daughter, Amie, who commented above, seems to have a very familiar yours!

Debbie in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

A blessing for you and Jean-Marc

May the rain be soft and the wind gentle to your vines and harvest.

Fred Caswell

Damp and chilly here in Middletown, Rhode Island.

J'aurai quatre-vengt-trois ans le vengt-neuf mai et je peux/puis encore dancer!

Il y a beaucoup de mots francais que j'adore mais "bichonner" comes to mind when used to means to pamper, to pet. I believe loving relationships all require each etre "bichonne".

Mary Ellen Fort

What a lovely scene to share with all of us. You and your husband are treating our planet with great respect !!!!!!!!!!


The picture you tape to your computer look's a lot like the one of you two love bird's that took center door of Betty and Rusty's fridge for a very long time :)
I noticed while watching the video that even with it being back breaking, fast moving work, they all seemed to be enjoying work at some thing you love makes a very big difference.
ANever stop dreaming ;)

joie  carmel,ca

I am 65 and still dream. Why not? One should never stop. I loved the video. I know that grapes will tolerate pretty poor soil, but that soil looks like it wouldn't be good for much. You have loam and we have river bed sand and decomposed granite and perhaps silt from the river. Wine is sunlight held together by water. Sunny and cool here in Carmel.

Joanne Fischer

My back hurts just thinking about how hard they worked. And, just think, we had dinner with your husband just a couple of weeks ago and drank his wonderful wines! So now we have more wines to look forward to drinking in the future!


having met jean-marc in oakland at the bay wolf restaurant, i can attest to his love of the grape. how wonderful to see him in action in the fields!


Thanks Kristi for the video link. And Andrea for pointing me in the right direction for the song. The music is the perfect accompaniment to the video . . . and it has such a beautiful melody.
Merci, Robin

Kaitlin De Jong

I love reading this blog and have looked forward to posts for years...I am 22 now, but found French-Word-A-Day back in high school when looking up culture projects for French class. Three books bought and a bunch of posts later, I am still happy to recieve email alerts out here in Seattle, WA. My favorite French words (so far!) are le pamplemousse and chercher because they're both fun to say :-)


Kristin, I've been meaning to post for a while now, since your evening at Shakespeare & Co - I doubt you'll remember, what with everything that was going on, but I said thanks afterwards downstairs, explaining I too have just moved to Paris at the age of 22, as you described yourself doing. Once again, it was an inspiring talk - and thanks too for your posts here, they're a real pleasure to read, quite apart from the useful words to be learnt!

Favourite French word of the moment: un éléphanteau. Makes me smile just to say it, an adorable word for an adorable creature. : )


Hi Kristin! Well, since you encouraged posting.... I don't usually post comments, but I always read :) I emailed you a few years ago and bought your fabulous book directly from you when it first came out. I remember being so excited when it came in the mail with your little note and loved reading it. I have since moved from southern Cal to northern Cal, just 15 miles north of Napa Valley. I lived in Paris and the south of France for three months in 2008. Also went to french language school in the south of France. I try to spend as much time as possible in France every year and the reasons are endless :) Have been to many readings at Shakespeare and Co, but unfortunately was not in Paris when you were there reading. Thank you for years of reading enjoyment :)

Kristin Espinasse

Chère Alison, thank you for your note about Shakespeare Co. Send me you picture! It was a little crowded and chaotic downstairs (cozy chaotic, the good kind!) with the wine tasting and all.  And thanks for éléphanteau. What a sweet and éléganto word.

Judy Knudson

I LOVED the video!! We have friends who own a vineyard and winery here in the U.S. and I know how hard they work--but we all love the delicious results!
I'm also fascinated by your comments from Dianne de Poitiers--we visited Chenonceau on a bike trip one time and heard all about Diane de Poitiers who lived there I'm thinking in the 1500's?? She used to ride here horse down that long corridor that spanned the river if I remember correctly! Fascinating woman!

Cindy Gooch

Just returned from a roadtrip between Phoenix Arizona & Sacramento California and back. This means we went through wine country in California - while the fruit and nuts trees were all in bloom, the vines were only beginning to wake out of their winter slumber, carefully peaking out their fingertips of little leaves of yellow-green...acres and acres of vines...I thought of you, Kristin, and Jean-Marc!

Dianne de Poitiers

I have long been a fan of the "real" Dianne de Poitiers and have seen her signature with 2 Ns, just like me! She's my favorite female person from French history. My favorite male is Jean Moulin, the Resistance leader. What a guy! Some of my friends started calling me Dianne de Poitiers so it's often my "handle" on sites such as these ... but I really live in Minnesota.


"Félicitations" for the incredible planting job performed last week by three very hard working men!
Hoping the 4000 babies enjoyed a great "baptême"...

I heard there were another hundred of them to be planted on Monday the 29th (double celebration!)
Out of curiosity, I just checked "les prévisions de la météo" (the weather forecast) for Ste Cécile-les-Vignes. It sounds as if Tuesday will be a perfect day for the latest babies' christening!
-> "faibles pluies" very early morning
-> "fortes pluies" through the morning,
-> "pluies modérées" for the beginning of the afternoon.

All my very best wishes to "le papa vigneron" & his newly planted field.

Augusta Elmwood

Ma chère Kristin,

I DO believe that when you look at that photo from the past, of Jean-Marc taped to your écran, you are also looking into the future, at your MAX at age 20 ! Do you see a similarity? (At first I thought it WAS a photo of Max).

The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? Or maybe I should say le raisin ne tombe pas très loin la vigne, n'est-ce pas? :-)

Bises from sunny Andalucia,

Roz Harris

Dear Kristin - The video speaks loudly to Jean-Marc's indefatigable spirit and your profound love and support, one for the other. Thank you for such inspiration. Also,thank you for la musique. The cover of Bob Marley's One Love is a good choice for the video...please tell me who is singing? My best regards to you and your family.
Roz Harris

Roz Harris

I scrolled up and discovered a reference to U2 and Mary J. Blige...great choice~

Leslie H

Beautiful day in Washington, DC--nice to be here after the chilly trip to Chicago.
I believe that "manoeuvre" is "handwork"--or were you punning?


The style that you write make it really comfortable to read. And the template you use, wow. It is a really good combination. And I am wondering whats the name of the design you use?

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