An ewt in Ramatuelle... read on


énième (en-ee- em) adjective

    : umpteenth, steenth, nth

Audio File & Example Sentence:
Larmoyante, elle a fait son énième mea culpa.
Teary eyed, she excused herself for the umpteenth time.

                            ("Naomi Campell: Le Mea Culpa de Trop" Gala magazine)

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

Words & Expressions Learned (or revisited) While on Vacation

faire le pont = "to do the bridge"

Because Ascension Day falls on Thursday, the French arrange their agendas to allow for a vacation "bridge" (to cover the following work day...) one in which Friday becomes part of the passage to the weekend—and no longer part of the obstacle (work, ever the obstacle!).

And so it was that we skipped work on Thursday and Friday... in time to join a group of friends along the Blue Coast for our annual May getaway.

une hutte
(noun) = hut

On the outskirts of Ramatuelle, near St. Tropez, along the sandy Pampelone beach with its turquoise sea and undulating eau de mer, hundreds of bamboo bungalows face the Mediterranean.  Similar to the sailboats anchored across the horizon, these abodes are amovible. I overhear fellow vacationers refer to these "chiqued up" mobile-homes as huttes (which the French charmingly pronounce at ewts).

"Quel numéro de hutte as-tu?"

, I have number 47, three rows back from the sea. Our hut does not have a seashore view, but is one in a circle that faces a half-dozen identicle huts—all occupied by "Les Marseillais" (the group of friends that we join each year. This being our 10th meet-up....)

griffes de sorcière (noun, f) "witches claws"

These modernized and elegant ewts are surrounded by succulents commonly known as les griffes de sorcières (Carpobrotus edulis). The pulpy plant's flowers, in pastel yellow and pink, stretch out over the sizzling sable, mimicking the barely clad beachgoers.


Speaking of bare-clad...

énième (also spelled n ième) "umpteenth" (see example sentence, above...)

My friend Sophie and I have arranged ourselves on the beach, contorting barely clad bodies into inconspicuous positions, only, in so doing, we become conspicuous. I borrow Sophie's Gala magazine for cover. Though it won't hide my entire body, it will conceal my face (rendering my body inconnu if not "ni vu").

As I lie there, incognito, my nose to the spine of the magazine, ink bleeding onto my cheeks, I notice a story about a famous model's latest meltdown or run-in with la rage, wherein the superstar shows, once again, her very own "claws" or griffes de sorcière—only they aren't as soft as those flower "griffes" that embellish the ewts at the top of the beach.

For a grateful moment, I think about anonymity and this gift of lying inconspicuously by the sea. Who would want to be a star or a tabloid sensation-stalked celebrity? A few extra kilos no longer hold the same oppressive power over me and I wouldn't trade this heaven... for "Tall, Thin and In Trouble with the Paparazzi Again." 


French Vocabulary

eau de mer
"ni vu (ni connu)"
= neither seen nor heard

note: deadlines! deadlines! I ran out of time for the vocab section! Anyone like to help complete it? Thanks for volunteering a word or definition here, in the comments box.


st tropez beach bungalow sand

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Always thought it was "faire LE pont".......

Pat Cargill

Sounds lovely, your beach and the cozy cabins--with good friends. Mais, pourquoi were you hiding under a magazine?

Speaking of anonymity, mon mari et moi were on a biz trip in St. Petersburg, Fl, last week. Stayed at the lovely Vanoy. Sign outside the dining room read: No Photograhs or Autographs...to respect the famous that apparently visit there. Yes, the toils and travails of the "rich and famous"!


"When Ascension day fell on Thursday this year ..."
Ahem ... Ascension day is ALWAYS on a Thursday ... lol!!

Mme Miel

Mon amie, Je suis probablement la énième personne de te le dire, mais c'est "le" pont, n'est-ce pas?

Herm Meyer

Salut tout de monde,

One might say...

For relaxation,
the location
of your vacation
was a sensation!!

Je pense que "inconnu" pourrait être une apocope pour "incognito".

À bientôt.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ


Delightful as always, K. I hope you had a marvellous time. Very funny word-picture in mind as you hide under Gala only to come face-to-face with Naomi-the-telefonino-whacker. (Among other things.) Oh dear.


Noreen Dillane

Bonjour ! We too visit the'St. Trop' region frequently but have not found these HUTS ! We are again heading off on 3rd June - this time with friends -so we would love to know how to get to them. We have been on Pampelonne beach several times but always get to it from a different day trip so never quite know where we will end up on the beach. Any help or signpost or more specific directions would be appreciated so we also may enjoy the joie de vivre around there for a few sunny hours.
A bientot.


amovible--detachable, removable
eau de mer--sea water


I too fear the bathing suit time. I need to loose my winter weight, but Kristin, I'm sure that you have nothing to fear.
When I first saw les huttes, I thought that maybe you went to the south Pacific - I would never expect to see them near St. Tropez.
I think that we are all looking forward to the summer sun, beautiful weather and luscious flowers and vegetation.


faire la pont ---> faire "le" pont

Jean Lillibridge

The Ascension is always on a Thursday. It is called Ascension Thursday! So you will always have a long weekend.

Bob Haine

I am surprised that Ascension Thursday is celebrated in Catholic but secular France, with the resulting four-day weekend, not that I would complain! Here in our diocese in southern California, the feast of Ascension has been moved to the following Sunday.
Today (Monday, May 17) is a "furlough day", which means the schools in our district are closed, resulting in a day off for everyone, and a considerable savings for the district--a sign of the economic times. Next school year will be shortened by five days as well.
By the way, May 14 is my wife's birthday, and though not historically significant, is a VERY significant day for both of us!
(Joyeux Anniversaire a Max!)


Sounds like you are having heaps of fun and that you also have gained heaps of wisdom...there's more than one reason to not be even slightly interested in the life of celebrities...I am glad you are enjoying the sun and the sable...



Hi Kristin,
What a nice, relaxing vacation! It looks beautiful!
I will take a stab at the words:

eau de mer-seawater

Naomi Campbell is at it again?


Hi Kristin,
What a great vacation! It looks like heaven!
I will take a stab at the vocab words:

eau de mer-seawater

Naomi Campbell is at it again??



... back to FWAD today with quite a bit of catching up to do since the 'interpreting event' with the American boxer. Is it too late to add comments on “tintouin”? “smala”?... etc?

A propos du MOT DU JOUR: énième / nième
-> here, "ième” is the "ième" pattern of the ordinal adjectives (troisième. dixième, vingtième...)

I like "nième" when it's used with “fois”, as in: “pour la nième fois”
---> “pour la nième fois” = for the umpteenth time

Excellent expression when you are on the point of losing your patience after asking somebody to do something many many times ... and nothing's been done yet.
-> Je t'en supplie..., pour la nième fois, va donc ranger ta chambre!
-> I beg you..., I’m telling you for the umpteenth time to tidy up your bedroom !

If in a state of "exaspération", a French person might even repeat "nième" like this -> "pour la niè-nième fois"!


French Vocab List:

→ de l'eau de mer = sea water
→ amovible = removable , detachable
→ le sable = sand

→ inconnu
**inconnu(e) (adj) = unknown (cause, destination, person, writer),
- la tombe du soldat inconnu, sous l'Arc de Triomphe
= the tomb of the unknown soldier, beneath the Arc de Triomphe

** inconnu(e) (adj) = unexplored (land, territory)

**un/une inconnu (e) (noun) = a stranger

→ "ni vu ni connu" = neither seen nor heard


In the celebrity-saturated society that exists in 2010, merci beaucoup for the griffe-tendre (?) reminder that it is not always best to live under the scrutiny that fame brings, and that anonymity is to be enjoyed. :)

Jules Greer

WHAT! NO COMMENTS!!! I GUESS I HAVE BEEN LAZY TOO. I love this little beach house, wish I could have been in the one next door.
Do you have a website for this place? Also, I loved when I heard you were making Max's
birthday cake out of doughnuts...how cool.



Madeleine Dobronte

eau de mer = sea water
amovible = removable
sable - sand
Inconnu = unknown

Madeleine Dobronte

Faire le pont

Non faire la pont.

If you don't mind the correction. We enjoy your blog very much. Thanks.

Marianne Rankin

Sounds like a terrific vacation spot. If at some point you can post a picture of griffes de sorciere, it would be interesting to see.

When on fait le pont, does that depend on the employer, or is it done all over France? In the USA, any "extra" time beyond a holiday, even a couple of hours, has to be granted by individual employers. The federal government sometimes gives 59 minutes of extra time; I think if it's an hour or more, some bureaucratic procedure must be followed to authorize it.

In a previous job, the boss would never tell us if we would have extra time before a holiday until right before she was going to let folks go - at 2:55 if we could leave at 3:00. Because I was the executive asst., I rarely got to leave early even when everyone else did. I imagine it's better in France.

Hope everyone has/had a wonderful time away from life's ordinary demands.


Sounds like you are having a wonderful time! It is raining a cold rain here today in Virgina. Have a great week!!

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Hi Kristin, Looks like a beautiful place you were at. Isn't is strange there are no other comments today!!

Philip Hicks, San Anselmo, CA

Here in California we call the Carpobrotus edulis, Ice Plant. It's also known as Pigface, Highway Ice Plant, Hottentot Fig, and Sour Fig. (The fruit is supposedly edible as the name suggests.) It's most hated by golfers who lose their balls in it. Well, golf balls. However, it's fun to tee up the ball between the three fleshy "leaves" and hack away.


As requsted-emporter "to carry off premises"

First visit to Paris over 25 yrs ago. Wife wanted me to bring a cafe au lait back to our hotel room. Anxious to try out my high school french which I hadn't used for over 15 years, I left the hotel and entered a small cafe and confidently ordered "un cafe pour aller" and, of course, was met with puzzled looks from the server. Thinking that my pronunciation was not correct, I repeated the phrase for the enieme time. Finally, a patron said,through his giggles, "c'est emporter monsieur". Since then, I'm proud to report that I have utilized this useful verb on many subsequent occasions for much more than coffee and also that I will never forget it.


I think Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, because it is 40 days after Easter Sunday.

Énième is a lovely word which I didn't know. Must be colloquial, for it's not in my dictionary.

Jeff C.

eau de mer - seawater
amovible - removable
sable - sand
inconnu - unknown

Christine Cormack

Hello Kristin
I was most interested to see the French name for carpobrotus edulis - 'griffes de sorciere'. They grow here in Australia too, and when we were little, my sister and I used to call them 'fairy bananas' because they look like tiny bunches of bananas.
Here in Brisbane it is 70 degrees today and beautifully fine and sunny.


Hi kristin,
Glad to see the technical hiccups regarding the non posting of comments have been fixed!

So there you were, lying on the beach, unnoticed by anyone, “incognito” / "ni vu ni connu”, thanks to a Gala magazine over your head, a magazine full of all the latest news about celebrities and fashion (all models having similar slim and tanned bodies ...) One could sense a slight and amusing contradiction here!...

By the way, there is a full expression that conveys the whole purpose of the game:
“Ni vu ni connu, je t'embrouille.”
= 'You don't/didn't see me, you don't /didn't know me, I fool(ed) you.'

Just thought it would have been so much nicer for you to cover your whole face with a large "chapeau de paille" (straw hat) -> easier to breathe through the light straw 'dome' of the hat rather than through the printed paper of a magazine (I can imagine the magazine looking like a glossy paper 'tent' over your face, and gradually falling on your cheeks, giving away a smell of ink!) How's that, compared with feeling and smelling the sea air through the multitude of tiny gaps between the woven blades of straw... and... seeing a kaleidoscope picture of sky and colourful moving shapes?

will come back in a minute with your word "hutte".



1) Language

--> In French, “H” at the beginning of a word is not pronounced, so, the word “hutte” begins directly with the French vowel sound “U”.
--> “hutte” is a feminine noun.
- with the definite article, it is "LA hutte" (never "L'hutte”).
- with the indefinite article “une”, there is no liaison between “n” and “utte” so, to say “une hutte”, the French sounds to be pronounced are successively:
u – ne - utte (not u - nutt)
This is because that type of “H” is “aspiré” -> it is an 'aspirated h', as opposed to a 'mute h')

***Here is a selection of nouns starting with a “h aspiré”.
la harpe (= harp)
la hache (= axe)
la hanche (= hip)
le haut-parleur (= loudspeaker)
le hérisson (= hedgehog)
le hibou (= owl)
la honte (= shame)
le hurlement (=yelling, howling)
and ... “la hutte”

2) Architecture
“Une hutte” is a primitive shelter, usually built with branches of various sizes, large leaves, straw... and often found in or near a woody area. Here, I love the use of the word “hutte” for these modern and exotic looking holiday homes built along the beach. Nothing rudimentary! In England, they would be called “bamboo bungalows” I suppose (?) ... but as far as I know, there aren't any”! On the other hand, yes, you can find some very traditional brightly coloured “beach huts” - the first ones appeared in England around 1900 and became extremely popular in the 1920s and 30s.

--> Thanks for the name of these yellow and pink flowers!
--> As "numéro" is masculine & singular, the Interrogative Adjective used with "numéro" must agree with that noun -> so, "quel" (not "quelle")
The question should be: Quel numéro de hutte as-tu?

Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, thank you for the selection of nous with h aspiré -- and also for the correction.

And, oh, those huts from the 20s and 30s sound charming (charming as the hats from that same period, if you know what I mean :-)

P.S.: re the straw hat: they are lovely to peer through to the sky (dotted blue...). I left my own bent-out-of-shape straw hat behind. Next time.

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