regard fixe

Cassis (c) Kristin Espinasse
The parasol pine trees of Cassis, where today's story ends in mystery...

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un regard fixe (reuh gaar feex)

     : a stare 

regarder fixement = to stare into the distance


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

"Fashion Sin"

In a small southern French port teeming with little fishing boats, where the windows above the cafés sport pots of petunias or geraniums or begonias or, tout simplement, leavestheir green tresses flowing out from the window sill, down the faded façades like little leafy Rapunzels...

Yes, here, just east of Marseilles in this sparkling, bateau-bustling bay, where the locals and the tourists sit sipping coffee or wine at the outdoor cafes...

Here, ici... all eyes are feasting! No longer trained on the little cotton dresses, or the giant falaise littorale beyond (its name escapes me after so many guesses)...

As I walk along the dock I follow the stares, which issue from amused eyes and land—paf!—smack-dash on me and my oblivious partenaire.

One of us has done it again: fashion sin.

Stay tuned for the next installment. Hint: the next word of the day will be agrafe....
Update: read the next intallment here


:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

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New France Reader Guide: Cassis! 
Thank you for sending in your tips and "what to sees" in Cassis. Click here to share your suggestions on where to stay and what to do. You'll find a video on the following page, too!

French Vocabulary

tout simplement = quite simply
le bateau = boat
ici = here
la falaise littorale = sea cliff
paf! = smack!
le / la partenaire = partner

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Book excerpt: When I graduated with an honors degree in French the following year, ads mentioning "French language a plus" weren't exactly crowding the classifieds in Phoenix, so I seized the first opportunity I could find. I tried my luck as a receptionist for a construction company with ties to France. But the only ties to France it had for me turned out to be opening the mail that was sent from there.... Read on, here.


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Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Katelyn Aronson

Dear Kristin,

Your book, blog, and presence in the South of France are a constant inspiration to me; french-word-a-day the sweet spot in my Monday. I am a southern California native who moved to Marseille 3 years ago, caught up in a similar "love story". Hearing yours is pure delight.

Many thanks for finding your voice and reminding us all that each moment of every day is worth a thousand words.

In admiration of another woman who has been brave enough to live her dream (whom I hope to someday meet in person!),


p.s. I think the better spelling of "teaming" in today's "fashion sin" post is actually "teeming" as in swarming. I could be wrong, maybe both spellings are now accepted? Bon, je ne veux pas couper les cheveux en quatre! ;)

Carla Polastro-Nigro

Dear Kristin,

The correct spelling is "un regard fixe".

Keep up the good work!:-)



Thank you Carla and Katelyn for the helpful edits. Much appreciated!


Kristin - I am looking forward to the next installment. Should we expect a faux paux?

Looking forward to words of wisdom on Cassis since we plan to go for a day out from Vaison in September.

Margaret in still hot and muggy Durham, NC.

Bill in St. Paul

Fashion sin is what I see most Americans committing when in Paris (and most of France). We've given up trying to "fit in" and gone with comfort when traveling so we, too, are guilty of fashion sin. (You can dress like the youth but when there's a good forty year difference it doesn't always work.) Once while visiting Chartres and taking a Malcom Forbes tour/lecture, I was wearing a t-shirt that said "Saints", which I thought was very appropriate for visiting a church. (The Saint Paul Saints are a minor league baseball team.) One of the lecture group sidled up to me and whispered "Where are you from?", I answered "St. Paul, Minnesota". I said where are you from and he answered "White Bear Lake" (a city near St. Paul). So my "saintliness" didn't fool everybody.

Linda Howard

Hi Kristin-- The name of the falaise is Cap Canaille. I recently lived in Cassis for 4 months and my front door looked out on the Port and the Cap. It was glorious.


I'm guessing that someone fixed a trailing hem with a stapler? But no one could have provoked des regards fixes like my daughter's boyfriend who accompanied us to France for our older daughter's wedding. As soon as we hit Paris, on a hot July day, he changed into short gym shorts for our afternoon stroll. Oh, là là. Perhaps in his mother's absence, I should have gently corrected him, but my attitude is laissez faire when it comes to my own kids' fashion choices, so I said nothing and shrugged off the looks we got. Fortunately he remained oblivious.


Wondering if Bill , above, means Malcolm Miller, in Chartres. It is more likely.


Good morning Kristin,

Your latest pictures are just lovely and have given me a real sense of being there. Thank you for resurrecting the memories.

Marianne Rankin

You didn't say what you two were wearing. Americans are sometimes glaringly evident by their clothes. I think it's OK to look "foreign" or even "tourist." But often, the clothing doesn't fit the place. Here in the D.C. suburbs, I'm appalled at what people apparently can get away with wearing to work - and equally upset by what they wear to worship services (ratty jeans . . .)

In a place such as Cassis, which looks kind of summer-vacationy, what was it that attracted attention? Or will we find out in the next post?


I can't wait to find out what the fashion faux pas was. Let me guess. Was it a dry-cleaners receipt stapled to the hem or collar of a newly pressed skirt or blouse?

I love the phrase, "like little leafy Rapunzels..." I wish I had written it.

Keep up the excellent writing.

This is Tom from Detroit where it's "hot town summer in the city...back of my neck getting dirty and gritty." Not really, I shower daily and I just got AC in my office!!


Not to be mean, but if you are like me, I'm guessing the fashion faux pas is coming from you...after all these years here, I still can't get it right.

Herm Meyer in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

About the mystery . . . . You weren’t walking with your “sneaker-shoed chèvre” to the local branch of the Staples Office Supply store were you?

À bientôt


Lee Isbell

Hi Kristin,
Waiting in suspense.

Perchance, do you mean "partenaire" in the vocabulary? You're missing the "t."

aldor lanctot

I was looking for the word "parenaire" but couldn't find it. I did look up "partner" and saw that the spelling closely resembles the word given but spelled "partenaire".

Bill Facker

Kristin, Please tell me you weren't wearing those high-top black and white Converse sneakers with your sun dress again ... Please! Aloha, Bill Facker

gail bingenheimer

Quelques-unes de ses découvertes lui vaudront un jour une renommée mondaile.
Some of her discoveries will bring her world fame one day.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love the photo of la falaise Cap Canaille. Gorgeous!! Hmmmm....did you have something come unbuttoned or unzippered?

Julie Dufaj

I ordered your book from Amazon today. Can't wait to get it and read it!

Julie Dufaj

Fashion sin = Faux pas?


I love a good mystery. A la prochaine fois!


This is the loveliest picture of la falaise in Cassis. I have made it my screen background. It even won out over the picture of my grandkids in the Poppies.
Its hot, very hot, and sticky here in Ameliasburgh. Brief showers just raise the humidity.

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