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Yes indeed, step right up and have a look at the la book! When you click over to the book page you will:

  • Enjoy a 15-page preview -- including a favorite quote of Kristin's and pictures of Smokey "R" Dokey's dashing dad!
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Word-A-Day: the book! Don't delay, click over to the book page here, thisaway! The 120-page second edition is full to the brim with French photos and there are even a few family recipes! The book makes an excellent:

  • educational gift
  • textbook for your French conversational group (it's never too late to begin one!)


Thank you for your purchases, which are helping to boost this free language journal into its ninth year!

Today's Word: rabais

rabais (rah-beh) noun, masculine

: discount, reduction

Listen to our daughter, Jackie, pronounce these words: Download MP3 or Download WAV

Obtenez un rabais de $7 dollars quand vous achetez mon livre.
Receive a $7 dollar reduction when you buy my book. 

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

Yesterday was a BIG day for Chief Grape. His wine cellar expanded twofold! Space has been one of the biggest issues (or casse-têtes!) since Jean-Marc decided to produce wine here at the farm. For the past three years he has littéralement worked around the problem: crawling on hands and knees over the cement tanks (the tops of which double as storage space...) and squeezing in and out among the cases of wine which line the center of his cave. Lately, things have become so pinched that it's all he can do not to suck in his stomach when inching past the equipment. Pardonnez-moi for these little amplifications of the truth, but if Chief Grape hasn't exactly had to rentrer le ventre, he has indeed been pinched for space.

The space problem may not have caused the accidents that he has had in the cellar (in particular, the one in which he fell off the grape press... and the other in which he was nearly knocked out by a piece of heavy, falling equipment), no, these accidents were due more to fatigue than to lack of space. But what is sure is that lack of space has greatly led to fatigue! 

After studying several space-expanding possiblities—all too pricey or legally dicey (for in building an extension to the cellar some rules might be overlooked...)—Chief Grape settled on a unique solution: the maritime shipping container!


These former cargo containers, or conteneurs "Dernier Voyage" (so called after their retirement from years of ocean travel) are a welcome addition to our eclectic grape farm!  Jean-Marc will soon fit them with a heating and cooling system, while Uncle Jacques will take care of insulation. Eventually these dented "dernier voyagers" will be stocked with farm equipment and wine!

Initially skeptical of their ability to feng shui or groove with this Gallic winery... a recent revelation has me thinking that they are not the eyesores I thought they would be. Perhaps this has to do with their history... and all those bumps and bruises they sport (for who can help... but feel compassion for their sort?). 

So bienvenue dear, retired seafarers! Do make yourselves at home, here in the wild and windy Rhône.  


Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, questions, and comments are most welcome here, in the comments box. Click here to leave a message. 

French Vocabulary

le casse-tête = headache (problem)

littéralement = literally

la cave = wine cellar

pardonnez-moi = excuse me

rentrer le ventre = to hold in the stomach

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Hi Kristin

Long-time fan GEORGE here !

I often buy your recommendations from Amazon, but as a "BRIT" living in france generally switch the ".com" part of the URL to "" so as buy in sterling rather than greenbacks ... Do you still get the "credit" if we do this ?

Thanks for the continuing pleasure you give us 3 times a week & keep up the good work !


Suzanne Codi

Hi Kristin
I'm new to your newsletter, turned on to it by a good Francophile friend. You are living the life I would love, being 1/2 French ( le Francais est ma langue maternelle!!) except that my husband only speaks english, so we content ourselves with visits to family every couple of years, mais entretemps, j'aime tout ce que tu ecris, et j'adore les chiens( j'en ai deux gros) et le vin! Ma fille a 15 ans et parle bien francais( finally...) mais manque de vocabulaire, so this is perfect for her! Merci, it must be a lot of work to keep it up, but it's very appreciated. ( ps i believe croque-monsieur is masculin, sorry, but you asked for corrections...!!) Thanks again, ton site est SUPER!!

Suzanne Codi

Sorry, I meant casse-tete, not croque monsieur...thinking about 2 things at once got me in trouble..!!!

Amber, Peoria, IL

I always think about commenting, but I don't make the time. Today I will! I love the solution to the space problem in the "cave". It is a tight fit. My husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to visit in May. The conteneurs "Dernier Voyages" remind me of an Alaskan solution. This is something you would see there, chez mon pere! You mention that there are recipes in your new book. Does that include the one for tapenade by your belle-mere? As I look back at pictures, I am reminded of eating it and drinking your wine in your lovely home. Our visit to you was one of the highlights of our trip to Provence. I hope you received my personal email of "thanks" that I sent in June. Je vous remerci! Each time I read your blog, I go back to a wonderful trip. Can't wait to hear more about harvest! Aussi, bonjour a Oncle Jacques!


George, great to see a note from you! And thanks for asking about the Amazon *Europe* links. No, I do not get credit for these (but there is a possibility for me to sign up to their associate program -- one needs to sign up to each program (UK, France, USA...) separately.)

Suzanne, Always tickled to know a Francophone is reading this word journal! And thank you for leading your daughter over to us (bienvenue!). Glad to have the correction for casse-tête... will fix this soon :-)

Amber, I've searched my inbox but cannot find your email. Hope you received my note from today. Wonderful to see your message after our visit last May!

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Such creativity! Maybe some enterprising artist will paint a trompe d'oeil on the side of of your maritime containers. I see rows of vines ... thus expanding the vineyard while expanding storage! Or maybe a filed of tourne sol.

Leslie in Massachusetts

Odd that casse-tête and tête-à-tête are both masculine when tête is feminine, n'est-ce pas?


If you would like to increase your vocabulary and learn how to slight people à la Française, I recommend the film "Ridicule". From the synopsis: Ridicule is a kind of dashing verbal swashbuckler in which duels aren't fought with swords, but with the equally fatal weapon of words--rapier wit in its most literal sense. Ridicule is magnifique!

Paul Heffron

Hi Kristin,

Eyesore - une horreur. Let's hope they're

Best regards,



I love seeing the containers put to good use. Perhaps one of them carried all my possesions to and from Paris a few years back! J


What fun if they were painted with world wide labels on them like they used to do to luggage. Trompe d'oeil could be fun too.


Necessity is the mother of invention and it look's like Chief Grape found a great solution!
Now I'm headed over to get a glimps of your book!!
Have a great day :)

Kathy in TN

Hey, I'm sure you know an artist who could paint a trompe l'oeil scene on those containers. They could easily go from eyesore to a fun addition to the farm.


Suzanne, Kathy, and Karen, loving your trompe l'oeil ideas! The world wide labels and sunflowers have my vote so far!

Leslie, Yes, it is odd! And, thanks, now I don't feel so bad for getting the gender wrong!

Brigitte, thanks for the recommendation! I'll add "Ridicule" to the shopping section.

Lisa@ Tarte du Jour

I sent your book (first edition) to my francophile friends. It made a wonderful gift! The photos are lovely and of course I love your writing!



I was also referred by a fellow Francophile. She knows I have long held "foreign film Fridays" at my house. I watch the film ahead of time and then cook food that corresponds with the film for us to enjoy during and after the viewing. I have SO enjoyed your posts and like to start my day in a "French" sort of a way. My dogs get the benefit, for the most part, and I let my husband sleep. I, too, like the idea of the post labels, or even a view at sea as a nod to the containers' origins. It might become a tourist draw to have a tall ship rising out of the vineyards! I also appreciate the shopping links--it's how I got a beautiful copper cookie cutter in the shape of the Eiffel tower to help celebrate Bastille Day. Thank you for all you do.


I vote for the trompe l'oeil. You could even paint them to make it look like you are seeing inside with the bottles or barrels or just make it look like the landscape, sunflowers, etc. Or, you could paint them abstractly and have fine paintings in your yard instead of sculptures, or you could paint sculptures on them with your landscape, again trompe l'oeil. So many choices.
It is good to see Jean-Marc thinking outside the box - or is that with the box or what? Recycling is good!

Ken Christian

Hi Kristin,
You translate littéralement to English as litterally. Is this a little joke about your puppies? (Ha!)
Thanks for what you do so well.

Natasha Evans-Beauchamp

Thank you for the wonderful word journal. On the subject of ways of increasing sales on Amazon, I would greatly appreciate more links to films and music French books for my older children (eldest is in sixieme in a French school here in the US. They are perfectly bilingual.)
Many thanks again!

Robyn Daniels

Hi Kristin
I love the 'thinking outside the box' solution that you and Chief Grape Jean-Marc came up with in these retired containers. Imagine the tales they could tell of lands they have visited and treasures they have held and disgorged. They are with you for a reason. It also occured to me that they are fabulous blank canvases for you and your maman artiste or both/and or family and friends to decorate to attune them to their new home and landscape (I wonder if they miss the sea?!). A reason and activity for a Thanksgiving Party perhaps - make sure they bear both the Stars and Stripes as well as the French flag!

Robyn xx


What a creative headache remedy! I like Karen's idea of painting them with labels like old luggage stickers, too.

Samantha Verant

Hi Kristen- I'm new to your blog, happy to find another memoir authoress whose "likes" are similar to mine. (My husband's name is Jean-Luc, not a vintner, he's a rocket scientist). Anyways, great resource you have here. And you now have a new subscriber who will soon be reading your book.

Eileen deCamp

I love the idea of trompe l'oeil also! It's great that they will be put to use and decorative murals or something would be nice!
Good luck with the harvest!
I hope your Mom is doing well. I haven't noticed her commenting for awhile.

Candy in SW KS

I vote for JULES to paint the boxes! JULES, how are you? I miss you! Kristin, I'm so happy that things are going (and growing) well for you. A delightful post, as always. Cheers!

Dana Marie

Kristin- I have been a subscriber and enjoying your lovely emails all the while. I was particularly intrigued and impressed with the economical/environmental re use of the container. Good luck with the wine! Thanks for all you do.

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, in many of your photos, especially but not only cinema verite, you have items that are kind of worn, at least by American standards. You see beauty in things that are "abime." To me, the old ship containers look all right; the light blue is reminiscent of the sky. But as others have suggested, they have artistic potential.

I'm glad you found a good way to get more storage. I'm afraid such containers would be too large for my back yard!


Painting definitely - an artists delight for a canvas plein air - and there's always the possibility of using them as a trellis! Camouflage ala naturelle - Concealment in the form of a sculpture of grape vines alive or post prune. Envision the doors as passage into a cave (maybe with people festive inside drinking wine! :), with sunflowers confronting the entrance. Love those containers we have many here in HI- also used the same 4 storage.




Sharon Auckerman

Yet another use for these containers! How creative. Were you aware that there is a company in the U.S. that is turning them into homes? They make nice looking modern abodes. There was an article in Popular Mechanics or Popular Science last year that describes how it is done. Think of what some paint and a creative brush could do!

margy mullins

Bonjour Kristin and Chief Grape,
Delightful story today. Turning grapes into wine and conteneurs into la nouvelle cave. Creative creatures you two.
Francophile fan

Janae Monir

I can't wait to get the new book! I bought your first book one day after glancing it on a shelf at the bookstore; then I found your site and I've been reading ever since! Thanks for providing great stories (and vocabulary words!) over the years.



Lisa, I appreciate your offering my book as a gift to a Francophile. Merci! I have just enjoyed my visit to your blog... and the tips on how to make the perfect cup of coffee!

Dotty, you say your dogs benefit from French Word-A-Day? Now if that isn't an endorsement... :-) P.S.: can we all come over for a movie and some French munchies?

Kathleen, For the trompe l'oeil, or what JM is calling the fresque, I might vote for your "view looking in (to the cellar) with bottles and barrels". Thanks, and please remind me of this if we end up doing a vote!

Ken - haha. Litter-ally was a happy accident. (The dogs are always on my mind.)

Natasha, thank you for the shopping section suggestion: more movies, music, and kids books to come !

Robyn, the castaway cargo containers do look a little homesick, now that you mention it!

Samantha, tell us about your book! If it is French-related, we can post it on the blog :-)

Eileen, Candy, (and those of you who've asked about Jules): Mom is doing very well. Her computer finally went kaput, which explains her long silence here and over at Facebook.

Cindyless, love your "camouflage à la naturelle" and trellis ideas!

Sharon, yes, ever since JM had the containers delivered I've been fascinated by them, busy googling "container cottages" "container homes" "creativity with containers" and so forth :-)

Thank you all for these cheers and ideas. Every word is appreciated!

Jan Romeu

Lovely solution to a difficult problem! I,too, vote for the trompe l'oeil idea. Also, I understand these containers can get very hot inside so perhaps a wooden pergola with grapevines growing over it to shade them in summer and cut down on cooling costs. I don't think it would require a building permit since it would be a "temporary" structure. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Kristin Espinasse

Jan, the wooden pergola is an excellent idea. Jean-Marc had planned on this; only, lately, he says he can go without, now that he will insulate inside of the container. But the pergolas would cut down on cooling and heating, wouldnt they? Hmmm.... 

Samantha Verant

Thanks for the offer, but my memoir is not finished as of yet. I'll begin shopping it to agents in the US come October. Part love story, part travelogue, it's about how I met a man in Paris twenty years ago, he wrote me seven beautiful love letters, and I never wrote him back...until last year. We married on May 7th of this year. Of course, this is the short version. And wow! Your new book has such beautiful photography. That, and I'm a sucker for golden retrievers. In the meantime, I put a link to your site on my blog.

Jennifer in OR

Love the container art ideas. Looking forward to seeing what turns out. For now, I really don't think they are an eyesore - a very unique addition.



I am a regular reader and wanted to say thank you for posting this blog. Not only to I get true enjoyment from reading your work, but I have benefitted from your recipes and how-to's as well. I enjoyed your zuccini potato casserole the other night and my kids loved the new french dinner. Also, after your post with your belle-soeur, I have taken to making the boite du lavande each summer. Thank you for sharing your life and work (writing) this way.

Jules Greer

Hi Kristi,

I just found this post - better late than never. I had no idea that you had put this book up for your friends and fans of French-Word-A-Day.

I am so proud of you for making this decision, I know you were worried about the cost - but that's what it costs now-days to produce a book of this quality. I hope everyone buys one and an extra for Christmas presents. I love my copy which you just brought me February 2011.

Sometimes special gifts take a little time.



Frederick Roberts

Very practical solution to suddenly new, storage needs. If you now own instead of rent the cargo box, a new coat of paint in a different color should help.

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