The creepy French phrase for those "age spots" on your hands


Hunchback of Notre Dame (c) Kristin Espinasse
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame (spotted near the famous church). 

vantard,e (vahn tar, vahn tard) noun

    :  a bragger, boaster

se vanter = to brag
vanter = to praise, to speak highly of 
vantardise = bragging, boastfulness
... know any more expressions or idioms? Add them here!

Sound File: I asked our daughter, Jackie, to give us an example sentence for today's word... note: having technical difficulties with the audio, here... you may need to put your ear to the speaker...  Download MP3 or Download WAV

(Le vantard dit): Moi je suis allé à Disneyland Paris et pas toi! 
(The bragger says): Me, I went to Disneyland Paris and not you! 

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

On the table de nuit, which doubles as a bibliothèque, I set down a steaming cup of Ricoré and lept!

"You see... I'm back!" I chirped to my daughter, bouncing up and down on the king-size bed feeling very much the Queen of Cozy in her soft robe and slippers.
...And this is my f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e  place to be, better even than Pah-ree!

13-year-old Jackie smiled as she surfed the net on my PC, in search of tonight's episode of The Twilight Zone. I promised my daughter I would be home by Wednesday night, that the time would go by dare-dare, and that we'd be back to our evening ritual of foamy hot chocolate or coffee and frissons. 

Having selected an episode (we decided to watch "Nightmare at 20,000 feet" again), Jackie became curious about my trip to the capital.

"How was Paris?" she asked.

Puffing up ever so conspicuously, I reached over to the book shelf, selected a hard-bound edition, and tossed it to my girl before rolling my eyes skyward with a nonchalant "no big deal". Still, it was impossible to contain a squeal:

Mommy saw this writer! I sang, pointing to the book I'd just tossed.

and this writer...

and this writer...

and this writer...

...and THIS writer!

One by one I tossed the books beside my daughter, who looked thoughtfully at the book jackets.

"You know him?" she said, pointing to a black and white author photo.

"Well... not him... but he was there... to listen to her:

                                                   Ann Mah

I told Jackie all about Ann Mah's talk at Shakespeare and Company bookshop, where writers and authors and readers came to hear and to be endeared by a journalist who shared about feeling strangely foreign beneath her own skin. As Ann talked about her experience in Beijing, punctuating her story with savory bits about Chinese cuisine, I looked around the room and spotted some familiar faces and not a few Francophiles... 

(That's Amelie, left. I also enjoyed meeting Irene and Susan and.... Wish I got more pictures...)

  Sion Dayson, Christine Buckley, me, and Leona Liu

I couldn't see just how many book lovers and writers were present, having arrived an hour early so as to secure a front row seat. Downstairs and outside the bookshop more "bookies" and foodies and expats and travelers listened in as Ann's presentation was broadcast throughout the store... and all the way out the front door!

                             With Ellen Fetu, professeur at the American School

                 Dean and Kathleen, so happy to have seen them again

After Ann's talk, Jean-Marc served up his Domaine Rouge-Bleu red wine and the conversations flowed even if the passageways within the historic shop did not. In fact, some could not reach the winemaker and the wine... and so we stood stalled, but smiling, inebriated by the convivial atmosphere.

 Can you spot the winemaker? Also at least one podcasting  blogger.

I met more writers the next night when I realized a life-long dream, that of participating in a salon or literary evening. Speaking of lifelong dreams....

My mind reels back twenty some years... to a forsaken strip mall off Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. I am sitting alone at a snack bar willing it to be a French café... only each time I open my eyes the same seedy strip mall shakes me from my reverie.

I have just signed up for classes at Phoenix Community College but the campus, here in my native desert, feels as foreign to me as a far off city. I am not so studious. I do not want to go to class. I want to sit and think and think and think!

Thinking. Yes! That is what I want to do: to be with the freethinkers in Paris! What were those places called? Salons! 

But how to get from this seat in a seedy strip mall... to literary Paris?

Back now, to the future... where I am seated in the salon of a trailblazing travel writer. When Karen Fawcett took over Bonjour Paris, some 16 years ago, it was one of the first sites on the internet about the "City of Light". Back then, the French government tourist office, with its own nascent presence in cyberspace, included Bonjour Paris on its links page. Talk about a link exchange, avec le gouvernement français!

Seated now, far from that somber strip mall, but here, on an 18th century tapis, writers surrounding me, I sit cross-legged, beside mystery novelist Cara Black who is munching on a salad of endive and mesclun.  We are talking about characters and places, research and writing. Across a table of half-filled wine-glasses there are others who have followed their literary dreams: Ann is present, and presently chatting with Janet. There is Courtney and Laurel and Christine, who Jean-Marc calls "Chris"... and then there is Sadie, who breezed in late, and stole all our hearts with her funny stories about Paris pick-up lines (and, more humorously, her sock-it-to-'em send-offs, literal "send offs" which had her would-be suitors running the other way).  

From time to time, Karen asks another question, to which one by one the salonistas (for this isn't fashion, but fiction!) answer: What about expat life? What about writing?  Robin is doubtful about this latest question, but I remember enjoying all of her stories when we both took a class at The Paris Writers Workshop last summer.

As for how I came to France and to write and to sit in this oft dreamed of salon tonight, I look across the room to the only man in attendance. Though Jean-Marc did not bring me to France he is the reason that I have remained. What's more, I might still be seated back in that strip mall, thinking, thinking, thinking, having never realized this writing dream, were it not for my hero, whose shared misadventures keep my pen on-the-go.

Post note: re today's word "vantarde" (bragger), I hope that so much "name-dropping" does not make me one of those! 

Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box

French Vocabulary

la table de nuit = nightstand

la bibliothèque = bookcase

Ricoré = coffee and chicory beverage

Pah-ree = pronunciation for "Paris"

le frisson = shiver (in this example, from fear)

dare-dare = very fast

le gouvernement français = the French government

le tapis = carpet


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Smokey says: Moi, as a little whipper-snapper, one year ago...

...and when I was still healing beneath the jaw and the eye (remember those clay packs?!)

Books by the salonistas that Karen hosted at her soirée:

"Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself" by Ann Mah

"Moonlight in Odessa: A Novel" by Janet Skeslien Charles

"Sorbonne Confidential" by Laurel Zuckerman 

"Murder in Passy" (now available for pre-order!) by Cara Black

"Slave Hunter: One Man's Global Quest to Free Victims of Human Trafficking," by Christine Buckley

... and "Words in a French Life", bien sûr!


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


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Sion @ paris (im)perfect

Hi Kristin. It was wonderful seeing you at Shakespeare & Co. I had the same reaction when I saw *you* - wow! Looks who's here! :)

Isn't it a wonderful feeling being surrounded by books and readers and writers? Thank you for sharing your impressions of the evening and the literary salon. That sounds like my dream, too!

Hope to see you in Paris again soon. Also, tell Jean-Marc his wines were divine!


Good morning...What a nice way to wake up this am...reading about your night at Shakespere and Co! I am at work early this morning, getting a chance to check mail. It is so wonderful you are getting to live your dream. It is an inspiration for me to do the same. On another note, man do I like to think as well. I have been accused of thinking too much. To that I say, no one can take away your thoughts. They are all yours to use to escape, to dream, to just have.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for giving hope to dreams coming true!


Bill in St. Paul

Wow, what an experience to be part of a literary salon! Great picture of the Hunchback on his way to work and of Smokey-Dokey a year ago while under the care of Momma Blaise and Nurse Kristin.


Salut Kristin

Sounds like you enjoyed the Shakespeare experience. Did it feel like you were in a scene from Brigadoon or Camelot?

A farm boy might say you were in “hog heaven”. A southerner might say you were in “high cotton”. Your labor of love has paid off!

It’s okay to toot votre klaxon (toot your horn…se vantger)!

À bientôt


Sorry about the "fat-finger of "vanter"


It was an absolute pleasure to finally meet you, Kristin! I can't wait to catch up with you again - and you're only an hour and a half away from my in-laws, so I think we might be seeing you sooner rather than later!
And finally, I dropped in to my local caviste, who also stocks Rouge Bleu! I was rather excited and picked up a few bottles so we can do a tasting chez moi :)


Oh, Kristin, it was MY dream come true to have you and Jean-Marc at the reading, and, indeed, to have friends like you two. Thank you so much for making the trip to present your wine, for sharing your photos so generously, and for continuing to inspire my dream of a French life with your wonderful stories.

Linda R.

Good morning! What a delight to wake up to your posting, Kristin. I clicked onto Cara Black and realized she has a "new novel" - well, I hadn't heard about it yet, and I am a great fan. I clicked onto Sadie, hoping that I would find an article of sorts regarding her funny stories of Paris - zut! - another time perhaps. : ) I checked out the photo for Janet (but didn't see her.) I'm glad you have followed your dream and are so generously sharing it with those who have not wandered so far from home. Have a wonderful weekend.

Julie F

I don't mind your vantardise at all. It just reminds me that if I keep working at it, maybe one day I, too, might be part of a Paris salon (or at least a participant at the PWW). For now, I'd also be content to return to S&Co just to browse the books again. You certainly deserve your place at the table.

Julie F

I forgot to say thanks for the photos of Smokey Doke today. It is so hard to imagine it's been only a year. I remember how scared we all were for that little bundle of fluff. And we're all so glad to know that he survived and grew up to be such a handsome young dog.


uuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - you met Cara Black?? I adore her books!!!!!

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

I loved your post today, Kristin!! I don't think I ever learned that word before!! :) Thank you for helping grow my ever-increasing French lexicon!!

Candy in SW KS

"Je pense, donc je suis" could as easily be "J'ecris, donc je suis" n'est-ce pas? :)


Jean-Marc's wine was incredible. Perfect with the conversation. Thank you for a lovely post!


I can feel my library expanding...merci for mentioning all the new-to-me authors...having lived in rue de Passy for 6 years shall have to start w/ that one!
& we hope that Jean-Marc will soon bring his wines to the Washington, DC area.
What an exciting wkend......too formidable.

Nicole lidji

Vous ne serez jamais une vantarde !!!
J'aime tellement lire vos aventures .

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Wish I could have been there. It sounds like you had two wonderful evenings. I learned about Cara Black from FWAD. I'm envious.

Yes I see the winemaker right in the middle. I can hear him talking about pulling up weeds, cement tanks, carrignan grapes!

Voie de Vie

Chère Kristin:

Et voilà - it was indeed crowded! What a treat, although for some word, wine and passion are truly life's sustenance, n'est-ce pas?

Thanks for sharing the evening, as well as those Smokey pics - très adorable.

Cheers -


Chere Kristin, YOU? A vantarde???? NEVER!!!
I had been hoping you would share your magical evening with us ,and your wonderful descriptions (once again!) made me feel like I was right beside you,savoring every second!
Most of all,with God's grace,the way you cherish how your dream HAS come true!
You brought smiles to my morning! THANK YOU! Bon journee!

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

I know how you feel when you get to meet an author you admire. The first time I met you, you made me feel like we had known each other forever. I am delighted to call you my friend.

Always love seeing the pictures of the dogs.

Sandy Maberly

What a dream come true, as you so aptly stated! You deserve to brag...although you never do! Thanks for including all of us in your once in a lifetime adventure.

P.S. Katia asked me if my ears were burning this past weekend....hmmmmm, now I know why :-)


Kristin, You continue to inspire and give us hope. Thank you.


What a wonderful posting! Oh, to be at a Paris salon! Hate to do this...but there is a typo in the vocabulary list -- bibliothèque is missing the L. (Once an editor, always an editor, I guess.) Keep the great posts coming, and the useful words.

Young E. Paciello

Hey Kristin, it's been a long time since I corrected you and oh miracle! Ce n'est pas une correction mais un peu d'information que je te donne ici. My aunt (Suzy Parker) did a Twilight Zone episode (No. 25) and it was called "No.12 looks just like you)about a "perfect model" whose daughter does not want to be remade into her mother's likeness, even though she is plain. Jackie might want to see it, if she hasn't already.
I rejoice at your husband's wine success. My son Thibaut (who was born with his twin brother in Pithiviers)after 30 years in the US finally is back in Paris as Manager of the American floor of Ralph Lauren, the new store just opened on Bd St. Germain and he has a very interesting blog called
You should check it out. He has funny observations of Paris.


Kristin, I loved the telling of your evenings at Shakespeare and Co. I have stopped in there on every trip to Paris, just to absorb the ambiance.
I hate to mention this, but I'm pretty sure Paris is the "City of Light," rather than "...Lights." If I am correct, then MANY people make the same mistake, so not to worry!

nelly Chadirat

(Le vantard dit): Moi je suis aller à Disneyland Paris et pas toi!
(The bragger says): Me, I went to Disneyland Paris and not you!
Chere Kristin,

Once more all my SINCERE congratulations for the great job you do,and I gave and give your blog to them....but.....Today....there is ..."une toute petite faute....
LE VANTARD DIT:"JE pas de >>>R....>>>>>a la fin du verbe aller.
Je sais que vous la pauvre Frenchy que je suis qui vit aux States...fait probablement plus de fautes que vous.
Pardonnez-moi, mais vous faites un formidable travail.
Nelly , la Parisienne de Californie (Prof a LAHarbor College)Bonne journee

Kristin Espinasse

Chère Nelly, Susie, Phillipa et ami(e)s, thank you for the positive response to this report and for the corrections, which are so helpful -- so please don't ever hesitate to point out errors and "coquilles" (typos).

Candy, liking your "j'écris, donc je suis!"

Young, so good to hear from you after all these years. Thibaut's blog is a lot of fun. Great photos! Re your aunt, I cannot wait to watch "No.12 looks just like you" with Jackie tonight!

Sandy, eh oui, the girls and I had a nice chat about "our" Sandy!

Linda R, Zut! I didn't get any photos from the "salon" night. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Regret, regret, regret! Also, I changed the link to Janet's name => from her book (which is listed further down the post) to her must-see and read blog.

Herm, Brigadoon, Camelot, Hot Heaven, or High Cotton -- yes, I felt somewhere there!

Sion, Katia, Ann, and Laurel -- what a treat to have spent time with you all.

Karen Fawcett

Is the host supposed to thank everyone who attended the dinner - and Jean-Marc for supplying the wine?

We had such a good time and any time Kristin wants to come to Paris, let's have another get together chez moi. There's so much literary talent in Paris. I loved meeting everyone and don't think we talked "only literary." No way. There were a lot of belly laughs and that's my idea of a perfect evening. Best, Karen

Jennifer in OR

Mmmm. What a savory evening; sounds divine. Just to be there and listen would have been amazing.

Marianne Rankin

It will be years before I can get to France again, but when I finally return, I would be pleased not only to go to Shakespeare and Company, but to visit anyone who would care to share memories of this blog. And, of course, to get to Provence, as well.

Meanwhile, our door is open if anyone is passing through Washington, D.C. and would like to speak some French, or at least talk about things French.

Janet Skeslien Charles

Hello, Kristin,
It was so lovely to see you again and to meet your husband. What a treat to taste your wine!
I was so glad that Karen could invite us all over - what a wonderful evening!

Cheryl in STL

I really enjoyed this post! I met Ann at your Shakespeare and Co. evening. Ann and I were squeezed together at the top of the stairs. I ordered her book as soon as I got back to the US and loved it! I just wish I could have gone to Shakespeare and Co again last week. One of these days we'll have a chance to meet.

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