ceci et cela
What to Do in Lyon? / Que Faire a Lyon?


How to Dress Like a French Woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
How to Dress Like A Frenchwoman? I can't help you with that one, but you'll find answers to many more common questions in today's FAQ edition.

Do you have any tips on learning the French language?

Homemade flash cards and repetition were helpful to me. And don't miss these excellent ideas from readers: Best Tips For Learning French.  

I'm looking for a language program in France. What can you recommend?

I cannot personally recommend any programs; however, many of our readers have attended a language school in France and may be able to recommend something in the comments box, below.  

I am planning a trip to France. Which towns should I visit?

Check out these readers recommendations for some popular cities: like Paris and Aix-en-Provence.... and you'll find hundreds of villages mentioned in the stories here at the blog. Check out the French destinations category... and scroll down the pages!

Do you know of any gîtes, B&B, charming hotels, or home rentals?

You will find some homes and apartments listed in the sponsor section, at the top of the blog post or just after the story column. Home owners in France - to list your French rental, contact kristin.espinasse AT gmail.com

I have written a book and would like you to read it or endorse it or promote it:

I wish I could help but the best I can to is encourage you to have your manuscript read by friends, family, and professionals (there are many editing services listed online, see the new search box below).

I am looking for a French pen pal for my child. Would Max or Jackie be interested in corresponding?

Jackie currently has a pen pal—one to whom she owes a letter! (And Max isn't much better at keeping up with writing--beyond what is required for his heavy school curriculum.) If any readers out there might recommend a pen-pal site... answers are welcome in the comments box!

May I visit your vineyard? May I bring a group?

To visit Domaine Rouge-Bleu, please contact the new owners via the website.

I would like to purchase your wine in the States/in Europe/in Malaysia.... can you tell me where to find a bottle?

Contact my husband, Jean-Marc, via his site Mas Des Brun, which will also update you on our vineyard and olive farm. 

How did you meet your husband and was it difficult to adapt to France?

I met Jean-Marc at Le Mistral and yes, it was very, very difficult to adapt--but things got much easier when I began sharing stories. Please read them here or here.

You still haven't answered my question!
Sorry about that. Which question? Thank you for asking it here in the comments box

Even more questions? For your convenience, I am including this cool Google search box. I'm addicted to Google search, and to typing in questions ranging from "How to mourn a cat?" to, less eloquently "What to do when lose temper?" (Google told me to apologize...) 

Kristin and Jules
(Photo of Kristin, left, and Jules aka "Mom".) In other news, I've been working on gardening... or, rather, the garden section here at the blog. Check it out.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Tom Hodgman

Hello Kristin,
Let me join the flood of responses that are likely to sweep in with suggestions on courses or programs for French language learners. There are many, all with their advocates. I would like to offer a suggestion for a program operated by Françoise Le Roux in Lyon, available with this link:
Additionally, she offers online instructions and course work via her website, called La Guinguette, available through this link:
I can suggest that La Guinguette provides a preview of her excellent teaching methods, as well a very useful subscription for language learners at beginning through advanced levels.


Hi there,

"Useful terms?" Have people actually asked this?? How rude!!!

One of the endearing elements to your site is that it is not run-of-the-mill but unique and ingenious in format... and word selection. If people want a standard dictionary then there are plenty of those online and in the library. Your word selection is absolutely delightful, Kristin, and your stories even more charming. Please don't change your approach, but remain forever 100% you!

Gail Jolley

For French language schools in France, I highly recommend L'Institute de Francais in Villefranche sur Mer (near Nice). Website: http://www.institutdefrancais.com/


I would like to add this to the FAQs: Where is your vineyard located, exactly?

I'm sure you've answered it somewhere, but it would nice to have it in FAQs. You wouldn't have to give the exact address, but maybe la rue.

I love to read memoirs of people living in other countries, and then if we visit that region, try to drive/walk by. We've done this several times. It was a memoir that kicked off our European travel 11 years ago--a quest to find a house. It added another layer to our trip.

Jackie Guest

I second the recommendation for L'Institute Francais in Villefranche sur Mer. Intensive program in a beautiful site. Wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I agree with Angela. I like the words you choose. They are different and not usual ones that we would hear.
Happy Hump (Wednesday) Day! Do you have that phrase in France?

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I too enjoyed re-reading the gardening stories, especially the one on trimming lavender. I can hardly wait to pull my pots of lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage out of the portable greenhouse in the sunny corner of the deck ... not to mention the large portable greenhouse protecting the fig tree.

Each time I have opened the herb greenhouse this winter to water the plants, I can't resist running my fingers through the herbs. There is something wonderful about standing amidst the snow and smelling the fragrances of spring and summer.

I like the photo of you and Jules in the greenery. Is she holding one of her own paintings?

deb m

I was wondering if someone could recommend a way to go about renting an apartment for 2-3 weeks in Paris. I went on a number of websites and felt a bit overwhelmed and also wanted to know how to find out which ones were reputable. I know that a lot of French language schools provide home stays with people and would actually be interested in finding someone who does that (without taking the language classes), since I'll be travelling alone. merci.

Leslie in Massachusetts

I also appreciate the range of words chosen. One of my favorite ways to work on my French is to read books in French and I often come across words that I know from Kristin's blog, so I can see that it's increased my vocabulary - in a fun and easy way. I like that there are all sorts of words: common, basic words, as well as slang and unusual words. I've been reading this blog for years (since I came across a review of Words in a French Life, which I immediately bought and loved) and I know that among FWAD fans are French learners of all levels and I think that Kristin does a great job of providing something for everyone.

John Viescas

Make that a third vote for l'Insitut de Français! My wife and I have been twice - once for the full 4-week course, and a second time for a two-week refresher.


Ok, I'll join in for L'Institut de Francais. My wife and I spent three weeks there in January 2010.

Linda Hampton Smith

Regarding the question about French pen pals, I have two wonderful pen pals through France World (www.franceworld.com)


For learning French you might consider the French in Action series that was produced some years ago and available on line. I used it in university and use it now to try to brush up for my next trip. Google BBC and French in Action.

Marcia J. Yanshak

Try this e-mail and web site:

[email protected]


You will not be disappointed.

Alastair Grant

I so enjoyed your 'foix au questions' today and the discussions about 'faux amis'. (There's one below). I have just completed the first draft of 'une petite histoire' written using words common to both languages - it's about 300 words. My brain was sorely taxed! It was't easy. The idea is to show anyone who finds reading French difficult that it shouldn't be. Before I post 'cette imposition' on your readers would anyone like to see it? It is a draft and could do with some 'corrections incisives.' Here is an extract - it goes like this: 'Elle à les espadrilles occasionnelles sur ses pieds. Les deux garçons portes des jeans, T-shirts et baskets'. And what do readers make of 'baskets'?

Lawrence J. Krakauer

Regarding language programs in France: my wife Margie and I spent a week at L'Ecole des Trois Ponts, in Roanne, and I'd recommend it. You can see a report on our experience on my web site at:


At the bottom of that page (you may need to scroll down), you'll find a link to the school's web site.

Nackey Piedrahita

How does one raise bilingual children here in France? My 4.5 and 6 year olds speak better French than they do English after having been here 3 years. I insist on English in the house, but the two of them play together in French when not talkng to me. It was cute, but now worrisome. How have you or your other readers done it? Troubled in Toulouse...

PS I find your words wonderful and I understand why you choose to highlight them!

Gayle Markow

Like Deb M. I plan/hope to be travelling soon in France. I am also a lone traveller, a woman in my early 60s, who feels overwhelmed when I go to all the websites of possible places and classes. I really don't want to "tour" with a large group, getting on and off buses and "seeing sights". When I was young and in France, je fasais l'auto stop avec les jeunes francaises. They were So easy to meet and get to know. It was a huge adventure. Marie-Helene and her east German boyfriend to whose family we smuggled oranges, books and letters. Pierre and his "moto". Their family's chicken farm in Guichainville par Evreux. My first taste of Camembert after a lifetime of "American cheese". The whole thing "enorme" and "superb". As an adult travelling there alone, I've found it much more difficult to make connections. I wonder if there are other "mature" single adults who have found a way to visit France without a "pre-programmed itinerary, but still have some kind of base of support or connection, and/or activity that still left time for unscheduled surprises to happen. I'd like to go 2-3 weeks the end of June/early July. Any ideas out there?
Kristin, so grateful for your blog, your pics, and your honest and unique observations of your own life and the life you see around you. It's so fun, sweet, and inspiring! Thank you!

Debbie from Baltimore

Hi Kristin,

For those who are looking for pen pals, I'd like to suggest mylanguageexchange.com. It's a huge site on which you can find speakers of all ages looking for correspondents in a variety of languages, people who are eager to practice their English with you. They charge a nominal fee for membership, probably right around $10 a month.

Also, to the woman who is seeking a nice apartment to rent by the week in Paris, I would suggest she look at www.parlerparisapartments.com, organized by Adrian Leeds. I've never stayed in one of her apartments, but they appear to be lovely, well-appointed, centrally located and reasonably priced. Good luck!

Debbie from Baltimore

As a follow-up to my previous comment, I checked the mylanguageexchange website, and you can actually join for free with many of the benefits of membership, but a Gold Membership is $6/month and $12 for 3 months and allows you to contact penpals via email, text or chat.

Judy Knudson

I've attended the Institut de francais in Villefranche twice, once for a month and once for 6 weeks. I really enjoyed my time there, was quite happy with the results and would happily return. I would recommend a month at a time as (1) it is quite intense, and (2) normal sessions are a month long so with 6 weeks, you are with a different group and professor the last 2 weeks and leave halfway through the session.

Jenifer Farrell

Hi Kristin,

I never comment on your site but I love it! I am a French teacher here in the US and love your site both for me ... to revisit vocabulary I remember as well as sometimes learn new words ... and also for my students, for whom I sometimes put up one of your entries for us to read through and listen to. My students especially love stories about your kids and hearing their voices!

Anyways -- FYI (yet another acronym!) - we have had a lot of success with a penpal site called "epals.com" -- as a teacher I pair up my entire class but I believe individuals can go on and search for penpals as well. My students are exchanging with two different schools in the Paris region and it is really fun to make a real life connection.

Keep up the good work!


After todays posting, my head hurts , I need another French press .....

Napa Valley


Kristin -

Fun as always. But I'm commenting about your copyright at bottom. I've spent some time since Jan. reminding bloggers to update to 2011 - all you need is someone pulling a fast one on that...eek.



LOL/MDR Ken! Drink some for me.

For those looking for a more authentic travel experience in France, or elsewhere, I highly recommend UnTours. They are extremely reasonable, vet all accommodations, & give just the amount of assistance one needs-great or small. Small family run organization & best of all, all their profits go to non-profit organizations.
Go to their site & have a look:

Ditto the comments on choice of words. I can get the stock phrases anywhere...Kristin gives us the words of life as it is lived. Invaluable!

Marianne Rankin

All of the ideas for learning French, from classes to movies to independent study (books, CDs, etc. etc.), and ESPECIALLY asking natives to correct you if you have any around, are excellent. A combination of methods may work best.

I consider my French to be at a fairly advanced level, and unfortunately, a lot of what is "out there" is too basic; I wouldn't learn much from them.

A friend used to send me CDs made by Champs-Elysees, which were excellent. Each had about a dozen different topics, mostly history and culture of France, and always a music track, all spoken/sung by various natives at normal speed. A companion booklet with transcriptions was available for consultation. I used to play the CDs in the car, which helped me build vocabulary on all kinds of subjects (politics, religion, cheesemaking, interviews, movies ...) and sharpened my listening skills. For some reason, these are no longer being produced. If anyone knows of something comparable, I'd be grateful if you could tell me about it. So far I've not found similar CDs online.

I like the FWAD for numerous reasons. It is now a way to keep in touch with people who have become friends; it helps me maintain and improve my French, from slang and colloquialisms to useful words to pronunciation (like the sound file with various voices), and extras such as the photos.

I have a friend whom I've known since we met at a French poetry gathering in 1974. Except when non-speakers of French are present, we speak to each other only in French, and send letters in e-mails in French. We'll be chatting on the phone in a few days in French. Even though we're both Americans, we find that having someone to talk to helps.

I hope to get to France again someday, and to talk to anyone and everyone there - and for sure, to visit les Espinasse. Entretemps, I'll be at Jean-Marc's wine-tasting and dinner next week.

Gwyn Ganjeau

Deb M -- I know exactly how you feel. About 4 years ago, at the age of 50, I was planning my first solo trip to a place where I knew no one. Paris. It seemed as though i looked at hundreds of websites for rentals. But i did find one and used it again when I went back. I knew I wanted to stay in the Marais, and this agency had their office in the Marais, so I felt as though there would be a 'safety net' there--a place I could go ask questions if I needed to. They will also arrange transporation to/from the airport, if you like. They have many, many appartments all over the city in a wide range of prices. I have stayed in two different ones and in both cases found the representation of the apartment and services to be spot on. here's the link http://www.parisfurnishedapartments.com/

Also, I love to cook, so I signed up for a half-day cooking class. We met at one of Paris' fabulous markets and picked out what looked good that day and then tripped to the classroom to make a heavenly lunch. I did it fairly early in my stay( I stayed a month) and it allowed me to meet others who were in Paris visiting and some of us even got together again during our stays.

Oh my gosh, I was just flooded with a billion memories of that trip--it was a watershed experience in my life. You are going to have a ball!!


We spent a wonderful two weeks of French immersion at the language school Couer de France in Sancerre. In just two weeks our French progressed from terrible to bad. The big change we noted was on our subsequent stay in Paris. The natives started responding to out French in French rather then English.
By strange coincidence, the owners of Couer de France had previously taught French in our home town of San Diego CA.

Joie Blair

I think your choice of words are perfect. The different usages for each is very enlightening. Just yesterday I used a very recent phrase when I gave my new neighbor across the street some soup for his family. He asked what was in it and I replied "oh, ceci et cela"! To my suprise he started rattling off all sorts of questions in French! Oh my, after explaining I spoke "juste une petite peu" he slowed down. Turns out he studied at the Defense Language Institue here and lived somewhere in Africa (Algeria?) for 3 years where he spoke it all the time. His wife is Russian and teaches there now and the whole family including the kids are fluent in 4 languages. He has most kindly said he would help me an hour or so a week if I want. "Quelle chance."!

Heather Donaldson

Wow - so many wonderful comments on the Instut de Francais. I'm not surprised. I began my year long sojourn in France there last November. What an experience - for many reasons!
Yes, I'd highly recommend it - but don't be as naive as I was and think that you'll be speaking french after one month. I felt like a failure because it was a lot more difficult than I expected. I'd taught young children and THEY always learned so quickly - I actually thought at 66 I would too. Well, I'm still learning, not quite so discouraged and hard on myself - and best of all, having an awesome year.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Frank: Thanks for your ‘French in Action” suggestion. It looks like a great resource for getting some exposure to spoken French.

Joan Linneman

I'd just like to add a note to say how much I admire people who have the courage to travel alone. You are my heroes.
Joan L.

Lee Isbell

I got a good laugh at Cyndy's request for your address to walk or drive by, remembering how completely lost we got trying to find you when I toured with Lisa and Beth a few years ago. I'm coming back this year and will see whether they have learned the way in the meantime. :)

Stefanie J.

I too enthusiastically recommend Institut de Francais in Villefranche-sur-mer. They offer a total immersion program that is intensive but fun, and produces real results. Their teachers are well educated, dedicated, and appropriately trained in language instruction--this is not your average French program. A great place.

Sandra Vann

Wonderful to read all of the suggestions for immersion courses in France! Very timely, as I am in the process of researching options.
I am considering a very flexible program in Antibes with cia that a friend attended last year and enjoyed.

As a woman who has traveled extensively on her own, I send my best wishes to the women who wrote in to say they are planning to do so. There are home stays or visits for meals, and so many options to explore. I believe a book was written on this subject a few years back, the exact title escapes me however! Traveling Solo peut etre?
I hope to provide a very small tour for women to France in September...details to follow as I will be asking you Kirstin if I may post a notice on your wonderful blog. Only wish Chief Grapes wine tour included a stop in Colorado as well this trip.

Happy Spring and planting! Thanks for the joy and inspiration you bring to all of us with FWAD!


To learn french, I did several things. French In Action, Pimsleur I, II, and III, weekly lessons with a tutor, workbooks, many trips to France to practice what I was learning, reading Kristin's book right when it came out and studying it, reading her website when it first began, and a month at L'Instiut de Francais in Villefranche-sur-mer. I agree with what others said about the school being intense, but fun, in a beautiful setting. Do not expect to be fluent after the one-month course. There is a lot of homework which one must balance with going out at night and having fun. I would not recommend staying longer than a month, because at that point, I was ready to be done with classes and travel through France using what I had just learned. That was a couple of years ago and now I practice every day.


Alastair, Isn't "baskets" a French term for sneakers or trainers or whatever sports shoes are called?


In response to Gayle:
If you are in good shape for a long walk, consider a couple of weeks on one of the long distance routes in France (Grandes Randonnees). Last June I began the Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle from Le Puy-en-Velay and I reached Cahors two weeks later. In June, I will continue on toward the Basque region. These are well-maintained and well-signed routes and there is a wealth of information on the internet and in French bookstores. The route I mentioned is of medieval origin and it is very popular for single women of any age. There are a variety of accommodations every few miles. You will hear and speak French constantly, though English usually works, too. There is a great sense of shared adventure even for those walking toute seule.
From Durham NC where the saucer magnolias are blooming



Is there a website in English where I can learn more about walking the Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle?

Thanks in advance


I would second the recommendation for Coeur de France. Not only is the school good, but Sancerre is a beautiful little town, and because it's so small, the whole town gets involved, and the shopkeepers correct your French when you're buying your groceries!

In response to Gayle, I am in a similar position to you, and this is why I enjoy doing language courses in other countries so much. Apart from the fact that I just like learning languages, it gives a focus to the time that I'm there, but leaves plenty of time for sightseeing. Most courses also include optional excursions, talks, and so on, so one ends up getting to know the place really well.

Rhonda in Durham NC

For Christina and others wanting info about the Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle:

americanpilgrims.com (see resources page)
santiago-compostela.net (see Le Puy route)

Keep in mind that the traditional destination is in northwest Spain, so much of the info refers to Spain. But the medieval tourist could begin anywhere in Europe and the traditional French route is GR 65. (That is the Grande randonnee #65) You could also look for that info.



We have always had good luck with www.parisperfect.com. Although pricey, they are as advertised and in a great location. Between my sister and I, we have rented from them about 5 times. Overall, there are better options than when I started doing this 7 years ago. I just went through the same thing finding a place in Lyon. It is hard when you don't know a city but well worth it in the end as I think an apartment is far better than a hotel.

Margaret in Durham, NC

Lynne Sullivan

Can anyone give me suggestions on what to do and where to stay & eat in the Alsace area? Merci, Lynne

Chris Kelly

I, too, love the words that aren't in typical teaching materials. Yet aren't we learning up a storm? Milles mercis, Kristen!

Re Paris rentals, I and French friends rented from Adrian Leeds several years ago (in the Marais) and it was superbe.

Also, for the single traveler....check out Trip Advisor's Paris forums. I actually don't go on the Paris one myself, but judging from the Buenos Aires forum I haunted before and after our trip there, the folks are extremely helpful with specific questions and even arranged within themselves to meet for dinners. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g187147-i14-Paris_Ile_de_France.html


I am going to second the recommendation from Lawerence for language schools and suggest L’école des Trois Ponts. It is located in Riorges in the Greater Roanne (the Rhônes-Alpes region of France). You can access their website here: www.3ponts.edu

I have been there twice and am saving my money to return a 3rd time. You are housed on location at the school, eat your meals together, and study together in a beautiful setting that is centrally located which allows you to explore the town and interact with the locals.
Each time I’ve gone, I felt that my language skills have improved tremendously.

The owner and staff couldn’t be nicer or more helpful. A bonus to this school is they also offer cooking classes. I’ve taken the general cooking as well as the pastry class. It was SO MUCH FUN!! All taught in French so you are still learning the language while gaining a fun, new skill. I can’t wait to return. Next time I’m signing up for the chocolate making class!

John in Forest Hills

Love your posts, always enjoyable and educational! Given the very interesting discussion about FAQ, though, shouldn't it be "la FAQ"?

Sheila Burrell

Check out the Elderhostel program, based in Monflanquin, a beautiful bastide ville.


I too love the choice of words and stories which you write.
A suggestion for learning French is "French is Action" written by a professor from Yale.
Suggestion for renting houses, apartments or villas is VRBO - Vacation Rental by Owner. I have had great success with all of my rentals.

Alastair Grant

Jules asked me to repost this as it went in late on Sunday. So here again is my attempt at writing a short piece using only French words which are common in English or have similar meanings. It was not easy but useful as an excercise. Readers may like to add a paragraph or two to continue the story.
"Après une visite à une galerie d'art, les cousins, Emil et Jacqueline, décident de faire une promenade le long du boulevard St. Germaine ou ils rencontrent leurs amis Charles et Michelle Olivier sur la terrasse d'un café prés de la place Charles De Gaule.
Le boulevard est très occupé ce matin avec des enfants qui sont en vacances et des touristes qui apprécient l'air frais, le ciel bleu et le soleil. C'est les vacances de juillet. Emile trouve une table à quatre – située sous un parasol. Les quatre amis se détendent.
Jacqueline - la brunette – est d'une nature animée. Michelle, la blonde, porte une mini-jupe très élégante. Elle a l'air très languissant et fume une longue cigarette. Jacqueline porte un jean rouge et une chemise de satin rose. Elle a des espadrilles sur les pieds. Les deux garçons portent un jean, un T-shirt at des baskets.
Le propriétaire du café envoie le serveur prendre les commandes de rafraîchissements. Charles et Emile demandent un café. Michelle choisit de l'eau minérale. Jacqueline demande une orange pressée

Soudainement la tranquillité du matin est rompue par des sirènes de police et d’ ambulance. Un accident s'est produit sur la place Charles De Gaule. Regrettablement la tranquillité a été dérangée. (?)

Les enfants sont disparus. Ils sont allés voir l'accident et les spectateurs sur la place restent silencieusement". (??)

Help required:
? - disturbed or a better word please!
?? - Stand silently.
Please have a go at finishing the story.

Jules Greer

Kristi - my little Angel, You were so smart to put this section on your blog. You have found another way to bring all of us together where we are reinforcing our bonds of friendship in a new way. I think I will have so much fun over here, this section of yours has granted all of us the gift of freedom to grow...among our wonderful friends who will help us along the way.

I was so touched by Joan's comment....I know there are so many others out there that feel the same way as she does (even I do at times)- secretly wishing that I had a special friend to
share my feelings about not only travel, but the big beautiful world out there for all of us to enjoy.

I am overwhelmed with the different directions this section could possibly forge for all of us lucky friends of Kristi's. Once again the freedom to ask those questions we have always wondered about regarding France, Kristi, travel and also the anticipation of knowing someone out there is going to bless us with a question or thought we hadn't even realized would benefit us along this delightful journey we are all on TOGETHER.

Alastair opened my eyes to an idea and presentation that had never entered my thought process before....in one moment of time he has shown me that even I can become one of the gang instead of riding along on my free pass as KRISTI'S MOM. As you all know the only reason I hang around here is to find out what Kristi is up to and see photo's of Max and Jackie...and of course the most important for a Mother, I have to always know who Kristi is hanging out with. Lucky for me - I adore all of Kristi's friends.



Lisa A., CA

French In Action text book,CD etc. you can buy if you want from their web site, otherwise:
Listen, learn and watch for FREE!
French In Action is free on the Internet in the US:


*When I was in France I couldn't get access to French In Action. It is only accessed from the US (Yale Universite program).

So, on Youtube there are several for free as well. Here is one example:



P.S. I love your Blog just the way it is too!!

Alastair Grant

Thanks to Newforest for correcting the little story - I tried reposting the corrected version but it was rejected by the website. However it went to Kristin via e-mail. I hope readers try writing more in French - it's great for exercising the mind - but very time consuming in my case.

Alastair Grant

Catherine you are quite right - 'baskets' are trainers but I have not seen them advertised as such in the shops. I must be out of date - again! However the word is one of those interesting 'faux amis'.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for your helpful notes and for your enthusiasm re "la FAQ" section (and many thanks to John for the correction... after my "les" FAQ :-)

Mom, if this is a good way to lure you over to my blog... to post your lively, unique, and touching notes... then I'll write 1000s of FAQ pages! XOXO

Kristin Espinasse

...and here is the latest edition of Alastair's story. Enjoy (and thanks, Alastair, for sharing... and mille mercis to Newforest for offering helpful suggestions and corrections).

Alastair notes: the following is " 'une petite histoire' written using words common to both languages... The idea is to show anyone who finds reading French difficult that it shouldn't be."

A Little Story in French

« Après une visite à une galerie d'art, les cousins, Emile et Jacqueline, décident de faire une promenade le long du boulevard St. Germain où ils rencontrent leurs amis Charles et Michelle Olivier à la terrasse d'un café près de la place Charles De Gaulle.

Ce matin le boulevard est rempli d’enfants en vacances et des touristes qui apprécient l'air frais, le ciel bleu et le soleil. Ce sont les vacances de juillet. Emile trouve une table pour quatre, sous un parasol. Les quatre amis se détendent.

Jacqueline - la brunette – est d'une nature animée. Michelle, la blonde, porte une mini-jupe très élégante. Elle a l'air très languissant et fume une longue cigarette. Jacqueline porte un jean rouge, une chemise de satin rose et des espadrilles. Les deux garçons portent un jean, un T-shirt et des baskets.
Le propriétaire du café envoie le serveur prendre les commandes de rafraîchissements. Charles et Emile demandent un café. Michelle choisit de l'eau minérale. Jacqueline demande une orange pressée.

Soudainement la tranquillité du matin est rompue par des sirènes de police et d’ambulance. Un accident s'est produit sur la place Charles De Gaule et la foule s'agite. Quel chaos! Les enfants ont disparu. Sur la place, les spectateurs sont devenus silencieux »

Alastair Grant

Thanks again Kristin. One or two words there don't qualify really mais ce ne pas grave.

Noel Werle

Really pleased to hear about language schools in France; I hope to do that soon. To Gayle Markow, good for you, I say, for going on your own. I too am a woman in my 60s, went 2 years ago after retiring, stayed for 3 months in a small town not far from Toulouse because it was on the train line, rented an apt that I had found on a 10-day scouting trip the year before. Walked everyday, forced myself to speak the language which really did improve! (had been studying here for a couple of yrs), took day trips, joined the library, etc. Next time I go, I will branch out farther. and will find a group language lesson or school to help with the language, but also to help meet people. I am so glad I went, and I know it will be easier next time.


I so enjoy reading your "word-a-day" site, and all that goes with it! A question: My husband and I are driving from Zurich to the Loire Valley in late April and want to stop over in Burgundy for 2 days. We enjoy small, traditional French villages with some beauty or history. Suggestions?


I continue to enjoy our blog and loved your book. As a new Mom i enjoy reading about your family as much as the language since it helps me see lots of thing i can look forward to with my baby for the years to come. Do you have any suggestions for books on the French approach to nutrition or food advise for children? Do the French write things like this or is it just second nature to expose kids to lots of different foods? On my trips to France, and reinforced by your book, it seems that French children eat what Americans consider adult food. I love good food and want to raise a child who will be interested in food beyond peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ( which are beurk, i think to your kids).


Bonjour Kristin,
A great website idea! Learning French, although at times daunting, is certainly a rewarding experience! I am currently in France at Azurlingua, an exceptional language school, in the French Riviera. http://www.azurlingua.co.uk/ I would highly recommend it to those who want to learn French on vacation while at the same time enjoying the aura of the Mediteranean. They also have long term courses for those like myself that are determined to leave France moderately fluent!

Additionally, for those of you already studying abroad and unable to come on location, I highly recommend Azurlingua's online site http://www.bonjourdefrance.com/ which hosts a variety of free online tutorials and quizzes. Good luck to all on your French learning endeavours!


Completely inspired by all your comments! I am looking at going to France for 7 weeks in only a month's time ... yes, a month (Oct / Nov) ... for language study. I can speak basic French and have previously only spent a small amount of time in France, mainly Paris. I am looking at two schools - French in Normandy (Rouen) or IS in Aix-en-Provence. I am interested in both learning the language, but also travelling around France on the weekends, experiencing the culture, food and wine. I intend to go with the home stay option unless convinced otherwise! I'd appreciate any suggestions / comments.

Thank you Kristin for creating this blog ... it has been the most useful to date in my research.

Wanda Sykes-Moore

I am about to make my fourth trip to Paris. Once with my husband. We stayed in a hotel which was nice but typical. The next trip I went solo for 21 days in an apartment run by Gail Boisclair "Perfectly Paris." I felt perfectly secure and comfortable. Went again in 09 with friends for three weeks. Gail is easy to communicate with; she's Canadian. Apartments are as they appear on the website and I can assure you everything is legitimate. Going back this June. I am a real person with a really good apartment rental experience.

Vicki Ho

I highly recommend La Petite Classe, taught by Maryse. Check out her website. M'y husband and I stayed in Semur-en-Auxois for a month last summer. We took French lessons from Maryse and rapidly improved our beginner's French. She lives in a home which was a convent in the 1400's. You can either stay with her for an immersion experience of one to three weeks duration, or take private lessons. She has taught French to foreign students for over 20 years. She also has a deep knowledge of the history of the region, and gives great insight into contemporary issues in France as well!


Bonjour tout le monde!
I am looking for a french program in Paris for my 14 year old daughter. I have found one program only that will take teens her age -- it is the Accord Ecole de Langues
https://www.accord-langues.com/Gb/frenchadultsboulevard.php Has anyone had experience with this school? I would also love to know any other places people would recommend for 14 year olds!!

Merci à tous!


Hi Krisitn,
I suddenly stopped receiving your posts! I have resubscribed but still nothing. Your address is listed in my contacts.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I hate to miss a word, or a picture!



Merci a Kristin pour les bons mots! I am reaching out here because I am looking for a language program, tutor, or even a family stay where a tutor could be arranged part time for my daughter, who will be 16 and has several years of French but is barely conversational.
I am a painter and will be doing an artist residency in near St Girons. My daughter can stay with me and have daily lessons but I think she would have more fun in a family or group setting.
Any resources would be much appreciated! Thanks,

Ed Baquerizo

I have been a regular reader since about 2005 and have enjoyed reading (in French and English) about you and your family (dogs included). You have a lovely way of sharing your personal insights, dreams, worries, and adventures - while providing tips to improve French. Whoever told you to 'give up' your posts - is someone who should be ignored. There will always be people who resent another persons success and ingenuity. I'm sure that you have many devoted readers (like me).


Kristi, I just bumped into your blog now and I am wondering if you know any sources that I can find French expressions by situations. I personally need to find some French expressions used in a library (ie. check out, asking questions about books, directions, etc).

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