Pétanque and potager. Been planting lettuce, kale, and goji berries beside the boules court, turmeric, too! It looks like the Braise and Smokey are busy with a game now... OK, as long as they don't stop for a healthy snack! 

faciliter (fah-seel-ee-tay)

    : to ease, to make easier

Audio File: listen to the following example sentence Download MP3 or Wav file

Ma mère est là pour faciliter cette transition.
My mom is here to help ease this transition.

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

One of the reasons I wanted Mom to come visit, the week after we moved to Bandol, was so the kids and I wouldn't be alone while Jean-Marc was away at harvest. (He wanted to help Caroline and Thomas, the new owners of Domaine Rouge-Bleu during their ten day vendange).

The other reason I needed Mom here was for her ability to instantly infuse our new home and our environment with a unique essence: that of family, of love, of timelessness. Once Mom arrived it would be as though we had always been here forever, along with the French and British predecessors of this 19-century mas.

Indeed, as I hear Mom's voice echo throughout the meadow—where she is off on her morning walk with two happy dogs—it is as though I have never left home, whether that be the Arizona desert, where I grew up... or the bustling city of Marseilles, where Mom arrived in time to greet her first grandson... or the quiet village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, where Jules came to help with the growing family, only to learn that tumors were growing inside of her. Mom literally left a piece of herself in France that time, before returning home to Mexico to have the other breast removed.

From the boules court where I am picking figs....

Figs-hunting with Smokey...


...I spy Mom exploring the ancient restanques and the future vegetable garden. Jules is wearing my old hiking boots and another of her loose ponchos (she never did have the reconstructive surgery, after her mastectomy--and hated those constrictive prosthesis bras which would gradually inch up, finishing the journey by strangling her at the neck! The ponchos and other loose-fitting clothing have become Mom's carefree solution).

I wave from beneath the figuier, shaking a fig at my fellow explorer down below. When Mom sees me she lights up, shaking a discovery or two of her own.

"Look!" Mom shouts, waving an exotic flower "the only one in the meadow". I don't have the heart to tell her that the delicate blue flower grows à gogo in a neighboring field. I watch as Mom returns in time to fill a shot glass with water and place the "rare" blue specimen (a chicory) on my desk. "Honey, always keep flowers on your desk," Mom smiles.

After the flowers, there will be gifts of pine cones ("look at the teethmarks!" Mom enthuses. "I wonder what wild animal was hungry for this one?"), and feathers (Mom loves to stick them in her hat, along with the wildflowers), and intricate leaves, "for your souvenir book," Mom suggests. In the evening I will tuck the leaves and the feathers into my journal, and do a sketch, as Mom suggests, of the little potager garden we are planting. I want to document where I've planted things--in case it all grows out of control! Meantime, lettuce, kale, rhubarb, turmeric, blueberries, gojiberries, beets, verbena, celery, and cilantro are coming up like like morning sun. A brand new day....

After sharing two decades of France with my Mom, I couldn't wait for her to be here to usher us into this next chapter of our lives. Like the opening paragraphs of a great novel, Mom is helping to set the scene of this mysterious and promising new beginning. It is her commencement as well; the start of a new year--her 66th. Happy birthday Mom!

Selected French Vocabulary

la pétanque = game of boules. See Herm's poem.

le potager = kitchen garden

boules (f)  = synonym for pétanque

la vendange =  harvest (definition, photo, and story here)

le mas = country farmhouse

une restanque = a support wall made of stones

à gogo = galore, in great quantity



Some family photos for you. There's Mom, outside with Max. Inside, that's my mother-in-law, Michèle-France, and 15-year-old Jackie.


Jean-Marc, Michèle-France, Jackie, and me.


Jules, Max, Jacques, Michèle-France, Jackie, and Jean-Marc, before serving Jackie's birthday cake.


La famille. To comment on any of these photos, click here.

My brother-in-law, Jacques.

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Jens from Copenhagen

Wow! That terrace - porch - looks cosy!

Very nice FWAD today with lovely photos. All the pieces fall slowly into place. Now I only would like to hear Jean-Marc's motives for the move.

Bonnes vacances à Jules!

Marika Ujvari

Dear Kristi,
I can't get enough of your pictures and stories!When I see them first thing in the morning, it starts my days in a happy mood and I know everything will be all right. Hopefully one of these years I will be lucky enough to meet you and your Mom, either in France or here in Windsor, Colorado!!


Happy Birthday to Jules!


j'adore les photos de famile.
Bonne anniversaire Jules!!
(I am just practicing my French here..(from New Zealand) hope it isn't too bad)


Joyeuse anniversaire à Jules! Il est celebetaire ton beau-frère? Hheheh!


Your mom certainly has the ebullience to banish that feeling of displacement. All those projects to make this "your" home. Have you painted the doors & shutters yet? This move must have been a complete shock to you coming out of left field after all you had been through. You have been in my thoughts and prayers. Jules IS the best medicine. Hugs to you all. (Love the picture with Jackie bending over backwards. It just seems so Jackie.)

Karen from Phoenix

Beautiful pictures of a beautiful family. So glad Jules can explore your new home and surroundings with you.

Love to you all.

Martine NYC

The suspense is killing me! Why did you move?

Mindy (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Joyeux Anniversaire, Jules! May all your wishes come true a gogo!

William and Lee Mears

I don't speak French so I'll just say Happy Birthday Jules. You are a lovely lady and just the "medicine" your daughter needed in her new life adventure. Lee Mears, Bradenton, FL


Happy Birthday Jules! Today is also my daughter's 22nd birthday--another free spirit!


Charm and warmth. I am touched that you count on Mom to complete the picture. You both share a soft, natural beauty, within and without. Thanks for spreading the joy to your readers. We feel it. Add a handsome brother-in-law, in the bargain.

Jeanne in Oregon

Jules and I have both begun our 66th year, me just a couple of weeks earlier. What a beautiful woman she is, and so full of life. Wishing her continued health, happiness, and exciting adventures.

Debra Bishop

How I would love to see one of those lovely, colorful table clothes one finds at the markets of Provence. More color to match the gorgeous new mas dans le mer.

Kathi Koegle

Bon anniversaire to your beautiful and wise mother, Jules! My birthday is in September, too, and I was fortunate enough to celebrate it with my husband in charming Fontvieille, which is very close to Arles. Turns out that Joel Durand, a chocolatier who has a shop in St.-Remy-de-Provence, has a September birthday, too, so I brought him a card--and of course, I bought some of his wonderful chocolates!

Linda R.

A beautiful reflection of a wonderful family. Joyeux anniversaire to Jules. Nearly everyone in our family has September birthdays - mine is the end of August (65 ans) and my husband's is the first part of October so ... we're almost included. You've shared your family throughout the seasons - I'm going to share a part of mine - I told Mike that the Cut Bank Pioneer Press article is his birthday present : )

Karen Whitcome (in warm and rainy Towson, Md)

I know what you mean about mom's (or family) making a house a home. Even my daughter's move in to her college dorm needed that spiritual infusion. But Jules always has such wonderful ideas, too. I love that she told you to always have fresh flowers on your desk. It's those little things in life.....

Have a wonderful birthday, Jules. Soak it all in, à gogo! (I LOVE that) You are much younger than your age and much wiser than than your years. Thanks for sharing your life and your family with us.

jan Greene

Such a lovely family! Blessings on you all and Happy Birthday, Jules!

Maxine Tomashefsky

Wishing Jules a very Happy Birthday all the way from Lincoln, England. Enjoy your special day and celebrate you. May your year be filled with good health, love, joy and peace. Love, Maxine & Steve


I love all your stories but I especially love the stories that involve your mother. You are so blessed to have this relationship and thank you for letting us be part of it. As I always say your mother is a wonderful person! You are both beautiful inside and out! I am excited that you are in the south of France...I love that part of the world.

Carmen Clarke

Love the family photos. Max is so handsome, and he's looking so Jean-Marc. I know what you mean about Mom coming to visit. Our only visitors to Dubai (but the most important!) have been our Moms.

Amy Kortuem

How wonderful to have your Mom there with you as you make your new "mas" a home.

Hope you're doing well.


Hi Kristin
Bon Anniversaire and good health to your mother Jules!
So glad we still get these emails from you
in spite of how busy you must be.
Great kitchen window pic. Lovely to see all
your beautiful family - do hope that one day
we might be able to get over and meet you all. Your commentaries brighten up my day - - they bring a flavour of france to Cornwall which I miss so much and it helps our french no end! Good fortune to you all in your new adventure. Have sent for 2 of your books. Sinceres salutations - Edna

Geraldine Ventura

To Jules, a very Happy Birthday and a Blessed year ahead. To you, Kristine, and your family, Blessings in your new home!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut tout le monde,

Kristin - thanks for sharing the photos of the joyeux anniversaire party. What a great time it must have been!

Happy birthday, Jules

The photo glimpses of your new abode are great. It looks like a home with lots of character, but I’m betting you’ll add lots of fine touches.

Even a boules court….WOW. I looked high and low for a photo of French people playing the game of boules for a poem I was writing. I finally ended up with one from New York City! I should have waited. Now you’ll need a “Kiss-The-Fanny” ceramic plaque for the losers. Check out…….


Mary Jeanne Reich

Chere Kristin,merci pour les belles photos de votre chere famille, votre maman Jules, belle mere et beau frere. Heureux Anniversaire a Jule! Bonne sante!Felicitations a l'achat de votre nouvelle maison et je vous souhaite a tous d'y passer beaucoup de belles annees.J'espere que vous continuerez a partager avec nous les aventures de votre famille et 2 chiens, Smoky et Braise...Bisous de la Floride


What a lovely family and happy birthday to Jules. Love the warm glow of the light on the family at the long, wooden table. Thank you for "warming" my heart this morning.

You are all very blessed,


Good Morning from Texas....You and your mother are such beautiful women and Jackie is such a precious young lady! I am celebrating my 61st birthday on Sept 30th! Sending Texas sized birthday wishes to your Mother! You are so blessed to have her sharing your life. Mothers bring out the best in their children and grandchildren. Blessings.

Brenda Brown

Happy Birthday Jules, my Dad's was September 16th!


Joyeux anniversary, Jules! Thank you for sharing this update about your new, beautiful home, and the photos of your wonderful family! Best wishes!


Happy birthday Jules!

Lizzy Dromgoole

Speechless. I didn't know Jules was a breast cancer survivor. My mom died of the disease and I wouldn't mind a mastectomy myself as a preventative measure. Turmeric is a great anti cancer herb btw... Loved the photos. --Lizzy D

Georgia Schall just north of San Francisco

Happy birthday one and all! My daughter also celebrates a September birthday as do other family and friends. There is a reason for that you know. Can you guess?

Also, I have only recently discovered figs and one way we serve them is to cut in half and put a slice of goat Gouda cheese on top and serve as an appetizer. Yum!

Thanks for sharing such warm and beautiful photos of your family!

Love your posts, Georgia

Rosalinda B. Roll

Muchas felicidades en tu compleanos, Senora Jules.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Happy Birthday Jules! I love your attitude & energy!
Kristin, thanks so much for the photos & the post. It makes my day. You have a lovely family & a beautiful home!

Stay well.

Gwyn Ganjeau

Happy happy birthday, dear Jules!!! what a gift you are on this big blue ball. Kristin, I understand your instinct for wanting your mom there now. i just finished moving last weekend, and just as important as unpacking the boxes is getting those i love into my new space so they might infuse it with their energy and love. i want mental images of all of them in the chairs, at the table, in the kitchen. then they will be 'there' even when they aren't 'there.' the first things i looked for when unpacking were the wine and the glasses so i'd be ready in case people stopped by to help. here's to delicious beginnings.


Happiest of birthdays, Jules, from your fellow birthday girl in West Hollywood CA! Thank you for letting Kristi share you with all of us. You're an inspiration to many you've yet to meet!

Bill in St. Paul

Happy birthday, Jules!! You've got me by nearly a month!! There really is a strong family resemblance between Jacques and J-M.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Bon anniversaire, Jules. Family is always a constant, so when they gather 'round it does make any place feel like home.

Debra Karimzad

Wow, what a beautiful story. I could hear my mother's voice echoing in the meadow. She was so colorful, nature loving, and so full of life like Jules. I often forward pictures of Jules to my daughter because of the resemblance...You all look very happy in your new home it is exciting to read about your new chapter! I was also struck by the resemblance of Jacques and Max. The way the pictures lined up on the page, they look like the same person.

edie schmidt


Bonne anniversaire a votre Mere!
Elle a le joy de vieve!
Edie from Savannah


Joyeux Anniversaire Jules!
Kristin, Oh my, life gets in the way and I've been absent too long from FWAD! I see I'll have to go back and catch up on life in general in hopes of seeing what brought about your move! As always thank you for providing this wonderful glimpse into your world, what a gift!
Bisous ~
Denise in Portland

Bill Facker

The following typed in Classic Jules style ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULES! All of you look soooooo happy! Aloha, Bill Facker


Bon Anniversaire..Dieu benit! A votre sante!


Our dear Kristin,
What an absolutely wonderful post! (as ALWAYS!)
Thank you for sharing all of your experiences with us;again and again,as you count your blessings,you give us reason to count our own.(top of the list: health!)
Joyeux Anniversaire,chere Jules! You are not only a gift in your precious family's life,but also in ours,your extended FWAD family as well. A votre sante!
Love, Natalia XO

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

No matter what our age a mother's love still brings us a unique comfort; there is no replacement for it. It's very special that Jules was able to be there for this rite of passage to your new home. It's a gift you have, Kristi, to put your emotions into eloquent words. When your mother is back home, you have those words, as well as your memories, to reflect on and draw comfort from. I wish I had been able to do the same when my own cherished mother was alive, to chronicle the times we had together. Thankfully, there are lots of photos.

Happy Birthday, Jules!! I know you are loving celebrating it there with Kristi and the rest of the family! Enjoy, enjoy!

I saw photos of Jean-Marc at la vendange on Domaine Rouge Bleu's
Facebook page - Team Syrah! Perhaps a bittersweet experience for him. Look forward to hearing his story when the time is right.


Charming photos of you with your fig tree (where you look as slim as an haricot vert) and of your family celebrating Jacquie's birthday.

And a Bon Anniversaire to Jules!

Joanne Ablan

Bonne anniversaire, Jules. Je vous souhaite une année
pleine des miracles ordinaires et extraordinaires!


Happy birthday Jacquie! You have a lovely family Kristin. Jacques est très beau! Il a les yeux aimeables tells. All the best to you in your new adventure!

Avec bienveillance,


You guys make beautiful pictures...wishing you warmth and togetherness

Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

Happy Birthday to Jules and Jackie! I was just thinking how any one of your photos must evoke such a wonderful feeling and memory for you! (even if the photo was taken just yesterday - treasures!) You are so blessed to have your Mother with you and your family all around. You have the best of all worlds - exciting new beginnings, with all the 'warm fuzzies' of a family to go with them.

I know it was hard to leave what you knew and where you were the happiest and the most comfortable - but you are making such an admirable new beginning! I know it isn't always easy. You were very wise to have Jules come and stay to help you over the transition hurdle - it sounds like you are doing a fine job of it! Take care and enjoy the growth of your family, your feelings, and the veggies!


Bon Anniversaire Julues!


Love, beauty, growth and contentment - your posts are always filled with these qualities, Kristin - you and your family are pretty darn special......

Donna Bender

Kristin - I have been following your posts since almost the very first one. I used to write to you by email, before you had such a large following, and was pleasantly surprised and pleased when you wrote back. I stopped writing, but never stopped reading, so I thought I'd take the time now to tell you how much I have enjoyed French-Word-a-Day and all your wonderful stories.

Très cordialement, Donna

P.S. I love your Mom!

Katherine in Palo Alto, CA

Happy Birthday to the September babies in France--you all look marvelous! One of my grandnieces turns 6 on Saturday, and my mother would have turned 82 one week ago, so they are in my thoughts as well. Kristin, it's wonderful that you can and do turn to your mother for support; it speaks well of both of you.

And hooray for planting! It's a wonderful exercise in 'putting down roots' at your new place! ;-0


Beautiful family in a beautiful, new home! I LOVE your rustic table! I've been hunting for one similar to that here in the Austin, Texas area for our back yard. I'm trying to create that French feel.

Enjoy your new home and house! Be happy!

Linda U.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Happy birthday to Jules and Jackie . My husband has a September birthday also, but he turned 76.
Your new abode looks lovely and I'd like to challenge you to a game of Patenque and you should get yourselves a "Fanny" for the losers to kiss.



You are looking great, and very happy! The new place suits you.

Becky Farley

Happy Birthday to Jules. I can't imagine a more wonderful place to celebrate!


Happy Birthday, Jules!

Bonjour Kristin: J'étais en voyage et n'ayant pas d'accès à l'internet, j'ai loupé tes petites histoires. Mais, c'est chouette de voir ta grande famille se réunir dans ton nouveau domicile. Ta mère est ravissante, comme d'habitude. Et tes beaux enfants ont grandi si vite.

marti hinman

Je te suhaites un trés bon anniversaire
plein de joie, santé. amour et bon chance
dans le nouvelle androit pour ta famille et le
chiens. La chose plus important pour un
changement dans la vie, c'est d'être
toujours POSITIVE.
Marti Hinman

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
I so enjoyed this post today! Family is everything, isn't it? I love the pictures of everyone gathered around the table to celebrate Jackie's birthday. There is so much love already in your new home and everything is always better when "mom" is there.

Cate Salenger

Happy Birthday to Jules! She and you, Kristi, are such an inspiration to me! Merci, merci!


Carole Buschmann

Happy Birthday to Jules and Jackie!! Hoorah for new growth in your garden too!


Happy Birthday Jules! I admire you for all of the wonderful things I have learned about you through Kristin. I know you are a special lady. I love all of the photos. You make life look wonderful!

David Navarre

Happy Birthday, Jules!

Many thanks again for sharing, Kristin. Your stories strike at my heart, misting my eyes, while helping me learn more French.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

A poignant message today, touched to tears by the presence of love here. It is evident, Jules zest for life and cherished way of living, colors your home and family so beautifully. Love all the photos (love your skirt!)!

September has been full of birthdays and anniversaries…and weddings! My brother was married here on the farm last weekend. My father’s, my new sister-in-law’s and three good friends all celebrated birthdays within the same week as dear Jules.

Jennifer in OR

I loved this: "Like the opening paragraphs of a great novel, Mom is helping to set the scene of this mysterious and promising new beginning." I am so in love with your new mas, too.

The photo of Jackie upside down by Michèle-France, looking out the glass at Jules and Max--oh wow. A blur of beauty.

Diane Young

Bonne Annniversaire, Jules. Wonderful to see you at the new home of your loving family. The Espinasse men do all have the great warm eyes. Kristin. thank you so much for sharing your new home and family pictures with your readers.

barbara michels

Kristen, I'm always amazed at how much you do, i.e. gourmet cooking, your gardens, all you do for your family and sharing it all with the world. I can't wait for each posting to come. Merci Beaucoup!

june furey

Kristin thank you for your beautiful thoughts and may I wish Jules bonne anniversarie. I also shared a happy day with my husband on his 66th birthday. also have 2 children and a brother sharing birthdays at this time. I have just moved into a new flat, and had painted a new floral picture for my room together with a vase of flowers on my table to help me feel at home in this new enviironment. Yes I agree having flowers on ones table or desk, creates a feeling of beauty and life, and just to be able to pick flowers daily is a joy. May this be the beginning of many more joyful birthdays in your new home. June,Qld,Aust.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these encouraging and cheering responses. I just want to respond the the latest one, by Barbara--so as to dispell any ideas that a gourmet cook and master gardener lives here (in which case, I am still looking for her!) Make no mistake, any planting or cooking or writing-blogging that goes on, here, is by someone who just keeps trying--two steps forward, one back. It will all work out, as my grandmother used to say. Some days I just want to take a nap and slack off, and I do...

mariem mouloudi

jolie photos est vous etes une belles familles pleins de bonheurs dans cette nouvelle maison tous ensembles gros bisous a vous ; mariem

tu nous regales toujours avec tes photos merci christie

Jan  Hersh

May your family and garden continue to grow in love and happiness.

Hilary Frye

Happy Birthday to a very good Mom who also has a very good daughter. Lovely.

Leisa Smith

Happy Birthday wishes with much good health and joy for the coming year to you dear Jules! And, thank you Kristi for such a heartfelt post. It brought tears to my eyes:) And hugs to Jackie during this period of upheaval, we are going through it here in Oz with our teen twins. xx Leisa

Jan Acorn

Bravo, Kristen! It looks like you have chosen the perfect endroit for the next chapter of your lives. I love the family photos on the terrace. I'm looking forward to my visit to the Languedoc-Roussillion area next week to complete a specialist designation with the French tourism board for my travel business.

Esther Dalgas

Kristin, your family is full of warmth and love, and your new home cannot help but be filled with it as well. I am listening to a lovely podcast from this site - http://www.onbeing.org/program/science-healing-places/4856
about the science of healing places. I think you would like it. May your new home be as much of a place of respite as French Word - A - Day is a site that soothes and refreshes our restless souls in cyberspace. I love that your mom finds you wildflowers to put on your desk. Thank you for liking my pumpkin on FB.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

More beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing Kristin. I'm so glad you were able to celebrate with family.

A very, very, very Happy Birthday to you Jules!! You look wonderful and can't possibly be 66! Thank you for the blessing of the kind messages you have sent to me this past year. I send many blessings back to you and wish you a wonderful year.


J'adore votre fils ;P Vous avez une tres belle famille!


Brother-in-law Jacques is so handsome! If he is single and interested in an American girl (like his brother), give him my email!

Catherine Abou-Sakher

Beautiful family. God bless you all. I enjoy your posts so much.Hope to come to France again one day. My late husband and I came to France in the 70's and 80's. I love it there. Best wishes to all of you.Cathy

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