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calanque & bilingual post, by Jean-Marc

Today's post is in French and English - and you can listen to it, too!

une calanque (kah-lahnk)

    : an inlet from the sea, a cove

Capture plein écran 11102012 102109
To give you an idea of what a calanque can look like... via Google images. Ever visited a calanque? Which one? Comments welcome here.

 Audio file: listen to today's word, as well as the following story... (see links, just below)

A Day in Chief Grape's New Life...

a wine-maker  takes a break from a pressing work schedule... to chill out by the sea

  =>Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc read his storyDownload mp3 or wave file

Hier, nous avons accueilli mon meilleur ami Frederic, parrain de Maxime, et dont je suis le parrain de son fils Matthieu. Dans la matinée et malgré des nuages, je suis allé pêcher quelques oursins pour l'apéritif. Ensuite j'ai fait un barbecue pour cuisiner des côtes de porc marinées avec quelques petits oignons ramassés de notre jardin et que Kristi avait coupé en morceaux. Ensuite, nous nous sommes régalés de toutes les salades du potager,  jeunes pousses que Kristi avait cueillies le matin même.

Yesterday, we welcomed my best friend Frederic, godfather of Maxime, and to whom I am godfather of his son, Matthieu. In the morning and despite the clouds, I went to hunt a few sea urchins for hors d'oeuvres. After, I started a barbecue to cook the marinated pork chops with a few small onions that Kristi had cut into pieces. Next, we enjoyed all of the garden salads, young leaves that Kristi had picked that same morning.
Après ce délicieux repas et puisque le ciel s'était dégagé, nous avons décidé d'aller à la plage. Kristi et moi avions des sandales mais comme Maxime a décidé de nous amener dans une calanque isolée, avec une plage pleine de gros cailloux, il a fallu être adroit pour ne pas se tordre la cheville. Enfin arrivés, les garçons ont sauté du haut d'un rocher à 5 m de l'eau (et 12 m pour Maxime), dans une mer relativement mouvementée.

After this delicious meal, and because the sky had cleared, we decided to go to the beach. Kristi and I had on sandals but, as Maxime decided to take us to a remote cove, with a beach full of big rocks, we needed to be adept in order not to sprain our ankles. Once there, the boys jumped from high up on a rock, 5 meters above the water (and 12 meters for Maxime), into a sea that was relatively turbulent.


Au retour, Matthieu qui va avoir 10 ans la semaine prochaine, m'a demandé si je pouvais lui faire goûter mon vin. J'étais enchanté de cette demande venant de mon filleul et comme son Papa a acquiescé,  je lui ai servi quelques millilitres de notre cuvée Dentelle.  J'étais fier de voir qu'il semblait aimer ce vin qui représente tant pour moi.

On the way back, Matthieu, who will be 10 years old next week, asked me if I would offer him a taste of my wine. I was delighted by this request coming from my godson and as his father consented, I served him a few millimeters of our Dentelle vintage. I was proud to see that he seemed to like the wine which represents so much to me.
La journée était déjà malheureusement finie et il était temps pour nos amis de rentrer. Moi, j'étais simplement heureux d'avoir passé une journée avec ma famille et mes bons amis.

The day was already, sadly, over and it was time for our friends to go back home. As for me, I was simply happy to have spent a day with my family and my good friends.



Random Archive Stories

Exquis means exquisite. Meet another friendly and caring villager in this story, which takes place in Valréas. Click here.

Aléa means risk, hazard, chance. One of these words describes our unique repurposed beehive mailbox... Story and pictures here. Missing that mailbox...

Do you have any story archive favorites? Please share them here, in the comments box


La nostalgie: Jackie was 9, and Max, 11... Six years ago on the Island of Groix.



 Remember this picture? Taken at a nearby calanque, the day we discovered the mas that would become our new home!

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.

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


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Bill Facker

JM .. you sound HAPPY man! Good for you! Aloha, Bill Facker

Sue Jean

I enjoyed the story of your happy day with your godson and family very much. The lunch sounded great with the sea urchins and Kristi's contribution. I only had to look up one word, pousses, I think it was, new shoots? Would that have been very tender lettuce? I'll check the translation in the next post.

I like reading the French, but writing in French is too much like hard work.


C'est le verbe qui m'inquiète un peu. "Come back home" or "Go back home" or both?



Audrey Wilson

Yes we had a lovely cruise one moonlit evenig around the Calanques in Southern Corsica Quite magical.
Glad to say i managed pretty well with the post from Jean-Marc . Look forward to checking it out tomorrow

Lou Lesesne

Deux questions:

1. Pourquoi ne pas dire: "je suis allé pêcher," au lieu de "je suis allé pêché" ?

2. Et pourquoi ne pas dire: "nous avons décidé" au lieu de "nous allons décidé" ?

En tout cas, une belle histoire.

Lou Lesesne

lynne pardoe

Kristin I love your posts and stories, it makes learning french such fun and is like making a new lovely friend with a lovely family who lives in a lovely part of the world. It's the perfect tonic for the cold, grey, British weather. My mother speaks fluent French so I was lucky enough to learn a spattering as a child & young woman. She loves grammar books and pages of tenses, verbs and adverbs are really her thing. I find reading a grammar book boring, I can only learn French by doing it, and other than actually being in France your posts are perfect! You always choose such interesting things, and unusual words.
Your pictures, stories and words are wonderful, I'd happily pay to read them! I will be checking tomorrow's blog too!


J'adore lire votre histoire, Jean-Marc! Oui, j'ai remarqué quelques petites fautes mais c'est très encourageant pour moi et pour mes élèves d'en trouver autre part de temps en temps puisque nous en faisons souvent! :) Donc, merci de tout: des histoires, des photos, de partager la vie francaise avec nous tous les jours!


Quelle belle journée !


Je suis jalouse! Pour moi, les Calanques -- le Paradis! Avec un bon verre de Dentelle -- tant mieux! Sante!

Bill in St. Paul

I was able to get the gist of the story without the help of a dictionary. That's the problem with a second language: if you don't use it you lose it (especially the vocabulary). I do remember the last picture in the blog of just your socks and shoes showing. It reminded me then, and still today, of what was left of the wicked witch of the East (or was it West) after Dorothy's house landed on her.


Wow! VERY good photo example of what a CALANQUE is! Lovely!


Remember this picture? Taken at a nearby calanque, the day we discovered the mas that would become our new home!
Pardon...what is a 'mas'?

Katie at frenchcravings.com

We took an hour-long cruise through the calanques in Cassis, complete with champagne and snacks. Each calanque had a different personality, but all were simply stunning. Thank you for taking me back there, if even for a moment.


Yes, like the French very much--allows us to know Jean-Marc a bit better and, almost always, he has a turn of phrase that's helpful. Today: "puisque le ciel s'était dégagé" which I wouldn't have used on my own.


Quelle belle journee.....enchantee.

Judith Rogers

Love the French. Such a wonderful way to acquire new vocabulary - am now off to look in my dictionary. To see something written actually makes it stick in my mind. Thanks.


Thanks for the wonderful story. Sounds like a perfect day. And, yes, we visited the calanques between Marseille and Cassis during our visit last June (during which we also passed a wine-filled afternoon at la Domaine Rouge-Bleu). We had a glorious,sun-filled day at Cassis, with mussels and a fine wine, then took a boat ride through six of the calanques--so beautiful! A memorable day in a memorable vacation!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Bonjour Jean-Marc

Merci pour la belle histoire. Voici un dicton de la mer, vous pourriez apprécier:

There are good ships
There are wood ships
Ships that sail the sea
But the best ships
Are friendships
And they will always be!

Suzanne Codi

Je suis verte de jalousie et l'eau a la bouche pour le ousins, le vin, le pain et les calanques!!! Nous avons seulement ete une fois en bateau voir les calaques pres de Cassis, et nous en revons encore!
Vous avez bien fait de demenager pour etre si pres de ce paradis visuel et gastronomique!

And to Marshall, who liked Jean Marc's expression of " ciel degage", one of my favorite uses for that word is when a parent wants his kid to get lost, they say " degages!!" ( scram!)

Anne Marie Housel

We visited the beautiful Calanque in Cassis in 2002 when my daughter was studying in France! We took a boat ride on a beautiful Spring day and then lunch al fresco!


Jean-Marc and Kristi, thank you for sharing your life with us, it is wonderful to see you all so happy in your new home.
I remember the red calanques east of Marseille which were also beautiful.

Enjoy your new life in Bandol.


Very nicely said...things are going swimmingly it appears. JM, how many hectares of vines are there in your new fields? How many more will you plant? Are you making wine there now? What is the name of your new establishment? Trop de questions, je sais! Je suis curieuse. Merci bien...

Ginny McCann

J'aime beaucoup lire le conte en français! Je peux utiliser le sens des phrases pour comprendre les mots hors de ma propre vocabulaire et c'était pas nécessaire de courier au dictionnaire. (je suis professeur de lecture et alphabétisation) Ecouter le conte m'aide à comprendre le français parlé. J'ai besoin de beaucoup de pratique à comprendre la langue parlée. Voir la traduction le lendemain, c'est parfait!

Merci infiniement!


I too have visited the calanques in Cassis. I absolutely love visiting Cassis and the old port.

Dave R

We too have visited the calanques just West of Cassis. The first time by boat from Cassis, and the second when we came back to Cassis and spent three nights at Les Roches Blanches de Cassis and walked from the hotel to the first calanque, where we spent a few hours on the beach. Like Rick, we loved the port de Cassis with its stretch of restaurants looking out on the boat harbor. A wonderful place for a lunch (or the second time for three dinners at a variety of restaurants).

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Merci pour la leçon française. Je pense que je connais la histoire sans ma dictionaire (j'ecris sans dictionaire aussi. Vous pouvez voir?) Aussi, j'ai aimée la poeme de Herm.


merci Jean Marc, Ça me fait plaisirs d'avoir de vos nouvelles.

Shirley from Houston, Texas

Please, my French is not very good. I cannot handle French only. I find myself stressing more than enjoying. XO


J'ai adoré la lecture de l'histoire de J-M en Français. Je n'ai jamais mangé des oursins mais je voudrais les essayer! Avec un verre de rosé bien sûr!


Thank you, Jean-Marc, for your post and pictures. I need to get my French dictionary out, though :), and I will check my translation against Kristin's tomorrow. The water is such an incredible shade of turquoise blue--wow! Merci!

Nancy  Shalen

Je trouve les petites histoires de Chief Grape charmantes! Pour moi, c'est un plaisir lire en français.

Marti Hinman

J'adore votre vie en France. J'aime
Quand Jean-Marc ècrit en française.
Mercy pour toutes les belles histoires
de votre famillie et amis.
Grâce à vous, je apprendre
nouvelles expressions que je ne peut
pas trouver dans le dictionaire.
Trés bonne journnée!
Marti from La Floride

Carol Roge

Love, love, love the "all French" stories - please give us more. I tried to work out the meaning on my own without a dictionary and then had the pleasure of reading it while listening to Jean-Marc speak it on the MP3 file. J-M I love your clear pronounciation and the speed at which you speak the story. Can't wait to see if my translation is close to Kristin's!


Que de belles photos des calanques! Vous semblez heureux.On voit bien que vous avez bien fait de déménager. Mais où est maman Jules? Comme toi, Kristin, j'ai commencé à planter quelques légunes dans mon petit jardin et ça me fait plaisir de les manger frais.
Kristin, JM, SVP, ne soyez pas fâchés...Comme Lou Lesesne a mentioné, il y a des fautes de frappe...côtes de porc...Je vois aussi quelques fautes de grammaire...Dans la phrase "...jeunes pousses que Kristin avait cueillies (avec ES)"; "Maxime à décidé de nous amener dans une calanque isolée..." le verbe "avoir" se conjugue sans accent grave.


J'ai fait une faute de frappe aussi, c'est léguMes...

Charles Orr at Flat Rock, NC

J'aime lire et écouter vos histoires en français. La région que vous avez choisi pour votre nouvelle demeure est très belle, et je suis sûr que vous et votre famille va en profiter pendant longtemps. J'ai hâte de vous revoir soit à Bandol (avec Kristin) ou à Asheville, si vous faites une autre tournée de vin aux Etats. Je ne sais pas beaucoup sur les vins de Bandol, mais je suis intéressé à apprendre. Bonne chance!


Marvelous! But now Jean-Marc must tell how he collects the oursins -- and how (if?) you cook them.

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Merci, Jean-Marc, pour prendre le temps d'écrire cette histoire, et pour la lecture. Ça m'a fait plaisir!


Mais, oui! I like testing my knowledge of French and this is a wonderful way to keep it fresh.




Morton Brussel

Thanks for the photos of the Calanques, which reminded me of my own trips there, once hiking in from Marseilles/Luminy with a French friend to the calanques de Surgiton and Morgiou. I remember well trying to negociate the sharp rocky hillsides, climbing down for refreshment at a little restaurant café? at one of those. Another time, I hiked from D559 down to the calanque of En Vau. And then, when staying with a colleague in Cassis, I walked to the old quarries of Port Miou. It was charming also to visit the cabanons in the little village of Callelongue, suburb of Marseille? Jean-Claude Izzo writes memorably in his fiction of that region.
Recently, I took a boat tour of the Calanques from Cassis on windy day, a different experience. I only hope the calanques will not be spoiled by too much tourism and development. they are tto beautiful.

Carolyn Chase

Vous m'avez donné un bref aperçu de la vie française, quelques moments très agréable de la gastronomie et l'aventure. Les images me reviennes de notre séjour à Dijon, et des moments d'une joie semblable. Je vous remercie d'avoir partagé votre vie un peu.

David Nelson

How utterly charming! My French is fairly good but I could feel my usage improving as I read this delightful account of a pleasant day in France. Was in Mougins and Paris a few weeks ago and would gladly return today.

Janet Bailey

I just signed up for this "french word-a-day"
and am loving it. My son is in french immersion at school and we were looking for an article of clothing starting with "Q" and found your blog! Any ideas?
Thank you it was fun reading Jean-Marc's story and looking up all the words I didn't know.


J'aime bien les histoires en francais!

We went for a wonderful walk along the calanque just west of Cassis about 10 years ago- I guess it must have been the Calanque de Port-Miou (I know this only by checking my trusty Michelin Motoring Atlas!). What a gorgeous place! We walked along the top of the calanque because as far as we could tell, there was no plage underneath, just a fairly sheer drop down to the sea. And yes, one has to be careful walking along there as my husband did in fact fall on uneven terrain and twist his ankle. Fortunately after a few minutes of rest he was mostly OK.

Did I read correctly that the two boys jumped 5 and 12 metres down into the water? 15 and 36 Feet??!! Ils sont fous ces garcons!


Thank you for the wonderful photos.

We go down to the calanques quite often but every time I am dazzled by the wonderful colours. What an amazing area!


A wonderful post and beautiful pictures!
Thank you for allowing us to share in such a happy day!
Our weekend couldn't be off to a better start!
Bon journee!!!


How fantastic to have all of this read by JM. AND AT JUST THE RIGHT SPEED! At first I was a bit lazy and skimmed through quickly, thinking I would wait for the translation but with the aid of a dictionary I have translated it . I am sure it has done wonders for my (beginners) French and I am really glad I did. Nice to find out more about the area and to add it to my wish list for future holidays. Am so grateful to hear it read by a native speaker though of course I love yours too Kristi!


I appreciate the fact that parents are shown teaching their son/godson to appreciate wine. It is as you know, a real cultural difference between France and the USA.

Chief Grape

Merci pour tous les commentaires. Les fautes d'orthographe, c'était juste pour être sûr que les surdoués lisent attentivement. Chief grape is actually and "accidentally" back on the winemaking track. More on this next week...

Robyn Daniels

Tres jolie de lire en francais - vive la difference. Pourquoi pas partager l'espace de 'blog'? - pour moi meme c'est refraichant de pouver pratiquer lire la belle lange. Bis! (avec apologies a l'ecrivaine femme Kristi et pour la manque de 'keypad' francais chers amis - Robyn x

Robyn Daniels

Correction: ...'langue' - comment dit-on 'fat fingers' en fraincais? x

Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Wonderful story and photos of a beautiful day with friends. Thankyou so much. (Reading and hearing it in French was the 'icing on the cake'!) Best regards to all.

Mara in Wisconsin

For Janet Bailey and her son, I looked in my dictionary and found a queue-de-morue, a tail coat, as in Fred Astaire's Top Hat. Plus,if the question was actually phrased as "something a person could wear" then it could be a "queue-de-cheval," a pony tail.
I did pretty well on understanding the story, although I got cheville from context. I, too, like the listening challenge.

Janet Bailey

Merci Mara!

Joan Linneman

Am I the only one who laughed about Chief Grape's "pressing" work schedule? :)
C'etait un plaisir de lire en francais.

Joan L. in Kankakee, Illinois

Kathleen from Connecticut

Merci Chief Grape. I'm glad that you will continue making wine. I'm sure that with your taken, you will wine more metals in Paris. Looking forward to more news.
Notre repas made me hungry.

Janine Cortell

Bonjour Jean-Marc:
Une belle histoire!! Quand j'etais prof de francais j'ai amene mes eleves dans la region de Cassis et nous devions faire une excursion en bateau. Malheureusement, le temps etait trop mauvais et je n'ai jamais vu les calanques de l'eau.
Etant prof de francais, permettez-moi de faire quelques petites correntions de grammaire:
Nous sommes alles pecher(infinitif) et nous avons decide.
Je suis tres contente de vous lire en francais. Amities, Janine

Leslie Sorensen-Jolink

Merci beaucoup for sending us the story of your lovely day, Chief Grape (and Kristen!). That it was written in French was the icing on the cake; please do that often.

Being a person who is happiest when I'm in the water, I can't wait to visit an area of calanques...and to find a rock from which to jump into one! Bravo, Maxime et Mattieu!

And the oursins look delicious!!

Appreciatively, Leslie from Portland, Oregon


Yes - the calanques of Cassis! A short trip from our home base of Toulon - and unfortunately each time, the sea was too rough for oursins. We were able to have the biggest gambas I've ever seen, though! I still dream about them ;)


Oh - and last time I was there, there were signs about an escaped panther! I wonder if he's still out there... (I think that was around Cassis...)

Valerie Miremadi

J'aime beaucoup cette histoire en francais. A mon avis, c'est genial que Jean-Marc ecrit de temps en temps, meme qu'il ecrit tres souvent. Merci pour cette histoire d'une tres bonne journee!

Mme Charles

I loved listening to "la belle histoire" de Jean-Marc and used it as a listening activity yesterday with my French classes. I am always looking for authentic clips for them. It got me thinking about how much they would enjoy a French clip by either Maxime ou Jackie about something they are doing at school or with their friends! Merci beaucoup!


Quelle belle vie que vous avez là! I so enjoyed your recounting of a lovely day spent with family and dear friends. Thanks for the photos of calanques--those brought back pleasant memories Cassis. It's so fun to read a posting in French--good practice for my planned 2013 trip.
Merci, Kristi & Jean-Marc, for sharing your lives!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much for your response to Chief Grapes story -- and for the helpful corrections, too!


We have visited the calanques many times, but Marjou is a favorite of ours. There is a small family run restaurant at the port there, that, for us, has a very special feeling to it, and they are very warm and inviting. We try to plan a visit to the Marseille area at least once a year, and always try to go there for lunch.
They close for part of the winter.


I love the all french story and then the translation to check myself...love the photos...so nice to see all this new scenery...many thanks to chief grapes : )

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I do like the story all in French. Perhaps I liked it more because I understood it on first reading.

Many phrases were new to me, but context made it clear. All in French, the way an idea is expressed comes across fully.

Word by word is much fun. All in French puts it all together.



It's so wonderful to learn new vocabulary and see how they words are used in a sentence! This makes it so much easier to use the vocabulary ourselves later. Merci mille fois!

Diane Young

Merci, Jean-Marc, pour votre histoire. Merci, Kristi, pour le travail que vous faites pour que nous pouvons lire et ecouter Francais. Votre mas doit etre un reve! Bonne chance et bonne sante toujours.

june furey

Bonjour Jean-Marc, I apoligise for not writing in French and have waited till Kristi translated your story regarding your day at the coast. In New Zealand the Maoris collect . the "Kina" as they name it and it is always classed as a declicacy, to my knowledge not many people of european descent seem to want to eat it. When I look at the wonderful photo that is on the web featuring your lovely wine, together the plate of sea. urchins, it looks like a dish fit for a king. I will endeavour to try it the next opportunity when I am in New Zealand at Xmas, sorry I wont be able to have a bottle of your wine to accompany them. I love the area where you are now living, this is the first time for 10 years I have 't been able to travel due to medical problems.and althopugh 83 I look forward to being there again next year so I may fulfill my dreams of further painting in France.. . May you enjoy many happy excursions to your delightful "calanque",your nouveau ami June,Gold Coast Qld .

Georgia Schall just north of San Francisco

Not sure how much I enjoy totally French, BUT what I did was go off by myself to try to pronounce the words I could even if I didn't understand a lot. Good thing there weren't any native speakers nearby. They would have been cringing for sure! Oh the work I have ahead of myself before I return to France in a year from now!

Don't worry, your blog helps make my day so I will read in French and/or English and be happy!

Best wishes!


J'aime bien votre histoire de la plage. Je connait seulement un peu le francais.

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

Merci beaucoup pour avoir écrit en français! C'était merveilleux de lire en français, et de voir à quel point j'ai compris. J'espère que vous écrire un peu plus de temps en temps. C'était une belle histoire et vous avez pris des photos magnifiques!


joie in carmel,ca

It is a great way for me to practice my French. I read it first, with my poor accent, then attempt to translate it. Finally when the translation comes I can give myself a grade. But, the goal is to be able to read what Jean-Marc has to say and understand it without translating.

Carrie @ Season It Already!

When I was in college and studied for a semester in Toulon, we visited the calanques de cassis! The water was very rocky that day and one of the gals in our group got a little seasick on the boat ride...

Ann Mah

I loved this story, so evocative of a French Sunday. Thanks for sharing it Jean-Marc. The descriptions of the oursins, the hike, the calanques, and la mer relativement mouvementée had me sighing with nostalgia. And seeing the photo of Matthieu en pleine dégustation made me smile. Like godfather, like godson! It never hurts to develop the palate early. :)

Anne Denny

We took the "Promenade en Mer," a boat trip from La Napoule several times. That was where we first heard the word calanque. The guide kept saying "jolie calanque." We soon figured out what it meant, and they were indeed "jolie"
Anne and Jack

Alicia Deavens

Merci pour ce post! S'il vous plaît écrivez plus. J'aime pratiquer mon français avec vos messages!


Merci beaucoup pour vos petites histoires. J'etudie le francais. Ces histoires m'aide. Ils sont tres interesants.


...je suis allé PECHER........

Bonnie Spiros

J'aime bien a lise l'histoire en francais. J'apprendre le francais, et cette m'aider beaucoup. Merci beaucoup!

Travailler a Domicile

Un excellent moment passe avec vous, je vous remercie bien pour cette lecture.

Gagner de l'Argent

Continuez sur cette voie, c'est un veritable plaisir de vous suivre.

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