26 actes de gentillesse

billingual video of Jean-Marc + un pointu

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un pointu (pwan-too)

    : a little Provençal fishing boat

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Last night I hurried around the house, turning on the electric wall heaters that were shut off on our departure.

C'était bien dépaysant, my husband remarked as he lit the fire, warming up the cozy foyer. He was right, our family's three day getaway had been a good opportunity to escape the daily grind. Just like the fire coming to life in our cheminée, I felt a spark of excitement as I moved through the house, preparing it for a quiet night. Rien de tel que son chez-soi!

We weren't the only ones to enjoy a change of scenery. While we were in Italy, our dogs sojourned in the village of Cuers, where Jean-Marc had found a private dog carer—for a fraction of the price we normally paid at the "dog hotels".

Arriving at the homey chenil, we were greeted by a petit French woman with a crown of black curls who resembled both Edith Piaf and Chrissie Hynde. We followed her around the little townhouse, to the back yard where the dogs would play, then into a spacious chambre, where they could rest. When Braise and Smokey became more interested their new enviroment than in us, we quietly snuck away.   

From Cuers, 17-year-old Max took the wheel, driving us towards the country border. We passed our old stomping grounds of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, with its tender memories, then Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Menton....

"I never dreamed I'd one day have a French son who would chauffeur me to Italy!" I chimed, taking a moment to acknowledge a future that had manifested beyond my dreams.

In Vintimille, the Italians were hidden at home, en famille, the day after Christmas.  Many of the shops were closed, so we engaged in an old French sport: faire du lèche-vitrine, or window licking (a less barbaric translation would be "window shopping").

We strolled the quiet streets arm in arm: first I clung to my daughter's arm, next,  to Max's--until both of us became aware of the awkwardness, at which point our arms quickly untangled and we coughed up a change of subject: "T'as vu les pères noëls? Did ya see all the Santa Clauses? Just like in France! "

I couldn't help but want to hang on to the kids, for who knew how many more family escapades the future held? Max could leave the nest in a little more than a year.... And Jackie has mentioned wanting to return to the school she attended last year, which means she would become a boarder--never mind we're not a boarding family! (Wasn't that for aristocrats?) 

Even if the kids don't move away in the next couple of years, who says they'll want to come along with us for another getaway? We were already very lucky to have them with us this time. They could have easily stayed home and enjoyed the company of friends versus this holiday with the old folks.

Keeping in mind the elusive future, this may have been our most relaxing holiday. Unlike family vacations of years past, the kids got along and even seemed to enjoy each other's company. It was as though they, too, sensed it was the end of an era. 


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 P.S. we stayed the two nights in the wine-making mecca of Barolo. Jean-Marc found this sweet, reasonably-priced B&B, which included homemade pastries at breakfast and Illy coffee (JM's favorite). We are not affiliated with the B&B or with Illy, in case a suspicious thought crossed your innocent mind....


c'était bien dépaysant = it was a good change of scenery

rien de tel que son chez-soi = there's no place like home

 le foyer = entryway

une cheminée = fireplace

le chenil = kennel, dog carer's

Vintimille = Ventimiglia

en famille = with family

Metro cuffParis Metro Cuff! It also makes a wonderful conversational piece -- to wear on your wrist.  A wonderful "conversation piece" for your wardrobe. Order one here.


Mailboxes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mailboxes in Marseilles. All photos (c) Kristin Espinasse unless otherwise noted.

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