La soeur - sister in French
amour-propre - self-esteem, self-love, self-worth, ego in French

Le gazon (pelouse) - lawn, grass, turf in French

"Lawn Chair (c) Kristin Espinasse
We lived and worked on this organic vineyard in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes from 2007-2012. (See today's story column for a special memory about that time). Jean-Marc will be in SEATTLE soon, check out the latest stop in his USA wine tour, here.

le gazon (gahzoh(n)

    : lawn, grass, turf

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word as well as the list of terms, below: Download MP3 or Wav file

semer du gazon = to plant grass
la motte de gazon
= turf, sod
le gazon anglais = an immaculate, well-kept lawn
le gazon artificiel = AstroTurf
la tondeuse à gazon = lawnmower
tondre le gazon = to mow the lawn

Le gazon est composé de nombreux brins d'herbe.
The lawn is made up of many blades of grass.  "Gazon" entry at Wikipedia

Cultural Etiquette & Synonym for gazon (= pelouse)

Ever noticed how a finger-wagging Frenchman will appear out of nowhere to begin chasing you while you walk--and now dash!--across the municipal grass? This was just one instance of culture shock I suffered when moving to France.

But how was I to know the grass was off limits? Back in Arizona, we throw blankets across public lawns and nap on them! Not something you want to do in France (though, as with French grammar, some exceptions do exist).

Please share your France lawn story or grass gaffe here,  in the comments box. Meantime, if you see a sign that reads Ne pas marcher sur les pelouses or Pelouse interdite or even Nos pelouses centenaires sont réservées pour les petits oiseaux (our centuries-old lawn is reserved for the little birds)... you'll know to keep off the grass!

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

Today's story is a favorite memory about a struggling-yet-determined Frenchman, who in 2006 set out to live his dream of wine-making. In the short essay "Surrogate Mother" or Mère Porteuse, you will learn about Jean-Marc's fierce mothering instinct and his tender beginnings as a wine farmer of 25,000 orphaned vines. Click here to read the story.


Smokey's Field (c) Kristin Espinasse
Dear Smokey in the tall grass at Domaine Rouge-Bleupaver tiles, tomettes, floor French farmhouse Provence
Pictured: our former kitchen. Though I never learned to be a grand chef, I could whip up a delicious, easy yogurt cake - and so can you! Click here - I'll bet you already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

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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Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md  USA

He has a beautiful soul. You are a beautiful couple and your children (rooted in soil or rooted in your love) reflect it.

It was nice of you to take us back in time today. And, I love that picture, too. I got the same feeling of when you first posted it. I want to plunk right down in that chair and soak up the sunny view.

Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md  USA

I guess it was a foggy view but the sun came out with Smokey's presence.

David Simmons

The recurring metaphor of raising/treating vines like children is a great one.


I love the photo, looks so serene. I do have one question though. You keep showing photos of the "old" place yet I long to see your new home. Why is that?

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

Love the photos, Kristin. You have such a beautiful sense of balance ... of light and dark. Of the place. Very very nice. And I agree with Jeanne in her post: would love to see more photos of your new mas. Merci from Priscilla in La Nouville Orleans

Pat Cargill

I remember the chair in tall grass photo-inviting. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

Karen Mitcham-Stoeckley

Went to a lovely supper party last evening and they served.....Rouge Bleu !!!!! was divine. Thank you chief grape.

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
Love the foggy photo and the contrasting green grass! I'm looking forward to seeing some green grass soon! Only 19 more days until spring!!
Have a beautiful weekend!!

Julie Farrar

I have been taking photos of "interdit" signs for a long time. I can't understand their obsession with keeping off the grass. I've obeyed, so I've never had a bad experience. I do recall, though, that once my friends brought me to a grassy expanse at the base of the Eiffel tower that seemed to allow people to walk and sit and spread blankets. I can't remember what the area was called since it was about midnight and they had been driving me on a late-night tour of the city and I was completely confused as to where we had been and where we were.

Here's my theory on the grass thing. To walk and sit and wiggle toes in grass requires a bit of informality that I don't equate with that country. Love to know what a French person says about this custom.

Kristin Espinasse

Jeanne, I will try to post more photos. We are still in the pre renovation stage, deciding do do less rather than more.... Though the kitchen here needs renewal :-)

Thank you all for commenting on the photos and the story I posted. Karen S. Good to know you had the 2007. Thanks, Eileen, wishing yo and everyone reading a happy weekend. Looks like a storm is moving in over here. I dont think the dogs and I are going to get our walk...

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Never a problem to me, but just one trip to France long ago. The US is full of lawns that say, keep off. Little urban spaces, usually. Not the parks.

So Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe paintings (one by Manet, and another by Monet- a favorite of mine) were scandals for than the nude woman in Manet's painting?

Where do the French have le pique-nique ?

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Most of all, I love your writing but your photos come in a very close second. I,too,recall these photos and think they are some of your best. Smokey's pale fur blends in with the grasses which have gone to seed allowing you to be almost hidden away while resting in the bamboo chair....Smokey's head on your lap. Lovely memories. Mille mercis et bon week-end.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Great photos and story. Have a good & safe weekend!

Going to try to see Jean Marc in Portland, Oregon.

It's raining on the central Oregon coast........again.

Bill Facker

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why French doggies have to "go" on the sidewalk ... :-)


I love both photos!
bonne journee Kristi!

Tom Mann

Almost 30 years ago I was visiting my friend Joel where he was a prof at the Université de Montréal. At the time, I had a cocker spaniel puppy named "Bissi." I took her on a walk into a nearby park that had beautiful grass, and we got kicked out with the explanation, "Les chiens sont inderdit au parc, monsieur." And it wasn't even France!

Bisous, Kristi

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Enjoyed the reread very much, especially through the lens of today.

My only French lawn story to date is this: I completely forgot you’d shared this with us and I, like you, would be on the grass just as soon as I touched down on French soil, ah grass.

Only 19 days until spring?! Yippee!


A French friend and I were visiting the Père LaChaise cemetery once, and we sat down in the grass to enjoy the sun and the peace and quiet. Of course, we were asked to move. My friend tried to explain that it was "a place of rest" but the police would hear none of it!

Delia Bourne

We arrived to visit Le Rochepot,a fairytale chateau here in Burgundy. Being newcomers we had forgotten that everywhere shuts for lunch. No problem as we had a picnic with us. We settled ourselves down, about 8 of us. I laid the picnic cloth down, laid out the plates, etc. We attracted a few curious glances from the Chateau staff as they walked by for their lunch break. It wasn't until 2 hours later that we saw the sign on the tree that we were sitting under which said Picnics Interdit. Picnics not allowed!!


We lived in a rented house in Dijon, and the landlord had updated it prior to our move-in, including re-grading and re-planting the lawn, which by the time I got there was grown some but filled with prickly weeds. I hadn't brought my dandelion puller so I substituted a screwdriver, and that's how I met my neighbors, as La Folle Americaine is out there on her knees, taking pissenlit out with a tournevis. Later in December I'm sure they were equally impressed to see me out shoveling the walk with a dustpan (pelle à poussière?). It probably confirmed their opinion. They were however very gracious and very patient with my feeble French, and I learned a lot.


Bonjour Kirstin, I've only recently signed up to your blog in an attempt to add some french vocab to my petite one...but I have a French grass story. We were in Paris in 2010 with our pre-schooler sons so spent lots of time in jardin and parcs. It was obvious we weren't allowed on the grass as it was all cordoned off but as a result each day we'd get home with the boys covered in a fine layer of white dust from their playing on the chalky white paths!

Patricia Myers

Most of the park signs in Paris state “Pelouse Interdit” – grass (lawn) forbidden -- rather than using the word 'gazon.'

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these wonderful grass stories!

Sarah, welcome to our French word family. Thank you for the chalk you and your boys shared :-)


Thanks Kristin, and I meant to add a PS - we are from Aotearoa New Zealand where grass is fair play and the very few "Keep off the grass" signs are disdainfully ignore - with the attitude that isn't the purpose of grass to be walked on, played on, picniced on etc?

Nancy L.

Love the kitchen photo. I fondly remember sipping wines with you, Jean Marc and a few other visitors at that very table in the fall of 2011. I hope we can get to visit you at your new digs sometime in the future! xoNancy


Our dear Kristi,
What gorgeous pictures!!
You so captured that special place in memory and took us there with you to enjoy all over again. After reading about Jean Marc's dilligent hard work (with the help and support of his family!), I have new respect for what is inside those bottles of wine (and not just the names and labels on the outside!)I love to cook and your beautiful kitchen just totally captured my imagination!!
THANK YOU for starting the weekend off in such a wonderful way!
Love, Natalia XO

Susie Q. Finley

Over 15 years ago mon mari finally took me to Paris. We had a room close to the Eiffel. I was confused by the signs on the lawn mall running off of the Tower, because there were a lot of bald spots. When the sun went down,we walked over and found many families on the pelouse. PS French dogs are so smart they can play games with my husband Dana, who only speaks English! Ma foi!

Vera Marie Badertscher

The picture of the foggy vinyard just took my breath away. Gorgeous! My only French grass story is being surprised to see students ALL OVER the grass at Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. I just shook my head, and thought, "what were all those warnings about keeping off the grass about?"

S ling

The first time I went to France I walked on a beautiful green lawn. Soon I heard tweet tweet. At the end of the lawn I saw several I enfuriated gendarmes waiting for me. Why didn't you get off the grass when we blew our whistles. The demanded. They were ready to handcuff me and take me to jail. I was bewildered. I thought it was the birds I protested. When they saw I was not French they laughed and let me go.


I believe a visit to Paris is incomplete without a stroll through Le Jardin du Luxembourg. One fine afternoon, a couple of friends and I ventured directly onto the sprawling lawns of the Jardin to spend a few hours in the sparkling sun, as we would have in India. Within 5 minutes of our contented laying, the policier arrived with his baton. He could see we were foreigners and explained to us that the lawn was out-of-bounds. Now, our experience had told us the French are nicer to those who speak their tongue. So we immediately started speaking to him in French and apologized, informing him that we didn't know about the rule. He was taken aback, especially when we shook our heads when he asked us if we were French. He listened to the story about how 2 Indians and a Brazilian happened to be in the Jardin and speak deceptively good French. When we saw him walk across the park towards us, we were afraid he would charge a fine or throw us out. Instead, he smiled at us and waved a friendly goodbye! We then walked away with inflated egos, chattering about how authentically French we sound!It's a story we still proudly relate to our friends and family as one of our adventures in France!

Jacqueline Gill

Such a delightful story; equally wonderful are your pictures. You are a gifted photographer!

Gail in Concord, NH

I must admit I was confused when I first visited Collioure, France, and discovered that walking on the grass was "interdit!" but nearby topless bathing was OK! Perhaps nudity is more natural than a lawn.

Kristin Espinasse

Gail, LOL! Good point.

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