French word for catacombs + photos of French locks
le nounours + teddy bears spotted in France (photos)

How to say "to fall for it" in French? + the charming "door curtain" (photos)

Poissonnerie or Fish Department (c) Kristin Espinasse
If you thought the previous story was a bit fishy... it was! (Photo of the fishmonger's taken in Brignoles.)

Rent an apartment in Monaco
Villa Royale apartment in Monaco. Large studio with beautiful sea views located in the residential district of Beausoleil

Today's word, an expression, really, comes from a comment following Monday's post. Claudette Kunsay writes:

Oh! Kristin, je suis tombée dans le panneau comme bcp d'autres !!! Et j'étais si fâchée contre ces hommes de loi!!! Je trouvais la situation ridicule mais, tout est possible. Oh, Kristin, I fell for it like a lot of others!!! And I was so mad at the authorities!!! I found the situation ridiculous but anything's possible.

Thanks, Claudette, for inspiring today's entry:

tomber dans le panneau (tohm bay dahn leuh pah noh)

    : to fall for it, to walk into the trap, to be duped

Audio File: Listen to me Claudette's letter (above) Download MP3 or Wav

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

I wanted to tell you about the kick I got writing the Paris catacombs story and all I learned in the process of creating fiction. But that will have to wait. Today is Day 2 of renovation and I hope to chronicle the messy process this time! 

Yesterday played to the tune of the jackhammer as a lonely demolishioner brought down the old brick fireplace....

French fireplace: bricks and wood (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse

(That rustic cheminée had character but it also had a bad habit of feeding on all the air in the house, going as far as to pull freezing cold oxygen in from the outside, via the window and door cracks. In return it gave back puffs of ashes which coated the floors, the furniture, and our dinner plates as we ate, wide-eyed, watching the disheartening process repeat itself.

The new fireplace--an insert--will send out heat via a network of pipes. The floors will stay a little cleaner, too--if one of us would once and for all wipe off the dogs' muddy paws before our goldens came in for the night. As for all the dog hair that carpets the floors....)

rock wall and demolition man (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse

To prepare for the destruction, we removed all bagatelles and cleared the foyer of its furniture before the demolitioner taped up a clear plastic curtain to prevent dust, or la poussière, from blowing into the dining room, which connects to the busy kitchen. 

(Here I'd like to add that plastic renovation curtain must be very much like plastic "packing bubbles"... for one of our kids had a hard time resisting the urge to poke at the curtain holes, rendering the plastic shield that much more useless and causing the other grumpy members of her family--who were resting on the opposite side of the curtain--to shout, "Stop that, Jackie!" and "Mais arrête! Oh! Ça vas pas, non?!")

Regarding moodiness during renovation, we held it together that first day, no matter how disorienting things were. It was even a little amusing to find that every time you went to set down your keys or your sacoche or your coffee cup, the desk or the table or the fireplace mantel was no longer there to hold it! And when you went to sneak another chocolate your husband brought back from recent travels, you wondered, for a split second, why a plastic wall of poked holes was blocking your path. Ah, oui! you shook your head as you detoured out of the house, across the driveway, and over to the other end of the house to enter from there.

In your slippers, walking out of the house to access the kitchen (via the garage), it was again amusing to pass your neighbor, the demolishioner, who took the occasional break in the back of his demolition van, amidst piles of rubble. Seated there, beyond the open van doors, he smoked his cigarette and patted the furry head of a new fan (Smokey).

...And when you smiled, in passing, wishing him bon courage, you were startled, delightedly so, when he paused to wish you the same.

"Bon courage à vous aussi, Madame," he bowed his head.

At first I took the demolitioner's encouragment as politesse... (Yes, thank you, and you too!) until I realized, coughing my way back across the house, encumbered by all the construction dust--my head ringing from the pounding hammer--that bon courage was something we were going to need a lot of these next weeks.

To respond to this story, you can leave a note in the comments box. Thanks in advance!

Mas des Brun
This isn't the first time this mas has undergone renovation. In the 70s the façade you see, above, and the rooms beyond it, were renovated. We are privileged to learn about the history of Mas des Brun (Brown's house) as Maggie and Michael, who sold us their home, tell it to us, via the thoughtful emails and letters they send us. I hope to share excerpts with you at some point.

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door curtain in Vinsobres (c) Kristin Espinasse

In honor of the plastic curtain that is protection our house from dust (if only it really worked!) here are some charming rideaux de porte I've spotted in France. The wind-whipped curtain, above, lives in Vinsobres, near our old village of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes

Door curtain or rideau in Serignan (c) Kristin Espinasse
This door curtain lives in Serignan. Be still my heart, I thought, each time I passed it. Such charm. 

  Madras door curtain in Croation (c) Kristin Espinasse

This one lives on an island in Croatia. Can't you just feel the sea breeze? See how it moves the madras curtain. More themed photos on the way. After reading your responses to the sacoche post, and all the "bag" photos, it is a pleasure to come up with more themed-photo editions. To comment on the photos, or on something in today's post, click here.

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Oh my. I do not envy you. There were jackhammers at night repairing the Promenade in Nice but at least the surf and double-paned windows blocked some of the noise. If possible, just imagine how it will all look when it is done and how cozy you will be with the new arrangement.

Margaret (back home and missing you and France!)

Bill in St. Paul

Ah, the joys of renovation!! Years ago when our children were 8 and 5, we enlarged one bedroom and added a porch, changing the sloped roof into a peaked roof. The children were very curious to watch them work, so to make sure that they didn't fall out of the open room, one of our dear carpenters took a black marker and drew a line across the new floor, and told them that they couldn't cross that line. It worked, nobody fell the two stories to the ground.

Marilyn Wheless

Can't wait to hear about your day cleaning bones underneath the streets of Paris. i.e., toothbrush, olive oil, clothing ??????

lLal Minton

I laughed till I cried over the catacomb story. I haven't read anything so funny in fifty or sixty years. I can't think of the name of the humorist but the subject was about a maid who declaimed at Christmas "The reeves is here." You've got it, kid.

Pat Cargill

I have fallen for the glass awning (? - can't think of correct word!) over the door at Nbr 2, with the white curtain rolled together. Simple scrolls of iron supporing the leaded glass canopy, Clever!

Ah, renovations. I simply cannot wander down that memory lane-it is always taxing and you have found an EXCELLENT coping mechanism: chocolat! WooHoo!


We just finished an entire kitchen and two complete bath remodels. Phew! I am glad it's finished as it took almost a year due to schedules. What a joy to be free of dust and dirt. I'll be thinking of you.

As for your very clever storytelling (fiction or non-fiction), we're all still here reading after many years so that should give you an indication of your wonderful talent. Imaginings are glorious!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Barbara and Lal !

Margaret, I finally followed Moms advice and took a lawn chair to the far end of the lot... a little quieter there. Just a little.

Bill in St Paul, love The Black Line! I can just picture the kids!

Pat, Newforest once taught me the word for the glass structure over the door: a marquis or marquise... I think...

Marcia Douglas

So, how old is the house, Kristin?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Marcia. The stone marker on the front reads 1870

Debbie Ambrous -

I worried very much about our fireplace and the mantle I purchased for it. Locally, the fireplace is checked by the Fire Department. Makes sense doesn't it? I'm sure you will have a beautiful fireplace, and I'm looking forward to seeing it when it's finished.


I loved the skull cleaning story! Good for you..... My old neighbor was the editor of our local paper and she always did the lead story on April Fool's Day. My favorite was a toll booth to enter our neighborhood based on good looks and dog passengers per car. People were outraged and curious about the criteria. You had me at first!

Audrey Wilson

18 years ago we went through the same , changing a 120 year old barn into a home Dust, dust everwhere & hammering on stop. .Using a ladder to access the upstairs & cooking on a camp stove in the garage!
By the way ; our cheminée ,( almost the same as yours) is most efficient & warms our sejour to 21° degrees on its own without any other heat .
Good luck with the renovations . Look forward to photos of the finished home .

Julie Farrar

Bon courage is right! We've done extensive home renovations before and we're about to start tearing down the back of our current house and do it again. We're actually considering renting an apartment to make the process more bearable. And that is why we snapped up our apartment in France without looking at an others -- we did not want the pain of renovating in a foreign language.

Thanks for the name of the glass roof over the door. They are everywhere in Dijon and I'm crazy about them, especially the ones with colored glass.

Diane Young

Bon courage for sure. A lot of us are remembering those dusty, noisy days and our sympathies are with you. On a positive note, vive le cheminee nouveau! I remember the thrill of installing central heat/AC after years of being cold or hot all the time. Soon you will be tres confortable.



I hope you are outside again today nesting in your new spring garden. How about planting something new each day - that means a nice visit to your local nursery. Forget cleaning your house until everything is finished. I always remember how much easier my life was when I would get up at 5 a.m. and be in my office by 7. On days when I stayed home it seemed like I made more messes and felt more overwhelmed. Get out of the house...




Your mother is so smart. This is a great idea. I got more stressed looking at what was happening and the mess that was being made that I started making bad decisions as questions popped up. Good luck.

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

I love your photos - they always make me feel like I am in France for the weekend enjoying a walk about the village. Any village. I can even smell the croissants. Renovations! Did that to a kitchen once - loved the results but the process got old - especially the dust. It does eventually end and then you can all enjoy the results. For many years!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Hi Kristin,

Your mom is so right! It is hard to watch the process, and live thru it. It will be worth it.

Great information on renovations! Keep us updated.

Stay well.

Mary-Ellen Perlman

Dear Kristin, thanks very much indeed for your nearly daily posting, can't imagine the work you must have to do. Love the photos. One question, I can't find in dictionary, what is "downsizing" in French, apart from "reduire". Many thanks, Mary

Karen from Phoenix

Renovations are hard but when it is done how beautiful it is. Keep calm. xoxo

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Hi Kristin,

Best of luck with the renovations. Glad JM is home to share this craziness with you. Yes, I agree-chocolate is a great coping mechanism in stressful situations!

Love the photos of the doors and curtains. As you said, "be still my beating heart", number 3 in Serignan is full of charm and so cute. The door looks quite tiny so I'm wondering who lives there....perhaps others like me who are only 5 feet tall.... :)

Looking forward to Friday's post. Have a great day!


Mary Catherine Pace

Look for the lawsuit for slander from your happy, wandering shepherd, Kristin! You had me; I believed in the tale of the litigious frenchman! I especially enjoyed the parsimonious olive oil application instructions! Nice detail. You have a devious mind--perfect for fiction! Happy renovations, and I will be more wary next April Fools' Day!

Mara in Wisconsin

Form Wikipedia" The current usage of the modern English word marquee, that refers specifically to a canopy projecting over the main entrance of a theater, which displays details of the entertainment or performers, was documented in the academic journal American Speech in 1926: "Marquee, the front door or main entrance of the big top." The English word marquee is derived from the Middle French word marquise (the final /z/ probably being mistaken as -s plural), the feminine form corresponding to marquis ('nobleman'). The word marquise was also used to refer to various objects and fashions regarded as elegant or pleasing, hence: a kind of pear (1690), a canopy placed over a tent (1718), a type of settee (1770), a canopy in front of a building (1835), a ring with an elongated stone or setting, a diamond cut as a navette (late 19th cent.), and a style of woman's hat (1889).

Bette Goode

Hi Kristin,

I was recently in France, and people wished me "bon courage" at the recent death of a family member there. Does this really mean "good luck"? This expression must have many meanings and uses. To my anglophone sensibilities, wishing someone good luck when a loved one passes away seems a bit odd and inappropriate. But I was wished "bon courage" with such heart felt emotion that I knew that this was an encouraging thing to wish me. Language is so interesting.


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