How to say tenant in French?
How to say wasp in French... and the fascinating life inside a figue!

le mariage civil + noce + the French are softies when it comes to weddings

The Kiss - Kristin Espinasse Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Nicolas Bourreli
"The Kiss". Jean-Marc and I celebrated our 19th anniversary with a hike along the sea and a swim at this calanque, in St. Cyr-sur-Mer.

la noce (nohce)

    : wedding, nuptials

faire la noce = to live it up
la nuit de noce = wedding night
le voyage de noces = honeymoon

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

Stopping Traffic

Memories are like bubbles. Full and rounded, the richest of them come rushing to the surface of our minds. I marvel at how my husband remembers some things and I, others. With the help of our individual recollections we knit together the past, enjoying moments from our romantic history.

This week Jean-Marc and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. The French call this anniversary les noces de cretonne. Cretonne being a type of fabric, the symbolism hints at the consistent weaving together of a sacred fil, the thread of love and commitment. 

All this talk of fabric and weaving reminds me of a vivid scene from our first wedding day. This was the town hall wedding or le mariage civil and in our case it took place two months before the church ceremony. It being a more casual gathering, there was none of that superstition about seeing the groom or bride beforehand. In fact, the groom and I drove together to our nuptials.

I'll never forget parading down the streets of Marseilles, in traffic. Grinning from ear to ear, I looked out our car window as Jean-Marc navigated from behind the wheel of his poor man's sports car. The red exterior of his Honda was chipped and dented, but inside might have been finer than silk and leather--the latter being Jean-Marc's just polished shoes (as for my dress, it was silk-like).

As we drove past all the chic boutiques on Rue Paradis on our way to pick up my bridal bouquet, it was thrilling to feel a part of this glamorous world surrounding us. And when Jean-Marc stopped smack in the middle of traffic, one lane away from the fleuriste, I literally stepped out onto Paradise Street.

"You'll have to hurry! There's no place to park," Jean-Marc explained.

I opened the creaky car door and landed in the middle of two lanes of impatient traffic.

It is awkward to be the center of attention, but there on my wedding day--crossing the street before the halted commuters--I all but twirled in my two-tiered dress!  Jaywalking across traffic lanes, light on my heels, I stole in and out of the flower shop, returning to my modern day carriage with an armful of calla lilies. 

The bumper to bumper traffic outside had not budged an inch, but was united in a collective (if imposed) pause. As I passed before the halted traffic, my wedding dress fluttering in the breeze, our parking sin was quickly forgiven as horns began to sound. Allez, les mariés!

The French are such softies when it comes to weddings! I smiled thanks to the audience of strangers and hurried into the car as drivers practiced their patience for one more "Marseilles minute". Even the calla lilies blushed, witnessing that steamy kiss!

To read about our church wedding, where the groom feared he was stood up and the bride got stuck to the outside of the church (wind and stucco are bad company for a bridal veil), read the chapter in my book.

French Vocabulary

le fil = string
le mariage civil = civil wedding, registry office wedding
la fleuriste = florist 
allez les mariés! = cheers to the bride and groom!
Marseilles minute = the amount of time (seconds, actually) another car will wait before blaring its horn at a stoplight turned green 

Max and his 18th summer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Max was born 9 months after Jean-Marc and I tied the knot...

Jackie "First Cowboy Hat" (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jackie came next... She turns 16 in September (this post was written in 2013...). This photo was taken recently, in Idaho--where she is spending the month with her grandparents... and trying on her American hat! Whereas I dreamt of France at her age, Jackie's life goal is to live in the States. "France is so old," she moans.

Together Forever (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Through Thick and Thin". Everyone and everything needs closeness. Picture taken in Orange (Vaucluse)

Kristi jean-marc espinasse 1994 Bagatelle wedding in Marseilles France
Those calla lilies and our town hall wedding on July 4th, 1994.

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Happy anniversary, Kristin & Jean-Marc! May you continue to have many joyous years together!

Your friend,


Geraldine Ventura

Happy Anniversary! May God bless you with many more wonderful years together!
Gerry Ventura


Happy Anniversary! may you have more years together.. I enjoy reading your blog while learning little by little french.

Bill in St. Paul

Happy Anniversary!! The French truly have a separation of church and state - just think of all the trouble the U.S. would have had if we would have done marriage the French way, separating the civil from the religious. As to Jackie's comment that "France is so old" we encountered a similar comment from the owner of an Internet cafe in Alsace who wanted to live in L.A. rather than France!

Claudette Kunsay

Ma chère Kristin,
MARC! 19 ans, c'est déjà un bon bout de route ensemble...Félicitations! Que le bonheur et la santé continuent à vous habiter.
Big bisous de Sutton,

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Happy anniversary to you and Jean-Marc! Enjoy celebrating.

John Carr


Becky Farley

Happy anniversary, Kristin & Jean-Marc!
May your days be filled with lots of love and laughter!




I laughed when I first looked at your top photo - laughed because I immediately remembered how many years you wrote your blog before you even dared to post a photo of yourself. You are the most conservative and modest person I have ever known, so to see you break out of your old mold and bare all on the beach witH the grace of an angel just blew me away. The moment of 'THE KISS' is so pure with light and love - and really looking at the photo it is pure Kristi as it is the most modest bikinni (sp?) I have ever seen. How you manage to stay true to yourself while pushing the envelope of life is beyond me...I guess you truely are an angel.

You really should post the photo of your original wedding dress - it was fantastic - and you put it together all by yourself. I remember the big wide brimmed white hat in the photo.

Love the photo of Jackie - she definately looks like a French girl pretenting to be a cowgirl....

And Max has grown another 6 inches since I can he be so tall against the rock wall in the garden?

Yes, I am the luckiest GM (Grandmere) in the world.

I'm so happy you shared that moment in the street of Marseille - that was a new memory for me.



Jeanne Govert

I agree with your Mother, that picture of you two is fantastic! And I know you are bashful! I wonder who took it? Surely not your embarrassed teenage son! Oh Mom, not in public. haha Congratulations on 19 years - keep going, it only gets better. Love and Happiness.


Happy Anniversary to you both!!! The marriage of two people and two cultures is not always easy and you two are obviously still very much in love after 19 years. C'est fantastique. Love the story of Marseilles. And your children are so beautiful.... Wishing you continued happiness and health and love as you move into your 20th year.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin!
I love this post! I could picture in my mind the whole scene and what a beautiful scene and how happy you made all the people in Marseille that day! Happy Anniversary and love the photos of Max and Jackie! The photo of you and Jean Marc on the beach is priceless!

Kristin - Exton, PA

Happy Anniversary! Beautiful photograph - you are both gorgeous! (And you can still rock a bikini after two kids and 19 years of marriage!!! Love it!) I continue to envy you Kristin! Wishing you many more happy years together.

Catherine Polinard Rawdon

Happy Anniversary. Wishing you many more years of happiness.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you so much for the thoughtful wishes! Your words extend this celebration and warm my heart! 

Mom, your colorful comments add so much to these memories. Thank you!

Jeanne, Our friend Nicolas, who was Jean-Marcs witness (at our church ceremony), took the picture. See a picture of him here (standing beside a very nervous Jean-Marc!)


Joyeaux Anniversaire! fun story and great pictures- a beautiful family!

Sue J.

happy anniversary, Kristi and JM!

Cheryl in STL

Joyeux anniversaire de mariage et félicitations!

Edie Schmidt


Bonne anniversaire to you both and many more!

Edie from Savannah

Sara Olivier

Bonne anniversaire, je vous rémercie de partager le photo charmant de ce jour avec les lecteurs, vous nous inspirez, merci merci!


Jacquie Pope

I loved the picture. What great examples to Max and Jackie - and the rest of us for that matter.
But someone is missing. Where is Mr. Sacks at such a grand celebration --and not even an honourable mention?
Happy anniversary, beautiful couple, and I hope there are many, many more 19 years to celebrate.

Shirley Babineaux

You look like $1,000,000 bucks doll! XO


Happy Anniversary!!!! I love this story and wish there were pictures to go with it. I can picture crossing the stopped traffic and waving thanks to all who stopped for you. Beautiful memory!

Julie Schorr

Happy anniversary to both of you!!

Arnold Hogarth

Such a sweet photo. Congratulations. Keep it up . . .

Joanne Ablan

Hi, Kristin,
Since I live in a beach town I can relate to lovers in the sand
as one of the perks here is that you see people in love all the
time. I think it particularly wonderful that you get to celebrate
your anniversary twice each year, once on July 4 (civil) and once
on September 24 (church). I visited many stone churches recently when I was in Normandy and Paris. Upon reflection, I think it may
well have been auspicious that your wedding veil got hooked to
the old stone church. What a blessing that was! Remember that
Jackie has the courage to journey and discover the new world
because she has had the experience of the solid foundation of
the love you and your husband have for each other. May you continue to be blessed with faith, hope, and abiding love. Joanne, Carmel, CA.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Happy both look fantastic and I love the pics of Marx and Jackie. May you be blessed with many more years.


Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

This was a wonderful post ---- congratulations to you both! Your children are both beautiful - just like you two!

Keep the posts & photos coming!

Stay well!

MorningStar Wilson

Happy Anniversary! I am new to your page, about a year...but love every bit about it! ....I agree with the person ( grand mere perhaps??) that said you looked fabulous in a bikini! My days of sporting a bikini are long gone! Congrats!

Bill Facker

Happy Anniversary Kristin & Jean-Marc !


Happy anniversary! It is a beautiful photo of two beautiful people plus bonus points for the beautiful children.....

Katherine in Palo Alto, CA

Allow me to add my voice to others' wishing you a Happy Anniversary! The sweetly romantic photo of you two on the beach and the story of you stopping traffic on your wedding day provide nice bookends to your married life to date, with many years of living in--and two lovely children--in between. Félicitations!

Lynn McBride

Felicitations to you both. Great photo, beautiful story. And too funny that Jackie wants to abandon old France for the US!

Jean Creighton

Happy Anniversary! Is your anniversary on the 8th, because today is our anniversary as well, and it is 51 years. Keep going, it is worth it! You two look so precious together and wow, you look good!
Thank you so much for your blog. You lift my spirits every time I get to see the pictures of your corner of the world, and read about your life. God Bless.


Our dear Kristi,
Oh, you two are adorable!(and you--!! 19 years of marriage and two kids, and you still take a fantastic picture in your bathing suit!)
Also so enjoyed dear Jackie and Max!
Another wonderful post today (as always!)
You take us along to share your life--especially for such a joyful anniversary!-
what a privilege for us and one that never fails to make our day!
Love, Natalia XO

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Happy Anniversary! I wish to "ditto" everything that Natalia wrote. I loved your description of stopping traffic in downtown Marseilles while you rushed into the florist to get your wedding bouquet. Mille mercis for this very special blog. (If Jackie should decide to live in the US, it will be our gain and France's loss. Actually, she can live both places.)


A perfectly painted picture of the past
A kiss that will always last
Wishing you many more decades of love
Life goes by so fast

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

You are truly precious, Kristi! As your wise mom noted above, you’ve found a way to remain true to yourself while pushing the envelope; such a delicate balance which you walk graciously.

Thank you for sharing the beautiful and intimate photo from your anniversary. I love the way you celebrated! I must say you look fabulous!!! In your classic, witty and heartfelt style "Through Thick and Thin” was a sweet ending to today’s happy tale!

Judi Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

What a beautiful moment you shared with us all! Thank you! Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple who have worked at, and continue to 'roll' with whatever comes along - the true test of a solid marriage like yours and Jean-Marc's. And, you look absolutely fabulous in your darling bikini! Beautiful scenery, beautiful lives entwined! May you both share many more moments, days and years together!

Heather in Arles

Whoohoo!! Cette photo à coupé ma souffle...Such a beautiful couple and the love between you is postively electric. Clearly, you both have grown but that has not changed!

Mes sincères félicitations et je vous souhaite dix-neuf ans de bonheur qui suivre...

Trish in NYC

JeanClaude and I repeat our Facebook "Félicitations" here and add that Jackie and Max are as beautiful as their parents!

Further, this little vignette is one of the best I've ever read from you: gorgeous language and images, especially with regard to the bubbles' simile, and the weaving/fabric/silk/leather metaphors.

Finally, I second your mother's suggestion: please post photos of your "two-tiered" wedding dress and the big white hat that accompanied it. All of us fans would love to see it!


Thank you for reminding me how sweet the 19th year can be. Yes, we do remember different things and remember things differently, that is the magic that makes the weaving of the fabric hold together!

Andy in St.Louis

Jackie, Jackie, Jackie. You don't know what you're saying. What's new lasts but an instant before it too is replaced. Like wine; age and experience, drought and famine are what gives life it's flavor and depth. Anybody can make something new, but to value and cultivate the old - that is something really special. Come and live among us for a couple of years, but my money says you'll be pining for Provence soon enough :-))

P.S. happy Anniversary Kristin and Jean-Marc!!

Tony Zola

Beautiful story. Happy anniversary!

Tony Zola in Vientiane, Laos

Tony Zola

Sorry. Forgot. Please show us the dress! Encore!

Eveline Verniers


I have been reading your blog for a while now (secretly wishing I could live on a French (or for that matter Italian, Greek or Spanish) coast) and now noticed that your children are teenagers. I teach French in the U.S. and am looking for some native French speakers for my students to interact with. I teach 9-11th grade. Would the school that your children attend/attended be interested in communicating via Skype or a blog or something like that? I know "la rentrée" is not until September, but I thought I'd ask. I know the European school system is a bit more strict to deal with than the American ones.

Thank you for reading this.

Jennifer in OR

Bon anniversaire de mariage! I love those two old bikes together in the last photo. Enjoy these days. Blessings for an abundant and joyful year. love Jen


I loved this post so much, it inspired me to write this Thank you for sharing your stories! :)

Charles Robin Marrs

Happy anniversary! Sorry for being a little late. My wife and I just celebrated our 50th. We were married on June 12, 1963, in the Hotel de Ville in Verdun (Meuse), and on July 13 in the base chapel at Caserne Maginot. May your life be always filled with joy!

Lee & Maureen

Cher Kristin et Jean Marc, "Happy Anniversary" and MANY more to the most "handsome" couple we know!! We are back " home" at La Genestiere until 17/10. We miss not having you next door at Rouge Bleu. Keep finding reasons to celebrate everyday and enjoying La Bon Vie!!
Lee & Maureen

Mary Jeanne , Florida

Chere Kristin et Jean Marc,
Heureux Anniversaire de mariage! Je vous souhaite encore 19 ans de plus et qui sait? encore une fois 19.....Beaucoup de Bonheur et surtout Bonne Sante! Vous faite un beau couple! Happy Anniversary to both of you! Many, many more years together....Lots of Love, Happiness and good health!
My husband Alex and I just celebrated 43 years the 29th. of August. Where have the years gone? Enjoy yourselves every day!
Mary Jeanne

Marti Hinman

Happy anniversaty to a lovely couple.
I am from South America,
y husband is from North America, a true
Connecticut Yankee. We both learned
from each others culture. It all worked very well.
Next November we shall celebrate
our 45th anniversary.
My mother best advise was; "Admire the
qualities of your partner and tolerate
his/her shortcomings". Marriage is not a one
way street. Bon anniversare to a lovely couple!

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