une mare
Photos of Roquemaure + souvenir: remembering September 11th, 2001

Pictures of Grimaud + conjugation

Grimaud and the Golf of St. Tropez (c) Kristin Espinasse
Grimaud. Did you know the Gulf of St. Tropez was once called the Gulf of Grimaud? Gives you an idea of its importance. The Grimaldi family once had ties here, which may account for its rank as one of the wealthiest villages is the region (surpassing even "St. Trop").  For no particular reason (except that my computer is full of photo archives that I haven't always had the chance to show you) I'm pairing today's post with Grimaud photos. Enjoy! 


sauter (so-tay)

    : to jump

je saute, tu sautes, il/elle saute, nous sautons, vous sautez, ils sautent...

I chose today's word after hearing our 18-year-old, Max, teasing his sister in the kitchen:

Cherche moi à boire... et que ça saute!
Get me something to drink... and hop to it! 
Audio File: hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word, the conjugated verb, and example sentence above. Download MP3 or Wave file

Note: today's example sentence--the cherche moi à boire part--is Neanderthal French. You won't want to use caveman French in a Parisian café--or at my mother-in-law's (though she has an excellent sense of humor and would probably just tease you right back). As for the phrase "et que ça saute" this one is current--so go ahead and try it out on your friends or significant other! Et que ça saut (and hurry up!).

 Bescherelle conjugation guideCapture plein écran 16052011 092531"This is without a doubt the definitive guide to conjugation of French verbs... an indispensible reference and not overwhelming for beginning students." Order it here.--M. Savoir (Amazon reviewer)


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

The other day, while chatting with Mom on the telephone, I shared with her some of the things I had been writing about on my blog. Mom's computer is broken so she's missing French Word-A-Day. She loves to read the online journal, as it keeps her updated on my life--a life we might have shared had each of us not left the Arizona desert two decades ago (Mom moved to Mexico, with the love of her life, and I came to France, for a second chance with my own amour de ma vie.)

As I recounted to Mom some of the stories I'd posted on this language blog, I remembered the pictures, too:

"I showed a photo of a saint's foot...." I told Mom, "And there was a French livre d'or, or guest book, at the church we visited in Port Cros. I photographed it, too, along with the prayer request I scribbled inside--only I think I misspelled one of the words--that is, I think it needed conjugating...."

Knowing Mom would appreciate the photo's caption, I read it to her: "Good thing we don't have to conjugate to get our point across to God."

Mom listened intently before responding. 

"Conjugate? What the hell does that mean?"

After chuckling at my mom's feisty response, there followed an uncomfortable pause--the realization that I had, in one way, received more instruction than she--having had the privilege of "higher" education. (Mom had been kicked out of high school as she awaited the birth of her first child.)

But any embarrassing advantages were quickly erased as I struggled to answer Mom's no-nonsense question. How to explain conjugation? My university degree couldn't even save me.

"Uh... well... it's like... You know--"to be"! Bumbling my way forth, more like a pre-school candidate than a language honors graduate, I managed this:

 "I be..."

(Was that snickering on the other end of the telephone line? I cleared my throat, trying to offer a verbal illustration of the scholarly concept that my leather-bound degree assured me I'd mastered):

"...I be, you be, he be..." I croaked, finishing my example. "See... you don't say it like that. The verb "to be" has to be conjugated. It's just something we seem to do automatically: I am, you are, he is..."

"Oh, I see!" Mom's cheery response was forgiving--and wonderfully refreshing, and her childlike enthusiasm for any and all knowledge was contagious!

What a relief it was to share a rare appreciation for grammar, and to know that I had not unintentionally snubbed my dear mom, my Brilliant Teacher of All Things. As I relaxed back into our usual bantersome conversation, I shared another tidbit.

"You know," I mused, "I sometimes forget that I didn't know much about English grammar... until I got to college and began studying French!"

"That's a good one!" Mom laughed. "You ought to write that on your blog!"


Post note: though Mom is a regular commenter on this blog (apart from these past weeks, owing to a broken computer), she often frets about her spelling and punctuation--not that that slows her ALL CAPS messages). Write on! I tell her. Never hold back! This is a truth I have learned while teaching myself to write stories: Never let grammar get in the way of sharing yourself with others.  

Comments Corner
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Capture plein écran 11092013 105853

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porch in Grimaud (c) Kristin Espinasse

 Door beads sighting! And a cozy and welcoming porch in Grimaud....

Galerie Paschos in Grimaud, France and yellow motorbike (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
A gallery ("Paschos" gallerie) and a the post office's motor scooter.

windmill in Grimaud (c) Kristin Espinasse
 17th-century moulin à vent, or windmill, outside Grimaud's town center.

Jean-Marc and Braise (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Jean-Marc and Braise (when she was a puppy, 6 years ago)

Restaurant L'ecurie de la Marquise and Le Bou Bou Grill (c) Kristin Espinasse
Restaurants "L'Ecurie de la Marquise" and the Bou Bou Grill in Grimaud.

Galerie du Porche in Grimaud (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
Galerie du Porche, for pottery, in Grimaud.

La Placette in Grimaud, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
A quiet and restful square, "La Placette", in the middle of Grimaud.

Black cat in Grimaud (c) Kristin Espinasse, French Word-A-Day.com
Number 17. Nothing to be superstitious about there...
Charm of Grimaud (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
 At the intersection of Rue des Meuniers (Miller Street) and Place Vieille (Old Square). Still, not a lot of traffic in Grimaud.

Pottery in Grimaud, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
Close up pottery shop. See anything in the window that catches your fancy? To comment on these photos, click here

Paschos gallery in Grimaud, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
The fountain in front of Paschos gallery.

Hydrangeas in Grimaud, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
Hydrangeas and a place to sit and watch the world go by. (What kind of seat would you match to this lovely historic home? A rocking chair, an wooden bench, a lovely iron seat...? Or do you like the contrast of old and new? To comment, click here.

Above restaurant Le Bou-Bou, in Grimaud, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day.com
A sleepy balcony over the restaurant Le Bou-Bou, toujours en Grimaud....

All photos in this post were taken in 2006, while enjoying a stroll with my Aunt Charmly and Uncle Tucker, visiting from San Francisco. I hope you enjoyed this photo journey through a favorite French village. 

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Bruce in northwest Connecticut

I was never taught any English grammar, either. No one taught it in the 70s. Which drove my Spanish teacher crazy.

"¿Qué es el pasado pluscuamperfecto de 'tener'?"
[no response, except for looks of bafflement]
"OK, let's try it in English. What is the past pluperfect of 'to have'?"
[bafflement intensifies]

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

By the way, I think I want to live in Grimaud.

Karen Mancini

I just wanted to say that I love your blog and it helps me with my french of course!
I liked todays especially when you say don´t let grammer get in the way of sharing.
Although I am English, I left England 3 decades ago and I live mainly in Germany but also now between Germany and France and I have sooo forgotten my English and sometimes I do get nervous about it as I think "I am english, I shouldn´t have forgotten, I should know this or that"..... Anyway, it was refreshing to read your blog and I remain a faithful follower!!!

Bill in St. Paul

I find going from English to French difficult at times because the English seems (at least to me) imprecise. For example, "phone me when you're ready" is all in the present tense, but French requires the "quand" phrase to be in the future: "téléphone-moi quand tu sera prêt". The French rule makes sense to me because you're not ready now. (Then add in the different conjugations of the verbs with their subtle pronouncation differences between tenses!)

Lee & Bill Mears

I LOVE, LOVE the photos of Grimaud. So artistic! Lee Mears in Bradenton, FL

Georgia Schall just north of San Francisco

I, too, loved the photos as well as your writing about conjugating. I picked up a great little book with French phrases and some of the basics including going over the pesky conjugations.

We are presently at Heathrow airport heading to Budapest but will spend the last week of Sept. In France! Can't wait!

Thanks, Kristi, for your helpful ways to share French life, language and customs!

Elizabeth Jones

I love your photos of Grimaud, especially as they remind me where my family goes every summer. We enjoy the very view from our terrace to the view in your first photo of the church steeple and gulf of St Tropez! I wish I had known when you were there as I am a big fan of your blog!

Sharon from Montague, Michigan

Kristen, Your photos are always wonderful, thank you.

Conjugating is always a struggle for me. And what the heck is the past pluperfect??? So many things to remember for the novice French student.

The chair that I would place next to the Hydrangea would be a white antique peacock wrought iron chair.

Pat Cargill

Beautiful photos today. As far as the"hydrangas and a place to sit," the plastic chair seems out of place for such a gorgeous setting. (I can understand why it might be there, and am not criticising!) But you asked! A comfy wooden chair, with or without rockers would be nice. Or maybe a wooden bench with curves to more comfortably fit the body would offer a place for two to sit and share. I can see having a steaming cafe au lait there early in the morning...while the world wakes up, the sun rises, and the secrets of the night once more disappear with the first rays. Sigh. I think I am there!

Heather in Arles

Gosh, now that I am most fluent in Franglais, I certainly back you up in not fretting about the little things--communicating from the heart is what matters most.

And besides, I LIKE my creative comma usage. ;)
Bisous from Arles on our first cool day--yippee!!!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

The chair that I would like to place next to the flower pot in your photo is the one I'm sitting in right now!


Oh my...what an insightful, lovely anecdote
about the plight of women worldwide. The struggle
for education for girls and sisterhood continues.
Beautiful message within your message.

Thank you Kristen...and MOM.

Margy, Pittsburgh


I am very timid in speaking French, and your comment about not worrying about conjugations is very encouraging.Merci, Kristin. Next time, I'll post a comment in French. À la prochaine :)

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Great inspiring info, wonderful photos -- esp. of the baby dog. I am taking French at the Alliance in Portland and I have many issues with conjugations-not sure I will ever "get it". I am starting to just enjoy the process and relax!

Stay well!

Mary Jeanne , Florida

Bonjour Kristin.
Quelles belles photos! Moi meme j'ai du mal avec mon francais...je suis ici en Amerique 46 ans le 11 Octobre, et n'ai plus l'occasion d'ecrire...je telephone avec ma mere une fois par semaine et je la visite en Alsace une fois l'annee....s.v.p.continuez avec votre blog cela me rappelle mon pays natal...j'aimerai bien remplacer la chaise blanche avec un fauteuil avec le dos un peut plus doux....bonne journee...

Marcia Douglas

Ahh conjugations - I was a professional proofreader in my college days. You gotta use it or you'll lose it, lol. I have a colleague I communicate with at my office, she types in all caps. We exclaim - SHE'S SHOUTING AGAIN lol. But, I think somehow in her message system at the co. she works for, she can only select caps. I hope. ;-)

Brenda Chinn

Hi Kristen,
Your lovely photos of Grimaud remind me of my short visit to Gordes, just for lunch and an hour to check out the boutiques and little businesses nearby. it's wonderful to have photos which I took that day as a reminder when I want to "visit" again.

Keep those French words coming.
A bientot...Brenda

Joan Simon

Hello Kristin,

I love the sound of your mother. Also, taking French had the effect of me becoming more appreciative of English, and how I had taken all my own conjugating for granted! My father can diagram sentences like nobody's business-something that I think got thrown out when they changed the name of our English classes to "Language Arts." :)


Hi K! Great pics as usual----loved the conjugation story. As a tutor in French, it has always been difficult to even explain what conjugating is, since we did not learn English this way....Hugs all around! patti

Joan Linneman

On the other hand, a good friend once said "We use good grammar so that others can apppreciate the beauty of our thought," and "Grammar allows us to say exactly what we mean and to mean exactly what we say." However, after teaching French grammar for 34 years, I realize that the rules and conjugations are just shortcuts until the person"feels" the right way to say what he/she wants to say. The rules seem totally random until it "feels and sounds" right. (And of course, good grammar is in no way connected to goodness or wisdom.)
Joan L.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Learning a second language does sharpen the knowledge of the first one. I learned how to diagram sentences, for their structure, but I cannot recall more than present, past and future for tenses in my early English classes. In that first language, the grammar, and the conjugations hidden inside it, are learned in whole. When the verb tense is wrong, it sounds wrong!

In a second language, with different rules, one learns the structure of moods and tenses with all the names in place.

Then it was a moment to be amazed how much sophisticated English I knew already.

Kathy en Californie

"Cherche-moi à boire." is real, everyday French. But I would agree that it's "Neanderthal" in that it was directed by an older male to a younger female. Did Jackie get him something after that command?" Context and tone are everything!

My students are always telling me that they learn more about English in my French classes than tin their English classes. (And I've been teaching most of the last 40 years, so I've heard it often.) I try to help them learn to PAY ATTENTION to the way both languages work and to then think and compare what we do in both. Yet I agree that grammar is not the goal of studying a language. The goal is communication, and the main way to accomplish that is by learning vocabulary and being willing to try to communicate using what you have to work with, without letting fear of mistakes keep you from trying. You can put it together and your listener will work to figure out what you mean. A beautifully conjugated verb by itself won't be enough. "I buy milk yesterday." gets its point across, though, even without a verb conjugated in the past tense.

One of the MANY reasons to look forward to your writing is that you continue to increase our French vocabulary and our knowledge France. Keep up the good work! Bonne continuation!

Mary in KS

There is a book called "English Grammar for Students of French" (in fact, there is whole series of books for different languages). Very helpful!

june furey

Once again Kristin for the many beautiful photos of trips old and recent, together with your story re coping with any inadequacies in understanding the English language, I believe it is not uncommon, unable to travel now I am endeavouring to write up my memoirs of my wonderful travels in France over the previous ten years. I keep saying to family I dont know if I have the grammar correct, and find I am contiunaully editing my work for any corrections. My eldest daugher who is has a doctorate and works in a unversity tells me not to worry many of the students work needs plenty of editing.So as she said just get on with it and tell your story. I enjoy everyword you write and you bring so much happiness to me as I read and look at your photos. merci Kristin your artiste ami June, Gold Coast Qld

M Grimaud

Hi Kristin,
My brother and I spent two days in Port Grimaud and Grimaud Village in 1999. It hasn't. Change a bit.
Maurice Grimaud


J'adore ces photos et les histoires. It is such a pleasure to receive your news twice weekly; a little dose of heaven for those of us who have or would like to spend time in France. Many thanks.
Heather . Australia

Lynne fromThe New Forest

The traditional grammatical exercise of parsing, sometimes known as clause analysis, involves breaking down a text into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactic relationship of each part.[3] This is determined in large part from study of the language's conjugations and declensions, which can be quite intricate for heavily inflected languages. To parse a phrase such as 'man bites dog' involves noting that the singular noun 'man' is the subject of the sentence, the verb 'bites' is the third person singular of the present tense of the verb 'to bite', and the singular noun 'dog' is the object of the sentence. Techniques such as sentence diagrams are sometimes used to indicate the relation between elements in the sentence.

Parsing was formerly central to the teaching of grammar throughout the English-speaking world, and widely regarded as basic to the use and understanding of written language.

I copied this from the internet . Is anyone else old enough to remember having to parse a text?

Barbara Michels

Stayed in Grimaud many years ago, after spending the day in Port Grimaud (the Venice of the Mediterranean). Haute Grimaud was less expensive and the restaurants more authentic and less touristy.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

J'adore les belles photos Kristi! Merci beaucoup et bonne journée! Hope Mom gets her computer fixes soon--elle me manque!


Karen Eliza Farley

Kristin, I love learning French with you. AND I love how prolific you are with all that you share with us!!! I love your stories that are told so openly and so creatively!!! You are such a passionate and caring person. I also feel you have a flair for photography!!! Perhaps you are or were a photographer and I did not or do not know that. So, do not take that as anything but a compliment!!! Please keep up all the amazing work you do and share with the world.

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