to come undone
A crush on architecture: le linteau

Why sportsmen don't shave in France: l'influx nerveux

Cassis, France, fishing port, and castle (c) Kristin Espinasse
Ever been to the castle in Cassis, South of France? It overlooks the colorful fishing port and gives tourists one more reason to look up.

l'influx nerveux (uhn-floo-ner-veuh)

    : nerve or nervous impulse

More Audio + Example Sentence
by "Frank" from the site Eureka Sport:
Listen to Jean-Marc read it here:  Download MP3 or Wav file

On entend souvent parler de relation entre barbe et influx nerveux ; ainsi, beaucoup de joueurs de foot ne se rasent pas avant un très grand rendez-vous, une finale, généralement, pour "garder leur influx nerveux". Qu'en est-il scientifiquement ?

We often hear about the relationship between beards and nervous impulse; therefore, a lot of soccer players don't shave before an important event, a finale--generally to "keep What does science have to say?

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

When Jean-Marc returned from his marathon wine hunt (Paris, Champagne and beyond), he looked like a caveman. 

"Ça alors! A beard!" I said, opening the front door and welcoming my husband home. 

"It's for tomorrow's semi-triathlon," Jean-Marc said, mumbling something about influx nerveux.

I gathered the barbe was one of those trucs or astuces--or things athletes did to put all chance on their side before a challenge. I'd heard of another, called chambre à part, where sportsmen sleep away from their wives the night of a big event. (Ten days apart and we had that one covered, I thought, as I pulled my husband close, planting a kiss on his furry face.)

The barbed truc or astuce seemed to work, for Jean-Marc made it across the finish line, some four hours after diving off the coast of Cassis. After completing two loops from the shore to the bouées, he got on his bike and pedaled to the town of Roquefort-la-Bédoule. All was going smoothly when he left his bike (back at the beach in Cassis) to run to the presqu'île of Port Miou. Along the way, the triathletes encouraged one another. "Bon courage! Allez!" they cheered when passing.

Nearing la ligne d'arrivée, Jean-Marc needed to dispose of one of those energy gel packs. Approaching one of the race volunteers, he flashed a winning smile and pitched the plastic tube to the side of the road. "Veuillez la jeter pour moi?" he kindly asked, not seeing a trash can anywhere.

His troubles began when a race official, standing nearby and seeing the tail end of the exchange, held out a yellow card. Jean-Marc was sanctioned for littering! In the minute that followed a fiery argument erupted, ending when the official told Jean-Marc to run back and pick up the trash.

The fiasco may have shaved a few minutes off my barbed man's timing, but I like to think the irritation served to stimulate more of that influx nerveux--pushing Jean-Marc past the finish line.

Félicitations, mon chéri!

Jean-Marc finishes the Sardines Titus triathalon in Cassis (c) Kristin Espinasse
Not a gray hair on his head. As for the beard... Jean-Marc, resting after le défi, or challenge.

French Vocabulary
ça alors! = well take a look at that!
la barbe = beard
le truc = trick, knack
une astuce = trick (or clever way to do something)
faire chambre à part = to intentionally sleep apart from your partner
la bouée = buoy
une presqu'île = peninsula
bon courage! = courage! good luck! hope all goes well
allez! = keep going!
la ligne d'arrivée = finish line
veuillez la jeter pour moi? = would you be so kind as to throw it away for me?
félicitations = congratulation
mon chéri (ma chérie) = my dear, my darling

Cassis, France, retro postcards, produits regionaux, streets (c) Kristin Espinasse

My belle-mère, or mother-in-law, sends me these retro postcards. She's particular when it comes to postcard art, and is known to visit several shops before finding just the right card.

Cassis, France, and a goose, or oie, a boucherie, or butcher shop, and blackboard menu out front. Couscous for lunch (c) Kristin Espinasse

I took these photos while strolling through the town with Jean-Marc's Portland wine importer. Chris had just traveled with Jean-Marc, for the 10-day business trip I wrote about, above. 
Cassi, France, restaurant La Cigale et la Fourmi, blackboard, balcony, autumn leaves, blue door (c) Kristin Espinasse

La Cigale et La Fourmis - a restaurant in Cassis... and a famous La Fontaine fable

Cassis, France, L'ou Cassidenne, baker, boulangerie (c) Kristin Espinasse
After retro postcards, we have retro shopfronts or vitrines. How do you like this one?

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Congratulations Jean-Marc! Triathlons are not easy.
I want to take this opportunity to ask about the curtains hanging on the doors that you have been showing us. Do they serve a purpose other than privacy and looking pretty?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sharon, and good question. Some reasons people use door curtains: to keep the flies out, extra insulation from heat/cold, and privacy. Here are some pictures at the end of this post:

David Simmons

Speaking of bearded sportsmen, check out the Boston Red Sox this year. They all look like cavemen....

Jens from Copenhagen

Hi Kristi:

last time we were in Cassis - in 2007 I believe - I asked about the castle above and was told that it's private and that you can't visit the place. Isn't that so?

Another thing: English is not my mother tongue, but shouldn't it be: "Join Jean-Marc and me (au lieu de "I")" to be proper English? :-)

Heather in Arles

Félicitations Jean-Marc! I could maybe make a run to the closest boulangerie but that would be about it. :)


Congratulations to Jean-Marc! Caveman or not... he did it, didn't he! When will he come to Reunion Island to run the Grand Raid, (a very difficult mountain race startinf tomorrow this year)?. We could support him after the raid with a local wine, "le vin de Cilaos". The grapes are harvested in February, making the Cilaos wine the first French wine of the year! Cheers to you all!!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Tell Jean-Marc congratulations. My husband just shaved off his beard. He had been growing it for about 3 weeks. I was calling him "Mr. Scruff"

Love the photos!

Jane Thomson

The very first photo in today's series is particularly good - lovely view!

susan gish

OMG, "our" town! We just left there 5 days ago! And you got a picture of my butcher! And the postcard shop by the petanque court! Besides walking to Port Miou, Bestouan plage, up to the Chateau, Plage d'Arene, etc. - we drove a few times to St. Cyr sur mer to swim. Great place, you can go quite far out. The Picasso exhibit in Aubagne was good too, it was his ceramics, including the serving platters. I think it closed last weekend. Cadiere for dejeuner....what else? We had lovely weather, hope to see you the next time we're in Cassis, Kristin! Susan & Sam

Maria Cochrane

What a cutie he is! I know you are proud of him. I always love your blog posts, Kristin. You write evocatively....and you are a loving mom and wife and daughter and friend. Bon Courage this day to you! Lean on our Heavenly Father for wisdom, strength and provision!

Dave Navarrre

Wow. Having volunteered at many races here in the US, I was surprised he asked a person to pick up his garbage in the first place. During the Marine Corps Marathon here in DC, 15,000-18,000 run past and there's no way they could get their garbage into a trash can. The route gets littered with debris, though that's part of the job of the volunteers - to clean up behind the runners. Quelle différence!

Kristin Espinasse

Jens, thank you for the correction. Will fix it soon :-)

Maria, just the encouragement needed today -- I hope others will find courage there too!

Dave, I should add that Jean-Marc is against littering. He is the guy who walks around the beaches or neighborhood picking up Kleenexs, pop cans, and other trash  belonging to other people. During the race, he kindly asked a race volunteer to throw the tube away for him. As you say, that is often something they volunteer for, and it is helpful to the participants.

Suzanne Codi

Great job, Jean-Marc!! We're very proud of you! Ok, now that it's over, get rid of that grey stuff on your face!!!!! Boo to the official, and time to get the volunteer thing going in France...
And just fyi, there is a la in front of Fontaine, his name was Jean de La Fontaine...wonderful memories of Mom reading some of his fables to me as a kid. Love all your pix, as always, Kristi!!! xox

Kathleen from Connecticut

Congrats on to the NYC OR BOSTON MARATHON.

Great pictures Kristin.







Our dear Kristi,
Congratulations to Jean Marc and also to you for another wonderful post filled with descriptions that left us breathless!You both are not only quite a team but t he loving support you give each other just wraps itself around our hearts!

love, Natalia xo

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

WOW! Congratulations to JM - great job. Your photos are like a mini vacation for me - just look and look and look again at the the colorful details. My dream is to find a small rental in a small town that I can walk to everything I need for two month. All I find on the internet are big expensive places in fancy cities. Please keep writing and posting so I can continue to dream. Thank you for sharing your life, nancy

Sandy Howell

I know you're proud of Jean Marc...seems the official was being very picky, especially since the volunteers are there to help. Gorgeous photos!!


Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

We often hear about the relationship between beards and nervous impulse; therefore, a lot of soccer players don't shave before an important event, a finale--generally to "keep What does science have to say?

needing the rest of the phrase after "keep

generally to "keep their nervous impulses."

Is there an American idiom to capture that phrase, garder leur influx nerveux, better? My brain is not thinking of one, oh well.

It seems like a superstitious habit (no problem with those, whatever works), describe by such a technical scientific term, influx nerveux. Is that typical for French language? Perhaps !

Great story, and congratulations to Jean-Marc for completing such an endurance test.


Jean-Marc Espinasse

Félicitations ma chérie for your wonderful posts.
I may have run a triathlon, you also run one every edition you perform
I Love You

Connie Sponheim

Bonjour...Thanks for these words..although I really have to ready deeply to get the definition of the words you send. Could you put the meaning toward the top of the email? I just want to be able to skim when I am low on time. Merci...CJ


l'influx nerveux..
I thought of an idiom in English after pondering upon Sarah LaBelle near Chicago responce.. And came up with Knee-jerk reaction.
Would it be somewhat close to the French l'influx nerveux ? immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable.

As to an old belief/habit not to shave, getting a haircut or/and keep away from wives before the big even, I believe it may be due to preservation of extra energy before a great event.

Interesting what I heard from someone I know in this relation to hair and energy: When she got very ill, her Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist along with many remedies given to her, advised her to... stop shaving..(!)
..implying that in doing so she could preserve more energy needed for her recovery.

It could be true, especially after reading these two articles (from Hindi and Hibrew religions) on hair and its importance.
"...That's no accident, because hair has a lot of energy. .."

"..Human hair accomplishes this through its spiritual mechanism of constriction, thus HaShem’s light is absorbed into the body through the hair. We will also see later, that hair moves energy both in and out of the body. .."

Kristi, thanks for the wonderful pictures and post.

Karen from Phoenix

WOW Congrats Jean-Marc that is amazing.

Mary in Oregon

Yes, Félicitations to Jean-Marc from me, as well!
Would that be Portland, Oregon? I am from Eugene and it would be fun to buy some wine up in Portland that had been recommended from J-M!!!
I am a fairly new reader; I enjoy your blog immensely. My french class hears about it as well!

Jennifer in OR

Excellent! Way to go, I know those races are not easy! My husband does triathlons and it's so fun to cheer them on!

Ellen from BH

Felicitations, Jean-Marc! A triathlon is a sort of warrior's test, and you have passed with flying colors!
To Nancy in San Antonio: you might try to look for an inexpensive two month rental somewhere in the French countryside. Or consider a home swap on one of the exchange sites. You have the right idea. Better to stay in one place and really enjoy its special flavor for awhile, rather than run from one destination to another (unless it is part of your triathlon ;-)

Diane Young

Formidable, Jean-Marc! If the barbe helped, it was worth it; but do shave it off now as it can be scratchy to one's beloved with tender lips. Great photos, Kristi, which add so much to your blog

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