bonne lecture + a newly-released memoir that will satisfy your hunger for France (and maybe even andouillette)
relancer + pomegranates and grandmothers c'est sympa!


Hearts, lace curtains, pine, Christmas, wreath, salon de Thé, wooden shop front and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.
Look for the hearts in today's post, dedicated to someone who easily found them, everywhere she looked. Please read my tribute to Melanie Olsen, in the post réconfort. Click here, if you missed it.

s'embrouiller (sawm-brooey-ay)

    : to get confused, to get into a muddle

I learned, recently, that s'embrouiller has yet another meaning: to enter into a tangle, or an argument, with someone

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click on the picture for photos & info.


Audio File/Example sentence (check back this afternoon for the audio)

Maman, je ne veux pas m'embrouiller avec toi. 
Mom, I don't want to fight with you. 


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

As I was getting into my car, about to head out to the bus stop in Bandol, my cell phone rang.

"Maman, le bus est en retard," the bus is late, Jackie reported, from the other end of the line.

I could hear a lot of laughing in the background; it seemed the students weren't that upset about the wait. "I'll call you when I'm on the bus," Jackie promised and hung up. She didn't seem upset, so I guessed my daughter was turning the inconvenience into the chance to hang out with her new friends.

Half an hour later, another giggly call from my girl. "Mom, come and get me. The bus never came!" With that, Jackie mumbled a few directions so that I could find her.

I felt guilty for my annoyance, triggered by my teenager's carefree attitude (was the bus late or had she just missed it?), but I quickly let it go. Besides, the day's work was done, and dinner was almost taken care of--a half-hour drive could be a good way to unwind.

I turned off the flame beneath the tomato sauce I was making (Marcella Hazan's, that makes two great losses this week), and got into my car. Driving past Bandol, on my way to Sanary-sur-Mer, I began to notice how beautiful everything was. Summer, it seemed was stretching itself a little farther still. Was this what the French called the arrière-saison

I watched how the late afternoon sun warmed the faces of the pedestrians, who walked arm and arm beside the glorious sea. I began to feel as light as the foam capping the waves that lapped against the endless shoreline. To my left, flowering vines climbed the shop fronts, out of which people spilled, with baguettes for the evening meal. The men wore sandals, and the women, skirts and white capris, affirming that summertime had not disappeared completely.

I should get out more! I thought, my senses now tingling with life. But, almost as soon as the inspiration came, so did a lurking premonition: Things can turn on a dime. In the extreme, hope turns to despair, and--in everyday life, good moods turn swiftly bad. 

"Jackie! Where are you?" Having passed the beach I found myself a kilometer off target.

"Mom, I told you, I'm near the bakery. You can't miss me!"

"But I didn't see the bakery".

"Mom," Jackie laughs, "did you see the roundabout?"

As my daughter is laughing, I'm trying to talk into my cell phone, while cars are whisking by. "Yes I saw the roundabout! And I went straight on, just as you instructed!"

"Mom, I'm two minutes from the roundabout, near the bakery. Keep driving."

And so I did, until I was a village away.... 

"Where did you say you are? Oh, Mom!" Now Jackie's giggles were mixed with a chorus of laughter from the students nearby. Realizing her friends were overhearing my faulty French I began to see the humor in it too. Until the telephone comedy began to feel a little humiliating

Hearing myself struggle in French, I sounded like the title of a David Sedaris novel, Me Talk Pretty

A little angry now, from the giggly reception my words garnered, I switched to my native tongue, only, given my frustration, now my English was as bad as my French! I all but spoke in a pronoun-verb-adverb sequence. Me Talk Pretty! I gargled, but in another arrangement of English words.

Enough was enough! Now I was livid. "Jackie--quit laughing. Concentrate. Give directions!"

Things quickly melted down from there until I was astonished by the woman who was shouting into her cellphone. C'était moi-même.

Finally in the car (Jackie had to walk to another meeting point) my daughter's mood was now no better than mine.

"You need to respect your mom!" I reminded her, but my words were met with defense (but I, Jackie pointed out, needed to learn to understand simple directions!)

A lot of pfffts and growls later and we had brought out the worst in each other, until the anger was so full it burst into to tears.

I had been staring angrily ahead at the horizon, my hands gripping the steering wheel, when I felt a softness on my shoulder. Jackie had laid down her head, beside my grinding jaw.

"Maman," she whispered, "Je ne veux pas qu'on se dispute..." I don't want to argue.

"Oh, me neither!" I assured her, my head falling gently onto hers. 

It was hard steering the car like that, but I doubled my concentration so that I could hang on to this tender embrace for as long as it lasted. Things may turn on a dime, but just as suddenly they can fall softly into place.


Hearts and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

To comment on this story, click here. Thank you for reading.

The following collection of heart-themed photos, is in memory of Melanie. The photos were taken here and there--all in France.

Hearts, France, graffiti and cabanon (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

Hearts,France, window, shutter, pots (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

Hearts, teddy bear, tea shop, basket and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

Hearts, window, shutters, blue, and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

Hearts, stone, ruins and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.

To comment on this edition, click here.

Improve your French. Check out these helpful language-learning tips submitted by our generous community at French Word-A-Day:

When you purchase an item at using any of the links, below, you help to support this free language journal.

French shopping bagI Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here. 

  Charlie Chaplan, heart, Carmel (c) Laura LeRoy

Reader Mail:

What a special blog today, so heart felt and wonderful. I am sending you a special heart from Carmel, California attached below. This building (The Cypress Inn owned by Doris Day) was tagged by the London Artist" Mr. Brainwash" during our Carmel Art and Film Festival.
So Love sent your way from Carmel California, enjoy and share.

Laura LeRoy

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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Eileen deCamp

Thanks for this story today Kristin!

Coucou, you have an extra "to"...your 5th paragraph from the bottom has an extra "to". (into to tears)

I love the word "coucou" that I learned here! Have a great day!! It's like summer here too...84 degrees today in Charlottesville, VA.

Rose Chandler Johnson

My sympathies with both of you. A similar thing happened to me several weeks ago...I was so frustrated, at the point of tears, that I could hardly form a coherent sentence...en anglais. Jackie does have a sensitive nature. I like her sweet gesture. All's well that ends well, huh. (P.S.--I am familiar with the location you describe. Beautiful area of the world.)

Pat Cargill

A sweet ending to the mother-daughter misunderstanding. It speaks highly of Jackie's character, cuddling up to you vs. sulking. You are doing an excellent job Maman Kristi! We are having a beautiful fall here in Roanoke, too. In celebration I will wear white today!


Vous êtes si gentille, Kristin, et vous n'avez pas à vous excuser de vos fautes de français vis à vis de votre adolescente de fille! Et ça se passe bien, au final, entre vous, croyez- moi!

Henry Lambert

Your description of the season reminded me of the Joe Dassin song"L'Ete Indien". One of my favorites.


Pas d'embrouille entre mère et fille! C'est super!
No fight between mother and daughter! Just great!

You both know how to show and share love and understanding, no need for words!

Enjoy this beautiful autumn!


I loved this little story about mother/daughter miscommunications and frustrations. It was what i needed to know today. Good sharing.
p.s. your daughter did a lovely thing by putting her head on your shoulder. . . sweet!

Dave Navarrre

Agree with Heather on the sweetness of your daughter. Thanks for sharing this tender moment!


That was truly lovely, Kristin. Who among us mothers doesn't know how quickly flash points can arise between mother and daughter.

Your willingness to share your vulnerabilities with us is such a gift. We all see ourselves in your daily life challenges, and all the more so since so many of them involve living in a culture and language you love (as do we), but may not translate as smoothly as we often wish. A facility with words in any language can be fumbled in the heat of exasperation. Those moments of connection with our daughters as they grow up and away and back and away are so special. Thanks again for sharing.

Julie Farrar

Merci for all the hearts. And for the heartfelt tale.

Kristin Espinasse

Eileen, thanks for the helpful edit. Off to fix it know. And many thanks to everyone for relating to this story! I have not had the chance to add the audio file... but will try to soon. Wishing everyone a lovely afternoon or evenng (or morning, depending :-)

Patrice Mason

I like this story because it has some connections to what I am doing in my French class so this was good to see the connections.



Robert Lee Mason

Funny as it sounds, me as a fourteen year old kid understands how you feel. Going to France to visit relatives, yet not speaking a word of French and being lost in all the conversations. Thankfully i have a whole family who can speak fluent french. Me being born in Nebraska though, can not. (P.S. if you want your daughter to learn respect for their elders send her to my dad. She'll really understand then!)


Thank you for sharing the story and pictures with us. I can really relate to this story for I am a student learning French too. It is nice to see the similarities between American and French teenagers. I really enjoy your words, pictures and stories of the day, for they give me a window into the lifestyle in France.

Florence Thompson

I enjoyed this article and learned alot, I made some connections with this story and my French class.

Pascal Easley

This is a French website, with French stuff, French words, and French fries.


ive had that a lot


I'm sorry you got in a fight with your daughter and I hope your french gets better.


my swag was beyond yolo


I liked this story. It seems like something a crazy teenager would do.

Pascal Easley

French toast, French bread, French bacon, French lemurs.

Julie Dodich

I really like the pictures that you post. I hope you and your daughter don't fight anymore


I think a mother daughter relationship is always like that. I know mothers are always concerned or protective of their daughter, then there comes an argument, but in the end, everything will be okay and go back to normal.


It is really nice to see that american teenagers and french teenagers are in some ways the same! I am also learning french so I hope that your french gets better along with mine!Thank you for sharing this story!

Alyson Lindsey

I really liked the pictures and I hate fighting with my parents also. I hope your french gets better.I really liked the pictures.

Kristin Espinasse

Wonderful to wake up to all the commments from Jeanne Engelkemeirs French class. Thank you, students! You help to keep me on my toes and I will try to do a post, soon, on French expressions and phrases used by teens. Would this be of interest? My kids are 16 and 18 years old and they think it is cool that someone their age would read my stories. (And so do I! Mille mercis encore :-)


A word I can relate to! For years, whenever someone has asked me if I speak French, I answer "je me debrouille". I hope I'm using the expression correctly.
Such a great blog - I always look forward to your posts. Merci.

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Wonderful wonderful writing, as always, Kristin! Bon week-end.

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