Grele: Solidarity during a devastating hailstorm at winemaker Raimond de Villeneuve's vineyard

how to say sunset in French?

1-coucher du soleil

Parasol pines and the sunset over the Mediterranean, at Le Port d'Alon in St Cyr-sur-Mer.

coucher du soleil (kew-shay-dew-sow-lay)

    : sunset

Audio file: listen to Jean-Marc 
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Ce soir à Bandol, le coucher du soleil est à 16h56.
Tonight in Bandol, the sunset is at 4:56 p.m.

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

I felt guilty taking Smokey for the walk this time--after all, it was Braise's turn. Ideally I could promener both dogs, but golden retrievers are strong engines and it's difficult to control two leashes hooked to that much dog power!

"It's okay, Braise, we'll be back--with dinner!" I say, hurrying Smokey into my car--as though we were only going for take-out food. But Braise is sharper than both of us, she's nobody's fool. Because she is a gourmande, or foodie, she'll turn a blind eye on things this time--just as long as we return in half an hour with dinner!

I feel horrible backing out of our driveway, Smokey by my side. I know it's wrong to show favoritism, and I never set out to prefer one dog over the other. But every since our youngest golden was attacked by two dogs, I can't help but feel for him. Every single time I see his pendant tongue--dried like cardboard from constant contact with the air, I'm reminded of his misfortune. 

Braise and Smokey, golden retriever dogs
       Braise fiercely protected her son when he was attacked, years ago.

Walking is therapy for both of us. Hiking through the coastal forest we are free to explore our surroundings, both literally and figuratively (Smokey likes to sniff out those "marked" rocks, while I'm busy turning over pebbles in my mind. I know the answers are under there, somewhere. Come here often enough, and I'll find the hidden keys).

Occasionally we encounter another hiker and I automatically call Smokey close, putting on his leash. I wouldn't want the stranger to feel uncomfortable or afraid. Of course there is no reason to fear Smokey, but how could a stranger know that? By pulling my dog close, I can at least put the other person at ease.

But what about my dog? What kind of message am I giving him? Have I only been reinforcing the fear I'd hoped to erase? "Smokey, come here!" I say, chaining him whenever a stranger approaches. I wonder, now, just what kind of message this is to the former victim.

1-coucher du soleil - smokey

The leash-or-not-to-leash question came up several months ago, while hiking my favorite coastal path. Braise (for it was Braise I was walking this time--I assure you it was!), yes it was Braise's turn to walk the day we encountered an elderly man and his unleashed boxer dog.

Noting Braise's excitement, the man offered a solution: "Why don't you unhook her from the leash?"

I watched, amazed, as Braise immediately dropped her intimidating act (restrained while her would-be-foe was free to attack--she had no choice but to pretend to be something bigger than him. In this case she was pretending to be a grizzly bear!). 

The experienced worked that time, but here now--as Smokey and I approached the last leg of our walk, I spotted another leashless dog....

It seemed to be a labrador-boxer mix. Did he or she belong to the lovers who were blocking the trail? I tried to get eye contact, but the couple was unfazed as they stood, bodies entangled, staring out to the horizon.

"Excuse me," I said, getting more nervous by the moment (yet careful not to transfer my emotions to Smokey). "Is that your dog?"

The couple's trance was temporarily broken when the man looked over at the black and gray dog. "No. I don't know who it belongs to." The lovers returned to their peaceful embrace, as they gazed out to sea.

Meantime Smokey and I needed to step past them and that unpredictable dog just beyond! In a ready-set-charge mode I seized Smokey's leash, ready to streak past the catatonic trio (the dog's eyes were trained eerily on us!). 

Suddenly the man turned to me and raised his hand. "Shhh!" he said, putting his finger to his lips.


Shhh! he repeated, and he smiled as he pointed to the horizon. I turned to see a dark orange disk sinking slowly into the sea. 

"Qu'est-ce que c'est beau!" It's beautiful! said another voice drifting up from the hillside. I looked down to discover another group of hikers, eyes glued to the far side of the sky. They whispered in awe as they, too, watched the sun set over the Mediterranean. 

With everyone standing there goo-goo eyed--bodies flushed with the drug of scenery--I realized, finally, this was no time to be on a mission! My eyes disconnected from the threatening dog, settling instead on the coucher de soleil. I gently turned Smokey's head in the same direction, before kneeling beside him to enjoy Nature's closing act.

When the sun disappeared behind the sea, the strangers began to look around at each other, in unspoken appreciation of what they had just seen. That's when I noticed the "scary" black dog. It had quietly wandered up to Smokey and me, to rest peacefully beside us.

As the strangers dispersed, so did a few more of my fears. Little by little, they are dropping off to sea... one sunset at a time.

1-coucher du soleil

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Ronni Ebbers

Beautiful story. Beautiful photos. Braise and Smokey are two lucky dogs living near the coast as they do,and having your love and attention.

So unlike the tangle of leashes walking two dogs in Paris. I received a lot of humorous sympathy from passing strangers as I inevitably twisted and turned trying to extricate myself from the twisted leads as the dogs tried to forage for baguette scraps under parked autos.

Thank you for the delightful story.

Norma Gosling

Beautiful from start to finish, thank you.
Norma Gosling

Jo Statham

What a lovely story. I know from personal experience that many problems can be resolved in that short peaceful moment at sunset. Do you know Eric Rohmer's lovely film 'Le Rayon Vert'?. Perhaps you saw the 'green ray' as the sun went down. It will bring good fortune!

karen mancini

Beautiful story!!!

Helen Eatwell

Good story and lovely photos, but I note you start with saying that the dog was next to you. Maybe we Brits are more safety conscious than the French, but really any dog in a car should be thought of as a potential missile in the case of an accident, or even just a sudden braking. Their body will shoot forward and not only risk being killed by going through the windscreen, but may kill the driver or front seat passenger. They should be on the back seat, secured by a dog harness attached to the seat belt. Hope you can buy them over there. Do appreciate your mails, Helen.

Karen, Towson, Md.

So many lessons in this delightful story.

I have to walk each of our 3 dogs separately. And, they know what's happening as soon as I even get the thought in my head. It's very difficult.

I loved the sunset picture and the trees that do seem to be lining up to jump right in the water.

Sue J.


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Beautiful story and photos! I remember walking our Labrador, Buster and he was always on alert when he saw another dog off leash. I guess they must feel vulnerable.



You say "Scary black dog" and "It had quietly wandered up to Smokey and me, to rest peacefully beside us." I don't see how those two ideas relate -- Are quiet wandering and peacefulness scary?

Relax and be a balanced example for your dogs by not assuming that every dog is out to get you. Dogs live in the moment, and it's our self-imposed stress that makes them think they need to be on edge. Both your dogs and all the others. Stop playing that old tune over & over again in your head and enjoy.

Happy trails!

Carmel Balchin

That is a lovely story Kristin and I must apologise for my comment on Smokey's tongue in my email yesterday, I was not aware he had been attacked when he was young, therefore it is not a funny tongue at all. So sorry Smokey! To comment on Helen's email, we are heavily fined in some, if not all Australian states if dogs are not restrained in a harness in the back seat or rear compartment.

Andrea Robinson

Be still and know that I am God...what a beautiful sunset and story. Sometimes we just need to "be still" and not think.
I love your stories and your beautiful country.



Your story brought me to my knees, your last sentence broke my heart. Hang on Darling, we were all in our mid-life at one time or another and we feel your heart.

I LOVE YOU!!! Your stories are full of what is deep inside you. Your birthday is in six days, then you can move on past these barriers that keep popping into your mind.

Walls made of stone, pebbles falling into the sea….soon my precious girl…you will be free.



p.s. Once again you have lifted me to the heights of joy as my eyes caught a first glance of your last photo…off to translate that one into my own language. Thank you for all you do by sharing your life with me. I am beyond blessed, what a gift God gave me when you arrived into my life. I could not have dreamed ´you´up in a million years.

Jane Thomson

Peut-être que le coucher du soleil vous avez aveuglé un peu! You mis-spelled "coucher"!!

Joan Linneman

Je pense au chapitre 6 du Petit Prince et sa "petite vie melancolique" ou sa seule consolation etait les couchers du soleil. Il etait tellement triste qu'il avait du regarder quarante-quatre couchers du soleil dans un jour. Joan L.


Lovely as it must be for dogs to run free, it's not so lovely for passing people who may be afraid. You're right to be sensitive to that and hold your dogs close. I think it's teaching them respect, not fear. I wish one friend of mine had trained her dog to show respect and not to jump up at people (especially me!) all the time.

Here in Virginia, it's illegal to have a dog off leash anywhere but in a designated fenced dog park. If they were to run free, the owners wouldn't necessarily know where they had ... um ... deposited and wouldn't be able to pick up after them -- which is also the law here.


This is fabulous. You really capture those moments we all have so nicely and then to wrap it up and talk about fear, and favoritism and sunsets... fabulous ... don't stop.

Kevin McKinney

Kristin, thanks for a lovely vignette. The writing seems effortless, yet I know that it is not! Well done.


Kristin, as others have said, it's a lovely story and a beautiful photo. Anything you write about Smokey and his past touches me. But beyond that, your mom's message brought tears to my eyes. How blessed you are to have each other.


"Gentle Leader" and "Halti" are two brands of "bridles for dogs". They give fingertip control of your dog because you manage them from their snoot instead of their powerful shoulders. I learned about them when my son was training service dogs. A well-behaved dog goes on more walks, is more accepted by fellow walkers and keeps the dog out of harms way (cars, mean dogs, glass, etc).


The picture of Braise and Smokey is one of the most lovely dog pictures I have seen. Who ever took it captured a beautiful moment between mother and son, even if they are only dogs as some people would think. Every time I see it it brings tears to my eyes. I love your stories, pictures and especially the dog stories. Keep up the good work, you are excellent at this and I look forward to seeing your emails.

gerry o.

What a beautiful story of how we can get caught up in our own fears and perceptions, and miss all the beauty of our surroundings. Thank you for being so eloquent in reminding me to be in the moment and not get into projecting my shortcomings on others.


Gentle Leaders and Haltis are not generally recognized in France as anything other than muzzles--which they are not!--so best to just leash-train your dog. We had our golden in Paris for six months using a Gentle Leader and got SO many negative comments from the natives (including being screamed at by a woman up by the opera house in the 11th. I think she had mental problems, but still...)that we finally quit taking him out for walks in public and kept to the Bois de Vincennes where we could let him run free.

Most dog parks in the US have a rule that your dog must be UNLEASHED when inside the park. This is because having leashed and unleashed dogs together can cause aggressive behavior from one or both of the dogs.

Enjoy your walks with your goldens. I think in your particular environment, what you are doing and the way you are handling passing strangers is totally fine.

vicki ford

I just read the post from your Mom. It is beautiful the way you both express yourselves.
Thank you for sharing your life with us.

MJH DesignArts

Hi Kristin, Yes, I'm learning, also, that it is a matter of perception and what we bring into the present moment. Have a wonderful pre-Christmas week.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Thank you for showing me the colors in the trees along the Med.

The Fauvre painters had it right - so beautiful with reds and oranges from the sun. What a beautiful story and especially since I also have a dog, Yogi, and wonder what impression he gets from almost everything we do out on his walks. Thank you for sharing, Nancy

Jan  Hersh


Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Thank you for a wonderful story & gorgeous photos. I love your "little people with fur"!

Stay well....

Heather in Arles

Kristi, I am in Lyon and so am typing this on my iphone which I am horrible at! But this post has meant so much to me, I wanted to thank you. We have really had a hard time finding the right balance with Kipling, who we adopted last February, as he is such a different dog off leash when on. This has given me something to think about plus a reminder to breathe...

My Golden breeder friends have told me that the Halti or Gentle Leader are not great for Goldens as the bone structure in their muzzles is too delicate.

Again, un grand merci for all of the gifts you have given this year...xo

Max in New Rochelle, NY USA

I always enjoy your beautiful photographs!

Sheryl Wells

Just lovely. I have a golden retriever too. I always worry about unleashed dogs.

Anne Hamada

Hi Kristin,
It's Annie from Chicago (Linda and Abigail's travelling [& dog- loving] companion)...
What a lovely posting with such beautiful photos of the sunset, which fit the beauty of the French language so well! I've been reading all of your marvelous stories, including those from your "sabbatical". THIS one was relevant to me because I have a black Lab/Newfie mix who barks her disapproval when she's on her lead with me so I know she's watching out for me when another dog approaches. If I let her off the lead, her demeanor changes completely. Thought I'd share that with you! Joyeux de Noel a vous et les chiens! I remember Smokey and Blaise so well, but that photo of mother and son is so sweet and I hadn't made their acquaintance yet! They are truly lovely Golden specimens. Fondly, Anne

Anne Hamada

It's Annie again! Je suis desole! I mis-spelled Braise's name. My apologies! I don't react well when people spell MY name sans "e"! I won't replace her "r" avec an "l" anymore...
As ever,

Kathleen from Connecticut

Happy early birthday. It is a lovely story.

I used to walk 2 Great Danes at about power...but they were good on their leashes except once when they both decided to go in different direction around me and tied me up. It took quite a while for me to de tangle myself.



Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post today!Your description (and gorgeous photo!)of the sunset was magic!and just totaly captured my imagination.
I have to be honest here and admit that I am not
in favor of letting dogs run off the leash,even if they are not aggressive.
When they were puppies,our four pawed kids were run down by a big dog who was running along the park walk where we were,dragging one of those plastic extension leashes behind him.He plowed right into out boy,knocked him down and hit him in the head with that plastic thing.I should say that that our dogs are Yorkshire Terriers,seven
pounds each,and this could have easily killed him.The dog's owner(a young 20-ish woman),was
totally uncaring,and told me to "chill granny".
A good lesson and reason to never go back there.
Natalia xo

Julie Farrar

Beautiful story. Beautiful picture. As for leash or no leash, when off my property I've always leashed. For my active dogs I had a 30-ft training line (not one of those retractable ones that give no control) so they could go ahead of me or lag behind. I don't like that the owners of leashless dogs always say, "oh, my baby wouldn't hurt a flea" because we can't read dog minds. However, if you pull tight on the leash, you will teach your own dog to feel afraid. If I were in uncertain situations I would talk to my dog as if everything was ok. If the owner was around, I'd try to give the dog and owner a friendly greeting to disarm problems. When I encounter a barky dog or one that's getting too close and I don't feel good about, I give a very loud and firm NO! so it knows I'm in control of this sidewalk.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Dear Kristi,

Thank you for the beautiful story and pictures. Wonderful that you were able to enjoy a moment of serenity, admiring the sunset with your fellow Frenchmen!

Thinking about the stray dog though…Did its owner ever claim him or her before dark? Hope it found its way home…

Until next time, enjoy more beautiful moments!

Morton Brussel

It seems that your walk was near Bandol, but the scenes reminded me of the Calanques where I explored a few years ago. Now I'm tempted to see if there really are paths around Bandol like you display.

Beautiful photos.

Leslie in Oregon

In my experience, Goldens that get enough exercise can learn to walk on leash (and off) under the easy control of an adult human of virtually any size or strength, IF both they and their owner/s get some training. Few of us know enough to do that training by ourselves, and Goldens tend to learn well in a group (of dogs and humans) setting. So, if you ever have an opportunity to take an what is called here an "obedience class" (usually a series of 8-10 group classes) with Smokey and Braise, I highly recommend that you do that. (You'd have to go with another member of the family so that each dog would have his/her own human leader.) Obedience classes mostly teach the dogs' human leaders how to work effectively with, and train, their dogs.) When we adopted our very long, very tall and very strong rescued Golden, Henry, at eight months of age, the first thing we did was take him and ourselves through two levels of obedience classes. By the end of those classes, we had a dog who was very responsive to our commands, whether he was on leash or off, and Henry had two human leaders who knew how to maintain his training and take it further. During the ten years we have had Henry since then, we have been able to walk him off leash or on without one problem, because he is so responsive to our commands (and because he can instantly tell if his size is causing fear and assume a lay-down, clearly submissive posture if it is). If we are walking him off leash in the forest and we encounter a person who looks at all frightened or a dog we don't know, we give Henry a hand signal that brings him next to us, right away and in a sit position, with my hand resting gently on or against his collar, and the person or dog we have encountered sees that he is under our control. We now have another rescued dog, Bob, who is also obedience-trained. I cannot imagine walking Henry and Bob separately. They have such joy romping together (when we can have them off leash) and trotting or ambling side-by-side (when they are on leash). And they both need the three walks they get each day. Best wishes with your wonderful dogs, Leslie

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Beautiful! I feel as if I viewed this sunset right along with you.

Your story brings to mind a quote by a favorite author of mine:

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”
– Isak Dinesen


The sunsets in Bandol were some of the most beautiful pictures of my trip to Europe. How great that you have that to enjoy by living there! I boarded a plane last night in from Paris to assist a woman in need. As we were getting her off the aircraft I asked the flight attendant if I could get a ride back to France. I had to settle for being able to say Merci, and Au Revoir in America.

Judi Miller

Just when we think we've 'figured out the rules' something changes it up..It can be a delight, or it can be unsettling - Go for a hike, see a beautiful sunset, see your baby romping through the forest, bam- a scary dog. I'm glad it worked out - such a beautiful place & time, it would have been a shame to have to have left.

I guess, getting comfortable with the ebb and flow is the key... I'm still working on that! BTW I could just gobble up your puppies - ils sont charmants!


Dear Kristin,

It is the time of the year when I usually buy the next year's calendar. And I have just realized that I would have gladly bought something you created — bi-lingual, with beautiful pictures, and, maybe, peppered with some wise word or two on a monthly or weekly occasion.

Any thoughts of that possibility? I am sure many people reading fwad also would be happy to purchase something very uplifting, kind and loving you are so gifted at bringing about. Gracefully.

Happy Holidays!

Chris Allin

Brilliant idea, Francesca!

Jackie Smith

A story as beautiful as the sunset you were witnessing. You have a wonderful gift of describing your emotions in a way that your readers can experience them with you! I love living vicariously through your blogs! ```````````````````````````````````````


Sunset with Smokey; a classic.

Kim Singer

Sunset....such a beautiful word in any language. It is a long word in French, isn't it? Nonetheless, beautiful! I miss your videos you were doing. Hope you get back to sharing some French life with us through videos. Smokey is so cute! Have a wonderful holiday season. xoxo Kim

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Francesca, a calendar with Kristin's artful and touching photographs is a wonderful idea. The only problem (for Kristin) would be which scenes to choose! What do you think, Kristin? I know that I would love to purchase one.

Thanks so much for today's thoughts and photos…..very much enjoyed, as always.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Diane Young

Mille remerciments for the gorgeous coucher du soleil photo. I can see why poets are turned on by nature and inspired to verbalize;. Your photograhic skills continue to amaze me. God bless you and yours, les enfants, le mari, les chiens et les chats. Le coucher du soleil est de bonne heure a Bandol! Ici c'est quinze heures et demi maintenant.

Diana Barron

Hi Kristi
That's a lovely story!
I am now resident in La Belle France and staying with Thomas and Caroline at Rouge-Bleu, and am so thrilled to be here! I have found a little house to rent and it has a fenced garden .... so when I heard from a new friend, Jane, that there was a beautiful golden retriever at the dog pound, we went to see. Well he had been adopted BUT there was this other dog, just standing there quietly amidst the frenzied barking. She pleaded so hard with her beautiful eyes that I could not resist. So now instead of a golden retriever I have a large griffon cross. She is pathetically grateful and so affectionate. Thank goodness for the SPA. So for now there is another dog at Rouge Bleu, until I move with her to my little house in Ste Cecile after Christmas.
Lots of love to you all, your old home is being cherished! Joyeux Noel! Diana xx

arlette jassel

Nature can help heal so many wounds. Your story is magnificent. We have an older dog who is afraid of most other dogs, but left off leash, he is curious and not aggressive. The respect and love the two groups of hikers had for the sunset was remarkable. I don't know if I could find a group of hikers here in the DC area with that awe! Thank you for your stories, they are perfectly paced and wonderfully evocative.

Rhonda Shore

Perhaps you have been told this often - I so love (is there French slang for English slang of 'so'?) your ability to draw lessons from everyday life. It's giving me the impetus to wake up and notice what is happening to me each day.

Deb from MD

Kristin, I too have 2 wonderful goldens whose exuberance makes them too hard to handle together. Kudos to Leslie for the excellent training they've done with theirs. My prior golden was adopted from foster and fiercely protective of me. I heard from many trainers that they respond to both how you're holding the leash and how you're reacting. So if you're nervous about oncoming dog, so will your dog feel that in the leash and be nervous and defensive too. I try to distract them from oncoming canine traffic with happy upbeat commands and now have two dogs that pay no mind to other dogs we pass going beserko on their leashes or in their yards.

I absolutley love the mother son picture, that is one of the sweetest pictures I've seen and is commercial calendar worthy.

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