How to say "stomach ache" in French
Ways to say you are hurting (French expressions)

Serre Chevalier + How to say "flat rate" when searching for $ deals in France

cadran solaire sun dial alps time clock painting on wall
Ambition is the downfall of man. (L'Ambition est la perte de l'homme). A message on a lazy sundial in Serre Chevalier. 

un forfait (for-fay)

    : flat rate, package deal, 

un forfait week-end = weekend package (price)
un forfait mensuel = monthly subscription
un forfait boisson = drinks included
un forfait de ski = ski pass

Audio File and Example Sentence
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Jean-Marc a trouvé un forfait hotel pour les vacances d'hiver.
Jean-Marc found a hotel package for winter vacation.

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse
"Kissed by a Stranger--or A Bise in Le Bez"

Jean-Marc drove us to the mountains for our kids' spring break. I guess I need to quit saying "kids"--as our son Max will soon turn 19! All the more reason to profiter or take advantage of these family getaways!

"Does Jeanne ski?" I say, turning to the back seat, where the kids are settling in for the 3+ hour drive home. Jeanne is Max's petite amie and I'm wondering if we should bring her along next year--and so stretch these family vacations as far as they'll reach! But there I go trotting off to the future again....

a home in the French Alps snow shutters

I put a stop to the "eventualities" by looking out the car window and focusing, instead, on the four good days we have spent in Serre Chevalier--where Jean-Marc found another package deal, or forfait: 4 nights, petit déj compris! But dinner was not included in the deal, so we were delighted to be invited to our good friend Fred's!

I hoped our son's godfather (Fred), who normally insists that we stay with him in his family's chalet, would not be offended that we picked a hotel this time. As we dined with him and his family that first night--enjoying 4-cheese fondue in the cozy living room, I searched our friends' faces for disappointment, and listened, waiting for the inevitable question: Mais pourquoi vous n'êtes pas restés chez nous?

But when I saw how relaxed our friends were--and how they never questioned our hotel reservations--I began to wonder if we shouldn't get our feelings hurt instead. Kidding aside, it was probably a nice break for both families to have their own chez soi. I feel for people who own a home in a vacation mecca and who are regularly visited by travelers. How can they ever enjoy their own pied-à-terre or home away from home when they are busy sorting out sheets and towels and meals?

But just because we aren't sleeping under the same roof doesn't mean we can't enjoy each other's company by day. While helping Fred's mom, Marianne, put away the dishes, she asked if I would like to join her le lendemain for a hike in Névache. I panicked, thinking about hours and hours outside in the unforgiving sun. It's not worth going under the knife again... But rather than try to explain things, I rattled off something about needing to spend the morning finding a summer school fashion program for Jackie. (And when the latter heard this, she perked right up, solidifying my plans!)

The next day I had to follow through with my promise. While I did plan on doing a little research, I did not want to spend our 4-day break behind a computer screen. So by noon, I was ready to take a small stroll through the village of Le Bez, where our hotel is located.

stone chapel in Le Bez Serre Chevalier French Alps

Le Bez is a tiny hameau nestled into the base of the mountain. As I walked up the slippery hill, the place began to look familiar to me... Oh yes, there was that cadran solaire I had photographed the last time we were here... and beyond, I saw a sign to the sentier botanique. Oh to be back in springtime--enjoying all the wildflowers and papillons along the path!

Chalet homes in Le Bez Serre Chevalier French Alps

Like a butterfly, I weaved back and forth along the snowy path, enjoying the charming buildings as though they were filled with nectar. I pulled out my smartphone and begin snapping photos. So much for promising to bring my real camera (which is less and less practical the more I use my camera phone! I'll live to regret this when the day comes to print the pictures; meantime I'll believe recent studies about how lower quality pictures no longer seem to faze viewers--who are content, instead, with content. Indeed, it is the subject of the photo that moves us--rather than its sharpness).

A tiny chapel doesn't budge as les oeufs, or eggs, travel up the mountain.

As I left the fountain and headed up a small snow-capped path, I ran into a local and was greeted by a very warm bonjour...

"You are not from here?" The gray-haired mountain man said. "Alors, je vous fais la bise!"

With that, the one-man welcome committee reached over and planted the most friendly kiss I had ever received on my cheek.

        shadows and a little warning "careful of snow sliding from rooftop"

That was funny. Last time I checked the French were a lot more reserved than that. Any cultural know-how I'd gleaned up to now told me that complete strangers did not kiss--not unless they were with a person who knew the kisser.

Ah well, I reasoned, surely the local knew my friend Fred! Still, something told me that if my friend were here he might not have recognized Mr. Kissy Face. But his fist would have! 

                                            *    *    *


Back at Fred's, for dinner, a small fire broke out on our table as we sat enjoying fondue that first night, every French woman seated declared "This is why I have an electric fondue maker at home and not a traditional one!

Fondue is a great way to entertain and not a lot of work, either. An added amusement is the games the French play while eating fondue. "If your piece of bread falls into the melted pot of cheese," Fred's dad, Michel, tells me, "then you have to remove an item of clothing." I was careful to keep that bread on my tiny fork, but my lovely neighbor was not as lucky.... 

Ouf. In the end, everyone kept their clothes on. But imagine if Mr. Kissy Face had shown up? He might've invented another fondue game: Every time your bread falls into the pot... c'est un bisou! We call that spin the bottle where I come from (in French that's le jeu de la bouteille :-)

French Vocabulary

la petite amie = girlfriend
le petit déj (déjeuner) = breakfast
Mais pourquoi vous n'êtes pas restés chez nous? = but why didn't you stay with us?
chez soi = at home
le hameau = hamlet
le lendemain = the following day
le cadran solaire = sundial
le sentier botanique = botanical path
le papillon = butterfly
bonjour = hello
alors = so then
je vous fais la bise! = I'll give you a (welcome) kiss!
un bisou = a kiss
le jeu de la bouteille = spin the bottle



Next Meet-up: April 8, 2014 in Paris

Join me in the Marais for a musing on foreign accents! I'll be speaking at Adrian Leed's "Après-Midi"-- following in the footsteps of artists who have spoken there before me. Click here to add your name to the Facebook "attendance" page. (If you can't make it, please hit the "maybe" button on the Facebook page and I will bring you with me in my thoughts :-)

(James Navé will give a talk in March; also check out his upcoming class "The Poetics of Writing: Imaginative Storm Paris Workshop") 


For you menu readers: blettes, courge, and chou (chard, squash, and cabbage).

Just look at this wooden water way coming from the 18th century fountain. Felt good to run my hands along the side, appreciating the artisan's efforts.

Apple tree
The old apples are still hanging on, waiting to be pushed forth by blossoms.

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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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Janet Gottsacker

Loved this story, especially the part about the local Frenchman giving you an unsolicited kiss on the cheek. My husband was recently in Gex, visiting our son and while at the fish market inside Carfour, a jolly fishmonger planted a big kiss on my husband's cheek with a warm bienvenue! The French are stuffy? Non, non, non.


Oh I miss going to the mountains in the winter with my Frenchlings (who are now 18 and 20)and living in another country.

But I did get to go to Montreal to see them and there was snow but it was city snow and not fresh beautiful mountain snow. :-)

Loved the pictures. Merci, Madame....

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Great story today! Enjoy those times you have with the kids before they are off! I love the photo of the chapel and the les oeufs! Isn't it amazing that the wooden waterway is still there and hasn't worn down. What a beautiful photo! I think the little gray haired man just wanted to kiss a pretty girl! Phone cameras take great photos don't they! Have a great weekend!

Bill in St. Paul

Beautiful pictures, they made me want to head back to France now rather than in two months. Just as you have trouble referring to your children as "kids" now, I've had problems referring to my two children in French as "enfants" when they are 38 and 35, but then in French they are nos enfants.


I so enjoyed today's post! It brought back fond memories of my (French) grandfather who never met a stranger and was always ready with a big wet kiss on the cheek!
I only found your blog less than a year ago and have enjoyed it so much. It occurs to me that today's pictures are the first ones I've seen on the blog that have snow in them. What a treat!
Keep these delightful entries coming and thanks for getting my morning off to a wonderful start by reminding me of my PaPa!
Merci boucoup!

Kathleen from Connecticut

The snow looks wonderful in your pictures, but I am completely tired of the snow in my yard. Therefore, I loved the pictures of your flowers blooming and of Jean Marc planting la lavende. Oh, how I long for spring and warm weather. It is 7F here this morning .... Ugh!
April in Paris ... How wonderful! Wish that I could be there with you, but alas, I must remain in Connecticut.
Take advantage of those family vacations... The kids are getting older...19 WOW!

Jean-Marc Espinasse

Sometimes I feel I should be 30 years older in order to kiss my lovely wife the way she likes it... =)

Linda D.

A professional photographer friend of mine once reminded me that the best camera in the world is the one in your pocket. Your gorgeous photos are proof of that. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Warm regards,

Chris Allin

And here I thought that perhaps your family might be dealing with crumbling plaster, construction dust and disrupted meals from the kitchen renovation. Instead a wonderful mountain village and clean, fresh air. From Malta to the mountains...thanks for taking us along!

Kristin Espinasse

Chris, haha! We are... cough... dealing with that now :-)

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Oh, la bise à la Bez!

Audrey Wilson

What a delightful place La Bez looks! Some lovely photos Kristin,smartphone or not.
Our snow is firmly up on the mountains (Pyrénées) & not in our village. We have peach blossom out all over & set against the snow caps it is ,as usual, a picture !!

edie schmidt


Nice photos of La Bez. What a quaint place.
Tres bien,

Edie from Savannah

Ellen Fetu

One can almost feel the invigorating fresh air in these photographs! This looks much like St. Veran...I wonder if they are close...


Beautiful little village. I do live in one of those places where people want to come and see and there are times I feel like a B&B. Last Sept. it was a niece and her boyfriend from Switzerland for a week, another niece of the Swiss for a week in Dec. Jan. just had someone for 3 days. March, friends from Utah for 4 days and then July more Swiss friends for 2 weeks. For anyone interested, I have no bookings after that. ;-).
The kids will continue for at least awhile to vacation with you(especially skiing)....after all who is still paying!

Jan  Hersh

What a sweet comment from your dear husband! Thanks for the vicarious holiday in the mountains. We are off to a ski trip in Utah next week!


Sometime your life seems like a romantic movie, with the perfect leading man. The beautiful young raising star and the oh so handsome scene stealer. With the movie set in the most romantic places. Reading your wonderful stories is like watching a good movie.
You never want it to be over.

Susie Wampler

I was lying on the beach in Hawaii one day in my twenties and a man of similar age came by and reached down and surprised me with a kiss. To have that happen as you in our 40-50's would be une surprise plaisante, peut-être excitant même? Sweet moments to treasure, for the fun of it!!! Good on ya! Bisous.
ps do you have a great French music station you listen to on Pandora?


Kristi Darling,

You have set the tone for my day, I think somehow the line about the lazy sundial tipped me back into my pillow as went through all of your lovely photos today. My favorite is the chapel and little eggs. I´ve been up since 5 a.m. - feeling like my old self again. I love your life too, just as all of your friends here do, thank God you married a man who likes to have new experiences all of the time. JM´s comment was so darling, it makes me so happy to hear the love in his words.




Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and gorgeous pictures!So reminds me of our younger days when we wanted a Winter getaway and the budget just wouldn't stretch.Now,thanks to you,we not only have enjoyed a beautiful spot and fantastic food,but have treasured the company of you,your lovely family...and Fred!
Suzy is right--your fortunate readers never want your stories to end!
Love, Natalia XO

Joanne Ablan

À mon avis this blog really captured your experience of time past, present, and future. You have a wonderful gift of being in and out of the moment all at once as well as a gift for authentic relating to self, family, and stranger. Thanks, too, for the inspiration to travel to the
big city and the small village. Oh, by the way, I tried your 1,2,3
yogurt cake with pineapple, blueberries, and a cherry au centre.
The only substitution I made was to change 12 oz. of AP flour
to 10 oz. of AP flour and 2 oz. of almond meal which gave it a
tiny bit more texture. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe; it was a
success with friends. Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Once more you have taken us along with you on a trip.....this time to the charming village of Le Bez. Your photos are wonderful and you have taught me many new words in French. If most men were as uninhibited as the grey-haired mountain man who kissed your cheek was, you would be be receiving "les bises" right and left as you walked about Le Bez!! I loved Jean-Marc's sweet remark. Many thanks.


Bonjour Kristin

I would have translated: "je vous fais la bise!" as "I'll give you a (welcome)kiss" :-)

Merci pour vos histoires charmantes qui me rappellent ma douce France.


Diane Young

How charming the little villages are in the snow. Don't miss being so cold in winter but do miss the occasional snow drops.
So many beautiful sites aux villages en France.
Thanks for sharing.

Karen from Phoenix

The pictures come out great on the phone. I am giving up my camera now that I have a better phone. Less things to carry.

Love the little village in the snow.


Leslie in Oregon

Your snow photographs are lovely. I hope you choose to write more posts about your family's four days in the mountains. Did you bring Braise and Smoky? (Just asking because I know how much Goldens love to romp in snow!)

Judi Miller

I love your photos - they transported me to your vacation spot. How thoughtful of Jean-Marc to arrange un forfait week-end petit dej compris! I'm glad you had an opportunity to get away before the big demolition! I'm sure you will be anxious for another one before long! Good luck with your renovation!

I also enjoyed your story of the older gentleman giving you un bisou in greeting - too cute - I'm sure it was all his pleasure to see a beautiful woman in his small village! You are so warm and naturally inviting - what a nice way to be!

Marianne Rankin

Yes, great photos! The next best thing to being there. You have an eye for the picturesque.

The saying we always heard about fondue was, "If your piece of bread falls into the cheese, you have to buy the next bottle of wine."

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Alain, for the helpful translation--and thanks to everyone who responded to this story. Such a pleasure to check the comments. Merci beaucoup!

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