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How to say "stomach ache" in French

Jean-Marc and Kristi in 1992

When Jean-Marc came to Phoenix to woo me we exchanged gifts. For me, a Provençale skirt 3 sizes too small. (Does my face look as pinched as my waist? At least he looks relaxed.) Twenty-four years later and we still miss the mark--but so far we keep trying to understand each other. (Photo from the forthcoming book "First French Essais." Out next month!)

avoir mal au ventre

    : to have a stomach ache

j'ai mal au ventre = I have a stomach ache.

J'ai mangé les restes et maintenant j'ai mal au ventre.
I ate the leftovers and now I have a stomach ache.

Audio File:
Listen to the words and phrases above: Download MP3 or Wav

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

Last night when my husband got into bed and reached for me like a giggly teen, I groaned.

"J'ai mal au ventre!"

It was true. Ever since clearing out our kitchen cabinets and our frigo, my stomach has been smarting.

"J'ai fini par jeter des choses!" I finally had to throw stuff out! I admitted to Jean-Marc. "But not without trying to finish them first!"

"Ah, ma chérie!" Jean-Marc laughed as he massaged my back. But when his fingers tiptoed over my side, I barked: "J'ai mal au ventre!"

"Aw, désolé, Chérie."

For a split second I enjoyed the unexpected commiseration. I guess my days of hiding three-day-old sandwiches at the bottom of the poubelle are over. Hurray! My man can finally accept that SOME things need tossing!

As I turned to plant a rewarding kiss on my husband's lips, I puckered out on hearing this:

"T'as jeté quoi exactement?"

Just what did I throw out? He dared ask a woman in the throes of stomach labor JUST WHAT DID SHE THROW OUT?

Men may never understand women. But here's the first clue: Don't ask! Ne pose pas une question si tu ne veux pas entendre la réponse!

 *    *    *

Ever seen someone chasing after a bus they've just missed? Shouting Wait! Wait for me! Well, my husband will have to run fast to catch up with the kiss he just missed. He'll have several opportunities to make up for the misstep, beginning Wednesday--when we go into kitchen renovation mode! For the next three weeks our fridge (the one I emptied), our oven, and our camp stove will be docked in the living room. We'll wash our dishes in the tiny bathroom sink, two rooms over. On second thought, maybe the outdoor hose is closer? Wish us luck!

French Vocabulary

j'ai mal au ventre = I have a tummy ache
le frigo = fridge
ma chérie = my dear
désolé(e) = sorry
la poubelle = garbage can (or bin)
Ne pose pas une question si tu ne veux pas entendre la réponse! = Don't ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer


  Jean-Marc and Kristi

For those of you who stuck with me to the end of the post, your reward: a translation of the poetic French shirt I offered Jean-Marc (have another look at the opening photo) 

J'ai brisé les liens bleus et les limites de la couleur. Plongez-vous dans la blancheur et nagez dans cet infini. I broke out of the blue lines and the limits of color. Dive into the whiteness and swim (in the white free abyss) infinity is before you. (line two of quote by artist Kazimir Malevitch, born in the Ukraine. Serendipitous timing, as our thoughts and hearts go out to Ukrainians at this time.)

The picture above was taken on a family vacation, in 2006, and is full of symbolism. Years after I gave Jean-Marc that poetic T-shirt, he continues to show me that experiences are one of the most rewarding things in life when you dare to break out or briser les liens et les limites.

French provencal cabanon tree blossoms in Tulette (c) Kristin Espinasse"J'ai brisé les liens bleus et les limites de la couleur. Plongez-vous dans la blancheur et nagez dans cet infini."

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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gris-noir chic

Your blog is amazing and combines my two big loves: French and English.
Thank you.
Have a nice week-end.


cute photo from 1992 - Krist you don't look a day older!! J-M - maybe a bit, or is it just the loss of the Depeche Mode hairsytle! Good luck with the kitchen renovations. xoxoxo

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love the photo of you and Jean Marc. At least you didn't use the old line...J'ai mal à la tête! hahahahaha
Good luck with the renovations!

Edred Ferdinands

Hi Kristin
It's so wonderful to read about all your experiences as it lets us realise how normal you really are.
On another note I hope it's OK if I pointed out that 'jeté' in the sentence, 'j'ai fini par jeté des choses!' is incorrect and should be replaced by 'jeter'.
Best of luck with everything you do. I shall keep looking forward to your lovely newsletters.


Suzanne Dunaway

I thought that was you with your son....
"He looks so much like Jean Marc", I said to myself...which shows how young I thought you looked! Which you did.
But NEVER, I repeat, jamais eat anything bubbling.
I did that years ago with brandade once after having microwaved it briefly and had food poisoning for two days! Ah, how we learn.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Delightful photo of you both with hope and love written on your faces...since I seem to live in perpetual renovation, I hope to hear all about how the new kitchen shapes up! Good luck.

Merle Minda

Just went through this. Set up a little kitchen in the laundry room w toaster microwave paper plates and cups. Le frigo in the living room. The final result is worth it tho. Bon courage!


Darling Kristi,

Thank you for this lovely memory and your top photo showing what the face of love looks like - this is one of my favorite photos. Great story, makes me miss watching you and Jean-Marc from the sidelines when I visit as you two are always so entertaining when you are interacting with each other.

Love the photo of the cabanon with fruit trees, maybe JM could trade an old ancient olive tree for a row of mature fruit trees. Time to start looking for some old abandoned fruit orchards.

Love you and miss you - I´m counting the days til we are together again.



Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

"Ever seen someone chasing after a bus they've just missed? Shouting Wait! Wait for me! Well my husband will have to run fast to catch up with the kiss he just missed." Love these words; so poetic!

Jules says it best: that photo so perfectly shows the world 'the face of love.' JM looks so young; you? - the same!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

I love the photos - esp you & JM. You both look fabulous --- and in love!

Great post & interesting new French words.

Stay well!

Betty Doolittle Tuininga

Wonderful photo of you and JM! Amazing how time passes by...Wonderful blog! Don't envy you the rehab of the kitchen. It will be nice when it is finished, but I think it is one of the most difficult rooms to have in disarray!


Having done this I do wish you luck. And 3 weeks, well, that seems ambitious. At least you have the living room. They took half my tiny living room for storage of their tools(it was a rainy winter). I cooked in a bedroom, used paper plates(burned them in the fireplace). And it was the only time I really appreciated a microwave. But in the end you will have this wonderful kitchen which Jean-Marc will expect you to prepare gourmet meals in! Bon chance.


Don't forget the before and after pictures.


I'm glad you are getting to the kitchen remodel. I remember you asked for suggestions last year. I hope it all goes well.

Laura Warnock

This is one of my favorite things you have written! You captured a moment between the two of you, and though he has to wait for the kiss, I don't think he will mind! The throwing out thing is a huge issue around our house! It must be positively ancient before it is considered as something not fit to eat! I love the picture of you two early on ... I had in mind I would read your book, but now it is for certain. I did send a comment when you were searching for the right cover - it is perfect and I love the story of the man on the cover. Sorry Jean Marc won't be coming this year. My husband talked me out of going when he came to DC last year because we were overbooked and I have regretted it.

Debbie Ambrous

What a sweet photo of you and Jean Marc! I know that you must treasure it and have so many memories when you see it. I'm glad you translated the words on the t-shirt since I was wondering what it said. At least they were meaningful and conducive to a good beginning. Think of some of wording shirts now!! I have also been through the routine of washing dishes without a kitchen sink. Hope it goes smoothly for you. Good story!

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Thanks so much for a delightful read! It brightened a rainy day and made me laugh. The photo of you and Jean-Marc taken twenty-four years ago is worth a thousand words...all the same: LOVE. Bon week-end.


You were..and still are…a beautiful couple!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

The photo of you and Jean-Marc is a classic! I can just imagine the same pose today... the years would melt away. Is the tee shirt not prophetic? Seems that over the years you have sailed off into infinity together on a magic carpet and you are taking us .... your readers.. along for the ride!
Especially love the every day stories ...from fishing something out of the drain with a vacuum to the fork and broom handle spear to cleaning out the frig. Guessing you will have some great stories about the renovation.

Very much looking forward to "First French Essais" .

Judi Miller

I have a vocab question from way back 50 years - I thought I learned mal a l'estomach - or something like that - was that 'franglais' ha ha!! Bon courage avec votre renovation de la cuisine! We did that a year ago and it is quite an adventure to 'operate' in other rooms in order to eat. We moved our old refrigerator into the living room and that was a life-saver - didn't realize just how much we used it!!


Vous êtes un beau couple. Malgré le temps qui passe, tu n’as pas beaucoup changé, Kristin.
Passez un bon weekend!


Bravo :) de partager avec nous votre quotidien. Celui ci nous ressemble, la vie de tous les jours! Et cela est rassurant et nous connecte lorsque des fois nous nous sentons un peu seuls!
Ici, à Sablet les amandiers sont en fleurs le Mont Ventoux est enneigé et le ciel est bleu azur, un clin d'œil à cette merveilleuse Provence! Je vous souhaite un très beau week-end! Jos

Diane Heinecke

Loved the photo of you two in 1992. What a treasured memory. Keep making memories with him, Kristin. It sounds like you two are a good match. He challenges you to step out of your comfort zones. And you keep his idealism in check so he doesn't float into the clouds!

Audrey Wilson

Can quite see why you fell for him . And of course ,he for you !!
My thoughts go out to you re the kitchen re-fit . When we renovated our barn I too cooked on a camping stove in the garage and washed up in the only functional sink in one of the nearly finished bathrooms .. Fridge ? That was a cool box !!
But it's worth it in the end. The kitchen is SO important . Look forward to seeing your finished one


We have just bought a house that needs renovating and we will be joining you with our kitchen renovation in June when our daughter goes on maternity leave and we have a three month reprieve from the children. Keep us informed with your progress. We want to learn from you.

Love the picture of you and Jean-Marc. He passed on his good looks to his son!


J'adore cette jupe!... Soupir...
Ne serait-il pas plus facile de laver la vaisselle à l'extérieur? Dans une bassine....
Spellcheck: "J'ai fini par jeté des choses!"
Jeter (pas jeté)
Bisous de Brisbane :)

Betsy (Massachusetts)

Having never posted a comment, but having faithfully read your blog for over two years, you have won my allegiance and I gleefully recommend your blog to my Francophile friends. You live, love, and laugh with honesty, a full heart, and forgiveness, and I thank you for sharing both your adventures and misadventures. Jean-Marc's shirt in your gorgeous photo reminded me of a quote that pushes my own limits into exciting discoveries - "Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit" (La Rochefoucould) But next time let JM taste the pesto!

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