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Entries from February 2015

En vrac + most visited pages at French Word-A-Day

En vrac

She must have been 6 when she first visited this store. At 17, our daughter Jackie still loves to shop for candy en vrac. Picture taken in Briançon, Les Hautes Alpes.

EN VRAC

    : in bulk, in gross, loose

bonbons en vrac = bulk candy
du thé en vrac = loose tea

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jackie read this example sentence
Download MP3 or Wav

Le vrac désigne des marchandises qui ne sont pas emballées ou arrimées.
Vrac refers to merchandise that is not wrapped or 

Nov2014Mas de Perdrix. A home in France that artists and writers love to rent.  Work on your creative project in this inspiring environment.

 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Some of you learned of this blog via a friend, while others found it in an internet search. If you happened onto journal via an online search, I'd love to know what you were looking for: a particular translation? Or some bit of info on France? Click here to share in the comments box.

I think you will be as surprised as I am to discover what are the most popular landing pages at this language blog. Here they are:


"PAREIL" - a blog post written by my friend Barbara in 2004. The post highlights the French word for "same", then goes on to talk about homonyms, or words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings. 

BEST TIPS FOR LEARNING FRENCH - readers offer tips on what helps them remember, pronounce, and use the language.

SAPERLIPOPETTE - an old-fashioned or more classy way of cussing?

ARTIST BIO: WARREN C. PLAUCHE - Watercolor paintings by one of my readers.

BASAL CELL CARCINOMA POST-OP PHOTO - Skin cancer. Seeing the number of people who land on this page makes me want to reach through the screen and offer reassurance and sunscreen! (even if, personally, I choose extra clothing and hats over crème solaire).

FRENCH YOGURT CAKE RECIPE - a classic gâteau that kids and adults love to make and eat.

FRENCH TERMS OF ENDEARMENT - always heartening to know people are seeking words to express their love! 

QUITTER - or how to say goodbye (in email). I leave you now with my favorite way to sign off in French...

Amicalement,
Kristi

COMMENTS WELCOME
To leave a message, click here.

Self-portrait-feb-2015

Orange blossoms, wooden frog, and green plate--the still life inside that grabbed my attention outside. I set down two wobbly buckets to take this picture, then went back to water the newly-planted apricot trees--a gift from neighbor Annie. (The scarf and hat are the sunscreen I spoke about, in one of the paragraphs above.)

SABLET HOME for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Particularly suited to groups of up to four discerning travelers.

SOUTH OF FRANCE RENTALS: An elegant Aix apartment or a seaside village home – make France your home for a week! 

Almond-blossoms

Join me over at Instagram where I post photos daily. See what we were up to last week...


Mimosa-2015
Mimosa bursting to the sky. C'est le printemps!

WINNER!
We have a winner for the book drawing: 90 Ways to Know You're Becoming French. Félicitations Cynthia P. Lewis. You have won a copy of this delightful book. Cynthia, I will email you soon!

Alpine window
Window in Queyras.

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. By sharing it with a student or teacher or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Doggy bags in France: how the French react to this foreign custom

Jean-Marc and his sacoches, or bags.

Having never seen a doggy bag at any restaurant in France, ever, I have no illustrative photo to launch this edition. However, I do have dozens of pictures of Mr Sacks (pictured left), who will be our sac à toutou standin today.

TODAY'S WORD
Le doggy bag (franglais)

 
AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jackie read the following sentence: 
Download MP3 or Wav

En France, le doggy bag, pratique américaine qui consiste à emporter dans une barquette les restes de son repas au restaurant, a du mal à s'imposer à cause d'une certaine gêne des consommateurs...  -Le Parisien

In France, the doggy bag, an American custom that consists of taking away, in a container, the leftovers of one's restaurant meal, is having a hard time gaining acceptance owing to a certain customer embarrassement...  Comments welcome here.

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click here for more pictures.



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse


One of the first cultural differences I encountered after moving to the land of bistros was this: they don't do doggy bags in la France! 

In 1990, in Aix-en-Provence, a plate of egg rolls separated me from my future husband. Egg rolls in France are different from those in the States. In France, Asian restaurants serve the fried rouleaux with sprigs of mint and leaves of lettuce in which to roll them. Les Nems, as they are called, are Jean-Marc's and my favorite entrée, and we usually order so many that by the time the main course arrives we are too full to finish it.

At the end of that first shared meal in the restaurant chinois, we had leftovers. I explained to Jean-Marc that les restes in America go into doggy bags.  Jean-Marc was amused by the term and his sensible side was quickly won over by the frugal concept. But when he tried out the idea on our waitress, asking her to box the food that remained on the serving platters, she showed neither amusement nor sensibility. In fact, she looked a bit put out by the request. 

After Jean-Marc persisted, the waitress returned with an empty plastic tub which, according to the label, had once held pistachio ice cream. She pried open the container and slid the contents of both platters—and the side-dish—inside. I watched wide-eyed as the sweet-and-sour shrimp was poured right over the canard laqué, and the riz cantonais was heaped directly on top. 

"Ça ira?" As the waitress scraped off the last grain of rice from the plates, her exaggerated gesture embarrassed me, cheapening an otherwise romantic evening. 

Walking down Aix's winding cobblestone streets after the meal, I suggested to Jean-Marc that maybe it wasn’t a good idea, after all, to ask restaurants to wrap up food. It was too awkward for everyone involved when the servers had to go scavenging for odd containers in order to be accommodating.

Jean-Marc disagreed. It was a very good idea, he assured me—no more wasted food. The French would do well to adopt the practice of asking for a doggy bag!

"But they are not doggy-bag equipped here, so there's no use trying to save the food!" As I argued my point, I walked right into a beggar. “Oh, pardon. Pardon, Monsieur!

 The homeless man, who sat on the ground beside another SDF, looked up.

"Bonsoir, Monsieur," Jean-Marc offered a warm greeting. 

I watched my date, who smiled as he crouched to the ground, offering the homeless man the "useless" invention: le doggy bag

The homeless man nodded in appreciation. After what seemed a very long pause, we said goodbye and walked on. Arm in arm, I pulled my boyfriend close. This one was a keeper.

***
(Today's essay is from my book "First French Essais")


COMMENTS 
To leave a comment, click here. 

 Leaf heart
Do you ever notice how hearts show up when least expected or most needed?

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French Vocabulary

le rouleau
roll

le nem
a kind of fried egg roll

une entrée
starter, hors-d'oeuvre

le restaurant chinois
Chinese restaurant

les restes (mpl)
leftovers

le canard laqué
Peking Duck 

le riz cantonais
fried rice 

ça ira
will that do?

Bonsoir, monsieur
Good evening, sir

SDF (sans domicile fixe)
homeless person

Flower steps

Jean-Marc and his faithful sidekick, Monsieur Sacks. See more of this endearing sacoche, and the story here.

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. By sharing it with a student or teacher or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Etat des lieux + homeless in Aix-en-Provence

Etat-des-lieux
The handy-dandy serpillière, or French floor rag. If you have ever rented a place in France, you know the frenetic tidying up that takes place before you hand back the keys and hope to recuperer la caution or get back your deposit check!

TODAY'S WORD
état des lieux (eh-tah-day-lyuh)

    : an inventory or a walk-through to assess the condition of a property 

AUDIO FILE: Listen to our son, Max, read the following sentence
Download MP3 or Wav

 Etat des lieux: Avant de faire l'état des lieux pour rendre mon appartement, je croise dans la rue une femme sans-abris.  Comment l'aider? Before showing up for my apartment check-out, I walked by a homeless woman.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse


While packing up his rental apartment in Aix-en-Provence, my son telephoned me. As is often the case, I only caught a part of what he was saying in French. 

"...et désolé pour ton Tupperware."

"Max, what are you talking about? Speak English!"

I could hear the tap running as my 19-year-old hurried to finish the dishes and return them to the cabinet before the realtor arrived for the état de lieux (that's French for this rental apartment better be in the same condition as you found it in or you are not getting your deposit back!).

Max shut off the tap and cleared his throat. "Mom, I can't pack your Tupperware because I gave it away."

"I hope you are not talking about the glass container I gave you? I really wanted to get that one back."

I'd sent the newbie bachelor home, that first week of université, with some slow-cooked chicken made in the mijoteuse--chuffed at my new organizational skills. Only, as soon as Max left home, the three of us remaining here reverted to snacking instead of dining. Max never did get another home-cooked meal to take back to his pad.  Instead, he became creative in his own tiny kitchen.

"There was this homeless woman..." Max was now explaining what happened to my Tupperware. "I saw her on my way back to the apartment.  While packing the kitchen I noticed I had some leftover pasta and so I cooked it up for her."

"How old was she? What did she look like?" I tried to imagine a woman sans-abris sitting on the sidewalk in the cold of winter.

"She was between your age and granny's. She wore a scarf."

Max was not in the mood to talk so I quit firing off questions, even if I was curious about his "left over pasta" reasoning. It wasn't left over at all, it was still uncooked in the box... which made his gesture all the more loving. It all reminds me of a tender quote:

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.  The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.  -Blaise Pascal


Cooking-for-max
Happy to have my son home again! Now to keep up with the cooking.... Went to the farmers market, this Friday morning, and bought a large green cabbage. Stuffed the leaves with sausage meat, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, garlic, carrot and kale. Baked it in white wine. He liked it! See more photos here at Instagram (scroll down to the farmers market pics)
 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Homeless in France

Toit
Abbé Pierre's "holy anger" drove him to fight for the rights of those sans-toit, without a roof over their heads. Take a moment to read about this great Frenchman, and thank you for sharing this post with a friend.

Paris Monaco Rentals

France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France. Click here for pictures.

TODAY'S WORD
le (la) sans-abri (sahns-ahbree) noun, masculine & feminine
  
    : homeless person

"Sans-abri" means, literally, "without shelter"; les sans-abri = the homeless. 
=> SDF (Sans Domicile Fixe) is also a term used for the homeless. Les SDF = The homeless

.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

(This story is a re-run, in preparation for the next post...)

Day before yesterday, I watched and listened as the French mourned the death of their favorite personnage: l'Abbé Pierre, voted third greatest Frenchman after Charles de Gaulle and Louis Pasteur.

"Abbot Peter" was the short priest with the long beard, the white-haired legend in the black beret, the former Resistance fighter in a dark cape who now clutched a bleached wood cane.

Like his appearance, Abbé Pierre, who once broke his vow of chastity, yielding to the force of desire, was a man of contrasts. Humble and soft-spoken, he was driven by a "holy anger" and known for his passionate outbursts when speaking for the homeless. He once told Jean-Marie Le Pen to "shut up!" (Ta gueule!) after the president of the National Front implied that all of France's ills stemmed from immigration.

His beliefs were sometimes unorthodox, as he felt that priests should be able to marry, that gays should be able to adopt, and that women should be able to be ordained. Above all, Abbé Pierre believed in the homeless and their unspeakable living conditions; caring for the sans-abri* would be his life's mission.

While [ex] President Chirac was said to be bouleversé* by Abbé Pierre's death, it was the thoughtful words of a homeless man that touched me the most as I listened to the midday news: "Sa mort, ça me fait plus mal que la morsure du froid," his death, it hurts me more than frostbite."

Frostbite and hunger were on Abbé Pierre's agenda, made famous in 1954 when he stole into a radio station and demanded the microphone. It was a murderous winter for the homeless in Paris and an old woman had just been found frozen to death on the Boulevard de Sebastopol, an eviction notice still in her hand. Reaction to Abbé Pierre's outcry was overwhelming and the French, both rich and poor, responded with blankets, coats, heaters and money as well as with rice, pasta, bread, chocolate and canned food. Charlie Chaplin (exiled in Paris at the time and made famous for his character the "Little Tramp") handed over many thousands of francs, with the explanation "the money belongs to the vagabond I portrayed".

It was in 1949 that Abbé Pierre founded the Emmaus Society with the idea to "travailler avec des pauvres pour des pauvres" to work with the poor for the poor. The poor that were to become his followers were also known as the "Ragpickers" by reason of the junk that they collected, organized and now sold in open-to-the-public warehouses throughout France. For this, Abbé Pierre was sometimes referred to as the "ragpickers' saint".

Activist for the poor for more than five decades, at 5:25 a.m. on January 22nd, at the age of 94, Abbe Pierre's light went out, when he died in Paris after being hospitalized for a lung infection. The feisty yet humble Frenchman had requested that the following words be written on his tomb:

                               "Il a essayé d'aimer." ("He Tried to Love.")



COMMENTS
To respond to this story or to comment on this edition, click here

Soupe Populaire soup kitchen in Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
Waiting for a hot meal in Paris. The sign says "Help us if you can." To comment, click here.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
les sans-abri (mf) = the homeless
boulversé(e) = deeply upset

THE RACKPICKERS OF EMMAUS
The Abbé Pierre has tackled in France the problems of homeless people in a new way. First he bought a house and sheltered a few down-and-out men. Then he organized his ragpickers, combed the dust-bins and the dumps, and then the sewers, and sold the salvage. He bought land, put up huts; bought more land, till he had housed 180 families; the scheme is growing daily. He has now achieved a responsible community of workers in which the poor help the poor. This is not a sociological blueprint but a gripping human story of the lives he has saved.
--from the book Abbé Pierre and the Ragpickers of Emmaus


AUDIO FILE
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word and read the French headlines -- from the journal "l'Orient Le Jour" Download wav or Download mp3

La mort de l'abbé Pierre, apôtre des sans-abri, bouleverse la France. The death of Abbot Pierre, apostle of the homeless, shatters France
 

Thanks for visiting our sponsors!
Provence & French Alps Tours - Two regions of France in one affordable tour. Majestic mountains, Provence colors. Wine tastings, Michelin Star cuisine. 

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. 



1-IMG_2499
A sky full of starlings or étourneaux. To comment, click here.

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. When you share it with a student or teacher or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal. Merci bien!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Becot, bise, bisou: kisses in French on Valentine's Day

Smokey and heart shutter

Don't miss our daughter Jackie's soundfile today, and enjoy this snapshot of Smokey and the heart shutter (roses are from Cousin Audrey).

On this, the 14th day of February, la journée de la Saint-Valentin or la fête des amoureux we begin with a string of lip-swaying nouns. Go ahead and pronounce the first line in the next paragraph and just feel your lips move to and fro—the exercise is a perfect warm up for un bisou!

TODAY' WORD: un bécot
(bay-koh)

    : a little kiss

A smack, a smooch, a peck--un bécot or une bise--were once upon a time (and only in the land of lavender) known simply, humbly, endearingly as a kind of poutoun (poo-toon).  And in the Provence of yesteryear, Marilyn's "a kiss on the hand" might have been, and rhymingly so, "un poutoun sur la main".


AUDIO FILE:
Listen to Jackie read the following: Download MP3 or Wav

Un bécot, une bise, ou bien un poutoun (en Provençal)--voilà trois façons pour dire "kiss" en français! A smooch, a peck, or a kiss--there you have it: three ways to say "kiss" in French!

Heart on Stone (c) Kristin Espinasse

Given that this letter comes to you just a few beats away from the heart of Provence, not far from where La Festo di Poutoun, or "Kiss Festival," is soon to be underway, I hope you'll give today's word—un poutoun / a kiss—more than lip-service by sharing this edition with a sweetheart.

Thank you for reading and I'll now sign off, with a welcome change to cordialement, amicalement, best regards, and even cheers....

Poutouns,
Kristin


Les Mots Doux ~ Terms of Endearment


It may seem strange that the French, widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated and beautiful people on the planet, use some of the most strange (and not so beautiful) terms to refer to their belle/beau, or loved one. Take, for example, "ma puce" which means "my flea" (very popular here) and mon chou or "my cabbage" (beau, n'est-ce pas?). 

French shutter (c) Kristin Espinasse
The heart shutter in the first photo we saw today, and please check out these sponsor messages:
 
SOUTH OF FRANCE RENTALS: An elegant Aix apartment or a seaside village home – make France your home for a week!

*    *    *

. 
MORE AUDIO! Be sure to listen Jean-Marc (mon trèsor...) read the list: Download MP3 or Wav file

mon amour (mohn a-moor) = my love
mamour = my love
mon bébé (mohn bay-bay) = baby
ma belle (mah bel) = my beautiful (one)
ma biche (mah beesh) = my doe
ma caille (mah kahy) = my quail
mon canard (mohn ka-nar)= my duck
ma chérie/mon chéri (mah/mohn shay-ree) = my dear
mon chou* (mohn shoo) = my cream puff (sweetie-pie, cupcake)
mon coeur (mohn ker) = my sweetheart
mon lapin (mohn la-pahn) = my rabbit
ma moitié (mah mwa-tyay) = my half
mon poulet (mohn poo-lay) = my chicken
mon trésor (mohn tray-zor) = my treasure
mon poussin (mohn poo-sahn) = my chick
ma puce (mah poose) = my (little flea)
mon sucre d'orge (mohn sookr-dorzh) = my barley sugar
*from mon chou à la crème

 

 

Blue door and shutters (c) Kristin Espinasse
Photo taken in Sérignan (VAR).

More Love Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Amoureux:

  les billets doux = valentines
  fréquenter = to see / go out with someone
  amouracher & s'amouracher de = to become infatuated with
  tomber amoureux = to fall in love
  être fou amoureux/amoureuse de quelqu'un = to be crazy in love with someone

Valentine's Day in France (c) Kristin Espinasse

Grow your French Vocabulary:
Bonne journée de la Saint-Valentin = Happy Valentine's Day
la fête des amoureux = the lovers' celebration
bee-zoo = pronunciation for "bisou" = kiss
cordialement = cordially
amicalement = best wishes, yours
The Kiss
  "The Kiss." Jean-Marc and I on our 20th wedding anniversary. The beach is near La Madrague (St. Cyr-sur-Mer). 

Get away for Valentines Day. Locate a cozy bed and breakfast here in France.

 Selected "heart" expressions:

  un coup de coeur = a spontaneous attraction
  vider son coeur = to reveal one's feelings
  Aimer de tout son coeur = to love with all one's heart
  Laisser parler son coeur = to let one's heart speak
  Donner son coeur à quelqu'un = to give one's heart to someone
  un bourreau des coeurs = a ladykiller
  Faire le joli coeur = to seduce
  joli(e) comme un coeur = ravishing
 
Jean-Marc and bougainvillea
 
And here is my Valentine, Jean-Marc.
"Hold the ladder," he said. 
"OK, but can I take a photo? Wait. Don't answer. Hang on!"

I'm calling this picture "Superman of the Bougainvillea," unless you have a better caption? Meantime Happy, happy Valentine's Day!


Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Accueil, mille-feuille and "bringing the squirrels to their feet"

Le chat or cat and les feuilles or leaves. photo (c) Kristin Espinasse

Feuille, or leaf, ranked as one of the hardest French words to say in our recent "Most Difficult Words to Pronounce" poll--which, incidently, revealed a lot of enunciation angst among readers.  Today, let's take a lesson from this cat... and relax :-) 

HulstonExclusive French made clothes now available to purchase on-line. Thomas Hulston Collections.


TODAY's WORD: écureuil 

    : squirrel

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc (sounds like my husband recorded this one in his new vine field. Can you hear the dove cooing? And the cars passing? :-) Download MP3 or Wav

Ecureuil. Savez-vous pronuncer les mots suivants? écureuil, Limeuil, feuille, mille-feuille, sombreuil, fauteuil... Do you know how to pronounce these words: écureuil, Limeuil, feuille, mille-feuille, sombreuil, fauteuil

Squirrel Vocab
un écureuil volant = flying squirrel
la cage à ecureuil = jungle jim or climbing frame for kids

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I love waking up and learning something new, especially after struggling to find my way. Today was no different than any day, and I opened my sleepy eyes and wondered: what is the best use of my time? Where to devote my energy? And, especially, "WHAT MATTERS MOST?" 

A nagging inside told me to sit down and concentrate on story-writing ("Thelma, Louise, and The Dashing French Samaritan" is one I've mean meaning to tell you. But I can update you on my kids exploits later).  Just when doubts threatened to shake me off my path, a soft voice whispered:

"Let the day unfold..." 

Pushing back the bed covers, I fought back the shoulds, woulds, all the while washing my hair, feeding the dogs, and dusting the end tables (it's "Welcome Room Wednesday," part of a new cleaning regimen I've put myself on (focus on one room a day, i.e. "My Room Monday" ...  "TV room Tuesday"....  I have no idea how to make "kitchen" rhyme with Thursday, but tomorrow is another day. Or I could move the kitchen to Friday, for "Frigo Friday"?)

Frigo, by the way, is the French word for refrigerator which brings me back to why I'm here, typing this note to you:  What matters most is not what I can create (stories) or what I should be doing (I never did get those papers put away in the "welcome", or living, room). What matters is sharing what we know with those who are hungry to learn. And one thing I know is this very lively and colorful French expression, one that is bound to make you smile:

"Mettre les écureuils à pieds" = "to fell a tree"
It literally means "to bring the squirrels to their feet." Now there is something we can all chew on today! And I shall chew on it again tomorrow morning, when my mind is amuk with little furry shoulds, woulds, and coulds!

I would have never found this expression if it weren't for you. Maybe you were checking your inbox, wondering "when's Kristi going to send the next word?" 

Believe me, I've been wondering the same thing. And it makes me realize what a combined effort this journal is, afterall. And if I have not told you lately, thank you very much for showing up here, whenever you can, to see what it is I have to share with you on any given day. Your attendance has put direction into my day and I ended up writing and researching for this post, which led me to an unexpected aha moment. One of those moments where you realize that something has been staring you in the face for years and yet you never saw it in all its simplicity.

Little does it matter the significance of the thing (in this case the image at the end of this post). What matters is you got out of bed today and let yourself be guided by that still small voice inside. The one that leads to creativity, to learning, and to that aha moment that even the French translate as BING!

(... or is it "bingo" we say? And they say bing? Ah well. That doesn't matter so much :-) 

Have a great day and chase those squirrels away.

Amicalement,
Kristi

 

Kristi in Cassis

If you are new to this journal, Bienvenue. I'm so happy to  have you with us! You can read my story here.

Photo taken Saturday in Cassis, after my daughter, Thelma--I mean, Jackie--drove us back from Marseilles. I need to update you on all this in a post titled "La Conduite Accompagnée" (assisted driving), which sounds much better and more respectful than "Thelma and Louise". I'm just glad our car stopped short of the drop off the other day....

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Caisse epargne

L'Ecureuil is also the nickname for the French bank La Caisse d'Epargne. Aha! I see it now... after years and years of passively viewing the logo, the "squirrel"  never came into focus for me! And you? Do you see it now?

COMMENTS
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HIT THE "LIKE" BUTTON?
When you click on the "like" button, somewhere below (do you see it?) you help me to know which posts you like most. You also help others to find my French journal, and I appreciate that so much. Merci beaucoup!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Truffe + Hardest words to pronounce in French

Odette in Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
Some brightness for your weekend. Enjoy! Photo taken in Paris.

New

Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

What are the hardest French words to pronounce?

Longtime reader, Hampton, forwarded me an article from The Local listing Ten French Words You'll Never Pronounce Right, including mille-feuille, pneu, grenouille, and serrurerie.

Eep! Tell me about it!

Hampton suggested I get Jean-Marc or Jackie or Max to pronounce these tongue tricky words. But because my family is away at the moment, I thought you and I could make our own list, here, and then have our resident Francophones choose ten of them to record. Sound good? Are you chiche, or up for it? I am--I can't WAIT to know which words you find difficult to pronounce.

Allons-y! Lets go!
Tell us what are the hardest French words to pronounce. Click here.

As for me, I cannot for the life of me say the word TRUFFE. Don't believe it? Here goes: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Truffe! J'adore manger les truffes!
Truffles. I love to eat truffles!

(Did you hear Jean-Marc laughing in the background? "Pourquoi tu le prononce comme ça?" he says.) CLICK HERE to tell us which French words are hardest to pronounce. 

 

 SABLET HOME for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Particularly suited to groups of up to four discerning travelers: www.sablethome.com

Cave vins bio

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've seen the rest of these photos and stories by now...

Little french seamstress

The Little French Seamstress. Celebrating with my 17-year-old in Cassis, after she was accepted for a second internship (this one in Marseilles). Jackie will be apprenticing for a Tunisian-French woman who once sewed uniforms for the French military and now runs her own business from her tiny living room. Sales recently took off when same sex marriage became legal in France. "It's fun designing for grooms," she says. Should be a great experience for Jackie.

Knotted fig
Fig trees, olive trees, and umbrella pines, below. In the center, a stone cabanon; the new red door has many past lives: it floundered for a time at the junk store, then moved to a wall inside our house. Next it filled in a gap below our kitchen window. We then moved, taking the old red door (really a shutter) along with us to Bandol, where it found purpose as a gate on the dog run....only to become a foot bridge between unlevelled land. Last week we dusted it off and leaned it gently against the little stone cabanon. I think it finally found a home!

COMMENTS welcome here, and don't forget to mention which word you have the most difficulty saying in French. Merci et bon week-end!

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Thanks for sharing this post with a classmate or teacher or friend who might enjoy these little French updates! And when you hit the "like" button, below, you are helping to spread the French word. Merci encore!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Eternuer, Bis, & 90+ Ways You Know You're Becoming French

Frenchman, baguette and bike (c) Kristin Espinasse French-Word-A-Day

ENTER TO WIN: Tell us one way in which you know you're becoming French and enter to win today's prize at the end of this post! Click here to comment and bonne chance!

Meantime, Kristi says: I know I'm becoming French because....
I'm writing for two French magazines! France Today and, now, French Provincial--Australia's #1 magazine for French style and culture!

CharlotteThrilled to be joining the editorial team at French Provincial. This magazine, once only found in stores in Australie, is now available to all of us via digital subscription! You can buy any issue. (To see my back page column, select the issue pictured here :-) 


TODAY'S WORD

éternuer (ay-tehr-noo-ay)

    : to sneeze, or expirer bruyamment (breathe out loudly)

AUDIO FILE
One way you know you're becoming French is when you answer "à vos souhaits" after somebody sneezes. (Listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentence): Download MP3 or Wav file

Eternuer. Atchoum! Quand on éternue en France, on dit: "A vos souhaits" ou "à tes souhaits."
To sneeze. Achoo! When someone sneezes in France, we say: "Bless you."



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

After telling you to complete the sentence, "You know you are becoming French when (fill in blank)," I began to worry that some of you might not know how to answer.

"But I've never been to France," you might say. "How can I be sure I'm becoming French when I've not been exposed to all the French culture that I'm dying to be exposed to!!

Never Fear! Pas de souci! I've been digging through my photo archives to come up with pictures to jog your mind. Do any of today's photos sing to you?

Here are those pictures, along with possible ways you may be becoming French and not even know it!

1) (Observe photo at opening of this edition: You know you're becoming French when you buy baguettes  (even frozen ones) at every chance.

DSC_0361

      You know you are becoming French when...

 

2) The sight of French penmanship makes your heart do backflips: flip, flip, flip, flippity-dip!

 

Handwriting

3) You're an olive eater. Sure, the Greeks are olive eaters too, but you are a French olive eater! (Think little niçoise olives...)

Bis

4) You love bleu things, bis things, and boot things (or sabots like that yellow one, with the flowers in it).

To sidetrack a bit, and because you are hungry to learn all things French--I just know you are wondering about significance of "bis" when you see the little word written beside a house number. Well, let me tell you, after 21 years in France I learned this most significant detail last week.... when trying to find Beth and Guillermo's house.

"By the way," Beth had said in a second email, "I live at 9 rue (bla bla bla)."

But when Jean-Marc and I turned up at number 9, and a grand-mère opened the door in her little apron or tablier--a whoosh of pot-au-feu vapors streaming out beside her, I knew we were not chez Beth and Guillermo (who'd promised to make TAGINE!).

"Are you sure your friends aren't at 9 bis?" Grand-mère said....

Turns out they were! And the first thing I said to Beth after kissing her on both cheeks is: YOU ARE at 9 A! Not "9". NINE A!

So, dear readers, let's remember this one together, once and for all:

Bis = "A" when referring to a house number. The photo above, therefore, reads "65 A"

Chaise (c) Kristin Espinasse

5) You know you are becoming French when you are territorial....

 

The sign at the bus stop reads:  "Chaise à laisser sur place. SVP. Merci" (Don't touch this chair, please. It belongs here. Thanks!")

Cooking for the french

2007. Cooking for our first harvesters, back at Domaine Rouge-Bleu....

6) You know you are becoming French when your kitchen has little French touches here and there and everywhere 

 

Citroens

COMMENTS HERE
YOUR TURN! Tell us one way in which you know you're becoming French. Click here and enter to win the book just below. 


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Kissing Bench
One more way you are becoming French: you love ferronnerie d'art or ironwork of art. Here, in our shopping section, is a cozy kissing bench for the garden. It is also a wonderful conversation piece. I'm looking for one of these in France, meantime, for US readers, you can get one at Amazon!
 
Ways becoming french
Last chance to tell us, right here, one way you know you're becoming French and enter to win the book 90 Ways You Know You're Becoming French. It is cute and fun, has attractive watercolor illustration and perspicacious cultural observations. It can be an amusing way to measure acquired "Frenchness" for those of us who have been studying French or living overseas for many years. You'll find an excerpt here.

WINNER UPDATE
Félicitations to Cynthia Lewis who has won the copy of this charming book.

SHARE THIS SITE
If you enjoyed today's post, many thanks for sharing it with a classmate or a teacher or someone who... may... be...slowly... becoming French!
 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here