Poilu : a semi-truck, a hairy person, or a soldier?
"Dodo" and things that go bump in the night!

en l'occurrence - such a useful expression!

Une bonne heure with my son in Aix-en-Provence = le bonheur. (See Max in the doorway?)


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.

Strange to think I have never used this French expression. I hear the locution adverbiale so often, when my husband or my daughter or my belle-mère speaks. So why have I never tried it out? For the simple reason that so many of us students of French don't use certain expressions: 1) we are not exactly sure of what they mean and 2) we're too lazy to look them up! 

Lazy like this, we can make the mistake of assuming a word's meaning (I thought today's word meant "on the other hand"). Let's have a closer look, now, at an oft-heard expression and today's mot du jour:

en l'occurrence

    : in this case, in this instance, as it happens

occurrence = case
en pareille occurrence = in such circumstances

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc talk about winefarming:
Download MP3 or Wav file

Lors de la plantation de vignes en 2014 au Mas des Brun, nous avons constaté 24 décès, ce qui en l’occurrence représente 0.6% de mortalité sur les 3 700 plants mis en terre.

Following our 2014 vine-planting project at Mas des Brun, we noted 24 deaths, which, in this case, represents 0.6% mortality among 3700 planted vines.

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

I'm going to spoil you with photos in today's edition--after the previous catastrophic post--a formating nightmare as you see here! Thank you for being so patient and, without further ado--or sans plus de cérémonie, here are some images from the past week:

A snapshot of our dining table, yesterday morning. Clockwise, beginning in the center, we have the beautiful Azalea plant, a gift from Gail and Fred--the couple who are letting Max stay in their home this summer. Next, the straw hat I wear most of the time, followed by Jean-Marc's electric pruning shears, or sécateurs éléctroniques.

And there, below center, are the cards I bought at the stationary store pictured higher up. The open book of Proverbs is a gift from Anne and Kirk, who visited recently. If you are looking for a beautiful apartment for rent in Aix, click on the link below!

Above the book is more daily bread, held in an old pelle à cendres. (Now that I think of it, that couldn't be an ashes pan--not in wood! But I am sure that is what Michel told us when he offered the gift years ago...)

Fred and Gail (Max's hosts) the day they came for lunch. They loved Jean-Marc's rosé and were so encouraging and enthusiastic about our vineyard project. No matter how much hope and faith you have in a project, you also have your days. So it is always helpful to see your progress through another's eyes! (In this case professional eyes. Gail and Fred have been in the restaurant business for years, and they have stocked a lot of interesting wines in their cellars.) 


Where's Max? Also, Notice the old painted BYRRH sign in Aix-en-Provence. After I posted this photo on my Facebook, Audrey Wilson shared this update:

Byrrh is still produced in Thuir, a town near us in Roussillion. Its cave boosts the largest barrel in the world containing 1,000,200 litres of wine !!


What melts your heart more: a weathered French bakery or a Franco-Australian baby?  I had the chance to meet-up with Caroline and baby Mathilde, on Tuesday.  It was a rare getaway for Caroline, who is busy tending vines and making wines at Domaine Rouge-Bleu, which she now owns with Thomas (They purchased this vineyard from us in 2012).

Did you know Caroline and Thomas opened up a B&B on their beautiful vineyard? My former writing office is now one of the rooms! Click here to see the rooms and to reserve your stay in this beautiful and well-located place.


The seaside town of La Ciotat. I think the street name reads: "Hairy People's Street."

(Voilà, the missing photo from the previous edition, which talks about the true meaning behind Les Poilus)


I just received the latest newsletter from author Patricia Sands, in which she features so many colorful photos of a favorite village: Antibes! She also lists a ebook giveaway for my First French Essais book!

Please click here to read Patricia's newsletter and to enter to win a prize (two are listed!) You may also want to subscribe to Patricia Sand's updates on France, writing, and travel.


 What's more charming than blossoms on a tree? Petal confetti!



 Back to my son, pour un moment.  As a special treat, I took him for a milkshake at a well-heeled bistro along Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence. Quelle déception! What a disappointment when he took the first sip. French milkshakes sometimes miss the mark... (I will never forget the frango mint milkshake my Grandmother Annette treated me to, as we sat at the counter at Frederick & Nelson in Seattle. Anyone remember these?)

Back to our picture story... As we sipped our drinks my eyes travelled across the street, to where I had met Max's father 25 years ago.  I have to blink, now, to make sure the young Frenchman seated before me really exists. And when Max comes into focus, with the dapper coat and hat, I see his father, standing at the door to my studio, wearing his best suit. The year was 1990.

I remember him handing me a houseplant on that first date, as he stood so hopeful in the doorwell. And I remember thinking, sadly, I won't be around to water it next week! 

I had to leave France within days, but I could not shake the impression Jean-Marc had made on me. That magnet that had pulled me to France seemed to be nestled right there, inside the man holding the potted plant.

"Bonjour," he smiled, that mysterious force drawing me to him.

(And now, glancing at the snapshot taken above, I can see how all that alchemy worked together pour accomplir sa fin, or to acheive this goal.) 


 Well, we've come to the end of our photo périple. I hope you enjoyed these snapshots from Provence. This last one, a chalkboard sign taken in Pélissanne on St. Patrick's day, is all-inclusive don't you think? :-)


Comments welcome here, and have a good rest of the week! 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Audrey Wilson

I thoroughly enjoyed this photo périple How romantic is the story of Jean-Marc's courtship of you & no wonder you couldn't resist it eventually !!
Thanks for posting my comment about Byrrh . I see I made a typying error. Should read 'boast' & not 'boost'!! I sometimes type too quickly for my oown good .

Bill in St. Paul

Beautiful photos, Kristin. Makes us anxious to be back in France again.

Karen Pearson

Very nice article. I agree with the other comment and loved hearing the story of your romance. Your son is quite handsome. No wonder you fell for his father.


I loved learning today's phrases and learning more about the photos you have posted recently. Looking forward to seeing you this afternoon.

Cindy Mc

Bonjour Kristin! Love today's post and the wonderful photos. Became a little teary-eyed reading about your romance. That image will remain imprinted on your heart forever. Bon journée + xoxo.

Tom McCullough

Kristin, I could find no way to post after the last entry regarding "poilus". I believe one reader/commenter confused "poilus" with 'pois lourd" which is, in the most literal sense, a "heavy weight" but is also a term to describe a 'big truck' or 'semi' here in the states.

Annette Heath

I just took a deep breath and smiled as I finished reading your sweet memories. My heart is full of gratitude for your sharing such lovely moments from the past to the present. Mille mercis Kristin


Nice trilby Max!

Barry from Alabama

I really enjoyed today's post. The photographs are really wonderful! Having lunch with Max was a snapshot in time too!

I'm so glad your broadband connection is cooperating with you!

I just read Grape Expectations from Caro Feely. Thanks for turning me on to that!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin!
I enjoyed the post today and love all the photos! I loved your story about meeting JM. Max looks so handsome in his hat! I have never heard of Byrrh but it was re-introduced into the U.S. in 2012. I will have to look for it!
I checked out Caroline's B&B and was wondering which room was your writing room.....Grenach, Syrah or Roussanne. I love the view out of the Roussanne room!
Enjoy your Thursday and the weekend!


Kristin, that is incredibly special that you took Max to the place where you and Jean-Marc started your courtship. Too bad about the milkshake! Thank you for sharing the lovely photos with us.


Frederick & Nelson was a great store. My sister and I ate lunch there several times during the 70's and early 80's. Unfortunately, I never tried the milk shakes. So sad that Frederick & Nelson and the Bon Marche are no more. These stores gave city downtown areas their unique character. We used to go down to Pioneer Square for the great cinnamon buns at the original Starbucks store. Took me years to realize that WAS the original store.

Joy Bryden

A lovely, very special post! Wonderful stories, pictures, and oh my Max has become quite the handsome young man! Thank you for getting my day off to such a lovely start!

Cassie Alexandrou

Dear Kristin,

Your post and beautiful photos lifted my spirits as I savored both over my morning coffee. How handsome Max is -- a young Jean Marc, but I definitely see you in him, too. So nice that you got to spend this special time together. We "moms" live for moments like these.



Frango mint milkshake brings back memories of many trips home from Chicago, stuffing our mouths with Frango mints bought at Marshall Fields old store.

Nyla Witmore

My recollection of AIX when I painted "en PLEIN air" 23 years ago. A woman approached me to ask if I would paint something on her shop window. I was doing acrylic back then (oil now). She had just opened shop and there was no time to hire a professional sign painter. I WAS IT. In exchange, she allowed me to pick out a skirt in her fashionable boutique shoppe for "les femmes".
(I seem to be a magnet for serendipitous happenings.)...a far better occurrence than when painting in a nearby town where Cezanne painted a lovely yellow grande Maison. I set up my easel beside a moat to paint the famed yellow building...when....whooooooopsy, the large intrusion of Le Mistral produced a monumental gust of wind which lifted my canvas mid-air and promptly deposited it in the moat. I had to wade in to retrieve it.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Always enjoy your photos and stories, Kristin. They are a bright spot in my day. Today, particularly, I appreciated the reminder of true romance and how the course of our life can change in an instant. Regular readers know the trials and tribulations exist, too. But, today, we are reminded that love lives!

Beth Fiacco


It seems that your Max will be in good hands here in the U.S. Fred and Gail seem like the perfect hosts, and common grounds with your family! Your Max looks so charming in his hat. Thanks for the pictures and sharing your life!

Cynthia P. Lewis

Thank you, thank you for an enchanting post today! It has it all and leaves the reader with sentimental feelings for the entire day. You are so kind to share it all with us.


Dear kristin,
I just want you to know how much I love your photos. You have the rare talent of turning very "banale" images into "extraordinaire". I hope this didn't come out wrong. I think some people may think you just went click click click with your little "appareil" but 'tis the where, the how and the when to know you have to press the button. Be it Smokie's togue, the faded Sunflower or the bowl of compost........you put so much poetry and beauty in them to soothe our souls.These pictures make me realise that we should see our surroundings more often with our hearts than look blindly with our eyes.Thank you for your hard work in putting the silver lining on our clouds, and to share your courageous daily life.
This last phrase is for Tom, who made a typo in writing "pois lourd" instead of "poid lourd". For our french learners, the former meant "heavy pea" :)
Sorry Tom...best wishes, khimmie.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, excellent photos -- I especially appreciate the one of Max in Aix! How special that you could spend time with Max there, this splendid town where you fell in love. Regarding Domaine Rouge Bleu, you may recall that we went to Caroline and Thomas's B and B last summer just after Matilde was born. What a truly delightful experience! We learned a great deal, were extremely well cared for, relaxed in this lovely Provençal setting, and explored charming villages nearby. I highly recommend it to your readers!

Fran Rice

Yes I do remember those wonderful Frango milkshake made on site at Frederick & Nelson's. Enjoy reading your postings.


sorry Kristin, I had a typo too. I meant Smokie's tongue.


A dashing young man that Max! Enjoyed photos and knowing another tidbit of your and Jean-Marc's courtship! Merci beaucoup et passez un bon week-end!

Sheryl in Denver

Being from Chicago, your mention of "frango" shakes caught my eye. I went to wiki and learned that Seattle's Frederick & Nelson, which is now gone, was associated with Chicago's Marshall Fields, which is also now gone. Both are huge losses. But the beloved Frango Mints live on! When Marshall Fields was absorbed into Macys in 2006, they made an agreement to continue making Fields' famous Frango Mints, which was little comfort for Chicagoans who were enraged at losing Fields. Every year, my dad in Chicago still sends me a box of Frango Mints for Christmas. So I do know the wonderful flavor of frango. And I hope I never lose that last sweet piece of my memory of Marshall Fields. Who knows, maybe you can order a box online from Macys and have them ship it to you in France so you can make your own Frango Shakes! :)

Julie Farrar

I loved your story of your plant and your magnet and seeing the father in the son and vice versa. Merci beaucoup.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Khimmie and friends,  for taking the time to respond to this post, and with the kindest words. And thanks,  Cynthia, for recommending Caroline and Thomass BB!


Love the photos and Max is such a handsome guy.


Linda Meier

I worked at Frederick and Nelson through high school and college and my greates treat was always a Frango milkshake at the lunch counter downstairs. My mouth is watering now. Thanks for your ongoing wonderful life stories.
Linda, Bainbridge Island , WA

Barbara Becker

Great pictures. You are a marvelous photographer. I paint and see so many of them that I'd like to give a go with my paintbrush. Max looks just like his dad. Both of them quite handsome, too.


Such lovely stories and delightful photos! Merci bien...your effort and inspiration are greatly appreciated.


Our dear Kristi,
Your beautiful words and photos absolutely capture our imaginations,and take us to a place where we are filled with smiles.
What fun and what a privilege to share in your life!
Natalia XO

Joanne Johnson

Incurable romantic that I am, your description of Jean-Marc's offering you a house plant on your first date and the mysterious force that drew you to him touched me deeply - I know the feeling well! Your well-chosen words are beautiful. Max's photo shows that he has his parents' good looks and charm and will evoke the same passion in some lucky young woman that you felt. What a beautiful family you have - including Braise and Smokey!
I remember the Frango milkshakes and ice cream at Frederick & Nelson. I'm pretty much a lifelong resident of Seattle, having moved here in 1953 and visited many times before that. I still recall the pleasure of meeting you and Jean-Marc and your sister here in Seattle several years ago and have enjoyed your books and blog ever since. Thanks, Kristin!

Nikki Tureen

Hi Kristi

Such a wonderful post today!!! Full of feeling and a lovely trip to take with you. I think it's you at your best...thanks!

Nikki...from Vaison and San Rafael


A romance, Our local French Bistro owner had a small cafe in Nice. One night a young blond American girl ran in. she announce she was being followed and was afraid to walk back to her hotel. Would they please call her a taxi. But no, our Bistro man walked her back to her hotel and every night during her visits over the next two years. So on year 3 Alex and Sara married and moved to Fla. So for the past 8 years its a walk to a fresh baguette and coffee.

Kristin Espinasse

Hampton, what a sweet story!

Anne Woodyard

Oooh another favorite, full of beautiful shots (making me yearn to return to Aix asap!), and tales both nostalgic and promising, as only you can share them, lovely friend!

Vivian Langley

Kristin: Loved it all. What a hansome lad; I see both of you in him. Viv


Thanks Kristin for your lovely post. Max is so handsome! I loved all the photos and they took me back to this region we have visited several times and is our favorite part of France. We had a Frederick and Nelson dept store in Portland, OR and I grew up shopping there in the 70's and 80's but never had the frango mint milkshake. C'est dommage, sounds delicious. The B&B at your former vineyard looks very inviting. Thanks again for sharing and transporting me back to France!


What a cutie he is!!! A tiny grammar correction from a grammarphile:
"She also lists a ebook giveaway for my First French Essais book!"...should be an ebook... always use "an" in front of a vowel.
Hugs and ..I LOVE THIS BLOG!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks,  Tonya. Grammar help is always welcome and appreciated!

Heather in Arles

There is so much that is lovely about this post but I need to thank you most...for the phrase "en l'occurence"! Yes! That is so very helpful and seriously how could I never have known it before? I will admit that this is the first time that I listened to Jean-Marc's phrase (as I usually know the words or phrases) because I really need to get it right. ;)
Bon fin de WE and oh what handsome men you have in your life!


Didn't have the frango mint shake, but I remember having lunch there and having an egg salad and smoke salmon (NW hot smoked kind) sandwich. In my young mind have lunch with my sophisticated Auntie Cathie it was heaven! I miss my auntie and Seattle.


This is a lovely post. I always enjoy reading but this had so many enjoyable elements. Thank you so much. I can see from many other comments left I was only one of many more who were likewise affected.

Kate Lindsay

Thanks Kristin for your lovely stories that transport us back to France - a place dear to my husband's & my heart!I particularly like Jean Marc's Äfrica"T-shirt - does that mean you visit here? We'd love to meet you!

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