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Entries from June 2015

Paris story + How to say "locked out" in French?

Paris-sky

View from Jackie's studio in Paris. More about this canyon of French windows you are viewing, in today's missive. And félicitations! to our 17-year-old daughter, who has completed her 4th internship in fashion design.

enfermé dehors

    : locked out

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

 

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read today's example sentence:
Download MP3 or Wav file


Un jour, en descendant la poubelle, il s'était enfermé dehors en pyjama. (H.-F. Blanc, Combat de fauves au crépuscule)

English Translation:
One day, while taking out the trash, he locked himself out in his pajamas.

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" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
Order your copy here







A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse


On fait nos valises

Ten days ago I woke up in a 14 square meter apartment in Paris. Looking out the fenêtre, my eyes scanned gray rooftops and followed the trails of chimney pots which seemed to march towards the horizon. That's when I realized I'd missed the chance to photograph the Sacré-Coeur last night when the sky was dark enough to glimpse a tiny trio of white globes in the left corner of the window! There would not be another chance to do so, not this trip anyway. It was time, now, to pack and leave my daughter's studio.

Lying there in bed, all those internal cobs began to turn as my mind and body quickly became a steamroller of intention: put away the dishes, check under the bed for socks and chouchous, and put out both sets of keys--to leave behind for the owner (this last item caused no end of worry, and you will soon understand why....)

The list was getting louder and louder in my mind, so loud I might wake my daughter with my thoughts.  Slipping out of bed, I quietly made a cup of coffee - and sat down in front of the window, to savor, one last time, the view just beyond.

There, in the canyon of Parisian windows that formed an intimate neighborhood in the 11th arrondissement, I said my goodbyes.

Au revoir to the laundress in the attic apartment--who was always drying her clothes on her window railing. How I feared her comforter would drop... landing on the smoker at the 3rd floor window below....

Adieu, to the botanical goddess, on the 5th floor, whose little window was a perfect green jungle.

Farewell to the brocanteur, on the 4th floor, whose empty wingchair soaked in the sun, there before the window with its flowing rideaux

Did they see me, too? And think Goodbye to the photographer on the 6th, who held her smartphone this way and that as she focused its camera lens on a single spool of thread on her window sill. Oh, but a symbolic spool at that! Did they know my roommate? "The Karate Couturist"-- my daughter--who, like the karate kid, was made to repeat the same handiwork gesture over and over and over, but who would soon realize the wisdom behind such training. Jackie's seamstressing internship had now come to an end, and with it, the vacation I'd enjoyed while accompanying my daughter.

Having said so many silent farewells, it was time to dress up, tidy up, and line up our bags. My arms swept over the shelves--making certain not one item was forgotten. This last point was crucial, for, once we shut the door--leaving our keys inside as instructed--we would not be able to return inside the rental apartment!)

Finally, there we were, my daughter and I, standing in the hallway looking into the memorable shoebox apartment. And then, the anxiously awaited moment, when the door slipped out of my hand and locked forever. I looked over at my daughter and smiled confidently--before my face dropped in horror.

"Oh no! My cell phone!"

"Mom!" Jackie gasped.

"Just kidding," I snorted. Only, as we walked down the hall my legs suddenly froze. "My hat... I left my hat!!! I can't believe it! I had so carefully planned our perfect departure.... checked every corner... turned over the bedspread...said a needed prayer!"

As I stood there lamenting, I could see in my mind's eye my hat, high up on the shelf, where I carefully arranged it each time I returned to the apartment. And I could now see the locked door, separating us!

Jackie tried her best, using reasoning to comfort me. C'est pas grave, Maman. C'est pas grave! But I was inconsolable. I had left behind the hat that my Mom had offered me. There was no replacing the midnight blue hat with the twinkle stars. The magic hat that had recently sparked a lovely conversation with a stranger in Paris.... 

Walking to the elevator, hatless, my head felt as bare as those far-off globes of the Sacré-Coeur.... Only, unlike the church, inside me there was no more hope. That hat was gone forever because I did not and would not have the courage to bother the apartment owner to send it to me in a hat box via post! My only comforting thought was to call the maid and tell her to keep my hat for herself. It would look lovely on her, and match her kind spirit.

Jackie, sensing my despair, looked up. Her eyes were now twinkling like the those stars on my lost hat. "Mom," she said. "I will buy you a new one--here in Paris!"

And that is how the sentimental hat my Mom had gifted me found its only possible replacement:  in the sentimental gesture of my daughter.

(New hat picture coming soon at the end of this post....)


COMMENTS
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To see a picture of my blue hat...  click here, and scroll to end of the previous story.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

on fait nos valises = we pack our bags
la fenêtre = window
chouchou = ponytail holder, scrunchie
le rideau = curtain
c'est pas grave = it isn't important


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

New-hat
Picture, of the hat my daughter bought me, taken at a recent wine-tasting. Next wine tasting is here at home, this Thursday July 2nd. Email me if you can make it! kristin.espinasse@gmail.com

photo, above, by Dede Nagamoto Willis. 
 

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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How to feel alive in France & chapeau!

Hat-shop-chapeau-chapellerie
This picture appears in my book, where each hat represents a character in a preceding chapter. Some of these hats now represent the book's reviewers, including "Wise Owl," who writes:

 [Kristi] has lived in France most of her adult life raising a family and living in touch with the natural world. Her words and photographs capture the small and often unnoticed bits of buildings, blooms and interactions among people that help me feel that I have traveled to where she is, seeing new parts of daily life. Read the latest reviews for First French Essais: Venturing into Writing, Marriage, and France.

LE CHAPEAU (shah-poh)

    : hat

chapeau! = well done! bravo!
le chapeau de soleil = sunhat

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

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



AUDIO FILE: Thank you, Jean-Marc, for recording these helpful soundfiles in French! Listen here: Download  MP3 or WAV

Quand j'ai un chapeau, il m'arrive toujours des trucs extraordinaires. Mon chapeau d'aujourd'hui est un chapeau d'homme. Un feutre gris, très classique, chiné dans une friperie parisienne il y a déjà bien des années.... (from the text, Se faire des idées, by Landry Mestrallet)

English translation:
When I have on a hat, unusual things happen to me. My hat today is a men's hat. Gray felt, very classic, salvaged in a Parisian thrift store many years ago now...


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

After zigzagging down the street, wondering which way should I go? on my second-to-last day in Paris, I finally relaxed and followed my feet.

I had just turned right, onto rue du Chemin Vert, at times edging towards the buildings or teetering off the sidewalk into the gutter, allowing more-purposeful walkers to hurry by. I still had not decided whether to claim a free ride from Uber--and be instantly transported to Montparnasse--or to flâner on, in the 11th arrondisement, when a 6ft tall marker stopped me in my tracks....

It was one of those informational signposts that are dotted across La Ville Lumière. This one read Histoire de Paris: Les Botanistes, and went on to tell about this former sentier, or path, that was once lined with gardens. 

Vraiment? Pausing to look around me, all I could see was a concrete city. And then,  that strange sentiment returned, echoing my daughter's words: à Paris, c'est comme je n'existe pas. In Paris, I feel as though I don't exist. Reaching for my smartphone, about to dial a free ride out of this emotion, I heard a gentle voice:

"C'est un jolie chapeau que vous avez, Madame!"

Turning, I saw a trembling gray felt hat... when the owner wearing it looked up at me. Her blue eyes were several shades lighter than mine, from cataracts, and her upper lip formed a heart--owing to a small wart which tapped her lower lip, punctuating each of her words as she spoke.

"Merci, Madame," I smiled. "I... I was just reading about this jardin," I said, suddenly feeling the need to explain my existence.

"Cela vous va très bien!" the stranger affirmed. "Très, très bien," she said, her little wart busily punctating things, as if to say, You are lovely, EXCLAMATION POINT! I like you, PERIOD.


Tugging on the rim of mon chapeau, I thanked my hat admirer with a story. "It was a gift from my mom. I thought it looked (on second thought, no saying "like an old lady's hat!) That is, I thought it was not my style, but I have since grown fond of it, especially since my Mom left."

Holding on to my midnight blue hat with its "sky" of twinkle stars (the hat was sprinkled with silver studs), I listened to the old woman speak, quickly, familiarly, never enunciating as one does for a foreigner. 

"Every since I began wearing my hat," she was saying, "I have never been sick!"

"Ça, c'est bon à savoir! I wear mine for sun protection, I said, pointing to the scars on my face."  But as soon as I said it, I regretted it. The more I talk about myself, the less I learn from others. 

"That is a lovely pin on your hat!" I offered, and was quickly rewarded by the sight of soft blue eyes roving like a searchlight in the night as the woman looked for the exact spot on her hat where her rhinestone pin existed. As if settling on it, she  said: "It was a gift from my friends in San Francisco! Oh, how I would love to see that city!"

"Well, why don't you?" 

"Oh, I am too old now."

"Mais non! You are never too old!"

With that, the woman reached for my hand and we stood, for a moment, holding on to each other. Her little wart began to tap again, this time forming an elipsis as she said au revoir....

Watching her toddle off, in her pink coat, short pants, sagging navy blue socks and sneakers, I reached for my smartphone, to capture the endearing image. But, just like my feet, my hands had a mind all their own...and they put my camera gently away. 

*    *    * 

Next up, My sentimental hat disappears!

COMMENTS
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CORRECTIONS
...for English or French mistakes... are welcome in the comments box!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

flâner = to stroll, wander
arrondissement = a district in a large city
La Ville Lumière = Paris
vraiment? = really?
le jardin = garden

Blue-hat

My daughter, making a silly face as she sends a snapchat photo to her friends of our train ride to Paris. And here's the blue hat my mom picked out for me. Do you like it. I hope whoever finds it enjoys it too. Read the next post, here, to learn what happened to my hat!

Do you enjoy hearing and learning new French expressions? Then "Other Cats To Whip" is a new must-have book!

Capture plein écran 24062015 195258

Graham Clark, moved to nearby Marseille in 2012, but suffered a language mishap when trying to drop the phrase "J'ai d'autres chats à fouetter" (meaning: I've got other fish to fry) into conversation with his boss.   Inspired by this story - which you can read in full in the introduction of the book - Graham and his co-author Zubair Arshad, have carefully crafted this book of delightful French idioms, each with illustrative cartoons, direct English translations and actual meanings.   The book is a great resource for learning these French expressions and even better for a good hearty chuckle. Here's one good example:

Se-faire-prendre

Starting at only £3.99, or $6.25 in the US, the kindle version of the book is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and the paperback version can be ordered from Amazon UK and delivered worldwide.

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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Serendipity in French: un heureux hazard

Le-marche-truck

Serendipity - it is just the word to begin the summer edition of this journal sentimental. Only, do the French even have a word for serendipity? Et oui!

"UN HEUREUX HASARD"

    : serendipity, serendipitously

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AUDIO: Listen to Jean-Marc read today's example sentence:
Download MP3 or Wav

Mais, heureux hasard, au détour d'une rue bruxelloise, une affiche crayonnée fait de l'oeil au passant : "Discover the freedom of the bike", le genre d'impératif suggestif qui soudain vous fait entrevoir le monde autrement.LeVif Weekend magazine

Help translate today's sentence, here in the new comments box!


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


On the second to last day in Paris, a kind of seize the day sentiment gripped me. Having visited so many leafy passages, an original coffee shop, and even a vineyard, I wondered about a high-tech visit chez Google - whose existence, it seemed, was in Montparnasse.... at the FNAC.

Only, a strange mood paralyzed me. How to describe it? My daughter said it best when she commented about how the metropolis of Paris sometimes made her feel: "Je me sens comme si je n'existe pas...." I feel like I don't existe.

Jackie's observation struck me as juste as I vaguely recalled the meaning of "existential": a cold and impersonal something ... leading to an urgency to truly be.

 Grabbing my keys, I left our cozy appartment, one foot headed to Montparnasse, the other foot operating with its own sentimental compass. As I zigzagged down the street, seemingly invisible to the masses, I did not notice the trail ahead, which quietly formed itself, crumb by crumb, from the golden heel of serendipity....

(To be continued.)


COMMENTS
Please have a look at the new comments box, where you can now respond individually to the comments. Click here.

Door-vine-curtain

A mysterious door in one of the many leafy passages I visited. This one, in Passage Gustave Lepeu. 


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

Citronnade

Forward this edition to a friend and let me know if anything serendipitous happens! Wishing you un heureux hasard. See you next time.

Amicalement,
Kristi

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


risk in French + an update from Kristi

Jackie-epicerie
Jackie is doing well in Paris. Max is making friends in Portland. Our dogs are healthy! I am feeling myself again. And Jean-Marc? Read on....

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


aléa (noun, masculine)

    : risk, hazard, chance

les aléas du métier = the risks of the trade
après bien des aléas = after many ups and downs

AUDIO FILE:  Hear today's word: Download MP3 or Wav

Paris Monaco Rentals

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



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


Sometime last year the editor of a France culture and lifestyle magazine asked to visit, to learn about our special vineyard in Bandol. I agreed, secretly imposing three conditions on this meeting:

1. our house be in order
2. our dogs, controlled
3. and my husband, present

Had I known I could count on only one of these elements (the dogs) I might have called the whole thing off and took up residence in the pigeonnier -- to babble misquoted scripture to my feathered sympathizers: "Look to no man! Look to no man! Look to no man!!!

Boy, would that ever be ungrateful! For if I hadn't trusted one man from the beginning, we would never have ended up here. I leave you with a feature article published in France Today, and more about that man....

Download France Today article, here


COMMENTS
To leave a comment click here. Thank you!

Many thanks to France Today magazine for permission to repost this article. View the France Today website for more articles on France.

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

Seine-river
A photo to cool you down on a hot day: taken above the Seine river in Paris. If you enjoyed today's post, please forward to a friend. Merci beaucoup!

Venturing into Writing, Marriage, and France...
If you are new to this French word journal, you can learn even more about my journey to France here, in this book: First French 'Essais': Venturing into Writing, Marriage and France.

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


gaver + winner announced

New2

Style & comfort in the beauty of the Provencal countryside. 4 bedrooms & a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. Villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

 

TODAY'S WORD
gaver (gah-vay)

    : to stuff, to fill up

se gaver = to stuff oneself

Expressions:
  ça me gave = I'm sick of it
  je me suis gavé = I outdid myself! I rock! Look how good I did!

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


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

This morning when I woke up in my daughter's shoebox apartment (140 square feet -- 70 for her and 70 for me), I was as quiet as a mouse. Slipping on pants and a top, and checking and rechecking my keys as I do these days, I carried out the morning routine I've established since we came to Paris 11 days ago: breakfast for my child.

It is as though I have one more year to make up for all the parenting fails I've accrued since my kids came into the world 20 Springs ago. And then I catch myself. I've done the best I could do at the time.

One thing I've learned is that kids use positive reinforcement, too. "Thanks, Mom! That's so nice of you," Jackie says, when I come back with croissants and a surprise -- the chocolate chip pastry with cream in the center.

And I've learned that our kids see things in us that we can only suspect. "You are fragile," Jackie says, when I jump at the littlest things, like the string of shells dangling on our shoebox window.

"It's only the breeze," Jackie points out.

Venturing back to the window, my heart still thumping, I watch the wind carry off the debris of the city, from the Paris rooftops down to the ground and into the gutters, to be washed away by the morning sweepers. Inside my mind a similar sweep is taking place, only I don't know which direction the litter is going in sometimes. 

"Jackie," I say, "pick a number between 1 and 156."

"39," my 17-year-old says. "What for?"

"We are picking the winner of the antique giveaway. Watch," I say, as we scroll down the page, looking to see which name in the comments box corresponds to the 39th comment.

"Ah, the winner is a 'Jackie'! Just like you!"

"Ouai! Je me suis gavée!" my Jackie cheered. 

"Yes, you outdid yourself!" I agreed, reminded, now, of another golden thing kids teach us: to pat ourselves on the backs once in a while.

*    *    *

Postnote: Féliciations to Jackie S. comment number 39 - I will contact you for  your address, and mail your key from Paris. 

COMMENTS
To leave a comment on today's post or to read one, click here.

LATEST PHOTOS
Since coming to Paris I have shared dozens of photos and mini-stories from my visit. I hope you will view them, on Instagram, and follow me there to get some ideas and inspiration for your trip to Paris. 


And many thanks for visiting our longtime sponsor, below. Have a good rest of the week and see you soon...

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

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