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Serendipity in French: un heureux hazard

risk in French + an update from Kristi

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....

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

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

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!

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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Jennifer Sherrill

Beautifully written article!! Thank you for the lovely taste of your life and family adventures. Ah, if only it weren't 11am I would consider a glass of wine ;)

Sue J.

Brava, Kristi. Great write-up in the magazine. I hope they will ask you to write a column!


Your article brought tears to my eyes! Your words exuded love. Love for your life, love for your husband. I enjoy reading your words ever so much. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.


Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Your challenges in getting Mas des Brun were more daunting than I realized. The government broke up the farm, you took the part around the house, unwanted by the other purchaser. But the new vineyard is on its way. Lovely article, thanks for sharing it.

Robin Katsaros

Chère Kristi, What a beautifully written article that caught me up at the first sentence and carried me through to the end - with evocative words that painted a picture as if I were there with you and Jean-Marc. I miss you both and think this article is one of the best you have ever written. Great job, sweet pea! xo me

Marjorie Cannon

Well, I just adored it. Felt as if I was right there in the situation with you. Merci!

Chery in STL

Kristin, What a wonderful article you've written! There's a lot of your story that was new to me and I enjoyed all the background you filled in. Sometimes (lots of times!) you just can't beat the French government, so congrats on working things out!

Hank Sweet

Great article Kristin. Onwards and upwards!



Great article, great story, great writing, but, I am waiting for a continuation. And then another, and another. Not just little snips of your life(already have that), but turning the whole thing into a book. Starting from the beginning.....with the unlikelihood of you ending up there. Yes, there are lots of books out there depicting an ex-pats life in France, Italy and Spain, but people love reading them. I think Peter Mayle started the whole thing, but then Under the Tuscan Sun took it to a whole new level. I have read several, but not one including the whole family. And just a few who have married into the culture. You could do it....just take your time and draw from your early blogs.

Mona Shahgholi

You are such an inspiration you

Cathy Bouabre

Well written article! I enjoyed reading the overview of how you got to the vineyard you have now.


This is the best article I have read in days, probably weeks. Bravo!


Our dear Kristi,
First and best:so happy to know you are feeling like your beautiful self again, and!your wonderful family is blossoming!Thank God!
So enjoyed this article!You totally captured my imagination with your words and writing!
Natalia. Xo


Brava dear Kristi! Well done :-) What I loved most is your ability to roll with the punches (or waves flooding under the door!). I would have freaked out had that happened when an important guest was there.

Glad Max and Jackie are doing well! Sounds like you and I are in the same boat - "empty nesters".

Our son moved to Oregon in January and our daughter moves to NYC on Saturday. C'est un peu triste, n'est-ce pas?


Agree with ALL the sentiments above. Especially Joie as to you writing your own memoirs in a full-fledged book. I, too, have read numerous of those, and keep thinking, "Kristi should pen one of these!" I know, I know, easy to say, quite another to do. But if anyone can, it is you!

So happy you are feeling more like yourself again. When a friend hurts, the entire community hurts, but see how your community rallies around!

In the "betweens" super enjoy the pictures over at Instagram.

Meileurs Voeux!

Vance Anderson-Inks

Kristen, I was so excited for you when I opened my latest issue of France Today, and saw your "big" piece. Congratulations. Hope there will be more in the future

lou bogue

Enjoyed reading your article today and having had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Marc in Tampa for a wine tasting and then my visit to the farm outside Orange and spending two days helping with the harvest and having the pleasure of reading your blog all these years and watching your family grow, hope to get to your new digs soon. My Best to you and yours always Lou


Absolutely loved this story. Thank you for giving us interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes touching facts, but always the REAL Kristin.

GwenEllyn Anderson

Thanks for the message. Glad you are all 'in order' chez vous.

Thanks, too, for the words like "aléas" because it doesn't come up as a choice when you look up 'risk' or 'ups and downs'.

It's always helpful to get information from someone 'in the know.' :)


Hi Kristin!

What a great article and I love the accompanying photos! I laughed out loud at the quote from the girl helping with the harvest. "This is my first and last harvest, quell torture!" LOL Farming is hard work but if you love it and the land, it's good for the soul!

Micki Simms

Chère Kristi,

Beautifully written article that touches the heart. 🌸

SOOO glad to hear that the kids are doing well
in their respective places. Happy to know that
Max is doing well in Portland after my young
friend was interested in trying to help him last

Very happy, too, that you're "feeling more like yourself."
That's an honest sentiment shared and we all support
you in all your trials.



Kristin Espinasse

Thank you all for your support and thoughtful comments about the story of this budding vineyard.  And thank you for all the writing encouragement you have sent in over the years.  It has been most helpful! Now if I could just thank each one of you in person,  and going all the way back through the comments archives! Xoxoxoxoo

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Wonderful,and well-written, article, Kristin. Congrats! Love the beautiful photos, too!

Patience T. In L.A.

Empty Nest Syndrome is just another rite of passage. Happy to see that you are coping well! This article is a winner and shows how your writing skills have developed. Your writing gets better and better! Together, you and Jean-Marc make a terrific team!


Very nice, very professional writing, and a warm hearted authoress!

Kathleen from Connecticut

I first read the article in Fance Today. Love it.


Carla W.

Well done Christi, comme d'abitude!

Carla from st. louis, mo. and Beulah, Mi

Lois Kerr

Congratulations on the great article! I hope
you don't end up like Peter Mayle after his
Provence series with all sorts of strangers
showing up at your front door. You share a lot,
but there has to be limits. Have been following
you for years - wishing you & your family the very best!


Very nice article, but the dates can't be right, can they? Max was harvesting grapes in 1995? Jackie was in utero then? And the family picture certainly wasn't 1995, and it's also not taken during the harvest you're writing about--because the unborn child you describe is sitting there big as life. :)


Wish I had words as beautiful as yours to tell you how wonderful it was to read your story! Well done! This should go in your next book for sure!

Faye, Gleneden Beach, Oregon

The story was warm & wonderful! Thank you for including all of us in your life.

So happy about both kids & Smokey. Miss hearing about your mom!

Stay well!

Gilles Vrignaud

Really nice France Today article

More details about the doggie health issues?

Carol Josephs

So lovely and lively this was heartwarming to read.
Thank you for your generous sharing, always.


Hi Kristi,
Such a wonderful article, beautifully written - put me right into the vineyards and all the places and experiences you and your family have had. A major article in a major magazine. Kudos to you! Hoping your writing will appear there regularly!!
So happy Jackie and Max are doing so well with their internships. Seeing the photo of Jackie at the epicerie makes me pine to return to Paris! We could have another cup of tea or cafe au lait at our little Salon de Tea -so wonderful! Bisous, Judi

edie schmidt


Tres bien!
What a nice article.

Edie from Savannah

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Such a beautifully written overview about the quest and journey on which you and Jean-Marc have embarked. It has taken on even greater significance in our admiring eyes. To dream a dream and attain it is truly the result of faith and preservence. We are convinced that there will ultimately be an award winning wine from Mas des Brun. And we are betting that Jackie's godmother just might be there to help you with your first harvest?

So glad to hear that Max and Jackie are doing well. Isn't it heartening to watch your children seize their opportunities? They are probably receiving much in return. That Smokey and Braise are healthy is truly, truly a gift.

Thank you for this update and bringing sunshine to our otherwise cloudy day. Yours is a story of hope, hard work, finding your place and hanging in there.
May you all move forward with joy...


Such a beautiful article - your writing is getting better all the time and this is one of the best! But the one thing that really shines through is the love between you and Jean-Marc...and the devotion you have for each other is inspiring. I hope that I can be that fortunate my next time around(?)!

Kristin Espinasse

Rob, I fused together several years and harvests into the 1500 word limit.  Max was indeed harvesting with us,  if only from his cot beside the vines (all who are present for the harvest get credit,  even if their job is to put smiles on the pickers faces!) . I dont remember writing about Jackie being in utero, but we did harvest with her future godmother. I did write that, after we had moved to the second vineyard--years after Jean-Marcs career change--we welcomed a baby girl into our lives. Eventually our daughter was big enough to help - and even won the title of harvest queen when she was 9 years old (receiving the handwritten certificate from her aunt,  in Chateauneuf-du-Pape) .

Nancy Mulloy-Bonn

A fantastic story, Kristi! Man and woman with charm and grit make good! May all your dreams come true....

Lynn at Southern Fried French

Such a great story, I had a good laugh about the editor. And the Husband! Glad you're feeling better! xxoo

David Navarre

Love the article. You have such a good sense of pacing the story and painting the scene with words. Well done!

Anne and Edward Bornet

Love the article and your retelling of the experiences. I do not understand the French bureaucracy at all. This may be why we have never permanently moved to France, but just visit.

Judi Dunn

.. Dear Kristin... We subscribe to France oday and love it! Your article was the icing on the cake for the month.... well penned and with great feeling. You and Jean Marc and Max and Jackie have been a winning team since day one! Your life experiences are so much fun to read about, tho durng the scary ones we commiserate with you. You will find being empty-nesters has its happy and sad moments, all a part of ongoing life. The best though of all is that we are given each new day to make of it what we I wish you and your family Godspeed into your new adventures... all of you! We can't wait to read about them. Judi dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.


Thank you for sharing this delightful article, providing a larger canvas, placing your years of 'Word a Day' vignettes into a larger perspective. What grand adventures you have had!

Diane Young

So great to read the article and to know you're feeling better. You and Jean Marc have done a super job of raising two kids of whom you can be very proud. The backbreaking work of being a vintner can only be done by someone who loves it as much as JM. You are une femme fabuleuse.


Great article on French Today.

Keep encouraged.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

I have just returned from a week-long road trip, thus catching up on my favorite writer. Bravo, dear Kristi, your article is magnificent! I am so proud of you. What could top it? Only the great news of you and your dear family!


Love the article. You're so talented. You bring what seems like a wonderful life vividly alive for the rest of us.

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