Sobriety does not equal Foolproof entertaining
Cheez Whiz + The 3-ingredient dessert my French guests raved about

My Life Philosophy (A Love Story)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When I am old and wrinkled—well into the troisième âge—I want to race along the shores of Brittany on my Mobylette, that most groovy of French bikes with an engine!

I want to be an eccentric vieille dame. I don't want to care about what anyone thinks, as long as I am not imposing myself on their philosophie de vie. I'll ride my old bike along the seashore. I'll wear black goggles and wrap a long wool scarf, in orange potiron, around my neck. Off I'll fly, scarf ends flowing in the wind.

I'll let go of the pedals, WHEEEEEEEEE... and sing a song by Yves Montand—or a tune from Les Misérables—depending on my mood.

I'll pack a picnic with all my favoris. Inside the panier there'll be boiled eggs, anchoïade, Gratin Dauphinois, pungent cheese, a soft baguette, and a flask of Earl Grey. There'll be tangerines to eat and a few squares of dark chocolate.

I'll gather delicate coquilles from the foamy seashore and tie them to my shoes. You'll hear the jingle of seashells when I pedal by.

My voice will be agreeably hoarse, not from les Gauloises or le vin but from whistling all the day long—a habit I'll have picked up at the beginning of the century when a certain Frenchwoman cautioned: "Les femmes ne sifflent pas! Women don't whistle!" That's when I puckered up and blew another tune... and another... and then one more!

I hope to have a dear old friend, one who is much more excentrique than I. She'll dye her white hair rouge vif or aubergine. We'll tchatche about the current generation and how people need to loosen up and 'profiter un peu de la vie,' enjoy life a little, like us.

I'll say, "Pépéles oursins!" and my old man will return from the rocky pier where he has spent the morning hunting sea urchins. When he cracks open their coquilles, revealing the mousse-like orange roe, I will remember that real treasures don't come with a price tag.

I want to live near the seagulls so that I may slumber beneath their cries and wake up to the whoosh of the sea. I'll push myself to a stand, smooth back my white locks, adjust a faux tortoiseshell comb, and say "Dieu merci!" for another day.

Before I tuck myself into bed at night I will, once again, empty mes coquilles into an old metal cookie tin, a treasure from long ago. Looking over to my seashells, I will give thanks: my cherished, tired tin runneth over.


"Hat freckles," Me and Smokey. I love straw hats!.

BLOSSOMING-IN-PROVENCEToday's story is from the book Blossoming in Provence--a good gift for Valentine's day! Order here.

French Vocabulary
Listen to the following list of French words
Download MP3 or Wav

le troisième âge
 = retirement
Mobylette = a particular model of moped, a vintage Mobylette
une vieille dame = a venerable lady
une philosophie (f) de vie = a life philosophy
orange potiron = pumpkin orange
favori(te) = favorite
un panier = a basket.
Wicker market basket. A classic market basket

(m) = anchovy purée mixed with olive oil
un Gratin Dauphinois = a potato casserole with milk, butter and cheese
une coquille = a shell
la Gauloise = brand of cigarettes
le vin = wine
excentrique = eccentric
rouge vif = bright red
aubergine = eggplant purple
tchatcher = to chat (away)
le pépé = grandpa
un oursin = a sea urchin
Dieu merci = Thank God

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonetics

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Jean-Marc husband washing French window golden retriever
My old man

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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Thanks, I really enjoyed reading that - grabbed a minute of my own, in middle of multitasking various thorny issues and feel refreshed and ready to make a good start on the rest. Merci, Kristin, pour le petit philosophie (not good French but I'm trying!) L.

Jenny Barton

Loved your post today - Go for it! And it reminds me so much of the poem which starts "When I am old I shall wear purple......" - see below and enjoy!

carole fitzgerald

Dear Kristin, That is such a lovely story with lots of great energy. A way to live our lives. I must buy your latest book, that will be one to add to my collection . merci beaucoup Carole from downunder xxx

Pami G


Joyce White

Bonjour from Sanibel Island, Florida! I just read your blog while listening to the waves from the Gulf of Mexico crashing on the beach, and feel like I'm living your story. My Sweetie and I have been spending most of the winter as "Snowbirds" since retirement. We walk the beach watching the shore birds scrabble for morsels from the various sea creatures that have washed ashore, pick up shells along the way, marvel at the morning glories blooming in February, and ride bikes on the miles of bike paths. What fun it is to wear a multicolored blouse, green sea glass earrings, a deep blue sea glass pendant and carry a bright pink shoulder bag. Life just keeps getting better!
Thank you for your blog and books. Keep on writing and sending photos of your life in France.


Hi Kristin,

I enjoyed the post today! I would love to be with you on your adventure! As I was reading I could totally picture your Mom with her capes, hats and scarves whizzing along beside you on her mobylette!

Kate Dickerson

What a wonderful philosophy, which you seem to be already living long before becoming a vieille dame. : )


Hi there Joyce, just had to drop you a line. We are Brits now living in France but remember several fantastic, leisurely holidays on Sanibel Island - one of our favourite places in all our travels. We often talk of returning one day. Enjoy, enjoy!

Geraldine Ventura

Pure poetry, Kristin! Thank you for encouraging those of us who are of retirement age that life should still be exciting!

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Just the nice break I needed!
Thank you very much : je me suis ré-ga-lée!
I'm looking forward to getting into your 3ème age style! I'll love it!
Shouldn't take very long to get there though : I'll be 55 tomorrow and... wrinkles are already there!!! :-) Have a very nice weekend.


Well, that was one of the most perfect pieces I've read in a long while. Completely transporting. Merci!

Alison Johnston

I loved this story! I have the same dream and want to say Do it Now!
My hair is not red or purple but I'll be your slightly crazier friend! I love collecting shells and want to go to Brittany with a kindred spirit. Enjoying Sauve this winter and am trying to be here for the summer this year. I remember my sweet visit with you before you moved. I am collecting my Watercolors for another book. Love your spirit and also the last post you put up about 13 years- Bravo! Bisous Alison Johnston "Thyme in my Pocket" author/artist

Caro Feely

Beautiful Kristin! I loved your book. It is a fantastic valentine gift. Bravo.


Creative and ultimately touching..


And want to add beautifully written.


Thank you Kristen for your gift of words!

Linda D.

Hi, Joyce, I'm down here as well. And, yes, I found myself smiling and thinking how lucky I am to be able to beach walk AND read Kristin's glorious words, all in the same morning!

Linda D.

Thank you for that glorious way to begin my day - filed with joie de vivre! You'll be whistling, I'll be singing. <3

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

I am always moved when I see this beautiful book cover photo.

I, too, thought of the Jenny Joseph poem "Warning" popularly known as "When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple." In fact, I once gave my mom a book by the same name, with the forward by the poet and signed by the editor, it is a collection of poems and essays of this nature. Yours would fit right in! I haven't looked in that book in years. I think I will go browse it now with a 2nd cup of coffee. Thanks for providing a bright and comforting spot in my day.



That was beautiful. And I continue to love the photos of you and Smokey and "the old man"!

Abby Lazar

Lovely story, Kristin...not too far from living that life at 72...minus the bicycle. Inspiring...and I love the pic of you (with your hat freckles) and your beloved Smokey!! Thanks for sharing...just got your book and will dive into it shortly!
xoxox to you and your family.

Trish et JeanClaude

Kristi, one of the most lyrical and colorful pieces you've ever written! Brava and thank you!


Just lovely, Kristin. Beautiful images!

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Oh, Kristi, thank you for this beautiful post! I adore all the lovely imagines it conjures up in my mind -- you and I on old rusty bikes, my hair long and aubergine, you turning the heads of "les vieux", your Earl Grey flask clanking up against my chilled rosé, and a couple of sweet dogs running hard to keep up with us!


Absolutely lovely.


It was an amazing coincidence to open up your post this morning, after seeing the current film "Brooklyn" last night. In case you aren't familiar with it, your history is the same as the Irish girl who leaves "home", to find a new "home", only in reverse. Indeed...where is our "home" and as we age, do we keep inventing new ones as you describe?


Beautiful words and images! Thank you so much for sharing your magical visions! I can hear the delightful music of those coquilles and your whistling.


Loved the freedom of spirit your article invokes. In my troisieme age, when I am bored. I stop in at a non-profit store that sells donated high-end china and such for the benefit of a children hospital. I often pick up pretty things and stop imagine the lives and travels of the former owner. Recently I picked up a pretty ceramic vase that I believe was made in France. It has two soldier walking all dressed in dapper uniforms passing a gal walking a little dog. I would love to send you a photo of it to you to see if you can tell if it is of that origin.

Vance Anderson-Inks

You have a a wonderful role model. Your wonderful mother, Jules. She is unto herself, one of a kind, except for me of course. Love and laughter and the freedom to break the rules.

Marianne van Thillo

J'ai bien aimé cette petite histoire. Je suis un peu excentrique aussi comme mémé .

Audrey Wilson

Wonderful philosophy ! At my age the only one . I also live by Jenny Jones poem "When I grow old I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.


Bonjour Kristin:
I will be reading your lovely book on my kindle in Mazatlan. Your beautiful words remind me to live life each day as fully as possible...and to have fun doing it.
Amities, Janine


Kristin, your writing here reminded me of exactly what Audrey Wilson quoted above. So touching, and yet so positive. So far from youth, and yet so close. We all need to remember that age is only a number. Youth can go on forever.

Marsha Ingham

That dreamed of seashore is now in your own backyard! There is nothing better than living near the sea and languishing in the sounds of all things nautical. Once again, you have painted a vivid and beautiful tableau with your imagination and words. Brava!

Steve J

I have no doubt this will be your future. A writer's epilogue.

Linda Kovic-Skow

Kristin, it sounds like you'll enjoy your golden years. Your positive, youthful outlook is refreshing. "Life's for Living," is one of my favorite mantras and I use it often when I autograph my books.


Loved it the first time I read it and love it still. That is the spirit I intend to have in my golden years and even now. N

Marie Gaudet

Quel beau rêve, Kristin! And you have such a great way of conjuring it so that your readers can view your dream almost like a film playing out in front of our eyes. I was a fan years back but somehow managed to lose track of you for a while when my life went crazy. Never forgot about you though, because as you can see, I’ve re-found you and so glad I did. I have a question. What kind of dog is your Smokey? I had one just like him when I was a child and I swear, “Chief” was my âme-soeur (dog-soulmate). You will likely understand that because this type of dog is such a loyal and loving companion.


Just don't be so carefree that you forget safety. No scarf ends in the bike spokes!


It is good to dream, but life is funny. I am well into age and I hardly have time to sit and ponder. Life is very full and very busy. It is wonderful! We live in a big city and have much to see and do. We go to concerts, see great art, read wonderful books and enjoy many restaurants. Life is full of old and new adventures daily. We are on a large lake and near woods so nature is close by. Also, we have an international airport available which we use to travel world wide. Fortunately we have family within a 3 mile area that keeps us happily occupied. There are many ways to "age". We are aging in place with bikes to ride along the lakefront or down into town. With classes at a local university and daily exercise at the gym and Pilates....not to forget piano and french....I am really very occupied. This is only possible because of good heath and desire.


Yes !

Patricia Sands

Hi Joyce ~ Greetings from the other coast! In spite of the chilly winter, it's still lovely to be here ... although I am counting the days until France in June for two months. More writing, research and joie de vivre! So good to *see* the joy in your voice! Bises

Patricia Sands

Dear Kristin ~ I'm well into the troisième âge and life has never been more full, satisfying, and filled with my own version of "coquilles". I believe yours will be too! On y va!


This was absolutely perfect! I do hope to live the same way!! Many thanks for this post, Kristin.

Michael Mareneck

Best ever! My eyes are full of tears. Thank you Kristin. Love to JM, Michael (& Aimée)


Nice picture of your old man and doggie.


Absolument belle. Merci. Such a gorgeous free tableau you paint for us today Kristin. I love Brittany. Hope we settle in to a seaside locale on the Med or the Pacific in the upcoming months. Carpe diem and each years new adventures.

Bruce Harry

Delightful story, Kristin! And lovely photos of you, your old man, and sweet Smokey...thank you for sharing this with all of us!


In addition to the 'Purple' poem, what came to mind was Ronsard's "Quand vous serez bien vieille . . ." in which Ronsard claims that the old woman will be proud of the fact that she was the subject of his poems, back when she was beautiful. And I thought, how much better to be celebrating old age as a time when the pace of life is more relaxed, and we have learned not to judge--and not to care if we are ourselves judged--by appearances.

Kathleen from Connecticut

I too thought of the poem...when I grow old I shall where purple....
We all look for different things when we retire and have the luxury to do as we wish. For some of us we are more busy now than before, what with our volunteering for this organization or that one and I for one have a hard time saying " no I can't help out, not this time". I have trouble sitting and relaxing an doing nothing. I do go on vacations and that is when I can truly relax...when I am away from it ALL.
Today we got about 10-12" of snow and I shoveled the walkway and shook the snow off of the poor trees that were bending to the ground under the weight of the very wet snow.
I will relax tonight and sit and read.
Thank you Kristi for the lovely story and maybe someday when I am old I might actually become more like the person you describe.

Dianne Vergos

I used your au gratin recipe this week, thank you. It was great. The nutmeg was so good with it. Your story today reminded me of a time there was a special event at a big mall in Dallas. The MC selected an older woman and offered her a prize for whistling the Andy of Mayberry theme song. "LADIES DO NOT WHISTLE!" she said. He picked me next and I gladly whistled it and won the prize.

Suzanne Dunaway

Well, I shall be as nutty and off the wall as you, or moreso, I'm sure, and I would be thrilled to be your friend who is more than willing to dye her hair the colors of a rainbow....
The main thing is not to care a farthing about what anyone thinks.
From a wise elderly woman I love to quote: What other people think of you is none of your business.

pati aine

Beautiful vision... make it so!

Pati AIne

Mary Catherine Pace

Thank you for this lovely inspiration! I love your beautiful visions and snapshots of life. I recall the beautiful beaches of Bretagne and revisited the memory and the wish to return! Merci, dear friend!


What a delightful and uplifing post Kristin. Feeling happy and positive as a result. Thank you for sharing.

edie schmidt


Tres bien!


Edie from Savannah

Diane Young

Even though it's cold today in North Florida (in 50's but with nights in low 40's), the sky is a gorgeous blue and the sun very bright. If it weren't for the windchill factor, I wouldn't need a heavy coat outside. Just reading about your hopes for the troisieme age (in which I am well ensconced) warms me. This spring or early summer I will venture on the beach areas - not to swim but to walk and enjoy the rock formations. We have a large state park nearby which is named Washington Oaks (property was donated by George Washington's nephew to the state in the nineteenth century). There are many trees, bushes and plants throughout the park and a river on one side which is available for fishing. There is a rose garden which is glorious in June. I am hoping to take a friend there this spring before she leaves to summer in Michigan (her home state). Glad you are looking forward to many good years ahead.

Cynthia Lewis

Dear Kristin,

I read your delightful troisième age/ joie de vivre story today with misty eyes and a smile on my face. You can reach right into person's heartstrings with your expressive writing.

Thank you so much and best wishes. (PS: I always wanted to have freckles and now I know how thanks to your great pictures!)


Our dear Kristi,
THANK YOU for such a beautiful,inspiring and moving post today!(once again,as always!)
You made all of us,your fortunate readers,reach deep within ourselves,from whatever vantage point in life we are....some to hopefully look forward,some with smiles as we look back,and some(no!ALL of us!) to stop for a moment and just give thanks for wherever we are.
When I was your age,I loved to try to imagine my troisieme age,but never did I imagine the joy this time of life could bring,the inner peace,the liking/accepting myself as I am,the joie de vivre,
and most of all,thanks to God for all the blessings we have been graced with.
In our younger days, Rod and I would laughingly refer to each other as "the old lady" and "the old man"(this was about the same time that the Moblyette was called a Solex).Well,now we really ARE exactly that and after 50 years together,every day is still something wonderful to be shared and savored,together.
You are such a gifted writer!Each of your books are as wonderfully special as you are,each gifts us with the pleasure of being part of your life,and wrapping us in hugs.
Merci! Never too many times!THANK YOU!
Natalia XO

Cindy Mc

Chère Kristi .. I much prefer 'venerable' to 'old'. Merci!

Joan L.

Clay is right... Watch for the scarf in the spokes. That's how Isadora Duncan died. She was riding standing up in an open car, and her long, stylish scarf got wrapped around a car wheel and broke her neck.
I loved the rest of the post, since I am approaching mon troisieme age...

Sue J.

"...My cherished, tired tin runneth over." about as perfect a sentence (fragment) as anyone could hope to ever write. brava.


That was beautiful! No more words needed.


Dear Kristin,

I have read only a few of your posts, but I say that you are a very brave woman.

May God's blessings be yours every day. P.S. I very much enjoyed your Youtube video with Smokey and the Yogurt cake!!!

Sincerely, C-Marie


This book is on our nightstand, thanks for this refresher of the magic it holds.

Joyce White

Hi Linda,
I'd love to get together with another Francophile for coffee or a beach walk if you're interested. I'm at Ocean's Reach until the middle of March. Joyce


Chère Kristin, I have the same image of me but riding up here in the high desert mountains of northern New Mexico!

Jan  Hersh

a mon Avis, Une de tes mieux vignettes philosophiques! Brava! Que nous nous meme realizer les beaux jours des annees de notres viellesse: In my opinion, one of your best philosophic posts. I pray that we both will live to enjoy and flaunt our carefree days of old age!


Bonjour. Reminds me of the poem "When I am old I shall wear purple" by Jenny Jones - but a French uptake.
Very good. If only when we get to that age we can do these things we decide we shall in our younger days!


Hi Kristin,

Just a note for the Yogurt Cake, the leavening is baking powder rather than baking soda.

All the best, C-Marie


You are beautiful outside with an amazing, shining soul. Once again your words gave me laughter and tears of joy. Merci!

Dotty Culp

Always love your entries written with humor and grace! My grandmother from the South in the US, use to say "A whistling woman and a crowing hen come to no good end." It must be an international saying.
Please continue to bring joy with your inspirational words.
Thanks, Dotty

Linda Kovic-Skow

Well said, Patricia. I, too, am enjoying my "troisième âge" and I look forward to each and every day. I think our attitude has a lot to do with it, don't you?

Pam Luckey

Kristi, this is one of my favorite posts from you!!!! I love it, I love it! Je suis d'accrd !
Thank you for this joyful, zest for life post. You made my day.


I love how French differs from German so much: in French you pronounce almost none of the word and in German you pronounce all of it. Fascinating!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

BIG merci for linking to past entries in your new ones, Kristi! It is now janvier 11 2019, and here's Moi reading this delicious piece for the very first time! Yes, yes , yes to every vivid, lyrical, merry syllable!! Such ebullience is catching, y'know!

Sounds wonderful! I shall be there myself in early Nov for a month. A friend and I have decided to rent a place in Florida for a month to escape the dull grey days in the U.K. Cant wait to visit the islands of Captiva and Sanibel. We are renting a house in Port Charlotte. Enjoy your vacation!
Best wishes, Lynda

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