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French Word-A-Day: Gourde + summer camp in France

Joie de Vivre + A must-visit beach in La Ciotat, close to Paradise!

Parc du Mugel

My dad and Marsha arrived late Tuesday night--despite the national strikes!  I am taking the next two weeks off to enjoy every minute with family. Today's post was written during their last visit in September of 2014. Photo taken at Le Parc du Mugel in La Ciotat, where today's story takes place.

TODAY'S WORD: joie de vivre (jwah-deuh-vee-vruh)

    : love of life

: listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

La joie de vivre est une façon d'embrasser l'existence avec confiance, sentiment proche de la félicité telle que la professait le philosophe grec Épicure qui enseigna l'art de se préoccuper de ce qui crée le bonheur. Joie de vivre is a way of embracing existence with confidence, a feeling close to felicity, as professed by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who taught the art of preoccupying oneself with that which creates happiness.

Try Exercises in French Phonetics and learn how to pronounce French.


    by Kristi Espinasse

Seated under a giant fig tree overlooking the turquoise sea, my belle-mère and I are amazed by the spectacle playing out before us.

"I can't believe he's doing this!" one of us smiles, shaking her head.
"He's so stubborn," says the other.

Moments before, while undressing at the restaurant table, Dad paused to reconsider his plan. That's when he opted to keep his orange T-shirt.... Only, it isn't really long enough to hide his brand-new Fruit of the Looms, the whiteness of which is blinding!

And the color of the T-shirt only makes him an easy target for wandering eyes. But how could anyone's eyes wander after spotting the man striding out to sea in his pill-white undies?

"The French don't care!" Dad argued, justifying his decision before walking away--bare-legged--from the lunch table. He had made up his mind the hour before, while observing a group of 80-year-olds splashing in the crisp blue sea. Amid the falling leaves of autumn, the silver-haired bon vivants were another striking contrast of the changing season.

To think one could swim at the end of September! Such a display of joie de vivre tickled Dad's soul, creating a thirst for salty water. That thirst grew until he shot up from the table with a pertinent announcement. "I'm going swimming!"

That he did not have his swimsuit with him suddenly became a non-concern. Instead, tough luck turned to pluck as Dad disrobed--beginning with his sandals and chaussettes.

Still lean and standing tall beneath waves of platinum blond hair, the former marathoner met the water. A splash and my father disappeared sous mer, causing the water to ripple and the sunlight to dance over the waves. 

As the Mediterranean sparkled and mesmerized, my thoughts drifted out to sea. One day, I hope to be as dear and innocent and carefree--as the man I once called Daddy. It's there somewhere, l'insouciance, swimming in these genes. 

*    *    *

Dad and me walking in cassis

Dad in his bright orange T-shirt and those socks he discarded before swimming :-)


Read another story about my Dad, in the book "Blossoming in Provence". See the chapter titled Attentionné, or "Thoughtful".

French Vocab
bon vivant = one who loves life (eating, drinking, living)
la chaussette = sock
sous mer = under water
l'insouciance (f) = carefree attitude 

Cassis beach

Another of the beaches along Le Cap Canaille, in Cassis: La Plage du Bestouan.

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A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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