To come to a decision. On Turning the Page of our vineyard dream
Fresh as a lettuce : and other delights from Mama's in Mexique

Etat des lieux : What happens before you move into a rental home in France

How to get a car into the pedestrian inner-city of Aix-en-Provence, on busy Market Day? And a special message at the end of this post. Don't miss it.

CHOCOLATE WORKSHOP! Join two chocolate shop owners in Provence, France & learn how to make chocolates using French techniques. We’ll stay in a medieval village and roam outdoor markets, castles, and more! CLICK HERE.

TODAY'S WORD: état des lieux

    : walkthrough (before moving into a new place)
    : inventory of fixtures

faire l'état des lieux: to make an inventory, take into account the state of fixtures in a rental.

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word, Download MP3 file

L'état de lieu. Jeudi dernier, à Aix-en-Provence, on a fait l'état de lieu de la studette de notre fille, Jackie.

Walkthrough, inventory. Last Thursday in Aix-en-Provence, we did the walkthrough for our daughter Jackie's studio.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse

When it came to moving our daughter into her new studette in Aix-en-Provence, Jean-Marc was in charge of logistics, or how, exactly, were we to transport a couch, a bed, a bookcase, table, chairs and teddy bears through the city center--the pedestrian city center!

My job was to figure out which furnishings our daughter would take from our house, to use in her new apartment. Given the logistics question--and the fact that I alone would be carrying the contents of two cars up 3 flights of stairs, I carefully calculated weights and balances. Everything would have to be fold-able and lightweight!

Five single, bendable mattresses would make both a couch (three units) and a bed (two units) for the mezzanine (picture of a mezzanine, here). The metal bookcase was collapsible, as was the side table. Now if only the inner streets of Aix-en-Provence were as flexible....

Thanks to a secret pass that would magically make all the metal stump barriers, or bornes escamotables, disappear into the ground--allowing our car to pass, Jean-Marc was able to enter the old town--only to be surprised by the scene. It was market day!!! Our car quickly disappeared into the mire, with its cacophony of market carts, horns (delivery trucks), and a nervous copilot.....

"Watch out for the chihuahua! Ooh-ooh, the lady with the cane! Look! Your going knock over that clothes rack! Jean-Marc! Don't hit the honey stand!" My eyes focused on the pyramid of bottled miel--would it still be there after we inched passed it in our overstuffed car? Could my husband even see out the windows?

Against the side of a building, a toothless beggar sat on the sidewalk, a cup of change at her feet. As our car zigzagged forward she grabbed the money, quickly tucking in her legs as my driver hung a close right, past the rôtisserie stand, the scent of slow-roasted chicken filling our car. Amazingly, Jean-Marc managed to navigate the clogged inner center of Aix. As he proceeded toward a very narrow archway, I was about to protest ("that passage is clearly for pedestrians only!!! Is this even legal???"). Too late. Jean-Marc was putting our quatre-quatre in gear! I quickly reached out of  my passenger side window, grabbed the rear-view mirror, and pulled it in just as we began to clear the ancient archway. We made it through!!!

A few more narrow bends and turns--and Jean-Marc dropped us off (me and the contents of our car) in front of a handsome door with an old knocker. Looking up to the sky was like looking out of a canyon of historic buildings, all forming the maze of la vieille ville, or old town Aix.

Bon, time to get to work, before Jean-Marc returned with the second carload (from Jackie's car, which I had left outside the center, along with our daughter who hurried off to her first day of design school....).

As we did not yet have keys to the building, the plan was for me to wait for someone to enter or exit the building. That chance came sooner than expected, when the mailman suddenly appeared. I stole into the building with the first mattress--and hiked up three flights to begin stacking items beside Jackie's apartment door....

By the fourth or fifth trip, my head began to spin and I sat down on the cool tiles of the stairwell, to contemplate my middle age. Deciding I was relatively young one, I popped back up and finished in time for Jean-Marc to unload the second car and return to help with the metal bookcase!).

By this time the young man in charge of the walk-through, or l'état des lieux arrived with the keys to the apartment. As he did a spot check of all the items in the rental unit (one light fixture didn't work, a glass shelf in the bathroom was broken...), I did an inventory of my own state of being. Sore, sweaty and very thirsty.

When our daughter arrived a few moments later looking fresh as a new rose, I thought to myself, She'd better make a lot of friends this semester--friends with muscles--'cause this is the last time I'm moving her!!

...Unless she wants to move back home tomorrow.... In that case, I'll skip up and down the stairs again, a couch section on each shoulder!

"Mom, don't cry." Jackie said, setting her school books down on the kitchen counter (which I noticed was a bit crooked, and should be noted in the inventory).

"Honey, those aren't tears. That's sweat!"

*    *    *


Jackie, discovering her apartment for the very first time. She would have helped us with the move, but logistics (she needed to be at school) and timing (by 9 a.m.!) did not work out. And there was only one window of time in which to do the déménagement, or move.

Last night we went back to Jackie's apartment in Aix, to celebrate her 19th birthday. We were so cozy thanks to comfortable couch, made up of three of these foldable foam mattresses, which I used so often, in our garden and when the kids have overnight guests. Here is the less expenive version, that I got Jackie, and here are many more styles, below.

FOLDING FOAM BEDS - many uses! Click here for a large selection.

FOUTAS! Those wonderful covers/towels/blankets. Every folding bed needs one! Click here.

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

Paris Peace T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.


  Kristi driving ape truck
Kristi here. See you in a few weeks. I am leaving on a voyage to finally see my Mom, after my father-in-law, Mr John, went to Mexican Heaven. Follow me to Puerto Vallarta when you follow my Facebook or my Instagram account. I'm going to take you along in my little pocket!

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Janet Ratziu

Ahh, I am guessing a mix of tears and sweat! I can only relate since I am anticipating having 2 of my 3 little chickadees fly the nest next year. Savoring this last year at home as much as possible...But look, now you can run off to Mexico without having to worry too much! It is certainly a new chapter in everyone's lives - children have their 'freedom' and you have yours! Good luck to Jackie and bon voyage to you!

Margot Stiassni-Sieracki

Chere Kristi, c'est une bonne histoire avec beaucoup de détails intéressants, merci ! Ta fille a beaucoup de chance! Margot


Kristi, I've been there! My guess is it's a mix of sweat and tears but about 85% tears! It's hard to turn that page in your youngest child's book and go on in to the young adult chapters. Don't fret though . . . our kids are never really gone so you're not letting go permanently. Now you can sit back and watch that child that you raised to be an independent, confident young lady as she blossoms and expands her horizons. And you will be proud!!!!!!!

Jen McClory

I also get nervous when my husband is driving. I now take my knitting everywhere, including short drives. Looking down at my hands and doing a soothing activity in the car keeps me calm and stops me from yelling at my guy. It works for us to keep us both happy. Congrats on the successful move and best wishes for Jackie on this next phase.


Dear Kristi, you are so brave and capable. I have tears flowing of my memories. When my elder daughter left for university (20 odd years ago) - well, I'd read all the empty nest syndrome stuff and poo-pooed it. I had a full time job and her younger sister was still at home. I thought - this won't affect me. Then I found myself crying every day for 6 weeks, all the way to work as I drove and all the way home. Worse was to come - but that's a book one day. Meanwhile, as I used to say to my daughters when they were little - "Courage, mon ours!" Good luck with it all and please keep writing for us. Much love.


I remember many moves too:) Bittersweet..she looks happy!
Great job!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

A new year and a new adventure. 📚 Happy Birthday, Jackie!🎈🎂

John Nevin

What a nice life you have. Some people are really blessed.

Karen W (Parkton, Md)

Great and relatable story. Even though this isn't the first moving day rodeo with your kids, we know that another piece of luggage you carry is always that bag of mixed emotions. Like me, you probably live through your children's life stages, vicariously, and get excited in the processes. Always grateful to have the blessing of a child who desires and accepts our help, we mask emotion by jumping on the roller-coaster of excitement and sometimes obsess over the move. (Maybe that's just me. haha). Anyway, all of that, coupled with the physical UMPH of moving day, can truly exhaust us old folk. So, I'm thinking it was mostly perspiration but with some tears waiting in the wings, as always, for the ride home.


Having been there twice before, it's definitely some sweat...followed by a trickle of tears, which will turn into a flood much later.
Bon courage!

Barbara Mayfield

I am betting both. Jackie is very lucky to have a mom like you and to be so talented. S h e is off on a wonderful adventure but she'll be back.
And you'll move her again.

Judith Dunn

...KRISTI...great tale and the emotions we can all relate to if we have children and seen them off to college. Jackie is a beautiful and very talented young lady who will shine in her 'metier' like the Northern star in the night sky. You will have the excitement when she comes home for a special Holiday, no matter where you and Jean-Marc may be living.
Max will come also and your family will be reunited in love and happiness! Being an empty-nester can be a time of great creativity for you and for JM as well. Maybe new beginnings will be just the ticket for Jean -Marc to focus on! Life is full of so many changes,just think about your Mom and the changes she is making in her life now! Now that woman has more courage and spunk than the law allows! Keep your positive attitude, as you are the glue of the family as everyone relies on your calm nature for sorting things out! Bon voyage a Mexico and travel safely...amicalement..Judi Dunn in Menerbes.....

Frederick Caswell

Mostly tears! So detailed, human, and loving! This going-on-90 dude cried just reading your touching story. Love and my very best wishes to you and Jean-Marc as you begin a new phase of your lives.

Audrey Wilson

Phew ! I''m exhausted just reading this. Tears & sweat, both I think What a Mum she has & I'm sure she appreciates it .Maybe you'll get a dinner invite ha,ha !!

Eric Readling

Sweaty tears.

Karen Cafarella

I love this story. It is so hard to have out kids leave the nest, yet we are so excited for their new adventures. Wishing Jackie the best time in her school.

Can't wait for your pictures adventures with Mom, give her a big, big hug from me.


Frederick Caswell

Mostly tears -- so detailed, human, and loving! This going-on-90 dude cried and laughed reading your story. Love and my very best wishes to you and Jean-Marc as you begin a new phase of your lives.

Mary in NH

"Transition Tears" for this major right of passage, and "Tears of Joy" for you and your husband in raising such a competent daughter who is now on her way to a wonderful future, thanks to your loving support.


Our dear Kristi,
If yours weren't tears,mine definitely are!Both of us for happiness mingled with heartstrings being pulled!
What a beautiful post today,dear Kristi,you (once again!) have just wrapped us in hugs!
Thrilled for sweet Jackie and this special time in her life.
You are so blessed with such a loving relationship!
What a gift!
Thank you for sharing it with us!
Natalia. xo

Julie Farrar

I, myself, never had the tears of an emptynester. We had so many challenges in raising our kids that when they moved out on their own into the world, we felt pleased that they had reached a point where they could face the world on their own. That doesn't mean that I don't every day fight the urge to call and make sure they took their allergy medicine or have food in their refrigerator or want me to bring them some dinner. We are just happy that all of us made it this far.

Brave Jean Marc for driving in town on market day. Sometimes I think about getting a new apartment closer to centre-ville in our town, but I would be so nervous driving in the pedestrian-only area. However, thank you for giving me the vocabulary for those bollards that guard every entry point into historic Dijon.

Karen Rowlands

Have a wonderful trip Kristi! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on her new home.

Suzanne Dunaway

Hey, a daughter leaving home? Some tears are in order, but I'll bet after THAT ordeal, it was sweat! Cute apartment. And well-furnished by a very smart maman.


It was both sweat and tears. Been there. Enjoy the moment.

Nyla Witmore

Kristi, I am painting indoors today, touching up paintings started on location in SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico and stopped to read your blog aloud to my friend. We both laughed and thank you for triggering our memories of when our parents first took us to college and how it was when we took our children to college. Always bitter-sweet the last one out of the nest. Now, the wonderful bonding begins anew with the spouse. As nature intended it. Enjoy these times.

Diane Young

I think it was both. You and Jean-Marc are in terrific physical shape, I must say, to tote all that stuff up stairs. Jackie is very blessed. Hope she has a great experience and enjoys it all.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

Your last line gave me a good chuckle! With this kind of love and support (and humor!) we help our children to soar as they leave the nest! Hope this new experience is exciting for Jackie and that each dose of reality strengthens her resolve. Your story brings back memories (starting twenty-five years ago with trifold foam chairs stuffed into a Westphalia camper!!) and transcends time, generations and boundaries. It also works back and forth between generations as you fly off on your own journey to meet up with Heidi to support your mom. I hope Jules is able to find some peace with her new home. What I have gathered from your narratives as her wonderfully optimistic approach to life should help her do that! Wishing you all a visit filled with healing tears, laughter, love and hugs...


I think you had sweat and tears. I felt the same way when I took kristopher to school in Florida, minus the furniture. Enjoy your time, just you and Jean-Marc; the kids aren't far away.

Jann feldman

I love this blog so much! I am on my 3rd week of amazing French vacation (in Bordeaux area) now and love every syllable that u write! Hope u find a new nest ghat fills your soul!
Jann Feldmän


Considering my only daughter is moving away for the first time in just three weeks I am going to assume those were tears (mixed with sweat!) What a difficult passage it is for us as parents to finally let our babies out of our sight for good. She has lived in her own apartment for a few years now but it is only 5 minutes away and we have a key and see her all the time. She will now be 400 miles away with her new husband leaving me little hope that she will ever move back home. Good luck to you and your beautiful daughter and thanks for sharing the hilarious story.

Ron Quinton

Both! My wife and I have in the same place multiple times.

Janet Corrette

Mon Dieu!
I can't believe your daughter is 19!! Best of luck ! Funny story.


When my daughter went off to college, I was very brave while we did the moving in, the week it took to buy the stuff she needed, the parent's luncheon etc, at one of the most beautiful campuses in California. I was in awe of the salt water outdoor swimming pool there, and could have moved in too! But why had I thought it was a good idea to do this, coming all the way from Boston? I gave the last hug, went around the corner out of sight, and tears still come just thinking about it. It is human nature to recognize the passage of time, and letting go. The tears usually mean we've worked very had, done a good job, and are able to let the young go on alone.


Both I am sure. Congratulations on raising a lovely young woman. How ideal. Design school in Aix!! Lucky girl. Safe travels and let us know what you think of the bungalow in the jungle Thank for sharing.


Give love & comfort to your mother.....and Mr. John (your step-father, not your father-in-law).......will always be looking down on her & will be always by her side. Safe travels.

Cynthia Lewis

...sweat washed away by tears is my bet since Jackie would know the difference. Happy Birthday wishes for Jackie as she begins an exciting year! She has the two most wonderful parents possible who have guided and encouraged her right up to her nineteenth birthday when she moved into her first studette! Or rather, you and Jean-Marc moved her belongings. What an unbelievable drive Jean-Marc made through the pedestrian passageways. Only someone with years of experience could have done that! Do the French have a word for this talent? Your description is priceless.

Bon voyage! Enjoy your visit with your mother. I'm certain that her entire neighborhood has fallen in love with her by this time. Please give her my very best wishes.

Susan Carter

I think there might have been some sweat involved but I know for certain there were tears, and they were partly of joy as you've raised a beautiful daughter who is embarking on a new chapter in her life and you are proud of and glad for her.

Faye LaFleur

Sweat with tears not far behind...happy ending and a beginning for her and mom and dad! Congratulations to all!

Meason Miller

You have such a wondeful following!!! I read through all of the comments and was Sooo moved... I forgot what my original intent to write was...!?..but how meaningful and heartfelt all or these are❤️ Especially the 90 year old fellow! How dear to hear he still completely relates to your great story of life and was moved to tears
That's the ultimate sign of life being fully lived
So appreciate your beautiful life !!
Thank you
💙 Kim K m Miller 😍🍀

Marianne Rankin

I wondered when Max moved out, and am wondering now that Jackie has moved out, why they did so. Not that they aren't capable of "living at an adult level," but why there apparently are no dorms. Are there dorms anywhere? Living in an apartment, even a small one, would cost more than a dorm, I expect - certainly it would in the USA. And no matter how disciplined and organized children are (and I believe yours are), having to take care of the apartment, do grocery shopping and cooking, etc. would take time away from their studies. Is this typical of France?

I do wish Jackie happy birthday, and best of luck in her chosen field - which she chose several years ago - and I expect she'll do well.

The sweat and the tears both indicate your love.

I bought some of the face cream you "advertised" -- wrote about -- on this page several days ago. Don't know why you like it or push it. It doesn't smell very nice.

Patty Cargill

Mixed emotions, toujours, with our children. Having walked those narrow passageways, it is remarkable watching cars maneuver through. Cheers and best wishes dear Jackie as you begin university life.
Big hugs, Kristi & J-M. Such a bittersweet moment.


Such a great post with wonderful details! Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. Although my mother tongue is English, I am fluent in French. French is the first language here and all our signs are pretty much in French. You have a lovely blog. :)


Well, I think it was a little bit of both, sweat and tears. Having 2 girls I have so many of those sweet memories, painting, moving, flights of stairs. Always supporting their happiness and adventure. The part that got me was when you wrote, "See you in the future Mommy". Ugh, it hurts so bad. But guess what! Fast forward, I am now in the future. My first grandchild is coming in a month or two. "Mommy" is so needed and appreciated once again. It is all a wonder.


Nyla- Oh, mon Dieu! Do you live in San Miguel de Allende or just there temporarily to paint? [I'm very far behind on Kristen's blog, but linked to this from today's and just landed on your comment, 4 months late.] My sister-in-law, Chris, just retired there from St. Louis! I had never heard of the town before her decision to move there, but she had vacationed there a few times and said it was so beautiful that she decided to move there when she retired from teaching. Anyway, I just had to comment, seeing that name crop up-- Hope you see it, given it's so long since the original post; not sure that comments here have any kind of notification.

Mary Kissane
St. Louis, MO

Imogene Cloar

This birthday confection looks delicious! We'd love to have the recipe for our French class in Greeneville,TN! We love your letters!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)