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Entries from March 2017

Gary and Tim's truffle hunt and curious term for "mutt" in French

French Truffle hunting dog oak tree var France

Friends Gary and Tim (who have shared stories here before) are back to recount an unforgettable chasse aux truffes with Christophe (left) and  his dog Cacahuète (Peanut). 

La truffe would have been the word of the day but it was recently featured as one of the Hardest Words to Pronounce. So enjoy this new term, taken from Tim and Gary's story:


    : a mutt, a crossbreed

Example Sentence & Sound File:

La dénomination bâtard, croisé, corniaud, coin de rue, porte et fenêtre, et j'en passe parce qu'il y en a beaucoup, n'est en rien insultant ou dévalorisant pour le chien, c'est juste une dénomination, cela n'enlève rien au qualité du chien. (Luvic,

The name bastard, cross, mongrel, street corner, door and window, and I won't go on because there are many, is not insulting or devaluing for the dog, it is just a denomination, that does not detract from the quality of the dog. (Google translation of Luvic's comment)

=> LISTEN: Hear Jean-Marc read the French sentence above

(Dear Reader, let us know in the comments below how you manage to listen to the recording while looking the example sentence. A few of you have written in, asking for help with this issue. Merci!)


 by Gary McClelland and Tim Averill

Above the sound of the cigales and the breeze, we heard “ching, ching” interrupted now and then with a firm “arrête!” as we chased after Christophe and his truffle-hunting dog extraordinaire Cacahuète (“Peanut”).  Our notion that truffle hunting was an old man’s stroll in the afternoon shade was replaced with the reality of dashing between trees in the early morning sun.  Christophe must keep up with Cacahuète because, even as a porte-fenêtre (mutt, literally, “in the door and out the window”), he has developed a taste for truffles and if given the chance is “une chienne voleuse.”   We thought perhaps “ching ching” was Provençal for “chien,” but Christophe explained it was his version of “Tiens, tiens, indicating to Cacahuète that a dog treat reward was being offered.  This works about three out of four times.

Peanut Truffle dog truffe hunter 

Even when Cacahuète was digging atop a truffle, it was difficult for us to see it until Christophe dug it up with his knife.  A few times Christophe cut off a small piece of truffle for Cacahuète to maintain his interest.  Christophe did not want his beloved Cacahuète to get too hot so we harvested for about an hour, gathering about 750 grams of summer truffles that usually go for about 100 Euros/kg.  A few of the truffles were pourri (spoiled, rotten), but most were ready for market.

We had been introduced to Christophe by our favorite Bédoin boulanger Jean-Pierre.  Before and after our chase through his plantation of 1,500 live oaks, we sat around a table in the shade of a tree, discussing truffles, and eating Jean-Pierre’s bread and croissants with truffle butter made from the more luxurious black winter truffles, and looking towards Le Mont Ventoux, le Géant de Provence, in one direction and towards a tall ochre cliff in the other.  We were very good at this part of the truffle hunting process!

Christophe, tall, lanky, and about 35, spoke with a lilting Provençal accent at a relaxed pace that was accessible even to non-Francophone listeners.  He told us the story of inheriting this land from his father and deciding to plant trees to cultivate truffles, which grow around the root system of live oaks.  He started small and initially the trees did not produce, but with agronomic advances and additional plantings, he began to see enough production to make truffles a business.  Christophe’s affable mood only turned when Lauren asked him about truffle oil.  “Ça n’existe pas.  Ce n’est que de la chimie.”   Like other artisans we have met in Bédoin, Christophe sees his work as a calling, an avocation rather than as a way to earn a living.  He shared a few of his truffle secrets but we will not divulge them here!

black truffe truffle earth France


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la chasse aux truffes = truffle hunt
la cigale = cicada
arrête! = stop!
la cacahuète = peanut
une chienne = female dog
voleur/voleuse = thief
tiens = here you go
porte et fenêtre = mutt
pourri = rotten
Bédoin = a village in the Vaucluse
le boulanger = baker
Le Géant de Provence = The Giant of Provence (a.k.a. Le Mont Ventoux)
ochre (from Old French ocre)

Dear Reader, help out with these last two terms regarding truffle oil--in the context in which they were used in today's story. Use the comments link at the end of this post.
Ça n’existe pas =
Ce n’est que de la chimie =

Tim and Christophe

Don't miss Tim's post "False Friends: Faux Amis in French"

Gary and Christophe

Be sure to read Gary's other posts including one about the beloved game of Pétanque, here.



Click on the links to order:

Truffle BUTTER - Ingredients: French butter, white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico), natural white truffle extract, sea salt.

Truffle SALT - imported straight from France

Truffle ZEST : Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free - made with real truffles, can be added to everything such as soups, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, rice, pasta, pizza and sushi.

Field Guide to North American Truffles: Hunting, identifying, and enjoying the world's most prized fungi


Truffle expedition refreshments apero
A few of the characters in today's story, book-ended by Tim's wife Lauren, left, and Gary's wife, Lou, right. Help me thank Gary and Tim and these truffle chasseurs for today's fun and educational story. Leave a comment.

BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 18-26 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
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L'Herbe in French & Les Tondeuses de L'Espoir (The LawnMowers of Hope)

image from
Read Jean-Marc's story and pick out French words to share in the next Vocabulary RoundUp. (photo: Before he planted vines here, Jean-Marc sowed phacelia, a flower that attracts bees as well as being a good soil amendment. In the distance, you see a field of ancient olive trees. Today's bilingual story takes place there....)

TODAY'S WORD: l'herbe

        : grass

"Grassy" words and how they translate to French:

weed = mauvaise herbe
catnip = herbe aux chats
fleabane = herbe Sainte-Roch
blade of grass = brin d'herbe
marijuana = l'herbe
herbs = fines herbes

in the making = en herbe (She's an artist in the making = C'est une artiste en herbe)

L'herbe du voisin est toujours plus verte.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


Listen to Jean-Marc read his story aloud, in French

Depuis ma dernière édition relative à l'attente du berger, je dois avouer m'être fait du soucis quand à la façon de couper les nombreuses herbes dans nos vignes.
Since my previous post concerning waiting for the shepherd, I must confess to having worried about how to cut the many weeds in our vines.

A cette époque de l'année elles devraient être basses, mais avec cet hiver encore doux et chaud, elles ont poussé très vite avec les premières pluies.
At this time of year they should be low, but with winter still mild and warm, they grew very quickly with the first rains.

C'est vrai que j'aurai peut être dû les contenir en passant régulièrement les griffes de mon tracteur mais ce n'est pas trop dans ma façon de faire d'aller brûler du gazole, tasser les sols tout ça pour avoir un sol "propre" comme on dit dans le monde agricole qui arrose également ses champs avec du RoundUp....
It is true that I should have kept them under control by regularly passing the claws of my tractor but it is not my style to burn diesel and pack in the earth--all this to have a  "clean" soil as they say in the agricultural world that also waters its fields with RoundUp....

Mais lorsque l'herbe est trop haute, les outils attelés au tracteur deviennent moins efficaces....
But when the grass is too high, the tractor attachments become less efficient....

Je m’apprêtais donc à couper cette herbe à la débroussailleuse à main et je savais combien cela allait être long et fastidieux, d'autant que le temps presse alors qu'il me reste encore deux jours de taille et que les premiers bourgeons des vignes devraient pointer le bout de leur nez d'ici 2 à 3 semaines.
So I was going to cut that grass from the string trimmer and I knew it would be  long and tedious, especially since time is short for I have two more days to prune and the first buds of the vines should point the tip of their noses within 2 to 3 weeks.

Dimanche dernier, alors que je partais tailler pour la matinée, quelle n'a pas été ma surprise et mon bonheur de voir toutes ces brebis et même un âne dans nos vignes et oliviers. En trois jours, elles ont déjà bien travaillé et se sont régalées des herbes sauvages et naturelles du Mas des Brun.
Last Sunday, as I was leaving for the morning, what was my surprise and my happiness but to see all these sheep and even a donkey in our vines and olive trees. In three days, they have already worked well and have feasted on the wild and natural herbs of the Mas des Brun.

Surtout, elles m'ont évité un lourd travail et, qui plus est, elles ont amendé le sol. Elles vont rester pendant une dizaine de jours avant de reprendre leur route pour, progressivement regagner les montagnes des Alpes cet été.
Above all, they saved me a lot of work and, more importantly, they improved the soil. They will stay for ten days before resuming their journey to gradually return to the mountains of the Alps this summer.

Lorsqu'elles partiront avec leur Berger Sylvain, je leur dirai au revoir et surtout merci.
When they leave with their shepherd, Sylvain, I will say goodbye and especially thank you.

Listen to Jean-Marc read his story aloud, in French

Thanks for picking out a few French words from Jean-Marc's story -- to be posted in the next Vocubulary RoundUp. Choose the most useful or the most interesting--or one you had never heard of before & share in the comments at the end of this post.


Une photo pour mieux visualiser le travail de tonte (à droite, les moutons sont déjà passées)
A picture
to show you the "mowing" work (on the right, the sheep have passed by) See the video here (or at the end of this post--it may appear as an attachment)


WEED EATER - if you do not have sheep, these modern day string trimmers are the next best thing to eliminate patches of weeds

WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: a collection of early blog stories from 2002-2006

LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.

Kristi taking a photo of Allison
Taking pictures to illustrate these posts. Though this one was taken over a year ago, it illustrates poppies among the grass, which reminds me to tell you that the poppies have begun blossoming here in the south.


A reminder: if you wish to support the time and effort that go into bringing you this free language service, your contributions, via this link, are greatly appreciated.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.

Vocabulary Roundup + Listen to all the French words shared in February

If you read all 9 stories posted in February, you now own a herd of new French words! Let's go over the terms we learned. First, take two minutes to relax and listen to the list of words (you will have another chance at the end of the post):

=>Hear Jean-Marc read the vocabulary words listed below

1. Bilingual Story: Tondre, Domaine Tempier, and Tant Pis
(click on title to read the original post)

s'installer = to move in
un troupeau = flock
un berger = shepherd
concurrencer = to compete with
malgré = in spite of
tondre = to mow
tant pis = too bad

2. Vallon: An update on our Le Beausset?
(click on title to read the original post)

isolé,e = isolated
coup de coeur = a sudden crush on something
le vallon = little valley

Smokey our golden retriever on loveseat by the hollyhocks

3. Soins des Animaux: Why can't our dog sit down?
(click on title to read the original post)

la cloche = bell
un cambrioleur = burglar
le bruit = noise, sound
le collier = collar
le câlin = hug, cuddle, caress
à ta place = go to your bed
couché! = lie down!
méchant = bad
enflammé = inflamed
35 kilos = 77 pounds
la pommade = cream
se lécher = to lick oneself
le comprimé = tablet

4. Candidature: Applying for a job in France + Jackie's cover letter
*Bilingual Post*

le saisonnier = seasonal worker
la vendeuse (le vendeur) = sales assistant
la sauveteuse, le sauveteur = lifeguard, rescue worker
consignes de sécurité = safety instructions
efficacement = efficiently


5. Pronunciation Fears + Most Difficult French Words to Pronounce

la quincaillerie = hardware store
- squirrel

- three

dessus and dessous
- above and below

- (the French town)

- happy

le pouilly-fuissé - type of white wine
la chirurgie
- surgery

la fourrure
- fur

la grenouille
- frog

6. Stylo: Is Handwriting Still Necessary?

la trousse = pencil case
le crayon = pencil
le stylo bille = ballpoint pen
l'art de vivre = lifestyle


7. Hayfever in French

le Doliprane = medication containing paracetamol
le microbe = germ
désole(e) = sorry
je suis enrhumé = I have a cold
peut-être c'est les allergies = maybe it's allergies
le rhûme = cold (sickness)
le rhûme des foins = hay fever
c'est la saison = it's the season

8. Fourmillement: Restless Leg Syndrome in French

la jambe = leg
les membres inférieurs = lower limbs
le picotement = tingling, stinging, pins and needles
désagréable = unpleasant
rester assis = to sit still, stay seated

9. YadaYada : Your Favorite French Words & Expressions

et patati et patata = and so on, blah, blah, blah
le bavardage = chatter, idle talk, gossip

intarissables = endless, inexhaustible
les paroles = words, lyrics
deviner = to guess

Listen once again to the vocabulary words listed above

Thank you for reading. If you would like to support the effort that goes into creating this free word journal your contributions help.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.