Boulot: Guess who found a job in Bandol?
Faire la tête + A French grandmother's advice for a happy marriage

Stationner + we surprise our daughter at her new job

Parking in Bandol
Stationner was word of the day on November 11th, 2005. You can listen to a then 8-year-old Jackie in the soundfile for that post. Jackie is now 19 and finishing up her academic year in Aix-en-Provence, where we found her a studette in le centre ville. She returned for Easter break, to have her dents de sagesse removed and to begin her summer job in Bandol.

TODAY'S WORD: Stationner

        : to park
        : to stay, to remain

le stationnement = parking
trouver une place de stationnement = to find a parking place

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Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence, in the imperfect tense :

Click HERE for the sound file

Stationner. Je voulais rendre visite à ma fille au travail mais avant cela il fallait que je stationne la voiture.
To park. I wanted to visit my daughter at work but before that I needed to park the car.

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    by Kristi Espinasse

Jean-Marc and I ran into a little pépin in our plan to surprise our daughter at her new boulot.... Cruising down la corniche, our eyes scanned the area for a parking place--anywhere pour stationner.

Not wanting to be late for our 1:45 reservation, Jean-Marc offered to drop me off near Le Jérome restaurant. I appreciated his gesture, but was sorry he wouldn't be there for the surprise, which was his idea in the first place.

I stopped short of the restaurant to observe our daughter in action. I did not like the way she had to cross the two-way road, each time she went to and from the restaurant (many restaurants along the sea are set up this way, with the servers having to take the risk of being hit by car throughout their service).

There were a few other things I didn't like either. For one, the top she was wearing. She needs to cover up! I thought, inching my way toward her, noticing other employees who were also wearing débardeurs (something between a camisole and a tank top). Well, it could be worse, she could be working at Hooters. Which reminds me why we are in France (however ironic that sounds--given my husband probably just found parking beside a beach full of topless women).

Among other things, we are in France for the culture, including the culture of food. I was excited to see what was on the menu...and just how our daughter would handle the demands of a French clientele who would not necessarily leave un pourboire (in most restaurants, a service charge is already included in the bill. Waiters and waitresses are therefore not motivated by tips, but do appreciate them).

Jackie first caught sight of me when she was two steps into crossing the busy road, the platter in her hand now tottering. She paused and her face grew wide with a smile. I hurried up and hooked her out of the road. "Jackie! pay attention to all the cars."

"Mom! You came to see me!"

"Your dad wanted it to be a surprise. He's parking the car now...."

Soon Jean-Marc and I were settled in on the terrace, where my daughter's every move became a new source of concern, if only to me. The tray she held tottered with glasses of rosé, and when she set the tray down to store it after each use, it stuck out in the busy walkway. A waitress with a full  platter would surely trip over it!

...And the table beside us, did she set the forks and knives straight enough? I fought the urge to go over and line up les couverts until I recognized my own anxieties. With that, I made myself sit back, relax, and watch my daughter practice the art of serving in a French restaurant...

Jean-Marc ordered le tartar de bar and I had a grilled daurade. Our daughter continued to fuss over us (would Papa like another glass of wine? Did I need ketchup for my fries? Was I getting too much sun? (for this she insisted on moving us to a formerly reserved table in the shade), all the while keeping her attention on the other diners. I noticed, in particular, how very sweet she was as she worked, how calm, assured and not-at-all stressed she appeared. She was not to be compared to me, to anyone in her family, or to an American or French waiter. She was her own person.

And while she may have only been a busgirl--what these days they call un runner-- it was clear (at least to me) she was Maître D.


Increase your vocabulary with useful terms from our story

le pépin = glitch, hitch, snag
le boulot = job
la corniche = coastal road
stationner = to park
un débardeur = tank top, camisole, slip top
les couverts = cutlery
un pourboire = tip, gratuity
le tartare de bar = raw sea bass fish
la daurade = sea bream fish
Papa = Dad
maître d = maître d'hotel = head waiter, top professional

Fishing boats in bandol

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1. A cool word for "vague desire, impulse, whim" and a story about setting goals


FRENCH GOURMET ITEMS - including herbs, mustard, coffee, tisane, chocolate, cakes

THE FRENCH LOVE THESE BEACH TOWELS - quick drying, good-looking

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.



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LOL.."Maître D."..Exactly!

This was so much fun to read..reliving our daughter's waitress years:)


Ad I bet your pourboire was off the charts;)

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi!

How sweet! I know Jackie is doing an amazing job! We pop in on Tara every now and then when she is working at a local vineyard. We stand back from the counter which is always busy and just admire how she handles all the customers pushing forward for a wine tasting and remember what everyone wanted to try.

Isn't it fun to see your children in different environments and how they handle themselves with aplomb!

Great job Jackie!

Mary liz

How lovely ... what a good Mom snd Dad!
Mary Liz


Dear Kristi, one of the many attractions of your excellent blog is that you strike so many chords. Your wonderful description of you doing your "maman poule" (mother hen) mixed with pride and a determination to encourage independence, is a classic example. You give food for thought too and always some new ideas and examples of how we "ought" to be, but in your very modest self-deprecating way. You are, quite simply, an excellent "read". And well done Jackie and so glad you seem to be recovering from the health setbacks. I hope you are too, Kristi. I was staggered last week to read your old blog entries about your skin cancer. They were helpful and reassuring as well as alarming in parts. I always thought your beauty was simply God-given and unassailable. Now I know you have your battle scars like most of us. Take care and please keep writing for us!

Petrina in Brittany

Well done Jean-Marc for the idea, well done Jackie for your hard work and well done Kristi being able to R-e-l-a-x & E-n-j-o-y (eventually!)x

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Margaret! What a wonderful motivation to continue writing, through the slumps and bumps :-)

Julie Farrar

I've been the mother of a server, so I understand your feelings exactly. At least my son didn't have to cross streets to do his job. And most of your vocabulary was new to me today. What a surprise. I have most viandes on menus memorized, but I'm still working on poissons.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Oh, I am so very glad you took us along with you on this surprise visit to admire Jackie in her role as 'runner', Kristi -- what a joy to experience very facet of it through your eyes and your heart! Thanks for your brilliant skill in rendering an experience like this special, special meal so vividly that it's in danger of becoming a memory I think of as my own! As ever, much admiration and affection to you all.
(Thank you too to commentator Margaret for expressing just how I feel on reading this one!)


If one googles "Le Jérome Bandol" and selects the street view it is possible to see the arrangement with the restaurant straddling the road, the proximity to the ocean, and the lack of nearby car parking spaces -- plenty of parking for bikes and motorcycles, however. A very typical oceanfront scene in the south of France -- we're envious!


I finally made a few minutes to catch up with your recent posts, Kristi, and I'm glad to have done so. As always, you put a huge smile on my face. How sweet of you to visit Jackie at the restaurant and to be reassured of her confidence as she navigates a new chapter in her life! I'm sure she cherishes your attention and concerns. My children are a big source of inspiration to me every day as I watch them learn on their own, but like you, I often have to brush aside the anxiety that creeps up at the back of my mind when I think about them starting school in a new country and making new friends. Thank you for reminding me to trust that everything will settle into place and that our children often already have the competence required to succeed.


Our dear Kristi,
What a red letter day for you and Jackie!
Not to mention the pride you all must of felt for success at this important step!
Congratulations and hugs!(Big ones!)
We are so fortunate to share not only in this happy time but through your gifted words,all the wonderful chapters of your lives.You make us feel like we are there with you,participating with joy,as well as recalling with smiles the days of our own.
Thank you!!!
Natalia XO


First summer job! she will have some great stories to tell about this summer when she is 70!!Thanks for sharing your surprise visit. How was the food?

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Being a parent and going through the growing stages with our children is truly a gift. I always hoped that our two little girls would learn to love art, music and literature, always be kind to others and like themselves. Today they are successful, accomplished young women. Now I learn from them and very much admire who they are and how they live their lives. What a joy it is to travel through life with our children. So many more wonderful moments ahead for you with Jackie and Max, who seem to be solidly grounded as young adults. They are a true testament to their parents!


Bravo Jackie! Our younger daughter Alison worked in a restaurant a couple of summers during college. Most servers here depend upon tips and Alison kept reminding me about leaving a good one. I always try to thank them appropriately for their hard work.


Restaurant work is hard; I don't think I could do it. Reading about watching your daughter at work reminded me how tense it could be watching our son pitch in Little League and Pony League games. I guess we all need to just "enjoy the moment."
Is "couverts" a better word to use for everyday silverware than "argenterie"?

What memories your post brought back to me! When my veterinarian daughter got her first job in a clinic, my husband and I surprised her. She was examining a huge Golden Retriever on the top of an examination table. The dog could not possibly have jumped that high! How did that dog get on the table? I wanted to know suspecting the truth. "Mom, I had to pick him up!"
Horrors! How long could she work as a vet if she had to lift heavy animals. Maybe she should just concentrate on cats. Our younger daughter is a graduate of the Tisch School at NYU. We journeyed from Texas to watch her in summer stock in upstate New York. "Mom. I have something to tell you." Ominous words! You aren't going to be naked, are you? Please tell me you will have your clothes on!The answer: "No, no! But, I am going to be raped in the play but don't worry. Ben is a good friend and besides, we have appeared in other plays at NYU and he raped me in those plays." That's his career? Raping my daughter on stage? Ben's two brothers played for the Boston Patriots football team. He was the shortest of the three brothers at 6'5". Our daughter is 5'1". When the rape scene came, he picked her up with one arm and I told her later he looked as if he were twirling a rabbit around the stage. Sigh! And I thought the first day of school for my girls was traumatic - for me!

Jim Herlan

You wrote "au travaille" for at work. Is it not "au travail"?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Jim. Off to fix this!

And many thanks to all who have taken the time to write in. I really appreciate your notes! They are the best part of these posts!!

Glenda Barnhart

Kristin, you are an excellent photographer -- I think the photos you post are sensational and I WISH you would consider putting together a book of photographs, perhaps with a minimum of description.

I urge the members of our French Conversation Group to subscribe to your weekly journal.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Glenda. I hope to do a photo book one day! And I really appreciate your telling your French conversation group about my journal. Bonjour à tous!

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