Eplucher + More about friendship... and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio!
Un Pot de Départ for Max & July Vocabulary Roundup

Des Clopinettes & Old slang used by a new generation

Mediterranean sea in La Madrague St Cyr-sur-Mer Les Lecques
Sometimes the best things in life are free...to go swimming in the sea costs nothing. (Photo of the bay in Les Lecques and La Madrague Port in St Cyr-sur-Mer)

"des clopinettes"

    : peanuts, chickenfeed, next to nothing 

Click here to listen to the following French words (English translation above)

Parfois les meilleurs choses de la vie sont gratuites - aller se baigner dans la mer, ça coûte des clopinettes


by Kristi Espinasse

At Port de la Madrague there is a sandy cove where the locals like to picnic at sunset. A curving wooden boardwalk makes it possible to reach the far end of the bay, where another beach--this one, rocky--offers a more rugged shore, beyond which you can hunt for oursins. As you walk back along the promenade, it is a pleasure to see families and friends enjoying an evening picnic or playing a game of boules alongside the path.

Midway along the wooden walkway, I met Jean-Marc, Nicolas, Carole, and a mix of our children and their significant autres who had just finished playing pétanque. As we headed to dinner at Chez Henri, only a few pas from the beach, we saw the sun drop into the sea as two paddle boarders coasted past the embering globe, adding to the poetry of the evening.

Seated now at our neighborhood pizzeria, I looked up and down the table of eleven (mostly grown kids) and enjoyed a sensation similar to the one back at the seafront. It was refreshing to be in the midst of life--that place where by now you've jumped through many hurdles, raised children, stayed together, and are still relatively naive to the future.

To my left, the adults were talking about therapeutic massage when the subject began to veer to the more sensual aspects of touch. That's when a warning sounded (I won't tell you by whom--or you'll call her a prude!): "Psst! Il y a des enfants!" Though all of our kids know about the birds and the bees, there is nothing more awkward than hearing your parents talk about...whoopee.

Meantime the "kids" were ordering another bottle of rosé, lighting up clopes, and chatting about an upcoming trip to Columbia (Nicolas's son, Martin, and his girlfriend, Laetitia, will soon land in Bogota) and Mexico, where Max will be on Wednesday.

My attention floated in and out of the French conversations around our mixed-generation table when I heard a new expression coming from Laetitia, who mentioned des clopinettes. "Tell me what it means," I said, adding that I've never heard it in my household (where I hear the same old French words and expressions, over and over!).

Laetitia laughed. "It means "peu", or "pas beaucoup."

"Ah, clopinettes means 'peanuts'!" I explained. "I love learning slang from you kids."

"Oh, it's actually something my parents have always  said!" Laetitia corrected.

"Cool," I replied, using an old word that has somehow never gone out of style (even the French say "cool").

It is good to hear a young person keeping the language alive by using an old-fashioned word...which brings us back to "whoopee"! Come to think of it, I could share that slang term with the kids. After all, I'm not prude, just prudent.)

La Madrague beach yellow flowers
The beautiful boardwalk at Port de La Madrague--a great place to use a paddle board. If you enjoyed today's story, which took place here, check out the following book:

Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School (Sexy Slang Series)

T-Shirt I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France

un oursin = sea urchin
les boules = game in which players throw steel balls toward a "cochon" or smaller ball.
la pétanque = another word for boules
un pas = step
il y a des enfants = there are kids here
une clope = cigarette
des clopinettes = peanuts (little or nothing)

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Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

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PADDLE BOARD - can also be used as a kayak.

une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwav
une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwave

LEONOR GREYL PARIS Shampooing Creme Moelle De Bambou

LA ROCHE-POSAY sunscreen is rated top by Consumer Reports

LIERAC Hydragenist Moisturizing Rescue Balm - This product was recommended to me by a local pharmacist- you can order it and other Lierac products here. The scent is wonderful!

Wooden fishing boats at la port de la madrague
I leave you with this scene at the Port of La Madrague. Have a good week ahead!

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joie in Carmel

La vie c'est bon! So funny the expressions that stick around. Cool...I am your mother's age and still use it, as does my 40 year old niece and to my surprise a few weeks ago when she was here with her family, her 4 year old used it many times and I am sure the 2 year will follow soon. I don't think I heard my father use last he was here....but I think I will ask.


We have hung out on the beach at La Madrague often while visiting friends in La Cardière. I love taking the sentier litoral which ascends from the end of the beach all the way to Bandol.

Joanne Ablan

Bonjour Kristi,
Quand je regarde la mer dans vos photos, j'envie faire trempette!


Hi Kristin, would it be possible for you to re-share your tomato tart recipe? Lots of tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden ready to go! Thank you.

Kristin Espinasse

Here it is, Mary. Bon appétit!


Hi Kristi! I had to laugh at the comment about the "kids" listening to your "adult" conversation. My kids are in their early 20s now, and though I pretend they're naive children, my daughter has informed me otherwise. Oh my, c'est la vie. And I'm guessing relationships/rules in France are much more "relaxed" than what we grew up with in the U.S. As always, your post is delightful, and your pictures stunning. (And we all use "cool" too. Didn't know that the French say it as well.)

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Thanks for sharing your story today. Cool photos! :-)


What nostalgia for me this time! I was reminded of words I hadn't heard for more than 50 years.

Nyla Witmore

Ahhh ..."past the Embering globe" what a beautiful phrase and unique choice of words. You do write well!!!!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Yes, children do ont want to hear their parents talk about sex. It embrasses them. Oh well, I wouldn't have wanted to hear my parents discussing it either.
As for the kids smoking. Are they really smoking? It is passé. Hopefully they won't continue. I have only one American friend who smokes and also one French friend. My French friends smokes the e-cigarettes, but they are also very bad. Please empress on them how bd it is, for their sake.



Our dear Kristi,
Once again you had us wrapped in smiles today!
Love these expressions,both new and old!
So happy that 'cool' is still live and well!I don't think I've ever stopped using it even though school days are 50 plus years ago,and there have been times when someone has given me a strange look,with"what are you talking about?"
written all over their faces!
Wonderful to journey down memory lane,vocabulary wise!
Thank you!
Natalia XO


You are truly blessed! To live in such a beautiful place and to have such wonderful friends and your family nearby! Your stories give me such a warm feeling. And "dat aint clopinettes!" That is the whole enchilada! I know you will miss Max, but knowing your family, he will be back as often as possible and he'll probably bring dear Jules with him! Joy!

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

I'm with you Kristi. There are some things that are just better kept private!


And just to make it clear: peanuts the food are «des cacahouètes» or «cacahuètes».
Here it pronounced here by Alain Le Lait in his children's song "Cest si bon." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBN3ClTHTns&index=43&list=PLOC2bFqrFCGD7W3GXGcDEkrBPLCr9hRSl.

Do not confuse with caoutchoucs, which are rubbers as in rain boots. Both imported words, from central and South America.

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