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Entries from July 2017

Un Pot de Départ for Max & July Vocabulary Roundup

Pot-de-depart-max
Our 22-year-old, Max, had a wonderful send-off party at the beach in Les Lecques (that's him centered beneath the sombrero). His closest friends gathered to wish him well in Mexico, where he will be on an exchange program through May 14th, 2018.

un pot de départ

    : farewell drink

Bonne lecture - Happy Reading!
If you missed a post this month, no worries you can rattraper, or catch up! Here's a list of all the missives that went out.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word--and all of the vocabulary below. Sit back and relax (you don't have to keep up with the recording. Come back and listen a second time.

Les Transats: Something You Can Rent on French Beaches

le transat = lounge chair
boules = pétanque or bocce ball
la peau = skin
avoir le cul entre deux chaises = to have the butt between two chairs
le parasol = beach umbrella
à plus = bye for now
le maillot = soccer jersey
derrière chaque grand homme, il y a une femme
behind every great man, there is a woman

French Sloppy Joe's: One of Many ways to use up a delicious batch of Caponata!

au pif = by guesswork

Décontracté at Château de Pibarnon

la murette = little wall
fleur de sel = "flower of salt", highest quality sea salt
anchoïade (m) = anchovy dip for vegetables
la daurade = sea bream
la récompense = reward

Lance: My Husband's Creative & Quirky Side

comme d'habitude = as usual
beurk! = ew, yuck!
la garrigue (f) = Mediterranean scrubland
la navette = shuttle (ferry boat)
une lance = spear
un oursin = a sea urchin
un outil = a tool
le superflu = excess

Boire La Tasse: Short story by the sea, funny French sayings

boire la tasse = to swallow a lot of water (unexpectedly)
le secouement = shaking off
le râteau = rake
faire son truc = to do his thing
pas un chat = nobody in sight
simple comme bonjour = a piece of cake
la crotte = droppings, dog mess

Best City in Which to Live...La Bonne Réponse

la bonne réponse = good answer
le refuge = mountain shelter
la cigale = cicada
là où sont mes amis = there where my friends are
le maçon = builder, construction worker
tant qu'il y a l'amitié = as long as there is friendship

Eplucher, Friendship, and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio

fastoche = easy
désolé(e) = sorry
Tu vas voir = you'll see
très facile = so easy
econome = vegetable peeler
nouer les liens = to bond, to strengthen ties
tendre to main = hold out one's hand
amitié = friendship
au pif = by guesswork

Des Clopinettes: Old Slang Used by a New Generation

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)

chalkboard bottlebrush plant and scarecrow in Ramatuelle

somewhere in France (c) Kristi Espinasse

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

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

FRENCH VOCABULARY
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)

French Harvest Tour

Experience France as it comes alive during the Harvest season!

To celebrate the final tour of our successful 2017 season, France Today Travels are offering $750⁄£580 off per person on our last few places.

This last-minute offer is exclusively available by quoting the code "HGY65."

 

Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

To order "Bonjour/Au Revoir doormat", click here

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!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Eplucher + More about friendship... and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio!

zucchini courgette parmesan sunflower seed grain de tournesol pata negra iberian ham entree first course
Eplucher is the word of the day. You've got to peel a few zucchinis to make this easy recipe.... 

Eplucher

    :  to peel

 

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French (English translation is above)

Il faut eplucher quelques courgettes pour réaliser cette recette fastoche....


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

One reward of offering to help Bernard in the kitchen was learning a delicious, fast, and easy recipe. "Tu vas voir, c'est très facile," Bernard says, setting up our makeshift production line:  one of us will use the econome to cut ribbons from the courgettes, the other will chop parmesan and toss it over the cut zucchini, into the round metal ring (for an individual serving--this last piece is optional, but it makes a nice presentation once you--Ta-da!--lift the mold).

The hardest part about making Courgette Carpaccio is paying attention when you are an aloof sous-chef whose thoughts are éparpiller, or spread out, like ingredients along a messy counter...I love the messy counter! I love how Bernard is so relaxed about cooking. He seems grateful to have a volunteer. This is awkward. Nah, I'm fitting in. He's still not quite sure if he has all the ingredients. Wow, look at that fridge! He hasn't roasted the sunflowers seeds...Who cares! Food tastes better when made by friends! Uh-oh, I think he's waiting for the cheese crumbles. That's my job!....

"Désolee," I say to Bernard, explaining that I am absent-minded, sur la lune, by nature. What I really want to say to my husband's friend is that I am caught up in a bursting moment. And that is the other reward of helping Bernard in the kitchen, the chance to nouer les liens as they say here or se rapprocher, an area where, like cooking, the more you practice the better you get at it (by that I mean friendship).

I have to quit thinking in terms of "my husband's friends" or Pierre's or Susan's or (you name a friend's) friends. As a longtime expat or a newlywed or an old introvert or a young naval-gazer--whatever your challenge--tende la main d'amitié--reach out your hand and begin to reap the reward of friendship.

This post is dedicated to my husband and all of his friends who have been truly inspiring examples of amitié--and to my friends who truly know the meaning of this well-known citation:

Un ami c'est une personne qui reste dans ta vie malgré la distance et les années. A friend is someone who stays in your life despite the distance and the years.


BERNARD'S COURGETTE CARPACCIO

Bernard's Fresh Zucchini Entrée.

Most recipes in this blog are au pif--by guesswork. I learned this wonderful phrase from my mother-in-law, the best cook on the planet.

To make this delicious entrée, or first course, simply layer the following ingredients (except the Spanish ham, with which you'll place beside the following mound):

- Thinly-sliced zucchini (use a regular  potato peeler or a Vegetable spiralizer
- parmesan (pound cut) - chop and crumble this over the zucchini
- roasted sunflower seeds - sprinkle on top
- swirl of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Pure Bellota Iberico Ham


To comment on this recipe or story, find the link at the end of this post.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
fastoche = easy
désolé(e) = sorry
Tu vas voir = you'll see
très facile = so easy
econome = vegetable peeler
nouer les liens = to bond, to strengthen ties
tendre to main = hold out one's hand
amitié = friendship
au pif = by guesswork

French Harvest Tour

Experience France as it comes alive during the Harvest season!

To celebrate the final tour of our successful 2017 season, France Today Travels are offering $750⁄£580 off per person on our last few places.

This last-minute offer is exclusively available by quoting the code "HGY65."

 

Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

To order "Bonjour/Au Revoir doormat", click here

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

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

La ROCHE-POSAY sunscreen is rated top by Consumer Reports

Lisa playing petanque by the old cabanon with glass of wine on the roof in St Cyr-sur-Mer

Over the past week we have had the pleasure of spending time with several young people. Young people make great friends! Here is my husband's godson's girlfriend, Lisa, enjoying a game of pétanque here at our vineyard (we've not moved yet). Lisa is studying theater in Paris and would one day like to open her own theater.

Fred and Jules
And this is Fred, who just turned 90. 90-year-olds make great friends! Keep Fred in your thoughts and prayers, he will begin, now, to receive hospice care. Love you, Fred. You are an inspiration. You began learning French in your 70's, signing up for this blog when it first began and sending me your thoughts and encouragements along the way. I remember when you sent me a very long list of stories (blog posts) be considered for my story compilation. The time you sacrificed for a friend. Mille mercis for being such a great ami!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Best City in which to live? La Bonne Reponse...

House in cassis
Cannes, Cassis, Annecy...what is the best city to live in? Read the response below.

la bonne réponse

    : good answer

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French translation of our opening sentence:

Cannes, Cassis, Annecy...quelle est la meilleure ville pour y vivre? Lisez la réponse ci-dessous.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


Saturday night we drove to Marseilles to celebrate two guys birthdays. Alexis and Bernard were collectively turning 100!

At Bernard's house on the edge of the Roy d'Espagne neighborhood, not far from the Calanque of Sormiou , we gathered with a handful of friends who grew up in these ideal childhood stomping grounds near the sea's rugged coastline with its fragrant Parasol pines.

Bernard and alexis
              Bernard and Alexis

Beneath these magnificent trees teeming with cicadas in summertime, we had to raise our voices above the din, and when I could no longer understand the French words flying all around me, I sat back to enjoy the characters at the table, their faces so relaxed, yet engaged and highly animated. I caught snippets of a ski trip to La Grave (known for its hors-piste skiiing, where two of the women stayed in a mountain refuge with 50 others and only one room for all to sleep, one bathroom, and nowhere to change--so everyone slept in the clothes they had skied in all day. "But it was worth it for the sunrise the next morning," Nathalie said. Manu, her friend, nodded in agreement.)

I so admired those women, who weren't the only ones aventuriers: Bernard, Pierre, and Jean-Marc have trained together for triathlons and, on the way to see U2 in concert in Dublin eaten pork and beans for breakfast (a true adventure for the French, who eat toast for breakfast). Meantime David bought a home in Greece (on the island where Mama Mia was filmed!), and that leaves Vincent and Claire, who I am still getting to know (though I sensed the latter's personality in the way she wrapped herself up in fluorescent construction zone tape before leaving the party...more about that in a minute...)

Were you a cicada high up parasol pines looking down on things, you would have quit trilling for a moment, and your ears would've softened as you listened now, to longtime friends catching up on subjects closer to the heart--the mother who has Alzheimer's, the son with autism, and other concerns here in the most beautiful place in the world.

"This is the most beautiful place," I said to Pierre, as the topic shifted once again and the cigales resumed their song. I noticed Pierre's hesitation and so I asked him, "If you could live anywhere in the world--any place at all--where would you want to be?"

Before Pierre answered, a now gleeful 4-year-old ran up and brushed his hand forward from under his tiny chin....

"That means, 'Bonjour,' in sign-language," Bernard said, adding that all forms of communication were encouraged for his youngest child. Next, we all had the pleasure of a personal bonjour from the little boy who continues to hone his social skills - shutting them off and on just as the cicada does in the tree above us. 
 
New York? Greece? Corsica? I looked back at Pierre, anticipating his answer, when his response took me by surprise...

"Là où sont mes amis. Wherever my friends are. That is the best city, and where I'd want to be."

Pierre's words stop time as wisdom and truth convey a message which twirls through my brain. Not long after, Claire, who I told you about earlier, appears, twirling in a floor length wedding dress decked with bright yellow construction tape. She's on her way to another party where, she says, she may find herself a good-looking maçon!

Claire exits with wolf whistles and winks as an audience of fans cheers her on, and the meaning of friendship is on full display. Even the cicadas are clapping, from high up in the trees overlooking the world's best city, which could be your city or mine. Tant qu'il y a l'amitié.


Friends under the parasol pines
Photo by Pierre, who should be in this snapshot!

French Vocabulary
le refuge = mountain shelter
la cigale = cicada
là où sont mes amis = there where my friends are
le maçon = builder, construction worker
tant qu'il y a l'amitié = as long as there is friendship

Pierre and jm
Voilà - a picture of Pierre and Jean-Marc, about to run a race.

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

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports

Net shopping bags like you see here in France - (good for collecting sea urchins, too!)

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

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

Finding Gilbert
Friendship is one of the themes in this wonderful story. If you've already read Diane's book about living in Provence, you might enjoy her other memoir about France, La Réunion, Finding Gilbert, a very touching account about how she found the French orphan, Gilbert, who her father had tried to adopt during World War II.

Order a copy here.

 

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Boire la Tasse: Short story by the sea including funny French sayings

Swimming with Smokey
If you have to swallow a mouthful, better to do it in the sea, than in the pool. Photo taken this morning, while swimming with our golden.

"boire la tasse"

1. to swallow a mouthful, to swallow a lot of water (while swimming)
2. to lose a lot of money, to go under

Listen to Jean-Marc read the French translation to the sentence above

Si on doit boire la tasse, il vaut mieux que ça soit en mer, qu'en piscine.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
   
    by Kristi Espinasse

This morning, while swimming with Smokey, j'ai bu la tasse! After accidentally swallowing so much salty water (and getting any magnesium requirements in one big gulp) it occurred to me to share a phrase I've heard over the years when swimming with my family: boire la tasse.

I wonder if dogs accidentally swallow a mouthful, too? Watching Smokey out there in the Mediterranean, fetching a piece of driftwood, he is an agile swimmer. No coughing when he comes out of the sea, just a good, whole-body secouement--enough to shower all the beachgoers...were they around this time of day.

Early morning is when to bring a dog to the beach, and I'm armed with a trusty paper bag and a small râteau to pick up any you-know-whats. I just didn't count on having to use the cleaning supplies so soon--when Smokey picked the most bourgeois house at the beach to faire son truc.

Under the circumstances it was a lucky chance. (Il n'y avait pas un chat.) The coast was clear and with all the fallen needles from the glorious parasol pines, the task was simple comme bonjour.

I didn't mean to drag you into the subject of crottes but, just like the vocabulary epiphany that came en buvant la tasse, when inspiration comes you've got to share it. All in the name of education.

 *    *    *

Regarding crottes, don't miss the dirty prank my neighbor played on me.
And you might enjoy reading about Smokey's parents unexpected honeymoon in Marseilles.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

boire la tasse = to swallow a lot of water (unexpectedly)
le secouement = shaking off
le râteau = rake
faire son truc = to do his thing
pas un chat = nobody in sight
simple comme bonjour = a piece of cake
la crotte = droppings, dog mess

Creatures de provence


MY SISTER-IN-LAW -- ARTISAN UPDATE
My sister-in-law, Cecile, is now sharing a boutique with other artisans. It's called La Boutique Des Créators Provençeaux. Please stop in, at 7/9 Rue Fermée. Double check the location and hours by friending them on Facebook, at "Aix Potentiels" You will do that won't you? (I'm going to check!) Many thanks for your support of these artists.

Winetasting july 2017

Last night's wine tasting and, from left to right, Jean-Marc, Kristi, Tom, Linda, Vanita, Jens, Rohan, Susan and Jay.

Shopping:

EMBRYOLISSE - the face cream my daughter, Jackie, and I both use.  It gets its name from its many uses, "it is a moisturizing cream, a cleansing cream that gently removes make-up, an after-shave cream and a cleansing lotion for babies and children" ORDER HERE

Good-looking sun hat with string -- essential for windy southern France

CARON PARIS Fleur de Rocaille - a classic French scent

Fleur-de-Lys pendant necklace in white gold


La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports 

 Dorothy and Steve and our Max

Dorothy and Steve returned to see us--and were happy to see our son, Max.

Kristi and Smokey july 2017
Thanks, Jens, for the photo of the two swimmers all cleaned up.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Porquerolles sea-hunting trip + My husband's creative (and quirky) side

Kristi on beach island of porquerolles
If you have ever been harmed by words, today's quote may help you. (Photo of me by Jean-Marc, more in today's lighthearted story.)


"la lance"


    : spear


The most destructive of weapons is not the spear or the siege cannon, which can wound a body and demolish a wall.
The most terrible of all weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal.

Let us, then, be the masters of our tongue and not the slaves of our words.
Even if words are used against us, let us not enter a battle that cannot be won.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

La plus destructrice de toutes les armes n’est pas la lance ou le canon – qui peuvent blesser le corps et détruire la muraille. La plus terrible est la parole – qui ruine une vie sans laisser de traces de sang, et dont les blessures ne cicatrisent jamais.

Soyons donc maître de notre langue, pour ne pas être esclave de nos paroles. Même si elles sont utilisées contre nous, n’entrons pas dans un combat qui n’aura jamais de vainqueur.

--Paulo Coelho



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

While preparing for a romantic getaway, I asked my husband where he had set his suitcase. That was when he informed me he wasn't taking one. I guessed the shirt on his back would be, once again, sufficient for an overnight trip, and that he would just borrow my toothbrush and deodorant, comme d'habitude.

No matter how many times I object—Beurk!—regarding the toothbrush-sharing and—c'est pour les femmes!—concerning the deodorant, he does as he pleases. Such accoutrements and hygienic hassles are unimportant details—downright snags—in his very down-to-earth existence.

Meantime, life beckons with its rugged, cobalt-blue sea and its remote, Mediterranean coves now bursting with succulent sea urchins or châtaignes de mer. Such were the treasures we were about to rediscover over the weekend, on the quaint French island of Porquerolles, where Jean-Marc had reserved a Valentine's Day retreat.

On the eve of our departure, I found my husband in the kitchen fashioning an impromptu spear from a floor mop.

"Where'd you get that?" I questioned, pointing to my mop.

"I didn't think you used it," he said, innocently.

"That's beside the point!"

Rather than argue, Jean-Marc began to pierce holes in one end of the mopstick, having already removed its stringy top....

"Hey! What are you doing?!" I asked as I stood there, goggle-eyed, not sure whether I really cared about the mop, but shocked, all the same, to witness its demise.

Jean-Marc opened the silverware drawer and reached for a fork. He had found an old shoelace and was now using it to tie the fork to the end of the mop. For an instant, I was tempted to calculate just how many gasoline points we had saved to pay for that fork... only this, too, was beside the point. Come to think of it, just what was the point? What on earth was he rigging together this time? A hunting lance, I think he said it was?

"Let it go!" I thought to myself, for the umpteenth time in 10 years of marriage. I walked out of the kitchen, leaving my husband to explore his creative side—at the expense of yet another cooking or cleaning utensil.

By the time we arrived in the coastal town of Hyères to catch the navette, I'd long since gotten over the novelty of the wacky, homemade hunting implement. It was when we began to receive odd looks from the other passengers that I realized just how goofy (worse—psychopathic!) my husband appeared, sitting there with a blank look on his face and the mop-fork spear at his side. One woman got up and changed seats. Another pulled her child close. A few people whispered. More than one set of eyes narrowed.

Jean-Marc sat oblivious to the commotion. I'm certain he was dreaming of the day's catch—all those spiky oursins (and the delicacy inside them: sea urchin roe), the ones he would soon rake in with his clever, multi-purpose outil.

There he sat, dreaming of the new frontiers he would be forging with the aid of his... mop. He was terribly impressed by how the mop-spear doubled as a walking stick.

"Look," he said, tap-tap-tapping it against the ground, stepping gleefully forward and backward for effect.

I shook my head, reminded of life's simple pleasures, and of my husband, who is like the child who pushes aside the newly-acquired toy to play with the champagne cork. May he continue to free himself of life's superficial snags, to enjoy the ongoing adventure that thunders beneath his French feet. May he go forward, unadorned by all that is superflu. May fashion or deodorant never hinder him from his burning quest to discover the rugged coastline, where shellfish rock gently beneath the shimmering sea.

Should the road less traveled ever get too bumpy, he'll have his mop-stick to lean on—and he'll have me, too.
 

***
Today's essay is from Blossoming in Provence, a collection of stories from when this blog began. If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy this little book, which will introduce you to many of the characters in this blog. Click here to order.

Roulez au Pastis (c) Kristin EspinasseLook closely at the photo of Jean-Marc, and you'll see a fork head at the top of his spear. (As for the sign behind him, it reads: Roulez au Pastis (instead of the usual "roulez au ralenti", or "drive slowly"--and "walkers have priority").

FRENCH VOCABULARY

comme d'habitude = as usual
beurk! = ew, yuck!
la garrigue (f) = Mediterranean scrubland
la navette = shuttle (ferry boat)
une lance = spear
un oursin = a sea urchin
un outil = a tool
le superflu = excess

Download 2 free audiobooks when you begin a free trial at Audible. Start here.


Porquerolles sign

Porquerolles France Sign, to order click here

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

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports

In summer reading: The Promise of Provence, by Patricia Sands

Net shopping bags like you see here in France - (good for collecting sea urchins, too!)

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

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

Location de velos on Porquerolles
More photos and information on the must-see island of Porquerolles in this post.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Décontracté at Chateau de Pibarnon: a visual report

Chateau de Pibarnon countryside
Yesterday we spent a relaxing day at one of the most prestigious vineyards in Provence: Chateau de Pibarnon. Listen to the previous sentence in French, just below, and don't miss the entire post and photos. First, today's word:

"décontracté"

relaxed, calm, serene

Click the following link to listen to the French sentence (English version above)

Hier nous avons passé une journée décontractée dans un des plus prestigieux domaines viticoles de Provence, Le Château de Pibarnon



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

Thanks to our friends at French Country Wines, and to my husband, Jean-Marc, who harvested there a few years ago, we were invited back to Château de Pibarnon for an unforgettable lunch with a most gracious, charming, and witty host, Eric De Saint Victor.

Our friends Bruce, Hilary, Geneviève and Jean-Philippe, who you may remember lounging on the beach Cassis, joined us here at Mas de Brun, where we began our convoy toward Bandol, up the steep and winding road to one of the most famous Southern French vineyards. We were about to, as Geneviève said, experience an "eonological and gastronomical blast, thanks to Eric De Saint Victor..."

Entrance to Chateau Pibarnon photos c Genevieve Guy

I will tell you about that gastronomical part in a minute, for now, here are some scenes from the wine-tasting. On the way in, olive, cypress, and mulberry trees line the chateau entrance, with its iron gates and stone murette. Photo by Geneviève Guy of Bistro Provence

Chateau de Pibarnon facade

A peek at the chateau. To the lower right, the wine-tasting entrance is located just in front of a shady mulberry. Open to all, the tasting room hours are Monday-Saturday, 9-12pm and again at 2:30 to 6pm.

Wine barrels Eric de Saint Victor and our group at Chateau de Pibarnon photo Genevieve Guy
Kristi, Hilary, Jean-Marc, Eric, Bruce, and Jean-Philippe in the chai , or wine storehouse, at Chateau de Pibarnon. Here, Eric gave the wine-tasters a wonderful tip to bring with you when you visit any vineyard: There will be various barrels or containers of wine, but ask to taste the press of all the blended grape skins, for this is where the socle (he compares it to a boat's cradle) or the soul of the wine is found. Photo by Geneviève Guy

Marie Genevieve Pauline
Among the wonderful strong female characters I know (like Cécile--ma frangine), here are three favorites: Winemaker Marie Laroze, Geneviève and her daughter, Pauline. Jean-Marc introduced me to Marie a few years ago, for our common interest in permaculture and natural farming & gardening. Jean-Marc tells me these natural principals are expressed in the way Marie makes wine.

Nathan Kristi Pauline Jean-Philippe Hilary in the tasting room at Chateau de Pibarnon
Back in the tasting room, just before Nathan and Pauline left us to spend the rest of the afternoon poolside, where Eric's family took the kids under their wings, and fed them pizza and ice-cream.

Genevieve and Jean-Philippe at Chateau de Pibarnon with fleurs de courgettes
Geneviève of Bistro Provence, Houston, and Jean-Philippe, of French Country wines in Houston. After the cellar visit we were treated to hors-d'oeuvres on the terrace overlooking the sea. You can see a short video here. Our host, Eric, created a seasonal menu with local ingredients. These cheese-stuffed zucchini flowers were a hit. The fleur de sel was the finishing touch. Next, came the delicious anchoiade, which Eric made, he says, by crushing some anchovies and...I didn't hear the rest of the recipe (while so enraptured in the experience and the wonderful tastes...)

  Ann-Laure Chateau de Pibarnon
Charming Provencal terrace and the lovely, Anne-Laure, in charge of the château's events (see about the weekly evening tasting, at the end of this post).

Around the table photo c Genevieve Guy

Sitting around the family table, we were catered to by a true gentleman. Though his family is noble, Eric is as down-to-earth as the ingredients he collects from his Mediterranean surroundings--or at the local supermarket, where you can sometimes find him sprinting through for a forgotten item (anchovies? fleur de sel?). 

Eric de Saint Victor

In the kitchen. Excuse the blurry photo, but it captures Eric's spirit.

He is a most attentive and witty host, who tells colorful stories (you should hear how he got this giant fish from a certain kissy-faced fishmonger, Bertha, at the port (she encouraged a puckered recompense after procuring a rare daurade of this size!). His story rivals the famous one about the sardine that blocked the port of Marseilles). As Eric shared his stories and we shared ours back he poured his world-famous Bandol wine and maintained his place, according to Le Figaro, as the world's ambassador for the mourvèdre grape.

Looking around the table, our friends were more that satiated, they were dreamy-eyed. Finally, Hilary's husband, Bruce (opposite Eric in the photo, above), put into words what all of us were thinking: Could I please move into just a tiny corner of this beautiful place? Eric could just toss me a scrap of bread every once in a while. As long as as he pours a little of his wine to go with it!


FRENCH VOCABULARY
la murette = little wall
fleur de sel = "flower of salt", highest quality sea salt
anchoïade (m) = anchovy dip for vegetables
la daurade = sea bream
la récompense = reward

VISIT CHATEAU de PIBARNON
If you have yet to discover Château de Pibarnon wine, you need to taste it to understand what Bruce is talking about. While we were very lucky to be Eric's guests, the good news is you are all welcome to visit the domain. Put it on your To Do list next time you are in Provence. And note that every Thursday night, July - August, they welcome you at the top of the vineyard....

Le Pi-Bar Ephemere

Dog at Chateau de Pibarnon
Vineyard dog, Darius.

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a village in the vineyards
Eiffel Tower Dog or Cat bed, click here.
CARON PARIS Fleur de Rocaille - a classic French scent


Kristin Espinasse Chateau de Pibarnon

In my previous post about Château de Pibarnon I told you about a slight mishap during dessert. (Thank you, Anne-Laure, for the photo)

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
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♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Meetup at our home + French Sloppy Joes (A Sicilian-inspired recipe)

Caponata or french sloppy joe ingredients

Ignore the veggies for a moment and listen up: we're having a wine-tasting here at home on July 11th at 5 pm. Email jm.espinasse@gmail.com to reserve your seat. Hope to see you!

Yesterday, Jean-Marc and I quietly celebrated 23 years of marriage (our civil union was in Marseilles, on July 4, 1994.  Read the story and see the steamy picture.)

If I had to do it over again, I would only change one thing: my cooking. I would have spent more time learning how to make soups, multipurpose pestos, and a trusty French cake for all occasions. I would have paid attention in 7th grade Home Economics class. And when my teacher handed me that frightful measuring cup--I would have seen it, instead, as a measure of future happiness for myself and, especially, for others. That saying is true:

Le véritable chemin pour toucher le coeur d'un homme passe par son estomac.


The way to a man's heart is through his stomach--and that means "everyman": male, female, or man's best friend (our dear golden, Smokey, busy licking his chops after enjoying some peau de saumon, says bonjour and bon appétit).

The following recipe was a happy accident (isn't that how all recipes begin?), inspired from our recent cousinade -- the one in Sicily. After returning from Sicily, I was on a mission to make that caponata we'd had at my cousin Laura's birthday. It was so good I made it twice that first week and there were plenty of leftovers. And that is how this sandwich (which quickly became my husband's new favorite) was born!

Kristis french sloppy joes
                           Jimmy's favorite new sandwich!

KRISTI'S FRENCH SLOPPY JOES
(Sicilian...but made in France!)

As usual, the recipes on this blog are au pif--all measurements done by guesswork. For this one, chop the following vegetables (into cubes, or similar sizes)...

3 eggplants
2 onions
3 tomatoes
3 stalks of celery
3-6 cloves of garlic

Put all cut vegetables into a large baking dish. Add:

1 cup of green olives
1 small jar (or less) of good capers

Mix in and toss with:

Olive oil to coat all veggies
Half cup of balsamic vinegar
1 or 2 cups tomato coulis
3 or more tablespoons of honey
salt and pepper

Bake at 180C (350F) for one hour (check after 40 minutes, toss veggies). Cooking at an lower temperature, for longer, is better

FOR THE SANDWICH

Hamburger bun (with sesame seeds and the rest)
slices of ham or chicken or other sandwich meat
Mimolette or swiss cheese or something close
lots of caponata (it's a sloppy joe!)

Enjoy this French Sloppy Joe and for all the leftovers, let creativity guide you.... And if you don't want to go to any trouble making caponata, you can always buy some.

Caponata with chopped walnuts ham eggs
Here are some other ways to use the caponata: toasted walnuts on top are delicious! Also on this plate, couscous, goat's cheese, pickles and ham.

Helpful additions:
Le Creuset Baking Dish

Pyrex glass storage container (I use many of these. See my frigo)

Honey from France

Sicilian balsamic vinegar (with figs, perfect!)

A pretty multi-purpose towel to cover your picnic table (after lunch you can use it at the beach!)

French market basket - in case you want to pack your lunch and go...

Caponata strawberries hummus
Homemade hummus, strawberries from the garden and three-peppers grilled in the oven. Go and make some caponata--and bon ap'!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Les transats (something you can rent on French beaches)...

Les transats on the beach in Cassis France
Transats and parasols along the sandy beach in Cassis, France. That's Jean-Marc, in his Brazil maillot, to the left. Don't miss this entire post, with photos--click the link below.

"un transat"

    deckchair, lounge chair, chaise longue, recliner

Today's word also appears in the story "Gaver (What, The French Pig Out?)"

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following French words including transat aloud

Un transat. Hier, nous avons loué les transats sur la grande plage de sable de Cassis.
A lounge chair. Yesterday, we rented lounge chairs along the big sand beach of Cassis.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

When we heard the great sardinade, or sardine cook-out, was happening in Cassis over the weekend, we decided on a Plan-B to get to the busy centre-ville--where we were joining a pal of Jean-Marc's from his college days.

"Let's park outside the town and walk down. We will get our twenty minute walk," Jean-Marc added, so as to motivate me. He was referring to our recent goal to faire du sport. "There are many nice views walking down into town," my husband continued....

He was right. Rolling vineyards, modern and old-style houses, and a gorgeous ray of municipal flowers--including lots of popular purple-globed agapanthus--along the winding road down to the port.

"Jean-Philippe and Genevieve are here," Jean-Marc said as we reached the little town on the port. Our friends from French Country Wines in Houston were here. "Let's give them a call," Jean-Marc said. And soon we were facing a sea of colorful fishing boats, chatting with our French friend (and Texas transplant) who was back in France.

Kristi and jean-philippe
Me, Jean-Philippe, and Ayn Rand. We could not resist teasing Jean-Philippe about the book (only because we, ourselves, never managed to finish it). I'll stick with Michel de Montaigne--who's funny and relate-able this many centuries later! Or Fenelon--his thin book speaks volumes!

To see Jean-Philippe's wife and daughter, Pauline, we had to walk a little farther--past the boules court and past the hat salesman...to the beach!

On our way to find Geneviève, two familiar faces appeared from the line of transats on the beach. It was Hilary and Bruce, also from Texas. What a surprise! I was happy to see Bruce covered in sunscreen -- his face almost as white as mine. Seeing another protect his or her peau is motivation for me to continue this many years after a very bad surgery.

But on to the funny part of this story. Geneviève, our friend at Bistro Provence in Houston, arrived next and began to make us laugh as she always does. "So you two still don't know when your house will sell or when you'll move on--after all this time? You know what we call that in French? Avoir le cul entre deux chaises! (To have your butt between two chairs!).

Still giggling, we said à plus (A+ = bye for now), and went to get our own transats, closer to the restaurant, where we waiting for Jean-Marc's school buddy and his wife for lunch. And when Jean-Pierre arrived, he had not changed!

"It's Chinese genes!" Jean-Pierre explained.

As we sat admiring those genes, we also admired the man Jean-Pierre had grown into. Once the youngest of the crowd of college buddies, who Jean-Marc sometimes lent a couple of francs, Jean-Pierre now lives in Hong Kong and enjoys a successful career that takes him all over the globe.

I so enjoyed talking to Jean-Pierre's wife, Bérina, who he met during graduate school in Berkeley. She is not only beautiful, but, Jean-Pierre tells us, she is the brains behind his success.

"Behind every good man is a good woman," I said, after listening to his story. Jean-Pierre agreed, and so did, to my surprise, Jean-Marc, who put his arm around me and squeezed:

"Et oui! Derrière chaque homme, il y a une femme."


School friends Jean-Marc Jean-Pierre Jeff
College buddy reunion in Cassis: Jean-Marc, Jean-Pierre, et Jean-François. To comment on this story, see the link at the end of this post.

French Vocabulary
le transat = lounge chair
boules = pétanque or bocce ball
la peau = skin
avoir le cul entre deux chaises = to have the butt between two chairs
le parasol = beach umbrella
à plus = bye for now
le maillot = soccer jersey
derrière chaque grand homme, il y a une femme
behind every great man, there is a woman

Hat or chapeau for sale in Cassis France
                          Hats for sale along the port in Cassis, France

Good-looking sun hat with string -- essential for windy southern France!

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports

Lounge chair with built-in sunshade

la fouta - wonderful quick-drying towel used in Mediterranean countries


SUMMER READING - "EIGHT MONTHS IN PROVENCE"
For thirty years, Diane Covington-Carter dreamed of living in France and immersing herself in the country and language that spoke to her heart and soul. At age fifty, she set off to fulfill that yearning. Journey along with her as she discovers missing pieces of her own personal puzzle that could only emerge in French, in France. And the deep reservoirs of courage and strength that have come with living a half-century.

Covington-Carter learns that it is never too late to fulfill a long cherished dream and that, with the gifts of wisdom and maturity, that dream can become even more powerful from the waiting.

Eight Months in Provence by Diane Covington-Carter

One of the best-selling books of all time on my blog has been Eight Months in Provence! Diane's self-published book really struck a chord with readers and Francophiles who dream of living--if only for a time--in France.

Order Diane Covington Carter's book here -- I think you will agree - Eight Months in Provence is the ideal summer read. 


Eight Months in Provence - back cover

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here