Décontracté at Chateau de Pibarnon: a visual report
Boire la Tasse: Short story by the sea including funny French sayings

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


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").


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.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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