Adieu Mas des Brun: Last dispatch from the vineyard & Ratatouille recipe!
Peeping Toms, street-side meltdowns, and this new city life in La Ciotat

Bonjour de La Ciotat + La Remoulade

Yellow tile kitchen ingredients for ratatouille
Our bright yellow 1960s kitchen. The counter-top reaches the top of my leg. It will take some getting-used-to, as will this new life in La Ciotat.  So far so good!

la remoulade

    : a kind of sauce

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
La sauce rémoulade s’accommode avec les crustacés, poissons, œufs mollets et le céleri. - Cuisine à la Française
Remoulade sauce goes well with shellfish, fish, soft-boiled eggs, and celeri.



"When Smokey Met Lili"

by Kristi Espinasse

We have landed! Jean-Marc drove us, just ahead of the moving truck, to La Ciotat early Monday morning. I had our coffee maker in my lap and Smokey in the back seat, surrounded by other essentials. 

Our new (1960s) home is located on a busy corner, with one-way streets on both sides and parking meters up and down the road. The challenge would be for our moving truck to make the angle into our driveway. Deborah, who formerly lived here, agreed to block at least one of the public parking spaces beside our gate and, as luck would have it, another space opened up the moment we drove up!

I hurried out of the car to greet Deborah with a kiss of both cheeks and ask for her help with an important introduction (dubbed by Jean-Marc "When Smokey Met Lili"). You may recall our new home comes with an old cat.  I attached Smokey to the front porch railing and sat on the steps beside our 8-year-old golden retriever, explaining to him the situation: "On est chez Lili. Elle habite nous aussi! Elle est gentille." As he sniffed and strained against his least, I repeated,"Doucement, Smokey...." 

Front terrace
  Still no photo of Lili. Here's one of Smokey on our front terrace.

Meanwhile, crouched beside Lili at the front gate, Deborah briefed Lili on the 3 strangers. Next, we traded places. "Bonjour Lili. On est très contente d'être ici, chez toi...." 

Releasing Smokey, we watched as he wandered around what would now be his domain too. Lili kept her distance, retreating to her post at the front gate where, camouflaged by the leafy laurier she watches the world go by. Later that day when my Dad called, I was chatting away when I glanced out the window and saw the two would-be adversaires cautiously approaching one another. Only, when I opened the door for a closer look, they quickly retreated.

By last night, day two, Lili wandered into the house--right past a sleeping Smokey. She was surely looking for her cat food, which was displaced  (to the window sill) after Smokey found it in the kitchen. That's no way to score brownie points with Lili!

After the animals settled so did our boxes and furniture, which fits nicely into this 140-meter-square home sweet home, on this 995 square meter lot. With less land to worry about we began our new heading to the beach.

I leave you with a few highlights from our lunch at Mugel plage where you can swim in your underwear and where we ordered local fish (loup) with a delicious remoulade: a mayonnaise-based sauce with cornichons, capers, parsley, chives, tarragon, anchovy paste and more. The plat du jour also came with this versatile caponata, reminding me of our family reunion, or cousinade, in Sicily.

For dessert, there was a Fiadone - a Corsican lemon cheesecake made of  ewe's or goat's milk (but you can use ricotta or even cottage cheese...). Voilà, new sights and flavors in a new environment. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks. Thank you very much for reading.


Loup avec remoulade
The restaurant at Mugel beach, and that loup fish from Tamaris (near Toulon) with remoulade sauce. The people at the next table were from Italy. I had such an urge to ask them their thoughts about the caponata.

Jean-marc ordered a bottle of Domaine Pieracci rose

Jean-Marc, ordering a bottle of Domaine Pieracci rosé.

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Cathy Toner

So happy for you, Smokey and Jean Mark, Kristin!
Wishing you much happiness in you new abode and new life!
Will keep following you and your lovely family! Xo

Marshall Morton

Sounds wonderful. Pls talk about how you and Jean-Marc will occupy yourselves in La Ciotat

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

And so an exciting new chapter begins!
PS I couldn't work out whether the kitchen counter reaching the top of your leg was high or low, so went to my bench and measured up. I'm still none the wiser!


Bon courage with this move, Kristin! I'm sure you two, three, four will be very happy...and settled in soon! The best of luck. Look forward to hearing more, Ellen Fetu

Leslie M. Ficcaglia

Pictures of the house and yard, please! I can't figure out what 995 square meters would look like. Will you have a garden at all - is there room. Et le désir?


I feel a ridiculous sense of relief that you are "home and dry" - only ridiculous because I haven't had to do the moving but my thoughts and heart were with you all the way. It sounds - and looks - as if you have made an excellent start, Smokey included. Well done all of you. Of course, we all long to hear more but this blog post was a very nice start thank you. I too have done the transition from - in my case - town to country and it is a shock in many ways. But you are good at making new friends and at counting your blessings and I feel sure there will be many (of both). Very best wishes.


Can't wait to meet you there for lunch! Bisous!


Congratulations!! Wow move in the boxes and go to the beach. I love your new location already. Now you get to make it your home one box at a time. And that lovely terrace😃😃. Your back will tell you when to raise the counters. Have a wonderful day!


I am so happy for you ALL and wish you a very happy time while in LaCiotat. Your blog has been a tonic for me over the last several months as my disapointment has quickly grown to despair at the political situation in America. I could always count on you to give me a boost and a smile.
Many, many thanks.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Enjoy your new home! It sounds wonderful!

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Bonne installation dans votre nouvelle vie!! Comment se nomment les habitants de La Ciotat?? des Ciotadins, des Ciotalais ?? ;-) !!!

Plein de bons voeux pour votre nouvelle aventure.

Linda D.

Here's wishing you and your family every happiness in your new home! The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. In my mind's eye, I already see you enjoying that beautiful terrace. Bon Chance!


Beza says hello to Smoky and says not to worry, he is still is Le Roi de la Maison ! Kristi I hope this is a good move for you and JM, looking forward to many more letters from your new life---Stephen


I copied your rémoulade recipe and then questioned how much mayonnaise? The recipe said "une mayonnaise" which I'm thinking could be the whole jar of probably Dijon mustard (?), but not sure. I'd love to know the exact amount.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

So happy for la famille Espinasse! I know you still have a lot to wade through in order to feel "bien installé" but think of ALL that is finally behind you! Bravi! You've all done well, and I know Smokey and Lilli will be fine together.


Kristin enjoy your new place and all that comes with it! I know you will adjust well.

Angela Sargent

Welcome to your new sounds just perfect!


Having followed your 'ups & downs' over the months I am so, so pleased that you have successfully made the move to La Ciotat. It looks and sounds wonderful and I hope you will all, including the new feline member of the family, be very happy together.Bon continuation d'été. x

Lynda House

Sounds as if you are on a wonderful holiday ....... what a great way to live!

Cynthia Crane

It looks lovely. My thoughts have gone back and forth to you as we go through dismantling our last home (thanks to Madoff) of 35 years. Lost my 22 year-apt in Montmartre and our Greenwich Village Brownstone of 45 years, but we go on. Love the French and love you. Happiness in your new home.

Ellen A.

Looks like a wonderful place, and perfect for the two of you and Smokey. Congratulations on making the move. If that yellow tile still bothers you in a couple of months, I believe you can actually buy a kind of tile paint now that you can cover it with - in whatever color you like. That might be a good interim solution until you have the energy to take on a whole kitchen remodel again. Enjoy yourselves!

Kathi in Iowa

Dear Kristi,

It seems to me that each of your moves has made your heart even larger and your insights on life even deeper.

Bravo to you & Jean-Marc!

Laura Purdy

Dear Kristi,

I somehow missed the explanation of why you are inheriting the old cat with the new house, but I think its very kind of you to agree to that. I'm so glad that the cat will continue to have his home and live with wonderful people...and Smokey! They will work it out!


Julie Schorr

All the very best to you and Jean-Marc in your new home! Enjoy!!😊


Welcome to your new home! May you spend many happy years there!

Your front terrace looks charming!



Fabulosa!! I so have an image in mind of your location. I am dying to see more. Welcome home! Of course I think your second home is going to be the beach! How wonderful!! Congratulations!!

Jeanne Govert

Welcome to your new home! It looks like a lovely place to explore and with the beach so close by it's almost heaven. Do enjoy it and have fun making new friends and writing new stories!


AH! What fun. An old cat and Smokey. You do realize it is Smokey who will be the submissive one? I just love the name Lili for a French cat. What a perfect new challenge. Your location is so desirable. I wish you many years of happiness in La Ciotat and can't wait to hear the next adventures of Smokey and Lili.


Congratulations, Kristi! I envision many happy, relaxed times under the awning on the front terrace, watching the world go by with Smokey at your feet. It looks delightful. And to be so close to the beach. Our golden still misses being a few blocks away from a dog beach on Lake Michigan. I'm sure we will be seeing pictures of Smokey in the water--in his underwear, peut-être?

Barbara Bruell

Just tuning in after not following for quite a I must go back to read why the lead up to this change....I mapped your new location and it seems idea. Bon Chance en La Ciotat

Anne Brixner

Well done, Kristi & Jean-Marc! Your adventurous life continues to unfold "juste comme il faut!" You inspire all of us with your honesty, good humor, courage & faith. Plein de bisous de Seattle, Anne et Mike

Lynn McBride

What a fabulous new adventure! Can't wait to hear/see more. Have fun! Xxoo

Sue Lennox

Welcome to the next chapter of your remarkable life (lives)! Each one has oui's and non's but this one, in town, sounds a lot more restful for you two mid-lifers. Sending pets to Lili and Smokey and warm bisous to you and Jean-Marc from Scottsdale.

Faye laFleur

Lovely photo of Smokey and your new terrace....can't wait to see more photos of your new home and your new life beginnings!!! I wish you.a good life w/ much happiness!

Brenda Prowse

Welcome home! Sitting down might be the best way to make the low countertops work. I have done this and with the right chair became quite adept at food prep while sitting. So glad you have arrived and Smokey is learning to accept Lili. Profite bien de la plage. Bisous

joie in Carmel

The terrace looks wonderful to sit on at any time of the day....and that wall of windows is very nice. It gives the feel of being outside. So you are within walking distance of most everything? That is nice. All will be good.

Linda C in California

Like my mother, an Air Force spouse, you make an adventure of each new move and a home of each new house!

Many of us would love to live near a beach in southern France!

All the best!

Ken Curtis

No matter where you live - I have confidence you will live well. I wish you and Mark interesting opportunities and fulfilling challenges. This goes for your children as well. Ever travel to the south coast of Turkey we'd be happy to have a room ready for you.

Gule, gule
Ken Curtis


Wishing you so much happiness in your new home, Kristi and Jean Marc....... My goodness that terrace is half the picnic, isn't it?? Wonderful! Hope Smokey and Lili find a truce and then friendship...... Can't wait for more photos and more info...... much love, Maureen


So happy for you and Jean-Marc!

Nicole Lepoutre-Baldocchi

140 sq meters is ~1500 sq ft. A sq m is ~ 10 sq ft give or take. A lot less to maintain!!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Barbara. The following link will help. And thanks to all who have left a message. Much appreciated!

Robert Hyman

You have a great joie de vivre!!! Love Smokey looking into his new home with the lovely sunshine,blue skies, striped awning.and beautiful trees.

Gail from AZ

So happy to hear you are settling in your new home! I'm excited for the adventures that await. Thank you for allowing us to come along in your journey. :-D


Welcome home, Kristi and Jean-Marc! Here's hoping you'll live happily ever after in your new digs.


Congratulations on the move. It looks lovely. I have low counters and I put a big thick block of wood on the counter so I do not kill my back chopping my veggies. Save your back. Your front patio is lush!


We need pics please!!!! ;-) ;-)

Diane Young

Bienvenue a Ciotat! Enfin vpus etes dans une maison pres de la mer encore. Un chat et un chien serait les bons amis je pense.


Wow! Sounds absolutely wonderful.
Bon chance. I am salivating for it all.

Heidi Long

Have enjoyed following along since our family ended up in La Ciotat on a rainy October night about 20 years ago looking for a good meal....and we still have great memories of the meal on the waterfront surrounded by locals. We all want to know how you will spend your time with less home and land to maintain! HEIDI


Thanks for the link, just what I've been needing.


Congrats and Best Wishes!

Cynthia Lewis

Wishing you every happiness in your new (1960's) home! Older homes have more character by far than a newly built home. I loved that you went to the beach right away and had some delicious fish for dinner. My very best wishes as you settle into your new home and neighborhood.

Ron MacFaarlane

To kristin and Jean-Marc
I envy you guys so much! Your lives in France seem to be on a continuously upward arc!!
Be well always,
Ron MacFarlane


Hi Kristi & Jean-Marc,
Your new home looks lovely, especially the terrace. 1500 sf - a perfect size for 2+1+1 I am sure you will find lots of projects there to keep you busy!
I first tasted remoulade in New Orleans many years ago, and never had such a good one since. I will definitely be trying to make the remoulade sauce you referenced. I see that someone else had a question about quantities so appreciate any clarification you can provide.
Bon Chance!

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Welcome home!
What a delicious lunch.
Enjoy exploring your new neighborhood.

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

Thanks for posting this. I've been wondering how you are all doing.


Je suis bien contente pour toi!Like a breath of fresh air it seems!
How funny that I had names in my head for your new nest at 2 AM one night..well two AM one morning..
I look forward to reading about your life there..
Chapter Two~

Carmen Clarke

Felicitations, Kristi and Jean-Marc!
Wishing you all the fun of conquest as you sort out how to thrive in your new place.
You always bloom where you are planted. God bless your new home.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Settling into your new nest at last, dear Kristi and Jean-Marc! (How well I remember landing here in our downscaled little home with its postage-stamp back garden just four years ago, feeling as if this very different house welcomed us and shared our relieved élan. The tiny kitchen was designed for a woman even shorter than I, and it did take a few meals to get the heck of it all!)
May you both 'find your feet' with much daily pleasure and happy discovery in your own in-town setting. We so look forward to hearing all about it as you do!
With warm hugs from Canada, and special saluts and fond strokes to our beloved Smokey and to La Doyenne Lili ... she is the essence of the new abode for now, and they will soon be contented companions. I hope Lili will come to love her new pet humans, too.

Linda Karber

Dear Kristi & Jean-Marc,
We wish you much happiness in your new home! The adventure continues... Thanks for letting us come along with you!

Linda & Lance

Kitty Wilson-Pote

(PS for Kristi -- your new house is 3x larger than ours -- the main floor here: only 43 sq metres; a partially finished basement down the stairs. Cosy is the word!)


Dear Kristi and Jean-Marc, It is so good that all of you are at peace now. God bless you and your new home dearly in His joy! C-Marie

Susan Souza

Your new home sounds lovely . We are also downsizing and it can be stressful on its own what to let go and what to keep . In the end it's who you move with that is important human and furry alike. Happy days ahead for you and yours.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Kitty, as always for this lovely note. I am counting my lucky stars all over again for this endearing online extended family. Thanks again to all who take the time to write in, and sweetly so. 


Our dear Kristi,
Answered prayers! Prayers filled with grace and happiness for you,Jean Marc and your dear family in such a beautiful new home!
In the coming days you will find so many wonderful ways to truly "make it yours"
and let yourselves sink into fulfillment and contentment as your life's journey continues in all the best possible ways!
Smokey and Lilli will soon learn to adapt to each other.Animals seem so much more willing than many humans to simply accept each other and live in harmony.
And! With all those awesome vegetables there's no doubt that sometime soon you will be making your delicious ratatouille!(YUM!)
Blessings always,dear Kristi.Please know all of us in your extended FWAD family are sharing your joy.
Natalia XO


American standard counter height is 36" & table tops 30" (perfect for rolling dough).


Chere Kristi,
I am thinking of you as you and JM start this next chapter of your life.
My new home is a little larger than yours but not much. Love a challenge! Looking forward to all the new adventures! Santé à vous deux.


It looks like you did just the right thing.I am really happy for
you both.

Ahulani McAdam

Dearest Kristi,
Everyone has said and wished and envisioned so beautifully for you 3 everything I possibly could. Just multiply all the love and warmth times Godzillion!!!
Deep love,

Sarah La Belle

140 square meters = 1,507 square feet and 995 square meters = 10,710 square feet. In the suburb where I live, a lot of 10,000 square feet leaves space for a good garden, vegetable & flowers. Not like the hectares of the place you leave behind, Mas des Brun.

Patricia Sands

Bienvenue chez vous, Kristi et Jean-Marc. Bonne installation! A new door opens!


Felicitations, Kristi and Jean-Marc! I'm so glad to read that the move went smoothly! It sounds like everyone is getting settled into a relaxed new lifestyle. I'm looking forward to reading your stories and enjoying photos of your beautiful new town.


Best wishes, Kristi and Jean-Marc.

May you all find great happiness in your new home.


Salut Kristi, Your new home looks charming. Smokey will get a taste of village life also. Génial! Could you please tell me how to pronounce the name of your new village? What is the meaning and origin of the name? If I have missed this explanation in a previous post, I apologise.


Thinking of you and all the changes you have made with such grace. You are amazing... Wishing you and all happiness and peace and an easy transition. Love that you are near the sea.


Wishing you much love and happiness in your new home.

Gordon Lyman

Did you know you would have so many friends waiting to welcome you to your new house?
You are friends to many and we are friends to you.
Thanks for sharing your lives and adventures.
Best wishes from me too.


Congrats on the move. You haven't talked up this house so much (60's built, busy street, parking meters outside), but the terrace view with Smokey shows a beautiful setting. I am sure it will turn out beautiful once everything is put away, ( or discarded like we just did), & art work placed! We all await photos . Have fun-one day at a time!

Deborah Frost

Smokey and Lili could teach my fellow Americans a thing or two about getting along! Your charming account (can one eat at the restaurant in one's underwear,too, after swimming?: ) photos and remoulade were much appreciated here in Manhattan!

Sarah Longcore

More time for bonne cuisine, swimming and enjoying the beaches at La Ciotat... so happy to hear you decided to stay in France! Let the beautiful adventures continue...

Leslie NYC

Happy homing!
Happy exploring!
Life is really fascinating.
Bonne installation!

Jacqueline Pope

Bonjour Kristi, Jean-Mark & of course, Smoky,
So very happy for the decision you made to move in with Mademoiselle Lili in what sounds like the perfect spot. You must be tired, a bit weary and tinged with excitement. Maybe I'm projecting my probable expectations but I hope there are excellent rest times and play times and times to congratulate one another for your decision to make there. Selfish is the perfect description of me right now and can't wait for pictures and descriptions. Be happy there as I feel you all will be. Wish I could give you hugs and do a happy dance with you. So excited for you and Jean-Marc. So many new and happy memories to be made in La Ciotat and those new friends patiently waiting in the wings to greet you. Enjoy, embrace and know all of us would be there to help if you need us. The boxes can keep to themselves awhile...go visit la plage. It is waiting for you.
And when is Jules coming?
Much love and blessings and happiness and peace in your new home and may you never regret your decision.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

My thoughts were overcome by all the wonderful expressions of support offered by others. I especially loved what Kathi from Iowa had to say. As you settle in everything will become familiar and feel like home. And you will have a whole new set of experiences to share with your readers. Much courage to you and Jean-Marc as you work through the newness of this change ...

Julie Farrar

What a beautiful terrace. I know life will be completely different, but you will find your way quickly. I cried when my husband said he wanted to move rather than renovate. It broke my heart leaving behind my large gardens that stopped people in their tracks as they passed the house. Our new yard is about one third the size of the old. However, after a year I have a million ideas how to make this small space fabulous. I know your transition will be just as great.

Vada Hendrickson

Dear Kristin ~ remember your cooking shows in the kitchen with Smokey ? ~ Could you please do another one ~ Smokey was such a good cook and help to you ...... Love You and all your family & critters du jour ~
your happenings and stories and adventures were the greatest life experiences and thank you forever for sharing all these pictures and stories of your life ~ Many Cheers and xoxo's, Ciao Bella, Vada.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

Thanks Mary. Looking again at the photo I see Smokey's head which gives me a good reference height!

Betty Gleason

Wishing you all only happiness in your new home! New beginnings can be so invigorating ( after the exhaustion of the move;) hope this one is for you.

Jill Switzenberg

Good luck in your home. Scary as it can be, I'm sure it will end up being more wonderful than you imagined. As you can see by all these comments, you have lots of positive thoughts going your way!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Vada. I am just now waking up to this lovely chorus of friends, as Sue says, and counting my blessings. I will keep the cooking with Smokey video in mind. (Thank you for remembering!) So far we have made another batch of ratatouille in the bright yellow kitchen. Perhaps we could make some remoulade, next. Jean-Marc barbecued some tuna, last night, and the remoulade sauce would have been delicious with it. 

Kristin Espinasse

To borrow Chriss words, my thoughts are overcome by so many expressions if support! Jacqueline, your words about friends waiting in the wings are encouraging, as we will soon knock on our neighbors doors and invite them over for un apéro ! 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Gordon, 

These dear messages are the best house-warming gift! 

Leslie in Oregon

Your new home sounds and looks wonderful! I am paying close attention to everything you post about the move and the process of making this home your home, for my husband and I will be doing the same thing someday soon with our beloved longhaired Dachshund, Bob. (Henry, our magnificent Golden Retriever, Travelled Onward on May 30, after giving us, and I trust experiencing himself, 14 years, 3 months and 8 days of joy! We miss him mightily.) Congratulations and well done on all that you two have accomplished since you decided to move. May you make it a practice to pause each day (or at least most days) for a swim with Smokey and lunch at the plage, Leslie P.S. Do you speak to Smokey in French rather than English most or all of the time? I have always taken great pleasure in speaking to my dogs in French (or, for an urgent command, Russian). That's the one way I can speak in those languages without feeling self-conscious. Please give Smokey a hug, and Lily a stroke (as soon as she will allow it), from me.


Bonjour Kristi!

Best wishes to you and Jean Marc on your new home! What a great life .. Once the movers leave off to the beach for lunch. That's unheard of. It all sounds wonderful. And Smokey has a lovely new friend. Best wishes to you all in your new home.


maria bergman


Wishes for an exciting and happy adventure!


Bonjour Kristi et Jean-Marc!

Here's wishing you the best of time in La Ciotat! I still cannot believe I was visiting that town last May and was looking for ...Bandol!

Je suis bien heureuse pour vous!

Cate Salenger

It looks lovely! I'm so happy for you!

Cathy AbouSakher

Best of luck on your new adventure! Can't wait for more information on the move and your new life!!!


Welcome home Kristen already sounds wonderful ...especially the beach so close to you .
You are home sweet home ..a new adventure ....and we get to join you in your stories ..
Enjoy and best wishes to you all


In 1987, we discovered La Ciotat because of dear French friends living in Fontsainte, and have visited there many, many times. It's such a lovely, sweet town - you will be so happy there.
Congratulations on the sale, the purchase, and the move. Suggested name: chien et chat!

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