Another way to get French strangers to talk to you + Canne à pêche
Family Safe in Mexico + Secret to traveling/working in France at the age of 90!

Brugnon...or nectarine? (A two word hint: sticky pits) + bee or wasp? And an easy recipe for fruit crumble

Brugnon nectarine tree loveseat yellow flowers (c) Kristin Espinasse
The word brugnon is used when the pit sticks to the flesh, whereas the word nectarine is used when the pit is free. In English and in other languages, only the word nectarine exists, whether or not the pit sticks. Listen to the sentence in French, below. (photo: A brugnonier, or nectarine tree, at our former vineyard.)

un brugnon

    : nectarine

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the French sentence, below.

Download Brugnon 2

Le terme brugnon est alors utilisé lorsque le noyau adhère à la chair, tandis que le terme nectarine est utilisé lorsque le noyau est libre. En anglais, et dans d'autres langues, seul le terme nectarine existe, indépendamment de l'adhérence du noyau. -Wikipedia 


by Kristi Espinasse

I am getting ready to make a third crumble this week. It's been a lively one, this past semaine, with old friends, new departures (I've begun riding my bike again!), and a very itchy and swollen pied gauche. I was stung by something on Tuesday, while heading out on foot to the farmers market....

I had just put on my trusty yellow sneakers (a hand-me-down from Jackie, the baskets are really orange and only appear to be as yellow as my kitchen) when I felt the most painful piqûre on the top of my foot. MY first thought after what in the heck, was I hope this is one of those good stings!

I searched the ground for a flailing bee (and the top of my foot for a stinger), but saw nothing.... and thought nothing more about it until the coming restless night. My foot itched terribly. The next morning it began to swell and swell.

That day artist and teacher Tess, and my friend Lee came for lunch, along with Lee's daughter Melissa.  "Are you sure it wasn't a spider?" Tess said.

Was a toothy araignée lurking inside my trusty (can they still be trusted?) tennis shoes? But araignées don't sting do they? The shoot of pain I felt was definitely a sting and not a bite!

"Keep your eye on it and if it doesn't get better get to the doctor," my friend urged. Tess rummaged through her purse and, tada!, produced a tube of Anthisan... I had never heard of it before. "You can only get it in England," Tess said, and her singsong response made me wonder what other remedies the English kept in their medicine cabinets?

"I'll  squeeze some on a plate," I said, but Tess insisted I keep the entire tube. I'm glad she did because I had to keep applying it throughout the day and night.

The next morning Jean-Marc and I headed to the old port here in La Ciotat. When I suggested we ride our bikes, he was pleasantly surprised (I have not been on my bike since we lived in Ste Cécile...).  

New bike in ste cecile

    Eight years ago in Ste Cécile...

The swelling in my foot had gone down and I carefully tied the tongue of my baskets back, with the help of my shoe laces. My swollen ankle had more room this way and the bite marks could better heal. A very tight bubble began to rise above those bites (or stings?). Running my finger across the "cloque" (as Jean-Marc called it) I wondered whether to listen to my husband (and pierce it) or leave my body's defense system to finish the job it had begun.

Wooden ramp in la ciotat seafront

There on my bicycle for the first time in years, I followed my husband who lead us along the boardwalk, down a bumpy wooden ramp to the sea and back up to the old port. We parked our vélos on one of the docks.... to check out a little boat... and then continued into the old town to buy some needed liquide vaisselle and some amandes effilées for the crumble I wanted to make.

As I rode my bike I noticed how an already colorful La Ciotat was even more vibrant.  The rush of happiness could only be explained by one of three things: getting back on that bike, time with friends, or that high voltage bee or wasp sting (I like to think that intense shot of pain amounted to something. But if it didn't, don't burst my bubble! (as I said to Nurse Jean-Marc who I'm sure was just dying to stick a pin in me).

*    *    *

French Vocabulary

les baskets = sneakers or tennis shoes
la semaine = week
le pied gauche = left foot
une piqûre = sting, bite
une araignée = spider
liquide vaisselle = dishwashing liquid 
une amande = almond
effilé = flaked

  Cut up nectarines or brugnons for a crumble or pie

Easy Crumble aux Brugnons

6 - 8 nectarines quartered, then cut into smaller quarters

Squeeze of lemon 

1 cup flour 

1 cup sugar (you can use half as much...)

1/2 cup butter (I used salted) 

2 tbsp oats (optional) 


Sliced almonds or other nuts

Put the cut up nectarines into a baking dish and squeeze some lemon over the fruit. Put one cup of flour into a medium-size bowl and add the cut up pieces of butter. With your fingers press the butter and flour together continually until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add  the sugar, sliced almonds, cinnamon and oats. Mix together before spreading the topping over the fruit.

Bake at 350f or 175C for 35-40 minutes 

Kristi riding bicycle

Last Thursday, riding towards the old port of La Ciotat.

Still reading? Don't miss the story "gribouiller" about Jackie and her handy tip for getting a pen to work! She is around 7 years old in the story... and can you believe she will turn 20 on Monday, September 18th? This reminds me of some good news I forgot to share: our daughter was accepted into art school in Toulon. Félicitations, Jackie!

If you are new to this word journal, you might enjoy the book Words in a French Life. It makes a good gift for a French learner or anyone interested in France.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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John in Paris

I've often wondered about how to ask for "freestone" peaches or nectarines. I've heard (and seen) both brugnon and nectarine used,
but it hasn't seemed to make a difference. I purchased some "nectarines" last week, but they definitely have "sticky pits." Is Wikipedia
wrong?? Or was the fruit I purchased just mis-named?


Having trouble downloading and hearing the audio

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the info, Wendy. I am working on this. 

Is anyone else still having difficulty accessing the sound file?


The Crumble sounds delicious.
I have gotten ant bits and each time I get bitten it gets worse and worse. My feet will swell, turn red and itch. I have had to take an antibiotic. The Brits have a lot of remedies which we do not have in the US or don't use. They are more homeopathic.
Enjoy your bike now that you are in a village and can ride relatively safely.


Linda Shepard

Oh yes, I have not been able to hear Jean-Marc for some time - since about the time you moved, alas.
Still, thanks for all you and Jean-Marc give to us ( including recipes for crumble....)


Our dear Kristi,
First of all,SO glad(and relieved!) that your foot is better!
Also that you are back on your bike!
You took us with you and Jean Marc on such a fun and scenic ride!!
And then,FELICITATIONS dear Jackie!Sharing your parents' pride and all of your happiness at this terrific news!
This crumble recipe sounds like heaven!
I read your post just before we went to the market,so bought the needed ingredients and will make it tonight.Yum!
Thank you!!
What a super weekend!
Natalia. Xo

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi.

So glad you are recovering from the sting or bite and are out and about again! It is so much fun to read about your new adventures in La Ciotat. You and Jean-Marc seem to live life to its fullest, no matter where you are and this little port city seems to agree with you. Congratulations to Jackie...such endless possibilities!

PS...I cannot access the soundfile either.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Natalia. I forgot to mention: for the crumble to be really good, the fruit must be in season. I used the end-of-season nectarines (after testing them by pressing the skin lightly with my finger and sensing the softness beneath). Whatever fruit is in season should work. Recently I used peaches and strawberries. Bon appétit, mon amie ! 


Pour les pêches les mots "cling" et "free-stone" sont utilisés par les anglophones ici en Californie. Mais je n'ai jamais entendu ou jamais vu une "nectarine" où la chair adhère au noyau. Heureux de lire ton blog. Dave

Judith Dunn

Kristi...sting...bite.. the are painful all the same! shake those sneakers out before wearing them would be a good idea.
idea before wearing them. I remember being so thrilled when I was accepted to Pratt Institute, a private
Art School in NYC! I grew up in a small town so the thrill of New York made me crazy with delight! It was there I
met the love of my life... still after 56 years! I never had a better time than when we met, married , had
our first child and livedin NYC for 10 fabulous years... I know Jackie is so happy and will be a great student. I can tell you two are
already beginning to love your new home! Best wishes, Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Soundfile/voix de J-M working fine here, by 4 pm in Ontario, Canada! Whatever fix you tried has done the trick, Kristi. May your bitten-foot recover very fast - 'been there, done that' and had to use oral antihistamines as well as ointment. Hellish itching. (Anthisan ointment is available here, but not in La France, even via, hélas.)
Hurray for touring Le Ciotat on your bikes together, and high-five félicitations to Jackie for her acceptance to Toulon (- ESADTPM, perhaps, with its venerable history?) Wherever: FAB!!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Oops- La Ciotat!


Bon weekend Kristi. Lovely post of you on your bike and wonderful recipe for a yummy crumble. Sunnier there than in Dijon clearly. Enjoying the weekend des Patrimoines and hope yet to see you both. Felitations a Jackie.


I have been unable to access the sound file for awhile now and truly miss hearing Jean-Marc !


Congratulations, Jackie. Wonderful news.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
The crumble looks delicious! I made a peach one this year! Have fun bicycling around La Ciotat!
Hope your foot is better!

joie in Carmel

Two weeks ago something got me on my knee. Red, itchy, a little swollen and a blister formed. i accidentally popped it a few days later. But aside from all that...I forgot my first line of defense for a bite or a sting.....meat tenderizer! It is the ONLY reason I keep it in the house. It does work...right away dab some on a sting or bite. Not an old wives tale, info given to me by and ER doc!
Making a peach crumble tomorrow...I use oats with it. Never tried it with nectarines for some reason.

joie in Carmel

The meat tenderizer has some enzyme in it that draws out the toxins of the bite.


Bonjour Kristi,
I also cannot access to the sound file.

As someone already suggested, I always "clap" my sneakers together that I keep in the garage (use them for yard work) before putting them on - just in case there's something inside!

Congrats to Jackie on her acceptance!

Tish from Powhatan, VA

Chris Allin

Another post script... havevdiscovered that I can hear Jean-Marc's recording on my desktop, just not on my iPhone!

Carolyn R Chase

Congratulations to Jackie - that's great news. And when stung, take Benadryl or another antihistamine which work on the allergic reaction. Ice on the spot right away keeps swelling (and discomfort) down, and ammonia used right away diminishes the sting - it's what's in the pens they have here for stings. In my experience comparing two different yellow jacket incidents the difference the above made was remarkable. Hope you heal soon.

Robbie Lane Jackson

Don't forget to keep Benedryl on hand. Do they have that in France? You could've been bitten by a spider, and what about a small scorpian or "gonga?" As a beekeeper, I can tell you meat tenderizer works on fire coral, when nothing else on the planet does. The quickest thing to stop a wasp or bee sting, handsdown, is a piece of cigarette or any tobacco, with water or saliva, to hold it together on the sting. Watch it, if you get stung again. It could be a much worse reaction next time, espec. since you don't know what it was. Something got me in WY this summer. I got sicker and sicker. Was out of it for two wks. A spider or scorpian, I think, searing, sharp bite, this pain, itching, swelling.

Glad you're better. Do shake out those shoes and keep bedcovers off the floor!

Patricia Sands

Great to see you back on your bike! Even with a nasty bite, it's good fun to go for a ride! D'accord?
Félicitations to Jackie! Life is good!

Karen Cafarella

Beautiful story and congrats to Jackie, how exciting.


Faye LaFleur

Crumble looks delicious...can't download audio either!

Anne Kennedy

Yes, me, too.

Ellen Corradini

Pas de probleme, Kristi; I can hear it fine. I hope your foot continues to improve!


Hi Kristi, Your pied?? Did it recover bien??? Blessings, C-Marie

Cynthia Lewis

Kristi, you never want to burst a blister of any sort nor stick a needle , even a sterile one, into a blister. The reason being that your skin is your first line of defense against an infection. I hope the symptoms from your bite/sting have subsided. Years ago when I visited my parents in South Florida, I learned to inspect my shoes each morning for scorpions! I no longer travel to tropical areas, but I still inspect my shoes.

Congratulations to Jackie! Wonderful news. Best wishes for all.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

At first glance (first cycling photo) I thought that Jean-Marc was doing a John Travolta ...stayin' alive, stayin' alive...

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Congrats to Jackie!!!

BTW, Kristi, I was stung this past week, too. Ouch! I'd heard about meat tenderizer, but had none & neither did my neighbor. Then I read baking soda helps relieve the pain for a bee sting and vinegar helps for a wasp sting. (Apparently, one is alkaline and one is acidic.) I did have benadryl on hand, and that helped! As did the after bite stick (with ammonia) for the itching a day or two later. (The bites from the tiny red fire ants here often give me blisters.) Hope your foot is feeling better!

And, this crumble sounds wonderful! Comfort food. Yum!


thank you the recipe for the Crumble aux brougnos. I shall make it tomorrow.
I couldn't download the audio either.



Bonjour Kristi - Hopefully your foot is much improved! I've had stings from wasps (guepe) in France and they sting, swell and itch!... Sometimes baking soda & water or some vinegar can help but still it takes time to improve.

Merci beaucoup for the write-up's on La Ciotat! I was hoping we could meet for coffee or lunch as my husband and I did visit La Ciotat based on your wonderful descriptions. We stayed in a chambre-d'hote in the hills above the city. We hiked to the lighthouse (militare), visited the Parc Naturel and the Botanic Garden. We also saw La Plage at Mugel but it was too chilly for a swim. I spotted the little restaurant pictured in one of your blogs but it was closed. We ended up having a great seafood lunch at "Red Sea" along the waterfront. We enjoyed walking around La Ciotat and visiting various sites such as the Eden Theater, Eglise, Musee and the shopping street.

It sounds as though you and Jean Marc are settling in well in your new home. How great to be able to walk or bike into town without having to drive!

Best wishes to you!


Have been an avid follower for years. No sound though!

Warren C. Plauche

Great to see paintable images from your camera again. Looking good on that bike. Is that your new place on the waterside? Looks like a chateau. Warren Plauche'


Two small points and I hope I'm not adding to any confusion. Re the audio files - when (on my computer) I click on "Download Brugnon 2" it offers to Open or Save. If I open I hear it and if I choose Save, it saves it as an audio file on my desktop. I THINK that some time ago, the link used to play immediately but to be honest this method is just as fast. The other point is bites - we've suffered 10 years now of mainly mosquitoes due largely to our proximity to a large dam and reservoir. Anthisan used to be the best of the bunch but recently I bought a UK Boots cream (Derma Care Itch Relief) whose main ingredient is Crotamiton and it's cheaper and significantly better. You could ask your local chemist for something similar. Incidentally in France I've found chemists very knowledgeable and helpful and would highly recommend using your local one (and swop if they're not friendly).

Kristin Espinasse

Margaret, Thank you for your helpful notes about the soundfile. Also, the comment from Chris brings up the question of iphones... Jean-Marc thinks the soundfiles could be incompatible with those.

We do have some good products and helpful pharmacists here. 👍👍


Loved the photos and the smile on your face as you were cycling. I started cycling again when I was around 45 and have been doing it for the past twenty years in Toronto. I prefer it to walking as I have some arthritis. The city is gradually adding dedicated bike lanes although it's taking a while. We also have a few recreational trails that are lots of fun to ride on when it's cool and sunny. As for your bites, it sounds to me like a spider bite. I have had them before - a single red, swollen, very itchy bite. Twice on my eyelid. Horrible! May your bite soon be a dim memory.


Another wonderful 'life story' - thank you! Congratulations on getting back on your bicycle. In my next life I'm going to ride a bike! Please forward my "Congratulations" to Jackie for getting accepted to the program and "Bon Anniversaire" to her! I hope your sting is abating! On mosquitoes which I seem to be allergic to - they become quite painful and take forever to heal - I found Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer helps a lot - maybe there's vinegar in it, as vinegar helps, too!


I fear you are right. I can't get the sound files on my iPad or my iPhone, only on my computer. That's not a problem for me but it might be for others, especially those on the move.

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

First : Very Happy birthday to Jackie! Welcome to her 20th birthday candles! Yes, time flies : my son celebrated his 31st birthday 8 days ago and 3 days ago, we celebrated the very 1st month of our wonderful first grand-son! What a super great year!

Second : as you live in the lavender country, try a drop of aspic lavender oil on your painful sting, this do marvel on wasp or bee stings. I don't know how to translate "l'essayer c'est l'adopter", but... it's true!

the actual "recipe" is : 2 drops of aspic lavender every 5 minutes for half an hour. Miraculous ! (we have huge and very agressive wasps round here and... lavender has become my best friend when I get stung !!)

Have a bright day.

Janet Neckyfarow

A spider bite on my ankle on a Wednesday took 3 weeks to heal. I saw the doctor after the weekend, antibiotics were prescribed and I was told that I had done a great job treating it. [When the blister became so large that I couldn't wear shoes, I punctured it with a sterile needle, initially sprayed it with hydrogen peroxide followed by water, dabbed it constantly with alcohol and coated it with bacitracin. Despite this treatment, a thick yellow pus oozed from the blister for days and in order not to leave a trail behind me, I had to repeat it almost hourly for a day after puncturing it.] I hope your bite/sting has healed. I know you'll check your shoes from now on!

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, I hope your bite/sting is better - you've been given several things to try to relieve the symptoms. You might consider Orajel or something comparable, used to relieve gum pain for teething babies.

Happy Birthday to Jackie, and congratulations on her admission to art school. I had thought she wanted to pursue a career in fashion; has she changed her mind? Or is the art part so she can design fabrics?

It sounds as though you are settling in; I'm glad you seem content.

Looking forward to trying the crumble.


Kirsti, I'm just sitting down to catch up on your stories from the past week. I hope your ankle is feeling better now. Congratulations to Jackie! Thank you for the delicious recipe. I'm looking forward to trying it soon. Summer is making its way to NZ and I'm looking forward to eating more locally grown produce, including peaches and nectarines.

You look serene and happy, and I love the yellow sneakers.

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