A Happy Ending in La Ciotat + Donner du fil à retordre
Brugnon...or nectarine? (A two word hint: sticky pits) + bee or wasp? And an easy recipe for fruit crumble

Another way to get French strangers to talk to you + Canne à pêche

Mediterranean sar fish poisson saar from the coast of La Ciotat France green plate yellow kitchen tiles
Our retro yellow kitchen here in lively La Ciotat makes a catching backdrop for JM's catch: a Mediterranean sar ("saar" in English. Not that that's any help for most of us trying to figure out just what kind of poisson this is!). They do, however serve sar in many seaside restaurants here along the south coast.

la canne à pêche

    fishing pole, fishing rod

Listen to the following example sentence in French: download Canne à pêche

Une canne à pêche sert à attraper des poissons. 
A fishing pole is used to catch fish.


    by Kristi Espinasse

Non, after ending his career as a paysan, Jean-Marc is not retiring! It only looks as though he is! Especially in the photo near the end of this missive. My husband will continue his work in wine. Instead of farming, he'll stick to the wine business (and blending...), discovering good local wines and connecting French wine growers with US importers. Jean-Marc would also like to source grapes and continue making wine, a passion that has not left him....

Meantime the new ciotadin (resident of La Ciotat) is discovering other pleasures--like la pêche! Yesterday our bungalow, our patio, and a part of our yard was tangled in meters upon meters of fishing line as Jean-Marc tried to assemble his new canne à pêche.

Ah, this'll be a good activity for him, I thought, teaching him patience. (But when he called me over to help, I got sucked into the @#&!! test of patience, too!)

Golden retriever Smokey outside yellow kitchen
Our 8-year-old golden retriever, Smokey. His hanging tongue is a séquelle, or consequence from the past...

Smokey and I were careful not to add to the frustration by getting tangled into the growing line (it now reached our newly-planted fig tree at the edge of our lot). Finally, the would-be fisherman reeled in the unknotted line and set out on foot to the nearest digue--his wine-harvest bucket (serving a new purpose) swinging from his arm.

Strangely, no other fishermen were present. Perhaps the day after a storm is not the time to fish? I'd heard of troubled waters.... Jean-Marc assured me people were fishing--he could see them farther down the coast. Donc tout était bon--and he had digue, or seawall, all to himself!

But where were all the fish? When the store-bought appâts (vers américans, or American worms) did not attract any fish, he remembered the humble, trusty, arapède. There were dozens of the little creatures (or "Chinese hats", for they resemble just that). Plucking up a few limpets, Jean-Marc then removed the snails from the shell and voilà--he immediately caught a fish!

Arapede limpet snail bait appat
Finally he could answer a pertinent question posed by the occasional passant, who slowed each time to inquire, Ça mord? Anything biting?

Oui! ça mord! Yes, they're biting!

And, dear reader, I think we can say as well that Jean-Marc has been bitten by the joy of fishin'.

Setting up his fishing pole canne a peche in the digue sea wall france la ciotat
Learn the expression coller comme une arapède, in this early blog story from 2005, taking place in the seaside town of Sète... 

French Vocabulary & related terms

la canne à pêche = fishing pole

le poisson = fish

la pêche = fishing

la digue = sea wall

donc tout était bon = so all was well

l'appât (m) = bait, lure

un hameçon = fishing hook

l'arapède = limpet

Ça mord ? = any bites?

sar = a Mediterranean fish, the nam 'sar' designates many kinds of edible fish.

passant(e) = passer-by


Who could not be happy in a sunshine yellow kitchen (from the 50s or 70s, we do not know)? It's not the most comfortable kitchen, but it has a nice look, doesn't it? A few readers had a solution for the low counter top: Sit down when you chop! So I did, and discovered that by opening one of the cupboards, I have a place to put my legs :-)



Thanks to Nick and Jill Cook for sending this picture of The Connexion interview. Thank you, Jessica Knipe for the interview. You can read part of it here (if I get a copy of the paper, I will share it).

Ice cream
The nice thing about fishing at this digue its proximity to the ice cream truck. Jean-Marc ordered caramel sale and I got the menthe chocolat.

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jens from Copenhagen

Hi Kristi,

Poisson is lacking 's' in the beginning of post.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Jens! I will fix it before anyone else logs on :-)

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

And it looks as if Jean -Marc has the whole of the seawall to himself...Brilliant!


Gosh, you AND your beloved dog have BOTH been "through the wars" in the past, haven't you? Yet you both keep smiling which reminds me to try to do the same. And yes, the sunshine yellow kitchen is rather charming. I love the way you are revealing little glimpses of your new home, one at a time. Very intriguing. You have the knack of hooking in your readers in the nicest way. I look forward as ever to the next "chapters" and best wishes to all of you, on a grey day in Yorkshire where I swear it has rained every day this summer - but it pales into insignificance in the face of the suffering of America which breaks my heart and has my daily prayers.

Kristin Espinasse

Margaret, A smile is a wonderful reminder to smile. I received a few unexpected ones, on recent walks. Always uplifting. Re revealing a little of the house at a time, I am glad you see it this way (I have no plan, but scramble when an idea for a post hits me :-) I have been meaning to write about a certain mystery connected to this house, one Jean-Marc recently discovered... 


Your posts are also "must smile" - always!


Your new life brings a smile to all ;)

Bernard Dolivet

La canne a pêche...This reminds me a conversation I had with my neighbor, let us call him Burt ( it is not his real name) , is an an outdoor person and an avid fisherman. His wife name is Annette ( this is very important for the rest of the story) and she does not like to go fishing with him and prefers to go shopping .
A few weeks ago I was in his garage and he was showing me all his fishing equipment, from his small boat that the tows behind his car to all the different fishing rods and the fishing nets to catch "big ones" . I asked him " When you go fishing, do you take a net with with you each time?"...He smiled and said...OH NO!...She stays home, I go fishing with my girl friend!



What a bright, sunshiny post for a Monday morning! I love the yellow in your cuisine and your sneakers that match. I have followed your blog since the beginning and continue to appreciate how you gracious you are to let us into your home and your life.

I love Smokey as much as ever and he looks so clever in the photo with his bandana!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

I love the cheerful kitchen and the cuckoo clock! We brought one back from Germany! My husband loves to fish and when I go along I bring a book and just float along in the boat. You have the right idea....ice cream! :-) What a beautiful, scenic place to fish!

Enjoy your week!

Kristin Espinasse

Salut Bernard, So good to hear from you. Thanks for the story you shared and the chuckle. It made me smile, just as these sunny comments, surrounding yours, have too. ☺️☀️

Faye LaFleur

Thank you so much, Margaret, for your thoughts and prayers on behalf of survivors of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and now Irma, in Florida. Red Cross accepting g donations for the billions of dollars of damage, food and clothing will be accepted as well.


What a small world. I met Bernard when we lived in Northern California, we moved not too far from where he was born in Brittany,
We kept in touch and I see his name on a blog from someone I met in Southern France, just as I was going to go to the tabac to buy a connexion.

Kristin Espinasse

Kris, I love this! I hope Bernard sees your comment. It was a pleasure to see his note. 


Hello Faye. Mmmm, yes, prayers are one thing - and to many people very important, regardless of one's faith or church - but it's clear that practical help is absolutely vital. I think in particular of the very young, the very old, and those who are alone. The Red Cross is an excellent idea and I will go online now and donate. There is wide, shocked and sympathetic headline coverage here in the UK and hopefully this will bring some practical support where it's most needed.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Margaret and Faye, for your thoughtful notes which encourage and remind us to help those affected by these ravaging hurricans. 


And I think most of us like a free extra - I know I do! I found out when I donated that my donation will be matched pound for pound by the UK government (up to the first £3 million). Plus I did something called Gift Aid (it involved ticking one box) which instantly added 25%. I couldn't help feeling pleased by that. I just mention these things for my fellow UK blog readers.


Kristi, I cannot download the example sentences any longer for some reason. I just get a black page with a line in the middle of it, and it doesn't download at all. Is anyone else having these difficulties? it has only been for a short while, never have had this problem before.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, we love following your newest adventures, and you look ready for anything with your bright yellow sneekers! Plus I ADORE the photo of the sar -- that's worth enlarging, framing, and hanging in your classic kitchen.

Roseann Milano

I believe that a stool might work better than sitting in a chair while you are at your kitchen counter.

Give that a thought-most kitchen stools are at least 24 inches tall whereas chairs are usually 18 inches tall.

I have used stools to 'perch on' when I didn't want to sit and be so comfortable. The stool was a perfect solution.

Robbie Lane Jackson

Remember the old kitchen stools, metal, narrow, red or yellow, and the steps pulled out from underneath, if you needed them to "walk up" to reach high cabinets. I loved my Mother's red one. It disappeared after she and my Father died. We've never found it. A perfect solution for that counter. Love your yellow kitchen and the light streaming in!

Julie Farrar

You won't hear anything bad from me about your yellow kitchen. I had my renovated kitchen painted a nice buttercream yellow. Fishing, eh? Doesn't La Ciotat have oursins in the water?

Valerie Meluskey

Yellow is a happy color! Think of Monet's kitchen with its yellow (and blue)--he had good taste, right? That shade of yellow was also one of Frank Lloyd Wright's go to colors.
Thank you for sharing your charming and blessed life with us.
May hurricanes never come your way!

[this print looks tiny--what to do? hope it doesn't transfer that way]

Sylvia Kingsley

Hello Kristin
You recently checked to see if I'm still on your radar..but unhappily
haven't received anything since Sept.5, so trouble seems to be this end finding you elsewhere....since seeing pictures of your Mom in those lovely bright shirts..have been trying to trace them in Puerto Vallarta...at Sucesos-wear boutique...might this be the store they came from? would appreciate knowing please....love your Mom's paintings.....After the Journalism career, I took up painting and exhibit here and there....wrote many stories about France in past..love it...and much enjoy your daily stories from La Ciotat..should like to write about that too one day. Have to hurry...90th birthday in November...Love to you all Sylvia

Deborah Auclair

Thanks for thinking of us here in America. Although I am in the north, I have many friends in Florida and Texas. My heart is broken truly broken because of what happened in St. Martin. I am many friends there as a result of more than 20 years of vacationing there. They are wonderful people and I am so sad to know that they are hurting.

Does France have an organization similar to our Red Cross so that I may contribute some funds? or is there an organization that is helping St. Martin.

Angela Sargent

A great photof the fish...did you take that?

Likewise my thoughts are with all the people affected by the hurricanes in the USA and Caribbean especially.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Angela. Yes, I took the picture with my phone (a Nexus 5 Android) 

Kristin Espinasse

Julie, JM has not looked for sea urchins yet. I do not think it is the season (or receive a 5,000 euro fine if caught with one! ). 

Kristin Espinasse

Roseann, great idea about the stool! I am reading these comments out of order (via my email), and just responded to Robbie, who also mentioned kitchen stools. I never paid attention to the difference in height. Interesting... 

Kristin Espinasse

Sorry about this, Meg. I noticed the file did nit upload in the same way today. I need to figure this out, after changing computers. Thanks for the report. 

Kristin Espinasse

Hello, Sylvia, Will look into this right away, and see to it that these posts will be delivered to your inbox. Enjoyed your comment and reading about your passion for writing and painting--it is inspiring. 

I have forwarded your note to my Mom. We will see if she has any ideas about where to find those shirts. Love, Kristi 

Kristin Espinasse

Robbie, yes, now that you mention it! Re the kitchen stool, our farmhouse, from before, had one...which actually had yellow in it if I remember correctly. Wish we had kept it, along with many of the things the former owners, Maggie and Michael, graciously left us (and which fit nicely in this new place... Oh those disappearing stools!) 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Cyn, for the great big smile you put on my face. 

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Happy, happy update! Both thrilling and relaxing to be made so welcome in your new milieu, dear Kids -- and this new portrait of Smokey: well, WOW!! Hugs to all including Ms Lily

Faye LaFleur

WOW!!! Margaret, that is just awesome information!! Who knew! Thank you again so very much. Sometimes people's compassion takes my breath away. I wish U many sunshiney days!

Kristin Espinasse

Rebonjour, Sylvia, I just heard back from my listserver, who sends out my newsletter. Here is the message :

Currently we are not having issues reaching the subscriber’s domain. As it is possible for email clients to update their security settings frequently, we recommend adding [email protected] to your approved sender list to ensure you are receiving mailings as intended. We also recommend the subscriber check any other folders they may have, as it is possible the mailing has been displaced.

In a nutshell, the emails are being sent to your inbox, but most likely they are ending up in a spam filter. Try adding the email mentioned above and let us know how this goes. Bonne chance! 

Leslie NYC

I am a tall cook and often improvise at jobs by putting a box or milk crate under my cutting board to save my back.
I too like your bold and cheery yellow tiles. They are gloom-proof!


Our dear Kristi,
The only thing as bright as your beautiful smile is your lovely yellow kitchen
and those super cool sneakers!
(So funny that you have to sit down to chop-- and I have to stand on a stool to reach anything on the cupboard!!)
Today's post once again(as always) captured my imagination--not only for such sage advice as to steer a wide path while one's other half is preparing a new project--but especially for being open minded to then try it(and like it!)(particularly the ice cream part:YUM!!)
What a wonderful article (and picture!!)
You so deserve it!
Natalia XO

Sylvia Kingsley

Hello Kristin
Thanks so much for your trouble re my lost emails....
and also for contacting your mum about those shirts...

Need a little help with the feedblitz advice, and will follow up shortly. Your news was getting into Spam, but that stopped too...
Sending warmest wishes, Sylvia

Cynthia Lewis

I love your charming bright yellow kitchen, most likely from the fifties. My husband's grandmother had a bright yellow kitchen with stiffly starched white "half curtains. Her treadle sewing machine was at the far end of the narrow room which must have been a porch at one time. Thanks for bringing these memories back for me. Be careful: you may catch the fishing "bug",too! Best wishes, as always.

Kristin Espinasse

That is a wonderful incentive. Thank you for the information, Margaret! 


Ice cream by the sea sounds heavenly.


Mmm! La glace by the sea. So great to see you and Jean-Marc exploring new interests in your new town!


Hi Kristi, How far is this lovely fishing spot from your house? It looks to be ideal, quiet and clean. I think that I would love it there. God bless, C-Marie

Ken Curtis

I would say that Jean Marc discovered something that many never do - and that is to do what makes you happy and not what circumstances want to direct you towards. He has not left the wine business, but has found that fishing, instead of stressing about his own vineyard, can be far more pleasant and enjoyable. Success in life belongs to those who collect the most memorable experiences in life and not to those who plunder their most valuable commodity chasing things which bring them no joy at all.

On a side note: The weather that destroyed so much of the Caribbean and created havoc in Florida has been followed by the human race from all over the globe via this amazing technology called the internet. I followed the storm via a friend who resides in St. Croix who provided digital images and updates. Also, my brothers son is the captain of a large luxury yacht based out of Miami that he had to shuttle to safety from Miami to Cancun, Mexico the night before the storm hit Florida. This amazing technology allowed us to have a real-time conversation while he was half way across the Caribbean Sea in the middle of the night. He in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and myself in my home in Turkey overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Never in history has the human race had such remarkable advantages - yet makes so little quality use of them. Your blog shows the world the quality and humanity of the French and helps to show Americans and others the real side of France instead of the stereo-typical image that many still harbor. Keep it up - I enjoy reading your posts immensely.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Ken, for such a thoughtful comment! As I write this Jean-Marc is on his bike, somewhere between Ceyrestes and Roquefort La Bedoule. I am about to walk to the farmers stand to get more fresh vegetables to prepare for friends. We are taking things day by day, taking the time to follow, as you wrote about, friends, current events, and, especially, family. Released from the big vineyard focus we can begin to pay more attention to our loved ones and to, as you say, begin to discover what makes us happy.

I am deeply touched by the comments on this blog. I am sorry for not answering each comment--or all of those that follow the posts. I do read every one and share many of your thoughts with my family--for whom my attention is focused more and more. Thanks for your understanding and for reading. I am so grateful! 

Kristin Espinasse

Margaret, There was no visible gift aid box to tick (or matched donation box) at the Red Cross USA site. Good news is they accept Paypal, for a fast, easy transfer. Update: just discovered the Gift Aid site. Great idea for those in the UK wanting to help out victims of these hurricanes. 


Yes, I should probably have explained more clearly. Apologies. Gift Aid is a scheme for UK people (only) who give to a charity - it means you can "add" the 25% tax you will have (on average) paid on each £1 you donate - so increasing the value of your gift by a quarter. It's so simple to do - you just tick the box that most charity sites offer you, saying you are a UK tax payer. Et voila! It's a really neat idea.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the helpful explanation 👍

Rich Saylor

Nice write-up... our kitchen has a pull-out breadboard/cutting board to one side of the sink; perhaps you could install one in your "new" kitchen!

Bonne rédaction ... notre cuisine dispose d'une planche à découper sur un côté de l'évier; Peut-être que vous pourriez installer un dans votre "nouvelle" cuisine!

Brenda Prowse

Bonjour Kristi, I am so glad to see you and Jean-Marc and Smokey enjoying your new home and discovering new past times. Your kitchen glows. Vegetables and fish wil make many happy meals and figs for dessert!! Bisous

Diane Young

Keep on keeping on! Please continue prayers for Puerto Rico, Mexico and the exasperating situation regarding "standing or kneeling" during the national anthem here in the states. With all the difficulties endured by so many storm victims, do we really need further controversy?

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