Brugnon...or nectarine? (A two word hint: sticky pits) + bee or wasp? And an easy recipe for fruit crumble
France's "Island of Beauty" and the expression "essuyer les platres"

Family Safe in Mexico + Secret to traveling/working in France at the age of 90!

Lou harvesting in Cadiere d Azur

Our son, Max, and my Mom are safe in Mexico after yesterday's earthquake. We are saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Mexico. Before hearing the news, I had planned on sharing the story of my 90-year-old reader from Florida who is traveling solo in France...looking to start a new chapter in Antibes, considering a job, and maybe a French girlfriend. Inspiring story below.


    : onward! full steam ahead. Let's go! Press on!


Download En avant

Le secret d'une longue vie? C'est "En avant!" comme dit Lou Bogue
The secret to a long life? "Press on!" as Lou Bogue says.


by Kristi Espinasse

The last time we saw Lou was at our 2010 harvest in Sainte Cécile. He was 80-something at the time. Well, on September 30th Lou will turn 90 -- while on vacation in France.

...Unless Lou's vacation turns into a long-term commitment! "Do you think I could find a job?" Lou asks over lunch at our neighborhood restaurant here in La Ciotat. Jean-Marc, who is sharing the booth, looks doubtful (owing to French bureaucracy or Lou's age?)....

In order to pursue his dream of moving from Florida to Antibes, Lou's going to need an income. "You may be able to work under the table," I say in a kidding way (I am only kidding if the French authorities are reading....). I look across the table to the man with bright blue eyes, rock star long locks (in white), and a slight hunch (I hadn't noticed when he arrived, earlier, after a two-hour grape harvest with Jean-Marc at a friend's vineyard). "I lost a few inches of height after a car accident in my 50s!"

Lou pokes around at his plate of fish (he doesn't eat meat), apologizing for not being able to eat it all. Next, he tells us he walked everywhere, last week, in Paris. "Had no problems with the Métro. So easy to get around... I just needed more time to see everything. I want to see everything!"

This, dear reader, is one secret of Lou's good health and longevity. "Yes, it is my outlook. I want to be around to see what happens next!" Lou cited everything from Elon Musk to, well, grapes! He has been following our chapter by chapter story since our kids were very little. And when Jackie designed her first raincoat, Lou wrote in to the comments, sharing he once worked for London Fog. Every one-line blog comment before and since has been a great source of encouragement to me and my family. Lou is, as you'll soon learn, a born coach (his mentor was a famous basketball coach named John Wooden. Read about him).

Lou's had several jobs since high school (one of his life regrets is not graduating and furthering his education. His other regret is not coming to France at the age of 50, and following all of his dreams back then. I look over at my husand, who turned 50 this year and left his career in wine follow his own heart).

To see Lou and Jean-Marc sitting side by side across from me in the booth is chanceux to say the least. Two amazing men, 40 years apart....

There is so much I want to tell you about both men, especially Lou--on whom I've scribbled a page of notes, everything from "golf passionate" to his favorite BedyCasa (rooms for rent in France) to "Press on!" (Lou's advice when aches and pains set in "Just press on. There is so much to see and do. What good is it to complain or pay to pay attention to pain?").

Yes, there is so much I want to tell you about Lou, but, like Lou, I'm beginning to feel an itch to get outside and experience life, to spend less time behind a computer screen (my husband signed off Facebook. I wonder if I will do the same?). Lou understands that! He's torn between writing his own story and living his story.  How I can relate!

"I can write it all down later," Lou decides. I want to live past a hundred. And why not to 130?" Lou smiles, and my eyes jump back and forth between my husband's face and the soon-to-be 90-year-old's. Both men have wrinkles. And both have grins. But for a 40-year lapse, they are just a couple of extraordinary guys.

So it's no use selling Lou on blogging as a way to earn some cash to pay for his living expenses. "Well, maybe I can find a French girlfriend," Lou lights up.

That's good, but I have another idea: knowing that Lou's dream has always been to be a coach. "why don't you be a coach in the modern sense of the word? You could coach people on lifestyle issues. You are such an encourager, Lou, and a real inspiration! You emanate it!"

Before I say goodbye to Lou, I want to know more about his good health. "I know you don't eat meat but can share more about your diet?"

"At eighty, I began to reduce sugar and salt...there is already so much of it in everything we eat! And I love yogurt. Eat a lot of it to keep my bones strong for walking!"

"What about stress," I ask Lou, who is leaning back so casually on my couch.

"I don't know stress!!"

"Well, everyone has stress," I argue. "What if you are about to miss a plane. And you are running...running for the gate?"

"I won't run for any gate. I'll take the next plane." 


*    *    *

I hope you found some inspiration in our friend, Lou. Lou could not say enough about his own source of inspiration, Coach Wooden. To understand more about Lou's outlook, read one of John Wooden's books.

Jean-Marc and Lou in La Ciotat

An old comment I found from Lou:

Hello, I never miss your blogs and I will never forget the 2 days i spent clipping your grapes and our conversation under the mulberry tree and our pic that you posted on your blog and the great pics i have of all the folks that helped on that harvest and the reason i came to your farm, after meeting Chief grape at a wine tasting here in Tampa, set up by our mutual friend Charles. I regret not being able to find the farm last year but as Jean-Marc, explained on my call, that it had not been a good day, something to do with equipment. I am blessed to have met you all, will be 85 this Sept. but good memories never die, much good luck to you and yours. Lou

Jackie turns 20 years old chocolate peanut butter cake

As Lou says, "Good memories NEVER die." Let's all go out and make some good memories today! Here is one from our daughter's 20th birthday, Monday. I asked her to imagine herself, 70 years from now, traveling solo to one of her favorite destinations. Whether you have 5, 10, or 70 years ahead of you -- so much to do and see. En avant, dear reader, en avant!

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.

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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Glad max and mom are safe! Hope you are well!


P,s. Loved the story about Lou. We should all take his advice.


How fabulous! Onward!

Kristin Espinasse

Buffy, You are one of those inspiring people! I will never forget your driving (after flying from America)from England to the south of France--and beyond--as a single mom with two teenage boys!


So happy to hear your family in Mexico is safe.
Loved the story about Lou. You, too, are an inspiration!
Keep the optimism and positive energy flowing.


Thank you for Lou's story! What an inspiration and motivation!


Hi from Texas. Very glad to hear Mom and Max are safe. Between the hurricanes and earthquakes, enough is enough Mother Nature! I really enjoyed reading about Lou. It gives me encouragement for my new undertaking at age 71, traveling to Marfa TX (if you don't know about it, be sure to read about it) to "fix up" a 1940 built small adobe house starting next month. Will keep you posted! Keep up the writing!

Kristin Espinasse

Sounds like a great project, Meiling. And thanks for the wonderful encouragement!

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

"Torn between writing his own story and living his own story" ... yes, sometimes the living, the reason for being alive, can be put aside and eventually forgotten.

Vicky from Athens

What an inspiring man! I want to be like him when I grow up - which won't be long since I'm about to turn 73!

Alyssa Eppich

Lou is marvelous! Joi de vivre lives in him! I can only hope for his kind of future.........


Huge relief to hear your news. Hpoed you would post - but didn't want to ask.

Judi in Lake Balboa

So happy Max and Jules are ok. My wonderful handyman, Alvaro, flew last night to Mexico where his parents and much of his family is living in Puebla, the epicenter of the earthquake. I'm praying for them all. One never knows what might be around the corner, Lou has the right idea, to LIVE!!! My husband went to UCLA during Wooden's reign and was also a big fan and promoted much of his philosophy as a high school teacher. I love Lou. Would love to tag along - not sure I could keep up! :) but it would be wonderful, I'm sure!

Donna Carpentier

I'm so happy to hear your mom and Max are safe! Thank you for sharing Lou's story; it's the encouragement I need to pursue my own little venture! I've been reading and supporting you form the beginning (while almost never commenting)-- our kids are almost the same ages: Sebastien, 23 and Cameron, 20, so they've grown up kind of in tandem, which is fun! Your life has been my dream, and this latest move to la Ciotat is just another similarity (although mine is just one of my wishes, to own a home in nearby Cassis). With all of your stories, and especially this one about Lou, I'll be pursuing a one-year teaching gig in France next year. Who knows, maybe it will turn in to more than year!?

Kristin Espinasse

That is exciting. Bonne chance, Donna (and future neighbor?) 


A good encouragement to write on my daughter's white board! She's a stressed out senior in high school and needs positive words. So glad to hear your family in Mexico is safe. I've been a reader for about five years now and keep you all in my prayers!

joie in Carmel

Yes, there is much to live for and I do stress the word "live". Obviously, just existing is not an option for Lou. My father is 93 and has much the same philosophy. In my 70's (how did that happen) I refuse to regret anything, perhaps a couple of things I would have done differently, but And as for the future, well "en avant"....I will never give up or give in. Too much to still see and do. The bucket list is short, but every time I cross something off, Hopefully to one day finally meet you two.
La vie c'est bon!.

joie in Carmel

Oops...everytime I cross something off the list, I add another "to do". That way the list will never expire.

Suzanne Codi

Lou is a rare gem, and such an inspiration!! I met a " Lou" when I was 18. He was originally from Australia, had arrived in San Franciso as a young man on a ship, and could not disembark for days because of the big fire that was engulfing SF just at that time! He lived across the street from my parent's house in Washington, DC, and when he found out I was enrolled at American University, he asked me to help him with his French homework, because he was taking French at AU as well, a lifelong dream to learn the language!! And he was 90 years old!! I'll never forget Stanley Beale and how fascinating my time spent with him was. Treasure every moment with Lou, he sounds wonderful, and his outlook on life is the best!!!

And so glad your family is safe after the earthquake. My family is in SW Florida, everyone safe also after Hurricane # 1, hope the other one on the way veers on another direction, away from land.

Please tell Lou that I love your idea of coaching, sounds like he's be a natural!

Bisous a vous tous, Suzanne

Kristin Espinasse

Joie, You have motivated me to start a bucket list! Looking forward to seeing you in person one day. Wonderful to read about your Dad. 

Faye LaFleur

Love this post and Lou's zest for life! Happy to family is ok.


We should all keep our youth, no matter our age. Think young & travel! Lou sounds great & has the right idea. Thanks for sharing your get together. I look forward to my 39th or 40th trip to Paris next month. I never tire of France, but can only do the 11 days in Paris-need the city vibes. But not the city vibes of Mexico City. It is a good thing your mother & son don't live near there, and I am glad I moved from 66 years of California earthquake country to Taos, NM. Not to fear!!


Kristin, such an interesting story about Lou. " Johnny" Wooden is from my hometown!!! Love reading how his life was an inspiration to others.

And so glad your loved ones in Mexico are safe and sound.

More pictures of La Ciotat, please! It looks gorgeous from what little we have seen. Your family has lived in some beautiful places, the heart of which is beautiful France!!


Happy to read about your motherand son.
We all need Lou in our lives, saving this post
so I can keep Lou in my life.

Taste of France

Lou sounds amazing. Making the most of life.
Thoughts to the poor people in Mexico. One disaster after another.

Roddy Smith

Twenty years ago this month I gave up the life in France as an expat and moved back to the States. Today's post reminds me that nothing is permanent and that my dream of returning back to my favorite place on Earth has every reason to stay alive. Thanks Kristi for the visits back to France you give me each week.

Kristin Espinasse

Follow your dream, Roddy! Nothing is permanent and change is good. 


That's great news about your family, and such an enjoyable story about your friend Lou. What an inspring and wise man!

Deborah Zajac

It's wonderful to hear Max and Jules are safe!

Today's post is so uplifting, and inspiring! What a jolly fellow Lou is! I hope I'm as active, and still around at 90.

En avant! :)

Gwyn Ganjeau

oh my, that grin on Lou's face just cracked my heart wide open. what a gem. what a powerful way to walk through life -- always looking forward with excitement. he just coached me from afar! :)

Barbara B

I can't say enough how happy it made me to picture Lou and you and your husband all sitting together having this conversation.
It brought a huge smile to my heart.
My take away....there is hope. There is an amazing life just waiting for me to grab it.

Diane Scott

Lou is remarkable and a true inspiration! I pray he lives to be as old as Methuselah so that he can live his dream! But I must confess that I am the proverbial hearth cricket; Louisa May Alcott's "Beth" who asked the poignant question, and I paraphrase, "Why does everyone want to leave home?" I look forward to the time when I no longer have to race to my office, when I can see what each room of my home looks like bathed in the unique patterns of sunlight or shadow as the day brushes past,and watch which birds visit my feeder and which squirrels peek through my kitchen window throughout the day.

Lou, you are marvelous! I will keep the home fires burning in Florida until you return!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Good to hear Jules and Max are okay. Loved this uplifting story on Lou! Sounds like your move is breathing fresh air into your lives, too. En avant!

Julie Farrar

I'm so glad to hear that your family is safe. I'm waiting to hear from some friends who still have family down there. Mother Nature is truly angry with us. Fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods. When is the plague of locusts coming?

Stories like Lou's keep me motivated. I have too many aches and pains to count, and I'll probably need a knee replacement. However, like Lou says, there is still too much to see and do to stop -- from the basics of creating a new garden at my new house to visiting a new state or country. Press on!

Lynne Schweitzer

Loved today's post! Very inspiring!


Crazy, devastating storms/earthquakes/hurricanes/flooding... but also relieved to know your family is okay... Talked with my 97-yr. old Dad yesterday... a WWII Veteran (landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day) and there were power outages, flooding, some homes damaged and lots of debris everywhere in his area... but he is okay!... That's a relief!... difficult when you're so far away!

So... be THANKFUL... and enjoy each moment!... like your inspirational 90-yr. old friend. Thanks for another great article!

Maureen Winterhager

What a fab character! Thank you for the "introduction".
Leave Facebook? Never!! Just two hours ago I met a "friend" - physically - whom I'd only seen on Facebook up to now.....via our (closed) jewelry pages....
I meet so many wonderful friends that way.....worldwide...... common interests, fascinating stories.....
Nowhere else could that happen...


Thank you!! It was nice meeting you in person for the first time then.

Judith Dunn

.... Thank God, Jules and Max are safe from harm. I believe people like Lou are the most important people in the world! They are the real gurus of life as they can teach all of us , no matter what age we are, so very much about living our lives to the utmost! He gives the rest of us hope to be the best we can be and to live in the present and continue to explore our futures. You are fortunate to have him as a friend... may God continue to bless all three of you! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.

Saint Jivago Desanges

I love the story about Lou. Regarding John Wooden, I went to UCLA in the late 1960s during Wooden's coaching era and I still read his many books and follow UCLA sports. I think Wooden's books and philosophy rank right up there with those of Kahlil Gibran who wrote THE PROPHET. Wooden was really a coach of life. I was a French major in college and thought of moving to Paris to work as a fashion photographer in the 1970s but I never made the move and just traveled there every year or so ever since. Have you chosen a name for your new home yet? How about Villa Le Bonheur, Villa Feliz, Mundo Feliz, Buena Vista, Nuestro Sueño? I'll keep thinking.
Meilleurs voeux pour vous et votre famille,

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Jivago. Good to read your praises for John Wooden. I look forward to reading one of his books. No, we have not yet chosen a name, and may just skip it. 

Maria Cochrane

Praise God for their safety...and I know all of us are heartsick over the suffering brought on in all these disasters.

The website/service you mentioned, Have you used it? What do you think?

Rejoicing with you about your move to La Ciotat. 50 is pretty significant and makes one evaluate how one wants to spend each fleeting day remaining.....

Barbara johnson

En Avant! I love it as a motto. Happy that your family is safe in Mexico. Thanks for sharing Lou.

Diane Covington-Carter, Eight Months in Provence, A Junior Year Abroad 30 Years Late

I also went to UCLA during John Wooden's reign. Very powerful. Thanks for the wonderful story about Lou. My husband and I are currently cycling along the Canal du Midi in Provence, 40K per day and we're 'seniors'. Such fun! En avant!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Maria, I have not used Bedycasa. Lou has used it for his past trips to France, and recommends it. It is founded by a young French woman. Lou calls it a French Air BnB, and thinks it began before the more well-known company. It is just smaller, cosier.

Audrey Wilson

As I commented on FB I was so happy that Jules & Max are safe i Tell Lou he is an inspiration to me Being post operation (back surgery I need to use ‘En avant' to get going more .I’m impatient !!!
Love the photo Tell Lou perhaps I’ll meet him one day on his travels !!
Audrey 83 !!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Such a heart-lifting blog today, with good news re Mexico family and a great visit with the admirable Lou! THANKS, Kristi -- love the photo of your two remarkable lunch companions side-by-side, very much.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

PS -- AND, of course, felicitations to Jacquie/Jackie on her milestone birthday!


Many thanks for writing that Jules and Max are safe and sound. Our hearts reach out to the thousands of people who are suffering due to the many storms recently.

On a much happier note: Jackie is lovely as she looks at her 20th birthday cake. Happy Birthday, Jackie! This, followed by Lou's story and outlook on life made for a very special FWAD today.

My thanks again and best wishes for all.


Our dear Kristi,
First of all,giving prayers of thanks that Max and Jules are safe!
Also,needless to say, continued prayers,too, for that all affected by this terrible earthquake.
Oh!Dear Jackie,happy birthday! How lovely you are(!) and what an exciting time for you!
Only one word or Lou: awesome!
Strauss wrote a waltz called "Enjoy Your Life" and I like to believe that he somehow knew his words would come true through someone like Lou(,and hopefully(!!!!)also all of us).
Age seems to have a way of sneaking up on one;what an inspiration to see and hear to not let it become a hinderance.
En avant! Such wonderful advice!
Thank you,Kristi,for sharing this reminder!
Natalia XO

Patricia Sands

What a fabulous photo of those two handsome guys! Lou truly is an inspiration and I have every intention of following in his footsteps! 100 ~ why not? En avant! (And great to hear Jules and Max are safe.)

Suzanne Dunaway

So glad all are safe. LOVE, LOVE LOU!!! How is your foot? Lou could counsel, for sure and make money. An intriguing project. And yes, I left Facebook the first week it started. Good for Jean Marc....

Sarah LaBelle

That is a wonderful guest.
Re the sound file, still the same for me. It does not work on the smart phone, just a dark screen with a thin line, and it does work on the laptop but does not go to a separate tab on Firefox, so I can read and hear at the same time.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Sarah, for the sound file feedback. This time I was unable to use my usual file editing program. 


Thankfully everyone is safe in Mexico . I love your new home here in France . May each new day bring peace & happiness xx elizabeth

Sh'reen Morrison

Dear Kristi,

Thank you for being you. Best regards to Jean-Marc.
Will never forget meeting him years ago in North
Hollywood. Need to meet you now. Have my house
for sale in Yuma, AZ. Been here 19 years. Quite long
enough unless I find something cheap !

Have not been to France since 1960. Why does it have
such a draw for so many ?

Glad all is well for your family and others on this blog.
Nothing happens in Yuma ! LOL !

Until another day ...

Blue Butterflies to you,

Sh'reen Morrison

Cheryl in STL

What a special post today! And it's so good to know that your family is safe.

Diane Young

Dear Kristi,
So glad Jules and Max are safe. Having just survived Hurricane Irma, I realized how much worse it is for some in Mexico. We are praying for the safety of our neighbors to the south as we pray to be spared Hurricane Maria and any others to come. While I was without power for a week, I reread your 3 books. Thank you for writing. Never stop.


Great post and great comments today. I like Lou's comment about taking the next airplane. I think it was Garrison Keillor who said that if you've never missed a flight, you're spending way too much time in airports!
Glad to hear everyone is safe. What a tragedy in Mexico...

Christine Broussard

Forwarding your blog to a lady who also live by LOU's precepts and writes about it in a blog as well.
Enjoyed reading your post.


Lou looks (his smile lights up the room) and sounds like the type of person I strive to be every day. What an inspiring story!

Jackie looks beautiful in the photo, and the cake you made in her honour must have been fabulous. I love anything with chocolate and peanut butter. Yum!

Patty C in Roanoke, Va

Kristi, what a lovely post. It is delightful & inspiring to read about Lou. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts with us. Best wishes, Lou, as you continue your journey in Belle France.

Kristin Espinasse

Dear Diane, Thankful you are OK! Your prayers for others remind us all to continue to think of, reach out, and help those affected by the recent hurricane, earthquakes, and threats we are reading about in the news. 

Your note about rereading those books is such an encouragement to me. Thank you 💞😘😘

Anuj Agarwal

Hi Kristi,

My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog French Word-A-Day has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 French Blogs on the web.

I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 French Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.



what a great story of a man who continues to live life to the fullest! I'm not sure that I want to live as long as he does (in my early 60s now), but I do want to make the most of every day God gives me on this earth. Blessings on you all.

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