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Entries from October 2017

Eboueurs or imposters? Door-to-door calendar sales: attention aux arnaques!

Poubelle garbage bin can vine climbing France
Help edit today's post by contributing corrections--in French or in English, in the comments box. Merci beaucoup!

un éboueur

    : garbage collector, bin man

Audio File 

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read this sentence:

Un éboueur aussi connu comme agent de propreté urbaine ou plus familièrement comme ripeur (pour ceux à l'arrière de la benne), vidangeur (québécisme) ou poubellier, poubelleur, poubelliste (de poubelle, le récipient destiné à recevoir les déchets) est une personne employée par une collectivité territoriale ou une entreprise pour collecter les déchets, voire les convoyer jusqu'à leur point de retraitement (décharge, incinérateur, usine de recyclage). -Wikipedia

A garbage collector also known as an urban cleaning agent or more familiarly as a ripper (for those at the back of the giant bin), a vacuum cleaner (Québécois) or a dump trucker, a rubbist, a Poubinist (a garbage can, a receptacle intended to receive garbage) is a person employed by a local authority or a company to collect the waste or even convey it to its reprocessing point (landfill, incinerator, recycling plant). (--thanks, google, for the colorful translation)


by Kristi Espinasse

The other day Smokey was taking his nap downstairs and I was taking mine à l'étage when the buzzer rang.

It must be the facteur, I thought, hurrying downstairs in my chaussettes. No time to put on shoes, or the mailman (whoops! mail carrier because écriture inclusive) might move on. Hurrying across the front yard in my socks--aïe aïe aïe--stepping on a shards of misplaced gravel strewn across the tiled path, I noticed a group  huddled together on the other side of our portillon.

Bonjour! I said.

Nous sommes les éboueurs. On vous propose notre calendrier....

Familiar with the yearly calendar sales custom, I didn't hesitate to smile and answer back. Oui, bien sûr!

Ah, zut, I said, realizing I probably didn't have enough cash on hand. Je reviens! With that I hurried back--aïe aïe aïe--to the house, to scavenge through my husband's trusty sacoche. Dear old Mr Sacks coughed up exactly 10 euros in change. This seemed an acceptable contribution to our local clean team--this and un grand merci!

Hurrying back out--aïe-aïe-aïe--over the gravel and up the path, I stood on my sock-toes to  hand the cash over the gate--and that's when I remembered to say thanks for all les éboueurs do to keep our neighborhood clean. Only then I noticed that half of the men had taken off (I guessed, to present calendars next door) and only two remained. My only thought at that point was, you should have said thank you before you went inside! Now the others won't hear of your appreciation.

And then I was going to go and tell you, the reader, about the big lesson I learned: to always say thanks right away... before it's too late!

....But then I went to write today's post and, in researching about calendar sales and "les éboueurs" I found several warnings on the internet! Cities like Paris and Lyon--and the near-to-us Ollioules, have forbidden calendar sales by les éboueurs...because of the scam involved.  It turns out that a lot of éboueur imposters have been out knocking on doors and collecting!

It makes me think back to few days ago, to the grinning group standing beyond our front gate, wearing their fluorescent yellow éboueurs vestes...and to the three guys who took off. And it makes me wonder if I've been had, or arnaqué!

I'm looking at the calendar they handed me and it looks a little suspect now. For example, when the firemen sell their calendars, you see photos of fires, rescue operations, etc. But I notice the garbage collector calendar is full of kittens (Octobre) and puppies (Août)and horses (Décembre) and goats (février) and baby ducks! (Mai). Where is the garbage? Shouldn't there be pictures of garbage?!

Kitten calendar french

Flipping back to Janvier (no baby animals, here we have a chalet or ski lodge and still no garbage!) I see a message: "Les Employés du Tri Sélectif vous présent leurs Meilleurs Voeux pour L'Année 2018...." ("The employes of the Garbage Collection and Waste Recirculation wish you a Happy 2018.")

Dear old Mr. Sacks who coughed up those 10 euros. Does he look like he cares who got the money? Monsieur Sacoche (as my mother-in-law calls him) is 140 years old in dog years... and has 9 lives, like a cat (don't worry, he did not melt!).

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.

Broyer, Pilon + Mousse au Chocolat aux Epices - a spicy dessert to celebrate this word journal's birthday


Thank you for the wonderful profiles you are sending in, in celebration of this word journal's 15th birthday. It is a pleasure and a gift to read about you for a change, and your "bonne continuation" messages have given me an invigorating second wind! If you did not see your comment posted, scroll down to the end of the comments in the previous post and find the tiny "show more comments" link.

I told you I was celebrating this milestone and today's chocolate mousse is a festive way to do so! This is an easy recipe my superhero belle-soeur made for our family lunch in Avignon, chez Jacques (mon beau-frère, who gave us all that popular French yogurt cake recipe). The hardest part about chocolate mousse is the patience you'll need to slowly incorporate the whipped egg whites into the melted chocolate. We've included a video clip to help you to understand la vitesse involved. And you'll hear a slice of Nick Cave's album "Skeleton Trees", which was playing in the background as Cécile (who just saw him in concert in Paris!) made this spicy dessert. (A note about the photo: that's a bottle of beer in the background. In another photo, you will see a wine bottle opener--two objects which have nothing to do with a recipe tuturial for chocolate mousse. Don't worry, neither object belongs to me--and neither belongs in the photo. But it's kind of funny, isn't it? Which reminds me to tell you to just have fun making these recettes, and enjoy collection of our French family and friends recipes in these delicious archives

Today's words are BROYER and le PILON

    => the first means "to crush" or "to grind" and the second is a pestle, in French

AUDIO FILE & Example sentence
Hear Jean-Marc read today's words and the following sentence:

Soundfile for broyer and pilon

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au pilon.
Open the cardamon seeds, grind them with a pestle.


by Kristi Espinasse

My sister-in-law, Cécile, spent the night Saturday so she could help us with a few projects here at our new home in La Ciotat. For one, we needed her welding skills to take out an iron banister along our front porch. Next, we needed her to remove the base of some giant slide-out drawers that belonged to an old bed frame we dismounted (and transformed into a potager or kitchen garden! In this way we avoided having to buy wood to construct a new frame!). 

A bed frame repurposed into vegetable bed

Finally, Cécile helped with our family lunch, by making dessert.  This chocolate mousse was a spicy suite to the most delicious meal (Jacques' longtime love, Mariem, is Moroccan. And Mariem's dear and funny maman made us the best couscous in the whole wide world...marinated lamb, chicken, large slices of long-simmered pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, onion, raisins, and piment all on a bed of grains. After eating the gently-spiced plat principal, the gingerbread-safron aromas lingered in my mouth as I drifted off the the land of Tout Va Bien. (Isn't that where comfort food takes us? To a place called All is Well?) Surrounded by my adopted French and Moroccan family, and the history we've knitted together, was the next best thing to a 1970s Thanksgiving with family in the Arizona desert--only a selection of cheeses didn't follow the main meal, and, afterwards, my sister and I didn't shoot at leftover beer cans with Grandpa's BB gun. (In reality we probably only did this once, and we were in the wide open desert--almost as far off track as this missive has gone....).

I leave you with a recipe as thick and rich as good family memories. Enjoy, and many thanks to my sister-in-law, Cécile, who created this Spicy Chocolate Mousse and who appears in the photo tutorial below (she apologizes for her stained hands, but she welds and hammers in a workshop or atelier every day!). Cécile has a new Facebook page featuring her furniture and other creations. See you over there!

Pour 8 personnes

200 grammes de chocolat noir
200 grams of dark chocolate

6 oeufs
6 eggs

5 sachets de sucre vanillé
5 packets of vanilla sugar (you can use 5 tablespoons of sugar, just add vanilla flavoring)

1 morceau de gingembre
1 piece of ginger

du zeste de citron
some lemon zest

10 graines du cardamom
10 cardamom seeds

un demi verre d'eau
half a glass of water


Melting chocolate in a bain-marie or double boiler

Faire fondre le chocolat au bain-marie
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (this is simply a small pan set inside a larger pan filled about halfway with water, which will gently heat the pan of chocolate above it)

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au  pilon
Open the cardamom seeds, grind them with a pestle
Breaking open the cardamom
Pestle to grind the  seeds

Emincer le gingembre et le zeste de citron
Mince the ginger and the lemon peel

Slicing and mincing the ginger and lemon peel

Réserver le tout dans un peu d'eau pour faire ressortir les arômes
Reserve everything in a little water to bring out the aromas

ginger lemon peel cardamom in water

Séparer les oeufs
Separate the eggs (yolks from the egg whites)

Mettre le sucre vanillé avec les jaunes d'oeufs, avec une fourchette battre le tout et incorporer le gingembre citron, cardamom
Put the vanilla sugar with the egg yolks, with a fork beat everything together and incorporate the ginger lemon, cardamom

Monter les blancs en neige (astuce: ajouter un pincée de sel)
Whip up the egg whites (tip: add a bit of salt)

Lorsque le chocolat est fondu, incorporer la préparation avec les jaunes d'oeufs, et rajouter un peu d'eau au besoin pour que cela soit fluide.
When the chocolate is melted, incorporate the preparation with the egg yolks, and add a little water as needed to make it fluid.

Combining the eggyolk preparation with the melted chocolate
Mettre cette preparation dans un plat . Incorporer tout doucement les blancs d'oeufs montés en neige, cuillière par cuillière , l'idée est de faire rentrer de l'air dans la préparation.
Put this preparation in a dish. Slowly stir in the whipped egg whites, spoonful by spoon, the idea is to bring air into the preparation.

Mettre la mousse au frigo plusieurs heures. Si vous êtes pressé, c'est possible de la mettre au congélateur, une heure.
Put the mousse in the fridge for several hours. If you are in a hurry, you can put it in the freezer for an hour.

Spicy chocolate mousse with ginger cardamom lemon peel and verveine or verbena leaves on top

Manger très frais.
Eat it chilled.

Bon appétit - and for more recipes visit the recipe archives...

Cecile tabouret bench
Cécile's benches, tables, mirrors and shelves can be seen in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix'Potentiels is a shop at 9 Rue Fermée in Aix en Provence (check the address, as the boutique may move in the new year).
There are lamps, jewelery with stones and leather, bags, cushions and carpets, candles and ambiance perfumes, sweets for the taste buds, plants, furniture for the interior--mirrors, seating ... and much more!
An expo every month, and especially passionate people!
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 19h

Aix'Potentiels, c´est une boutique au 9 rue fermée à Aix en Provence
Ce sont des lampes, des bijoux en pierres et en cuir, des sacs,des coussins et des tapis,des bougies et des parfums d´ambiance, de la reliure des douceurs pour les papilles, des plantes, du mobilier de la décoration d´intérieur des miroirs, des assises... et bien plus encore!
Une expo chaque mois, et surtout des gens passionnés !
Ouvert du lundi au samedi de 10h à 19h

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.

Celebrating a Milestone! Joyeuse, Joyeux

My daughter turned 5 when this word journal began. Here she is at eleven... and recently she turned 20.

This week marks the 15th anniversary of this French word journal. You've learned a lot about our Franco-American family over the years. Help me celebrate this journal's birthday by sharing a line or two about you, in the comments box at the end of this post.

joyeux, joyeuse (zhwa-yuh, zhwa-yuhz) adjective

    : cheerful, merry, joyful

From the Audio archives: Listen to my daughter's message back when this journal turned 6...

(Jackie's message was recorded when she was 11 years old)


by Kristi Espinasse

I have never been good at événementiel, or "event organization". Jean-Marc planned our wedding, each and every detail: he contacted the French priest, ordered the flowers, selected the menu, had the rings engraved, and all but tried on the long white gown & satin-trimmed veil for me.

The "big day" found his blushing bride-to-be tripping over a street grate, late for a very important date! I have been trying to make up for that awkward entrance ever since: by continuing to "réviser" a simple lesson from my husband: relax and enjoy life and, especially, celebrate the milestones!

This week marks the 15th anniversary of this French word journal and I would like to celebrate this joyful event. I've ordered the flowers and selected the menu: a sweet and savory buffet of words. This is where you come in--and not as a clumsy bride--but as the wonderful words buffet!

I would like to ask you to share a word or two... about you. Are you an 85-year-old collector of Southwestern art? Or a new mother, up to her ears in dirty diapers? Are you in a marching band? Do you read this word journal in school? Are you famous? ...or infamous? (or related to someone that is?). Do you speak more than two languages? Can you make your ears move?

I'd love to know who you are. Are you the youngest on this list? Or the oldest? Are you a tattoo artist or do you dabble in watercolor? Have you invented something? Do you like frogs legs or are you carrément contre la cuisine des cuisses de grenouilles? Do you have an unusual skill? Are you involved in a charity? Have you written a book and do you want to "buzz it" here? Are you shy? Ever won a prize? Do you have a blog or site and would you like to tell us where to find you on the web?

Help me celebrate this blog milestone. In today's comments write a line or two about you... s'il vous plaît! Meantime, thank you for reading this word journal, and for helping to create a community as we move into our 16th year: one sweet and savoury word at a time.
I leave you with a picture of me and my husband which I post each year, around our anniversary. Depending on how long you've read this journal, you've seen it once or 15 times. Well, just like with learning a language, repetition is handy :-) 

Allez! Laissez-moi quelques mots et à bientôt! So go on, leave me a few words and see ya later!  

Wedding photo

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.

(Bilingual Post) Brasser & Houblon: From making rosé to making beer... winemaker gets a lesson in brewing

Hops plant photo by Eileen deCamp

This time of year while scaredy-cats are talking about hobgoblins, Jean-Marc introduces us to houblons...or Humulus Lupulus. On Tuesday he saw them with his very eyes in the historic quarter of Nice, France! Read on about this bois du diable and its relation to beer, in today's column. (Thank you, Eileen deCamp, for this beautiful photo!)

un houblon

    : hop, hops

    : fleur qui aromatise la bière (flower that flavors beer)

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French:

Houblon hops audio file

Les Romains, croyant que le houblon suçait la sève des arbres sur lesquels il grimpait, l'appelèrent lupulus (« petit loup »). Luppolo signifie « houblon » en italien. 

The Romans, believing that hops sucked the sap of the trees on which it climbed, called it lupulus ("little wolf"). Luppolo means "hops" in Italian.


From Chief Grape to Monsieur Malt? Following his previous column Jean-Marc Talks about Wine, enjoy this installment about la bière!

Mardi dernier, je suis arrivé à 7H30 du matin à Nice chez notre ami Américain Dan de "Allez Hops" pour assister à l'élaboration de sa bière, la Bière Bleue.

Last Tuesday, I arrived at 7:30 am in Nice at our American friend Dan of "Allez Hops" to witness the development of his beer, the Blue Beer.

Voilà quelques temps déjà et surtout depuis que Dan a décidé de devenir "brasseur" (après une carrière professionnelle réussie) que je m'intéresse à la bière. Cela a commencé il y a plus de 10 ans avec mon ami Lionel Alphand qui fait une bière de très grande qualité avec l'eau pure des Alpes. Et puis, comme je travaille de temps en temps chez un caviste à Marseille où nous vendons de plus en plus des bières artisanales, je vois bien l'intérêt grandissant pour cette boisson.

For some time now and especially since Dan decided to become a "brewer" (after a successful professional career) I've been interested in beer. It started more than 10 years ago with my friend Lionel Alphand who makes a very high quality beer with pure Alpine water. And then, as I work from time to time at a wine shop in Marseille where we sell more and more artisan beers, I see the growing interest in this drink.

Il faut dire que le mot bière n'a pas toujours été synonyme de qualité pour moi et il a fallu du temps pour effacer la mauvaise image laissée par Kronenbourg, Heineken et autre 1664.

It must be said that the word beer has not always been synonymous with quality for me and it took time to erase the bad image left by Kronenbourg, Heineken and others like 1664.

Dans le vieux Nice, Dan travaille avec un petit espace pour brasser sa bière artisanale mais avec de très bons équipements. La cuve d'infusion est très sophistiquée avec le contrôle de la température est une pompe pour intégrer la farine de malt dans l'eau.

In the old quarter of Nice, Dan works with a small space to brew his artisan beer but with very good equipment. The infusion tank is very sophisticated with temperature control is a pump to integrate the malt flour into the water.

Dan with the malt flour
Dan, with the malt flour

Dans un premier temps, il a fallu moudre manuellement 40 Kgs de malt avec un moulin pour écraser mais pas trop le malt. Pendant ce temps, environs 280 litres d'eau sont chauffés à 38° C. Le malt moulu est alors incorporé à l'eau tiède et c'est à ce moment qu'il faut "brasser" (je pense que ce operation que le mot brasserie tient son origine) l'eau afin de que cet ensemble s'incorpore de la façon la plus homogène possible.

At first, it was necessary to manually grind 40 Kgs of malt with a mill to crush--but not too much--the malt. During this time, about 280 liters of water are heated to 38 ° C. The ground malt is then incorporated into the lukewarm water and this is the time to "stir" (I think the word brasserie originates from this operation) the water so that this unit is incorporated in the most homogeneous way possible.

Une pompe permets de faire circuler l'eau au travers le malt moulu afin d'y extraire le maximum de sucres et levures qui vont ensuite fermenter. Afin de mieux extraire tous ces composants, la température de la cuve va passer par plusieurs paliers jusqu'à ébullition. A ce moment là, il sera temps de séparer le malt et d'ajouter différents types de houblons qui vont apporter des arômes à la future bière.

A pump allows the water to circulate through the ground malt in order to extract the maximum of sugars and yeasts which will then ferment. In order to better extract all these components, the temperature of the tank will pass through several stages until boiling. At this point, it will be time to separate the malt and add different types of hops that will bring aromas to the future beer.

Lorsque la phase à 100 °C est terminée. Il faudra soutirer environs 200 litres d'eau infusée (le reste des 280 litres initiaux étant incorporé dans le malt ou bien s'est évaporé) dans la cuve de fermentation tout en baissant rapidement la température autour de 25° C. Ceci afin que le fermentation démarre au plus vite, ce qui évite les éventuels phénomènes d'oxydation et de contaminations bactériennes.

When the phase at 100 ° C is complete. About 200 liters of infused water (the remainder of the original 280 liters being incorporated into the malt or evaporated) must be withdrawn from the fermentation tank while rapidly decreasing the temperature around 25 ° C. fermentation starts as soon as possible, which avoids possible oxidation and bacterial contamination.

A 13H, je me suis arrêté à ce stade de l'élaboration pour partager un bagel et une bonne Bière Bleue avec Dan dans sa boutique où il vend également toutes les meilleures bières du monde. A l'heure où j'écris ce texte, la bière fermente lentement sous contrôle de température. Il faudra une dizaine de jours pour que le la bière soit faite puis il sera possible d'y ajouter d'autres ingrédients à infuser tels que fruits, é restera au froid pour décanter un peu avant sa mise en bouteilles.

At 1pm, I stopped at this stage of development to share a bagel and a good Blue Beer with Dan in his shop where he also sells all the best beers in the world. At the time of writing, the beer slowly ferments under temperature control. It will take about ten days for the beer to be made then it will be possible to add other ingredients to infuse such as fruits, spices ... and will remain in the cold to decant a little before its bottling.

J'ai bien entendu trouvé beaucoup de similitudes entre l'élaboration de la bière et du vin. Tous les deux sont le résultat de choix clairs pris par l'artisan et de la qualité des matières premières. Ce qui m'a le plus séduit, ce sont les possibilités bien plus grandes pour laisser cours à la création et à l'imagination, particulièrement à l'ajout des houblons et après la fermentation. Enfin, on ne dépends pas d'une récolte qui arrive une fois par an... avec son caractère aléatoire.

I have of course found many similarities between the development of beer and wine. Both are the result of clear choices made by the craftsman and the quality of the raw materials. What attracted me most was the far greater possibilities for creativity and imagination, especially at the (time of the) addition of hops and fermentation. Finally, one does not depend on a harvest that happens once a year...with its randomness.

A l'heure où j'ai abandonné la culture de la vigne et où je me pose des questions sur un futur projet professionnel, je me dis que le temps de "Chief Grape" est bel et bien fini. Mais je veux continuer à faire du vin en achetant des raisins sans cultiver la vigne et, pourquoi pas, combiner cette passion avec brasser de la bière. En effet, les deux activités peuvent se faire conjointement, sous le même toit, avec des équipements similaires et complémentaires.

At a time when I have abandoned the culture of the vine and wondered about a future professional project, I think that the time of "Chief Grape" is well and truly over. But I want to continue making wine by buying grapes without cultivating the vines and, why not, combining this passion with brewing beer. Indeed, the two activities can be done jointly, under the same roof, with similar and complementary equipment.

Maintenant, la question est de savoir quel sera le nom pour remplacer "Chief Grape". Je vous laisse suggérer un titre...

Now the question is what will be the name to replace "Chief Grape". I'll let you suggest a title ...




*    *    *

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Arthur and Dan in the back of their shop, Allez Hops. They are leaning against part of the brasserie equipment where they brew up beer in downtown Nice.

Allez, Hops! is a "cave à bière" you don't want to miss when in Nice! Located at 15 Rue Défly. See pictures from our previous visit, here.

Caper bush on Corsica with capers and flowers
Capers on France's Island of Beauty, click here to read about visiting Corsica


Chili recipe with a Provençal here

Best way to sign off an email in French, click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.

Façon de Parler: L'Ecriture Inclusive & The movement to feminize French

La civette brignoles
"Languages ​​are not neutral tools: they influence how we talk, think, and represent ourselves...."

façon de parler

    : manner of speaking, way of speaking
    : so to speak

Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the opening sentence, in French: 

Facon de parler manner of speaking

Façon de parler. Les langues ne sont pas des outils neutres : elles influent sur notre façon de parler, de penser, de se représenter. Davy Borde via Wikipedia


by Kristi Espinasse

When I read this morning's news headline "Gender neutral version of French sparks backlash" my first thought was yipee! No more trying to guess whether an onion is masculine or feminine.

But, like with onions, when I began to scratch beneath the surface of the news article, my eyes began to sweat. The debate currently bringing French language police to tears goes beyond whether an object is, façon de parler, "a boy or a girl" (not that an onion ever was. Update: holy moly! it may be both...), it transcends our sexual identity, even to the troubling question of Qui Suis-Je? And if you really peel back those onion layers, wiping your crying eyes on your sleeve as you go, this feminization of language will rattle your very faith

But faith is meant to be rattled!  Language, according to L'Académie Française is not...

Now, dear reader, with all this talk of identity, faith, and crying eyes, you are sensing that this chroniqueuse might (wink wink) just need a wee break from blogging--but I assure you all is going swimmingly. What I need is a fresh new interest after my mind-numbing news habit. Therefore I'm dragging you into the quicksand with me. So get your floaties on and let's begin (and end quickly, because I'm itching to get outside and plant some onions, a much safer enterprise. Having learned my lesson after writing about another controversial language topic (la glossolalie), I wouldn't touch today's debate with a ten-foot pole. But I will pass you one (a pole) to climb out of this sandy mire whenever you're ready.)

Screenshot from Le Monde article on ecriture inclusive in french language
Screen shot of Le Monde's video on "L'écriture inclusive"

I leave you with a paragraph, in English and in French, of what this language dilemme is all about (or why "Les droits de l'homme may now be written  as les droits humains or even les droits de la personne). There are many fascinating articles about this movement to "equalize" the French language, if you want to explore the topic. Google "l'écriture  inclusive"....

Gendered languages ​​whose neutral is identical to the masculine or whose masculine prevails in a group pose three problems according to some analysts: they would make women invisible; they would oblige a dichotomous vision of the human race; they would force anyone to position themselves as a woman or as a man....Davy Borde via Wikipedia

Les langues ne sont pas des outils neutres : elles influent sur notre façon de parler, de penser, de se représenter. Les langages genrés dont le neutre est identique au masculin ou dont le masculin l'emporte dans un groupe posent trois problèmes selon certains analystes : ils invisibiliseraient les femmes ; ils obligeraient à avoir une vision dichotomique du genre humain ; ils imposeraient à quiconque de se positionner en tant que femme ou en tant qu'homme.

Cebette onions sold by the bunch or la botte at farmers market st cyr-sur-mer
For those who are not up to a language debate, here's a peaceful scene to start your day. I'm off to dream of an onion harvest  :-)

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
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Coup de Coeur: Jean-Marc talks about the wines of Mascaronne... and, for Bove, the best is yet to come

Sorting grapes at La Mascaronne winery in France

Harvesters sorting grapes at Château La Mascaronne. Though everyday life goes on, today's post being no exception, we pause to remember those who have suffered in the recent catastrophes.  Jean-Marc and I join all vineyard owners in France, all who are in the wine business, all who are French, and all who are human, in extending our condoleances to those who lost loved ones in the recent California fires that have devasted wineries, neighborhoods and lives. We are deeply saddened by the news stories and greatly moved by the bravery. 

The term bon courage has always been a comforting expression of solidarity. We continue with this word journal, now, with another heartful expression and a new column by my husband, Jean-Marc. Thanks so much for reading.



un coup de coeur

    : a favorite, love at first sight, a crush on (a product)

Audio File: Hear Jean-Marc read one of the paragraphs highlighted below.

Coup de coeur paragraph reading


Chief Grape steps down from his tractor to return to his passion of discovering wines and sharing them with you. 

Si je devais résumer les vins que Tom Bove produit, je dirais tout simplement qu'ils sont meilleurs chaque année. Non seulement chaque millésime est systématiquement meilleur quelque soit les conditions climatiques, mais chaque vin de la gamme progresse pour plus d'équilibre.

If I were to summarize the wines that Tom Bove produces, I would simply say that they are better each year. Not only is each vintage systematically better whatever the climatic conditions but each wine of the range progresses for more balance.
Dans la gamme principale du Château La Mascaronne, les blancs vont toujours vers plus de minéralité et se boivent  mieux après deux ou trois ans. Les rosés qu'on apprécie plus dans leur première jeunesse gagnent tous les ans en fraîcheur et en fruit. Les rouges ont de plus en plus de profondeur, des tanins bien ronds sur des notes uniques de poivre, de clou de girofle et même d'eucalyptus. 

In the main range of Château La Mascaronne, whites always go to more minerality and drink better after two or three years. The rosés, which are best appreciated in their early youth, grow every year in freshness and fruit. The reds are more and more deep, with round tannins on unique notes of pepper, clove and even eucalyptus.

Mais le vin qui m'a le plus bluffé lors de notre récente visite, c'est le rosé GUY DA NINE 2016 vinifié en barriques de chêne, que je trouvais autrefois un peu lourd et marqué par le bois mais qui, en 2016 a su trouvé une harmonie entre une très belle structure, de la tension, du fruit sur des notes de pêche-abricot et le discret apport de la barrique qui ne prends pas le dessus mais donne une dimension supplémentaire à ce vin. C'est un grand rosé de gastronomie, à marier avec une dinde, de l'agneau ou même un foie gras.

But the wine that impressed me most during our recent visit is the rosé GUY DA NINE 2016 vinified in oak barrels, which I used to find a little heavy and marked by wood but which in 2016 found a harmony between a beautiful structure, tension, fruit on peach-apricot notes and the discreet contribution of the barrel that does not take over but gives an extra dimension to this wine. It is a great rosé of gastronomy, to be married with a turkey, lamb or even a foie gras.
Je terminerai avec une petite anecdote. C'est avec le blanc Clara Lua de Miraval (première propriété de Tom) que j'ai eu mon premier coup de cœur des nombreux vins qu'il produit. C'est d'ailleurs le blanc qui m'a permis de commencer à distribuer ses vins aux États-Unis alors que le blanc ne représente que 10% des volumes produits en Provence et que son prix est au niveau d'un bon Chablis. Je me souviens bien d'un déjeuner avec mon ami Chris où Tom nous disait que ce vin blanc, issu de vieilles vignes de Rolle évolue dans le temps sur des notes aromatiques dignes de Meursault,  grand vin de Bourgogne. Ça tombe bien, il me reste quelques 1997, année de naissance de notre fille Jackie, en cave.

I will finish with a little anecdote. It was with the white Clara Lua de Miraval (Tom's first property) that I got my first taste of the many wines he produced. Indeed, it was the white (wine) that allowed me to start distributing its wines in the United States while white represents only 10% of the volumes produced in Provence and that its price is at the level of a good Chablis. I remember a lunch with my friend Chris where Tom told us that this white wine, coming from old vines of Rolle evolves in time on aromatic notes worthy of Meursault, great wine of Burgundy. It's good, I still have some 1997, year of birth of our daughter Jackie, in cellar 😊.

Alors, je suis convaincu que même si les vins qui sont actuellement produits sont excellents, le meilleur est à venir car non seulement les jeunes vignes du Domaine vont s'exprimer toujours mieux dans le futur mais aussi parce que Tom, comme ses vins et comme ses vignes est un homme meilleur chaque année.

So, I am convinced that even if the wines that are currently produced are excellent, the best is yet to come because not only will the young vines of the Domaine express themselves better in the future but also because Tom, like his wines and its vines is a better man every year.

 *    *    *

Before he created two wineries and we began calling him "Chief Grape", Jean-Marc brokered wines. He continues to do so today.

Jean-Marc exports Chateau La Mascaronne to Texas (contact Tim and Phyllis, at French Country Wines) and in Oregon (contact Chris, at Estelle Imports). La Mascaronne wines are available throughout the USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Asia, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates...


Provence Vacation Rentals - Sablet Home courtyard
SABLET HOME- for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Recommended by readers. Click here for photos.

  Jean-marc espinasse Tom Bove Chateau La Mascaronne

Submit your wine questions for Jean-Marc, in the comments section below, and help to inspire a future post. And if you enjoyed his post, be sure to let him know. (photo taken in Le Luc, Provence, after un repas gastronomique

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Lunch at Chateau La Mascaronne with Tom Bove & La Révolution du Rosé

Jean-marc espinasse Tom Bove Chateau La Mascaronne

Yesterday, we visited Chateau La Mascaronne. The estate, acquired by an American, Tom Bove, in 1999, extends over 100 hectares at the exit of the village of Luc, of which 45 hectares of vines are planted in hills and classified in the appellation Côtes de Provence. Careful to respect the typicity of the terroir, the estate offers two ranges .... The wines, resulting from organic farming, are regularly rewarded and have won the confidence of beautiful tables in France and abroad. Listen to the previous sentence in French....


    : to extend, spread, expand

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence in French:


Le domaine, acquis par un américain, Tom Bove, en 1999, s'étend sur 100 hectares à la sortie du village du Luc, dont 45 hectares de vignes plantées en coteaux et classées dans l'appellation Côtes de Provence. Soucieux de respecter la typicité du terroir, le domaine propose deux gammes....Les vins, issus de l'agriculture biologique, sont régulièrement récompensés et ont gagné la confiance de belles tables en France et à l'étranger. -Petit Futé travel guide



    by Kristi Espinasse

Along with our friends Tim and Phyllis of French Country Wines, we spent a tantalizing afternoon at Château La Mascaronne. Tom Bove, the owner, sold his previous chateau and winery to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Now that I've got your attention we can go about our challenge of describing what it's like to spend time with one of the most engaging characters in Provence's iconic wine culture.

I feel gaga driving up the kilometers-long road to Tom's home. I'm not the only one. When we arrive, all four of us can't figure out which way to Tom's front door--on an as-yet unpainted 19th-century farmhouse. But don't let the lack of chaux color your first impression of Tom. He's got his entire act together, exquisitely so, right down to the last drop in his sparkling Solé. (He also bottles water. It's so good I've asked Jean-Marc for a case of Solé for my 50th birthday. Because I can't ask for wine. That doesn't mean I could not smell it yesterday--along with the mouthwatering aromas wafting up from la soupe de bettrave that Sally, who shares Tom's life, made us.)

Beet soup

"You didn't mention the new road up to the winery..." Tom says, as Jean-Marc, Tim, Phyllis and I are being hugged by the giant pillows on roomy rattan chairs avec accoudoirs.

Looking around the patio, where sculpted, patina'd statues seem to hold up the wooden beams above us," our host's down-to-earth question brings us out of our daze. 

Funny he would mention a newly paved road when so many other details of this beautiful winery tangled up our attention. "Oh! That road! Wow, that road!" I stuttered. But there is no need to feel like a groupie around Tom. It wasn't he who recorded Stairway To Heaven on the grounds of his previous chateau. But it was Tom who constructed those stairs, or terraces to hold a variety of celestial-bound grapes. 

Mira Luna

If Tom Bove's grapes aren't really bound for heaven, our tastebuds may be. I listen to my tablemates savoring wine from La Mascaronne as we move on to le plat principal. Sally has made cabillaud on a bed of market fresh carrots and zucchini. The red and green peppers she's tossed on top are as spicy as her personality (I would add sexy, but it would be more cautious to describe her as Rock-n-roll, as I did to my sister over the phone--sharing every juicy detail.) 

"Let me see a picture of all these rock-n-roll people," Heidi challenged, as she did when I used to steal her vinyls, including Pink Floyd (there's the band I was looking for earlier, when confusing Stairway to Heaven to other songs recorded at Studio Miraval...) and just like back then, I made my sister wait until today to see the evidence of rock stars....

Fanny Sally Phyllis

Rock Star Sally, center, Rock Star Phyllis, right, and Rock Star Fanny, left. Fanny's worked with Tom forever and was once sweet-talked by Jean-Marc into passing Angelina Jolie a copy of Words in a French Life. But if Fanny is Rock-n-roll, she is also classy, and I trust she figured out what to do with the book. I hope she put it in the W.-C. ...because if Mrs Jolie-Pitt didn't ever see the book, then chateau guests might!

Strawberry short cake

Next came dessert, a kind of Provençal strawberry shortcake with crushed pistachios on top. During the hour-long ride home, we tried to describe it, and all that wine...La Mascaronne, Mira Luna and a few others. But I'm going to be a bratty little sister, and make you wait for the wine write up, by Jean-Marc, coming this Saturday. Meantime do not miss Robert Camuto's profile on Tom Bove, in his Wine Spectator piece Repair Man: After Miraval, and American in Provence continues his renovation spree.

*     *    *       

Jean-marc tom bove tim smith

Jean-Marc, Tom Bove, and Tim Smith of French Country Wines.

"Rosé is the most difficult wine to make good." --Tom Bove

Don't miss Ken Kobre's documentary LA REVOLUTION DU ROSE, where you will meet Tom Bove as well as other characters on the rosé scene (Chief Grape makes an appearance, too!). Click here to watch it.


Chateau La Mascaronne Tom Bove Mira Luna Sole bottled water
Listening to Tom Bové talk about rosé. Notice his Solé sparkling water. I sure hope Jean-Marc notices it and remembers my birthday hint.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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The Metaphysics of French & how it connects us all


One of my favorite French expressions? It's mettre toutes les chances de son côte. (photo: "We are what we are taught," taken when Smokey was a babe).

Mettre toutes les chances de son côte

    : to put all chances on one's side, to stack all the odds in your favor

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the sentence below 

Mon enregistrement #100

Une de mes expressions favoristes en français c'est : "Mettre toutes les chances de son côté"


Ask my dog and he'll tell you - I'm still shaking my fist at that divisive cartoon I saw on Facebook. Which only goes to show how much progress I have to make in the field of peace (don't we all have strides to make in this area?).

This all got me thinking about reality (the subject of that cartoon. One of my first, kept-to-self thoughts toward the one who posted it was: how do YOU know what is real?)....

I barely graduated from high school and when I did get into the university I was on academic probation. A poor student, I was careful to put all chance on my side, choosing subjects I was most familiar with. That's when I noticed Philosophy 101! That ought to be a breeze, I thought, for somebody like me who thinks too much. I ended that semester with a D in philosophy (thinking was my strongpoint, not remembering).

I took away  two things from that class. One: Michel de Montaigne (I loved "meeting" this 16th century Frenchman and am disappointed the hero in a book I'm reading doesn't feel the same way). And, two, a reality check.  This was the first time anyone ever got me to look at reality or, rather, to question it. I remember sitting far back in an auditorium, hearing my teacher quote Kant (was it Kant? I can't remember...). The professor held out his arm, waving it around. "Can we be sure any of this is real? Are you really here now? Or is this all a dream?" 

I have been haunted to this day by that thought. And I am reminded, again and again, to look beyond what my eyes can see. But, before even my professor or Kant (???), I have my Mom to thank for that enlightenment. She first read me this definition of faith:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Whether we have faith in a higher power or faith in the bridge we are driving over (whose nuts and bolts we cannot see) we are hoping for the same thing: a solid connection!

And that is the point of this essay (we're getting to it). One thing I have learned is not to be too curious about all that is out there. Not all knowledge edifies. And now for the good news: French is a good thing to be curious about! Unlike the news, You can fill your mind with French words and phrases and not come away sick or depressed or angry. Au contraire, the more French you learn the more you can connect with others.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for opening your word-a-day email and staying to read this personal column--even when you don't agree with me or hold the same beliefs. Each of us is unique. The readers here, I see from the comments, respect that. And we all have at least one thing in common, the love of language.  


And we also share the love of France!


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Will the sun still rise tomorrow? + Le bénéfice du doute

I am busy looking up the term bénéfice du doute--all the while doubting this is the way to begin today's letter. I am numbed, saddened, and shaken by the carnage in Las Vegas, as well as by the hurricaines and earthquakes, and by more local terrorism. Two girls, cousins my daughter's age, were stabbed to death Sunday--at the Gare St Charles in Marseille. Only a few weeks before, in the same train station, 4 young girls, fellow Americans, survived an acid attack. Our thoughts go out to these victims and their families and we send our support (feel free to recommend charities in the comments box. My friend Jo Ellen listed this one, for Puerto Rico, and Margaret listed The Red Cross. Thank you!)

As we all attempt to process these atrocities, let's remember to be respectful to others. This is a tempting time to point fingers at or ridicule those around us. There is an urge to find somebody to blame or someone to be the dunce when none of us truly know what will happen next and therefore how to prepare for it.

A few days ago a reader angrily signed off my newsletter. Referring to a post in my archives, she accused me of caring more about my broken fountain than the hurricaine in Houston. Reading her comment, I was stung by the power of words. Then, this morning, while scrolling through Facebook I saw, in response to the Las Vegas massacre, a cartoon ridiculing those who believe in God. It characterised believers as people who do not live in reality.

(Not living in reality? I thought of the past year-and-a-half--of the past 14+ years of facing each and every day without so much as an aspirin to dull my senses. But this essay is not about sobriety.)

I wasted a lot of time staring at that cartoon, trying to form a response in defence of faith. The more I tried the more fired up I became. And then I thought, What kind of example am I when I respond in anger? When I lash out? When I end up ridiculing the one who ridicules?

But it took my 20-year-old daughter to help me see things in a different light. Regarding the angry subscriber, Jackie said, "Mom, she is very upset about the hurricaine. She has to lash out at something." 

My hope this morning is that my former reader will give me le bénéfice du doute. And that I may extend the same good faith--which brings me back to the cartoon depicting an atheist and a believer (both may have gotten a bad rap in that cartoon!). The two seem to have something in common after all. Both have to admit to not knowing what comes next, to whether or not one will take his or her next breath. And yet both, by their actions--whether by repairing a broken fountain or by parenting a child, demonstrate a belief in the unknown--or the as-yet-unreal tomorrow. A tomorrow which can neither be measured nor seen by the naked eye.

I leave you with a sunrise. Please leave everyone you come in contact with today with the same. 




Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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apprendre à profiter de la vie + Patricia Sands novel set in Arles and Camargue

Somewhere in Provence

In the novel DRAWING LESSONS, set in Arles, Arianna will learn to embrace life. Hear the previous sentence in French and discover Patricia Sand's novel set also in the breathtaking Camargue!

apprendre à profiter de la vie

    : learn to embrace life

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, profiter de la vie

Dans le roman Drawing Lessons, qui se déroule en Arles, Arianna va apprendre à profiter de la vie.


    by Kristi Espinasse

I will never forget listening to Patricia Sands speak at The Scotch Tea House. It was a sweltering June day in Nice, France, and as the audience fanned itself with tea house menus, the Canadian author was radiant, standing at the podium sharing her journey to becoming an author--author, I might add, of a bestselling trilogy set in France.

My Mom sat on the edge of her red velvet tea house seat, like a straight-A student who would breeze the test were we to be drilled at the end of the presentation. But this was no ordinary speech - it was an inspiring account of how someone like you or me went on to live her dream.... 

Patricia Sands in Nice at Scotch Tea House

I had heard about Patricia Sands before this muggy and memorable day, and even become good friends via social media, but meeting the author in person I was struck by her grace, her beauty and her generous, encouraging spirit. Just like my friend Lou, Patricia is a natural born coach! Indeed, the opening message on her website (with its subtitle "Everyone Has A Story") is a quote from Norman Vincent Peale:

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities -- always see them, for they're always there.

"Patricia is a good mentor for you!" Mom said on the ride home from Nice. With that, she disappeared behind an inviting book cover, Patricia Sand's latest, and was not to be heard from again for the two-hour ride home.


Drawing lessons

I will be downloading Drawing Lessons on Kindle. The paperback version is also available. Please join me in reading Patrica's latest! If you have already read it, or another of Patricia's books, thanks for sharing your feedback on the comments, below.

Jules and Patricia Sands

My Mom, left, and author Patricia Sands, in Nice, France


The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…

Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists' workshop full of anticipation, but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband's dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she's loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas. 

Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her, and like the sunflowers, once again face the light.



Calanque painter
Photo of an artist painting (and soon to be resting. Notice the inviting hammock) at Port d'Alon, down the road from our old vineyard. It is never too late to learn how to embrace life or apprendre à profiter de la vie. Enjoy your week!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.