Ristourne & Ristourner + Name something good that is free
La Prise de bec - unexpected run-in with a stranger while walking my dog

Today is Armistice Day. Share about a Veteran.

War monunent allied forces fallen soldiers Normandy beach france moment of silence
By tradition, in France, two minutes of silence are respected at 11 am, the 11th day of the 11th month: it is at this time that the armistice was implemented. Listen to this sentence in French, just below.


    : also known as Le Jour du Souvenir, and Veterans Day, November 11th is an official day to remember those who sacrificed their lives in WWI and other wars

Armistice soundfile: Hear Jean-Marc read the following sentence

En France, il est traditionnellement respecté deux minutes de silence à 11 h, le 11e jour du 11e mois : c'est à ce moment que l'armistice a été rendu effectif. -Wikipedia

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The following story may seem an unusual rememembrance, on Veterans Day, until you read to the end.

In the winter of 2001, I left work at the vineyard each night to drive myself to driving school, careful to take the back roads and to park several blocks from the Auto-École Rivière. Though I had driven for ten years in the States, and another six in France, I had failed to exchange my Arizona driver's license for a French one, having had two years to do so. Time and again, Jean-Marc assured me that I had the right to drive in France (convinced that my AAA International Driving Permit was enough, never mind the expiration date), until one day he realized that his wife was driving without insurance (!!!); that is, should she get into an accident, the insurance contract would be void ($$$) without her having a French permis de conduire.

Having spent weeknights at driving school, attending class with would-be motorists half my age, and having finally passed l'épreuve théorique, or written exam, in the town of Fréjus, I would soon be navigating the streets of Draguignan... with a stone-faced inspecteur seated beside me.

On exam day, I shared the test vehicle with a wide-eyed eighteen-year-old who had just been ordered to pull over and get out. "Out! You are a danger to yourself and to others!" the inspecteur shouted. Seated in the back of the car, waiting my turn, I tried to understand just what my unfortunate classmate had done wrong, but was jolted out of my pensées when the inspector resumed his tirade.

"FAILED!" the inspecteur barked. He shouted a few more insults before the French kid got into the back of the car, at which point I was ordered into the driver's seat: "A vous, madame!"

"Allez-y!" the inspecteur commanded, checking his watch. I said a prayer to Saint Christopher, patron saint of safe travel (not knowing who the saint was for driver's-exam scoring), put on the left-turn signal, and drove out of the quiet neighborhood into the chaotic streets of Draguignan at rush hour.

"You don't need to be so obvious!" the inspector snapped when I threw my chin left after turn-signaling. Moments ago I'd signaled a right turn and thrown my chin over my right shoulder for good measure. We had been warned in driving school to exaggerate our gestures during testing to show the inspecteur that we were aware of those dangerous "angles morts" or blind spots. "Et les vitesses!" the inspector grumbled after I'd ground the gears once again. "Oh, but aren't cars automatic in America?!" he snickered.

Though I had been stick-shifting for sixteen years, seated next to the inspecteur I felt like I was operating a vehicle for the first time. Having completed the twenty-minute parcours through the center of Draguignan, where the unpredictable French pedestrian is king and capable of jumping from sidewalk to street center in the blink of an eye, I followed the inspecteur's instructions, pulling up in front of the American cemetery, which seemed like a bad omen to me. The inspecteur sat silently, filling out paperwork, before announcing it was time to check my vision. He ordered me to read the sign across the street. Squinting my eyes, I began:

"World War II Rhone American Cemetery and Memor...".

Before I had even finished reading, the inspector scribbled something across the page, tore off the sheet, and mumbled "Félicitations."

Ornery as he was, I had the urge to throw my arms around the inspecteur and plant a kiss beside his angry brow; only, the commandant was no longer facing me, but looking out over the quiet green fields dotted white with courage, lost in another place and time.

*     *     *

Books about the war in France...by our readers! If your French war-related book isn't mentioned, remind me and I'm happy to add it to the list

La Réunion: Finding Gilbert by Diane Covington-Carter

Alan's Letters, by Nancy Rial

Your name is Renée: Ruth Kapp Hartz's story as a Hidden Child in Nazi-Occupied France

French Vocabulary

Auto-École Rivière = Riviera Driving School
le permis (m) de conduire = driver's license
l'inspecteur (l'inspectrice) = inspector
la pensée = thought
A vous, madame = Your turn, Madam
Et les vitesses! = And the gears!
le parcours = driving route
les félicitations (fpl) = congratulations
le commandant = captain

Golden retriever and poppies veterans day armistice remembrance
It is soon to be 11 a.m. and Smokey and I are on our way down to the beach, to join others in a few moments of silence. Feel free to share something about Le Jour du Souvenir or Veterans Day, in the comments below.

Max and Jean-Marc
Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max in Texas and in Portland. 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last ​US ​bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
​seeing them.

Houston, ​TX ​: December 13th at 7 PM

- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence, 13616 Memorial Drive, Houston Texas 77079. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 
Portland, ​OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird wine Shop ~Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM
Portland ​OR ​: December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
- Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego, OR 97035. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed
For any questions, please Email Jean-Marc at [email protected]

Poppies in remembrance
Nous n'oublierons jamais. We will not forget. 


Back, now, from the beach. Smokey and I were seated on a bench, waiting for the 11th hour when a man walked into this very scene. A newsboy cap on his head, scraggly hair sticking out, and a fuzzy salt and pepper beard, he stood beside that tree and began to stare out to sea. His face was puffy and his eyes were glazed. I thought, He, too, must be observing Remembrance Day.

I had the urge to say something to him. Instead, I looked around to see if others had paused, as it was now exactly 11 a.m. There was a woman in the sea doing aerobics. A couple jogging by with their dog. A kid on a skateboard whirled by, right between the sad looking man and I. The man's seaward gaze broke. No, he, like the others, is thinking of something else, I thought.

Another moment later, a woman appeared a few meters away and the man turned and walked toward her. That's when the tears broke. He wiped his eyes on the back of each shirt sleeve. He had spent his moment of silence alone, as planned, and returned now to his companion.

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


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Audrey Wilson

Poppies ! So right for today .We wear a poppy & so do all the newscasters etc in the UK “Less we forget"


Lest we forget


One of my friends is a 93-year-old veteran who, at age 19, landed on the shores of Provence on August 15, 1944. He fought up through Provence to Alsace-Lorraine where he was wounded in the jaw. Sent to England to have surgery and recover, he rejoined his unit and continued on into Germany. John returned to the USA, became a veterinarian, married and had 5 children, was mayor of his town in California. Every 5 years he has returned to this region to celebrate the Liberation. There is a small square in a town in the Alsace area named for him. To me, he is exemplery of those who served not only in war but in their private lives.

Nyla Witmore

As a child in Michigan, I remember men standing on the street in our small town of Chelsea....offering little red poppies to passers by. I thought them so lovely and bright and noticed men placing them in their lapels.

We need to be remindid from time to time what our symbols are for.

I have lately been displaying small American flags in the two pots flanking my front door. These are not a statement of which « party » I prefer. They stand for my prayers for all my countrymen and women and children who are not always faithful to be thankful for our diverse expressions of hope for a better world.

Susan Bullock

My Dad was an American WWII pilot and one of the best I think - he came home unscathed. He was stationed in France for most of the war, sleeping in tent camps alot of the time, but occasionally with fellow officers and
pilots at the Carlton in Cannes. i grew up hearing strange words like Moulin Rouge (I think he liked saying that) Bastone, Lyon, Calais. Montmartre, the Champs Elysees (he liked to say that too). My Dad had an unspoken love of France, though after he finally returned home, he never went back. I think I got my love of France from my Dad - I always think of him when I am there.

Andrew K

Every city, every town, every village, every commune, every parish, every crossroads in the middle of nowhere ... all have one commonality ... all have a monument to those who lost their lives in “The Great War.” The sheer magnitude of the number is beyond comprehension.

To drive through the rolling countryside of Verdun on a misty morning is a spiritual experience. To visit the cemeteries in Alsace, or Chateau-Thierry, or the Marne Valley, to see the endless rows of graves gives pause.

To think that there was at least an equal loss of life on the German side is mind-numbing. To think of the countless numbers of women of that generation who never married and never had children because the men of that generation were buried in those countless graves. To think ....

Two minutes is not nearly long enough ...


During WWII my late father was stationed in France near Germany as a US Army doctor. He treated local French people (I forget the name of the village at the moment). Forty or so years later he went with my mother to visit the village, to locate the corner where he was photographed with two young French girls-He had stitched up one of the sister's cut leg. He became a local celebrity and was covered on tv in a news broadcast. They met the mayor. He found the corner and took a photo of the same building. He found out that one of the girls was a Texas grandmother, and I believe he met the other girl-now woman. No American had been to this village in France since WWII, until my dad came along. It was a wonderful closure for him.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Special memorial in Arizona. . . . . http://twistedsifter.com/2014/11/anthem-arizona-veterans-memorial/

Kris in Brittany

We have three memorials in our village and wreaths are laid at each one. It isn't big and not too many people attend the ceremony. The volunteer fire fighters are resplendent in their uniforms and Maire in his tricolor sash. This year, as is not unusual, the rain added to the solemnity of the occasion. Three of my Gt Uncles fell in the First World War fortunately my Grandfatherand Uncle came through it. I always wear my poppy lest we forget.

Happy to hear you passed your driving test as I find myself in the same boat with an American licence, which has expired. I thought I would take the test in England as I knew the French theory test would be beyond my linguistic skills. However as soon as the English stone faced examiner got into the car I managed to fall apart and drove the worst I have driven in fifty years of accident free driving. But thank goodness for a full Motorcycle licence which allows me to drive a Quadricycle, otherwise known as a sans permis.

Jules Greer

I LOVE YOU DARLING KRISTI... Thank you for today's message...xoxo Mom

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Hi Kristi,

Your post reminded me of my experience passing the written exam for an international driving license in Melun, France while serving with NATO in Fountainebleu. Lots of new signs and rules of the road to remember, but no driving test


Kathy Shearer

When we were in France a few years ago, in addition to enjoying many delightful experiences such as a visit to Kristi and Jean-Marc's vinyard, we were struck by the many war memorials we encountered as we traveled around the country. The French live so closely with these reminders of both WWI and WWII.

One of the most poignant is the preserved village of Oradour-Sur-Glane, the site of the German massacre of 642 people, many of them children.

After seeing the remnants of the Maginot Line in Lorraine, we spent an evening with an elderly cousin whose young husband was forced into service and sent by the Germans to the Russian front. He spent two years in a prisoner of war camp there, during which time she never heard from him, never knew if he was still alive. At the end of the war, the doors flew open and he was told, "You are free to go." And he started walking towards home and eventual reunion with his wife and small child.

For those of us who have never encountered war, hearing stories such as these brings us into a whole new reality.

Darlene Pajo

Yes, I’m also from Michigan (Detroit area) and remember the men giving or selling paper poppies along the street. My mom gave them a quarter, I think, and would wear it in honor of those who fought in WWII, among them my own dad. This was back in the fifties, so the memories of war were still fairly fresh.

Cynthia Lewis

In the early 1950's, my father was stationed in Germany for four years. Two of those years we lived not far from the Alsace-Lorraine region. Several times we made special trips to visit the beautiful American cemeteries in France. As a teenager at that time, they made a profoundly sad impression on me. Those seemingly endless rows of white crosses almost made your heart stop when you thought what each cross represented. Thank you for your wonderful post today, photos and all.

Robin in Tucson

My great-uncle, a British army officer, was killed in Ypres during WWI. Visiting this area is profound...to see the actual trenches and battlefields and countless cemeteries...and the bombs the farmers are still finding now on a daily basis. Thank you for the remembrance.

Faye LaFleur

Thank you for message and lovely photos. One can feel the stillness in the sea and the field of flowers. I agree with Andrew 2 minutes is not enough.

Dave Kapsiak

My mother's first husband(my brother's father) was part of the 7th Armored Division-31st tank Battalion in WWII. Their unit liberated Chartre in 1944. I visited there last week while in France in a very somber mood. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to come home and tell of his experiences, as he was killed in Holland a week before my brother was born. I visited his gravesite in Henri Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium in 1990, and will never forget the site of not only his grave, but all the others who gave their lives for us to be free.

Johanna DeMay

Chère Kristin,

What a lovely story! I couldn't resist writing to tell you how muck I enjoyed it. I've followed your blog for almost as long as you've been writing it, and in 2010 we had coffee together in St. Cécile. My husband and I were riding our bikes on the backroads of Provence, and made a long detour to meet you.

A couple of years later my neighbor, who is Marseillaise, met your mother in Puerto Vallarta to deliver our thank you gift, which Jules then delivered to you on her next visit.

Thank you for your work -- you touch us all with your talent and your generosity. Bisous,

Johanna DeMay

Chris Allin

So beautifully said...


My father served in WWII and while I was never told of his time there I now possess his many medals and citations for service. I was raised to honor our veterans and to be grateful for those who serve. In my travels to France I have had the opportunity to meet a number of people who lived through WWII including on my very first trip to Paris an elderly gentleman who told me that he was living Normandy with his Grand’Mere on D-day and how the American “boys” came from the sky and rescued him. What a beautiful and memorable entrance in the city I have come to love. I met my friend Nicolas’s Grand’Mere Leonne who told me with tears in her eyes that her parents had moved out of Paris during the war and that she had always longed to meet an American and thank them. I met Yvette who lives outside of Fontainebleau and whose father was a headmaster of a school in Normandy during the war and how the Germans took over the school and housed solders there. She invited me into her home for coffee, shared her childhood story with me an also shared about her many travels as a young woman and how she was grateful to have the knowledge of what freedom looks like. Perhaps most remarkable was the honor of meeting Maurice Chauvet (Kieffer Commando, the only French unit to take part in the D-Day landings.) during his final years as he was living at Invalides in Paris. We shared a nice lunch together and before parting he said, “I’m just sorry I cannot see you, but I have lost my sight” to which my husband responded “Well, we’ll see each other in heaven one day!”. I will be forever grateful for those who have been placed in my path and for the veterans who made it possible for them to live their lives in freedom.

Chris Allin

So beautifully said...


Tears, gratitude and more tears. Several years ago my niece and family drove from Landstul, Germany to Paris and I experienced the most profound sadness as we crossed that land. I fell it again today after reading all the posts and am so very, very grateful for my life. We must never forget.

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

My father landed on "D-Day plus 1" on Omaha Beach, and it was only when I went to France to research D-Day and the Normandy Invasion that I realized how lucky I was to be born. I grew up hearing his stories of his time in France, 5 months, on the cliff above Omaha Beach. He was a SeaBee, an engineer with the Naval Construction Battallion, so he stayed in one place, building the camp and then the floating harbor, repairing bridges, etc, all the things that engineers are great at.

My first article about Dad and World War II came out on the 50th anniversary of D-Day and was titled "Touching the Heart of D-Day" because it was about his stories of his time in France and how they influenced and changed my life. He used to tell how the French were so patient with his high school French which made 's'il vous plait' come out as 'silver plate'. My favorite story was about the little French orphan Gilbert who Dad took under his wing and took through the food line at the officer's mess each day. My passion to learn and speak French began in my teens and continues to this day.

At the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, I placed an ad in the paper there and found my father's orphan, Gilbert and we had a tearful reunion. He had never forgotten my father's love and told his family that someday, someone would come. Thanks to my father's stories, I came and Gilbert did become my brother, just 50 years later than planned. I continue to be close to the family and his widow and visit them almost yearly now. There are now great-grand children who know the story from so long ago about my father and Gilbert and their love that waited 50 years.

I have also had the honor to be a guide and translator with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours with veterans returning to France for the 60th and 70th anniversaries of D-Day. To be able to translate between the grateful French and the aging veterans was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

So yes, today I remember my father, Gilbert, and those sweet veterans I toured with in France, and millions of others who have served and honor them for their bravery and courage.

I did a 5-part series for the 60th anniversary of D-Day for NPR and it is on my website if you are interested in listening to it. The last line of the last commentary, referring to the aged veterans, always stays with me. "If you look into their eyes, you can see who they were. It's right there, you just have to look."
Diane Covington-Carter, author of "Reunion, La Réunion, Finding Gilbert", www.dianecovingtoncarter.com

Madeleine de la Fontaine

Hello Kristin,

Thank you for such a lovely remembrance of 11-11-11. A few years back, my husband and I were traveling in France and visited the cemetery in Coleville. It was a profoundly moving experience to stand and view the rows and rows of graves and to think of the lives they represented. Later that day, we visited La Mere Ste. Elise (hope this is right). In a small pub where we had stopped to have lunch and une biere, a couple of French men came to our table and thanked us for America's part in World War II. It was a very touching encounter. Just this morning, I found the poem In Flanders Fields (" In Flanders Fields, the poppies grow..." ) and read it several times in remembrance of so many who sacrificed for all of us.

Laura C

"In Flanders field, the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row..."
Very moving stories this morning.
I'm close to tears.
Memories of the Normandy beaches
and hundreds of Allied soldiers' graves
Plus in 1980 an Armistice Day local
parade we happened upon in a town in the Camargue


As I read this post we getting ready for our local Remembrance Day parade at 11:00am in New Westminster, BC. We have many memories of our visits to Belgium, Northern France and Normandy. I once asked a man on Juno Beach if he had been there before, he replied that he had, in the morning hours of June 6,1944. How do you respond to something like that? As a transplanted Englishman we spent most of our time at sights relating to those nations, but we did visit the Americal cemetery at Omaha Beach. A couple of bus-loads of teenagers came in, noisily talking to each other over their earphones, but when they saw those multitudes of crosses there was silence, and tears. What a shame more people can’t experience what we have. Maybe we wouldn’t be quite so blasé about death and violence.

Ken Curtis

My father flew B-17's out of Nuthampstead England during WWII and as frightening as that was, it was for him and most others, the most alive they ever felt. It created a large amount of nostalgia for the war years even though it is a very negative experience. Myself, I look forward to a day when the human race no longer glorifies war and has learned that wars never resolve conflict - but only perpetuate a false concept of violence being used as a means of changing human misperceptions. I lived in northern France where hundreds of thousands of France's sons are paid tribute to in the town square of every little village. The loss of French lives was so horrendous that war should be regarded as evil as the bubonic plague or genocide and not celebrated in perpetuity. Someday - to honor those who lost their lives in senseless wars there should be a new memorial which calls for an end to wars the thinking that allows them to occur and no longer simply paying tribute to it's victims.


Such lovely, heartfelt entries ... One small correction ...

In Flanders fields the poppies BLOW
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The image conveyed by the poet of poppies blowing in the breeze, and birds flying and singing, is a powerful one.


My grandfather was with the 140th Field Artillery in The Great War. He had farmed with horses, and I suspect he was assigned to work with the horses which pulled the artillery pieces along. I know he was stationed in Besançon, as Grandma still had the postcard he sent in 1970 when I was preparing to go to France to study. I was able to go to Besançon myself and send the modern version of the same card.

Joan Cook

Here in San Diego, Kristi, I Remembered. I always Remember on this day and one other.

June 6, 1944: my father, Fred Buechner, was in the first wave, to land on a Normandy Beach.

June 6 plus 18: When one of my father's officers became lost behind the German lines, my father, his driver and 2 others went searching for him. They hit a land mine, my father was blown into a ditch next to a hedgerow and subsequently was flown to England to recover. Blinded in one eye, he was sent back into the fray to serve until, much later, he was retired due to disability. He died in 1991.

He lived a long full life afterward but never talked to me about it at all. Looking back on it, I am sure he had PTSD, or, as it was called then, shell shock. I was in high school and too immature to understand.

Karla Ober

Dear Joan,
What a touching tribute to your father, Fred Buechner. What sacrifices our parents made so that we could have the life we do.
Like you, I am in San Diego. How nice to find another fan of this blog here in San Diego!

Susan Strick

A cheerful anecdote related to WWII: While visitng a small village in France in 1971, an American friend and I were strolling in the early morning. we passed a butcher shop where the proprietor, in his fresh white apron, was opening for business. "Etes-vous Américains?" He asked, with a smile. (It was easy to guess). The village being small and not a tourist magnet, it was pleasantly uncommon to hear this inquiry and in a tone of positive excitement! He told us that during World War II, when he was a child, American soldiers were great heroes to his family and the whole village. He invited us in to his shop and proudly showed us its refrigeration units, of American make, and told us they had functioned perfectly since he first set up shop in the 1950's. My father served in Europe in WWII, though not in France, and at age 100, still remembers this story from my year in France......


Our dear Kristi,
Like Diane and Joan(and many others,I am sure),my father,Thomas Grandin,also landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach during the D Day invasion,(he made the first eye witness radio broadcast from there),and in eery coincidence with Joan's dad,his jeep also hit a land mine and he was badly injured.
I never truly absorbed the significance of their sacrifices until I was older,
and now I thank both God and them for all that they did so we may know life as we are blessed to have it .
Dear Kristi,once again you have shown us what a gifted writer you are.Obtaining your drivers license in a foreign country is anything but a walk in the park, and the fact that you did this by itself deserves more than applause.
But how you wove this story into the poignancy of honoring these men and this day is nothing short of an inspiration for all of us to appreciate .
Natalia XO

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Thanks for your lovely post today along with the lovely photos!


When I was a child in Atlanta, Ga at grammar school, I remember one day during recess on the school playground. It must have struck me deeply because I still remember it now at 76. A teacher came to us, told us to stand and be still and quiet. She told us it was Nov 11 and it was 11 AM and we must remember the soldiers who died in the War for all of us. We stood, were still and quiet, which is a hard thing for a 9 yr. old who's been jumping around. She counted the time on her watch, and then told us we could go back to playing. What an impression it made on me! I'm so grateful for the learning, the knowledge, and the memory.

Sue J.

a beautiful post, Kristi. and so many touching remembrances in the comments.

Patricia Sands

You always hit the heart, Kristi. November 11 is such an important day and must always remain that way. Thank you for the book suggestions too.


Very touching article Kristi


Thank you for the story today. As you may know it was Veterans Day here Friday. I have been volunteering with Honor flights here in DC. We do water canons from the big crash trucks over the plane coming in. The veterans spend the day in Washington DC visiting the memorials. I go up to the gate to welcome them when I’m working. I get teary eyes when they walk off the plane, especially when a WWII vet says he wants to walk instead of get a wheelchair. So many have done their part for our freedom and that includes the French!


My dad and my wife's dad both fought in WW2. (Both English by the way.)
I have a huge amount of respect for that generation.

Its interesting though that me father in law met his girl in the North of France, at the time of the liberation, married her, came back to England, and a year later Janette was born. How events turn out. Had it not been that way, how would my happy life and perfect marriage have come about. 48 years this year!


I am way behind in reading this. I will share that my uncle landed at Omaha beach on D-day and was pinned down there for 24 horrific hours. He survived and later wrote home about the days before, during and after their landing, writing from a captured German pillbox. Ten years ago my husband and I stood on that same beach and read his letter again and were moved to tears. We thank him and so many others for their sacrifice.

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