Our Current Mess + Une Alerte Orange
From Red Cross worker...to most read Frenchman in the world. The inspiring story of Marc Levy

Cassis recommendation + Une Tuerie: a popular slang term often used by foodies and bon vivants

Bar du XX eme siecle Cassis France tapas menu cuisine wine vin

Looking for an authentic wine and tapas bar in Cassis, France? Read on! 


    1. to die for, killer, freakin' delicious

the original meaning of tuerie is: a massacre

LISTEN - hear Jean-Marc read the example sentence in French click here

Cick here to listen to today's word

Le gâteau au chocolat de ma maman est une tuerie!
My mom's chocolate cake is to die for!

Cassis france rue pierre


"A Parade of Little Plates"

  by Kristi Espinasse

As we walked down to the port of Cassis, strolling beside candy-colored buildings lit up by so much sunshine on a crisp January day, my husband quizzed me.

"So what do you think you'll have for lunch?" he grinned.
"Oh, I don't know," I played along. 
"Du loup? Ou bien...du magret?..." Jean-Marc persisted. Whether in French or in English, he was taunting me!

"Peut-être..." I tried to be nonchalant, or else show my weakness for eating--especially for pan-seared French bistro cooking which I trusted was on le menu du jour. But what an assumption that turned out to be! When Jean-Marc invited me along to his noon-time meeting with a couple of wine représentants, I imagined we would lunch in a cozy resto--at least that is what my man led me to believe when he told me about his meeting in Cassis.

But as we sidled up to the comptoir in a bar formerly frequented by local drunks, I began to regret the perfectly sound meal que j'aurais pu me cuisiner! The meal I could have cooked, had I not taken the bait! But who wouldn't be tempted by a visit to Cassis? I decided to focus on that part of the equation and forget about rotisserie chicken (or lamb chops I would no longer have). And just as I let go of expectations, one of the reps looked my way:

With the kindest eyes, trentenaire Maxime said: It must get very boring to sit through these wine-fueled meetings

The man who had the same name as our son must have caught me staring at the bar counter which was packed with opened bottles of wine. And he must have translated the expression on my face--a look that read what am I doing here? But he couldn't have read the rest of my thoughts: What--at 15 years sober--am I doing seated once again in front of a sea of open wine bottles? (I periodically asked myself the same question: what am I doing moving to a vineyard? What am I doing with a frigo full of wine samples? Married to a winemaker? Now a wine merchant? But two vineyards later, and many wine-fueled lunches (wait, where's lunch?) like this, and I've not fallen off the wagon, pas une seule fois!

Embarrassed to be caught looking so forlorn, I perked right up with the help of my bubbly drink (sparkling water, bien sûr): "C'est vrai--des fois çela me gonfle! True, sometimes it gets to be a bit much. Mais, c'est aussi un privilège d'être parmi...vous (how else to say it was a privilege to be among the movers-and-shakers in French wine?). There are so many characters in the wine industry, so many stories, so much camaraderie that even a teetotaler can manage to fit in somewhere. I pulled my barstool up a little closer, and j'ai lâché prise....

"I smell eucalyptus!" Jean-Marc was saying, swirling his rosé and dipping his nose back beneath the rim of his wine glass. I giggled to myself, of course, that's your favorite tree... isn't it true how we become more sensitive to the things we...love? Just as Jean-Marc loves eucalyptus trees (and was now tasting them) I love characters. A wonderful group surrounded us now.....

There was the gentlemanly owner, Jacques, and his wife Marie (was there ever a more beautiful face? a mixture of Greta Garbo and the author of the bestseller Mange, Prie, Aime...).  Then there were the wine reps, Pierre and Maxime - jovial opposites, and obviously good friends and business partners. By the end of our meeting ("our" for I was now very much connected) we all agreed to meet up for an oursinade--a half day of sea urchin hunting.  And speaking of food--the very reason I'm writing to you on the weekend--like magic it began to appear from the back of the bar... where a distinguished Spaniard appeared, with plate after plate of savory tapas!

Fried calamari at wine tapas Bar du XX eme Cassis France

Ardoise or chalkboard menu at XX eme siecle wine and tapas bar in Cassis France
A mouthwatering array of tapas on the bar's "ardoise" or chalkboard menu

C'était une tuerie! There were crisp-fried calamari, lightly-crisped potato disks and a creamy aïoli sauce...and there were couteaux (razor clams, pictured at the end of this post, are a "fruit of the sea" with a long "knife-like" shell), melt-in-your-mouth Iberian ham, anchovies in oil, and addictive tomato-rubbed toasts or pan con tomate. Speaking of addictive, can you get drunk on tapas? I don't know, drunk is no longer a feeling I enjoy--but I felt agreeably woozy after the delicious défilé--or parade of little plates.


le loup = bass fish
le magret (de canard) = duck breast
le menu du jour = today's menu
le comptoir = counter, bar
le trentenaire = person in their 30s
le frigo = fridge
ça me gonfle = it bugs, bothers me, I get fed up
lâcher prise = to let go
une tuerie = to die for
aïoli = Mediterranean sauce made of garlic and olive oil
le défilé = parade, procession

Adventures on the wine route

I forgot to say that this wine bar also hosts book signings. The walls of the bar are covered with large framed photos of French authors--but the owner happened to be reading a book by American writer Kermit Lynch. He was enthusiastically showing us the book, Adventures on the Wine Route

Wine reps Maxime Pierre and Jean-Marc
Maxime, Pierre, and Jean-Marc

Le Vingteme bar resto tapas wine in cassis france
If you go... here are the bar's coordonnées, or contact details:

"Le Vingtième" 
17 Avenue Victor Hugo, 13260 Cassis
Téléphone : 09 80 53 24 43

Le Vingtième is open from Wednesday to Sunday (winter hours) for lunch and dinner.

Le couteau de mer or solen or razor clams
Flowers and volets or wooden shutters in Cassis France

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


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I would have ordered some Poulpe “Gallega” in addition to the wonderful tapas you had. My next trip to Cassis will definitely include a trip to Le Vingtième! Thanks for the photographic tour

Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets)

Yum! I think we've been there with Corey and Yann, but just for an apero - now I want to go for lunch or dinner!

Alyssa Eppich

Lovely! Someday, I will be back, In the meantime, I will keep dreaming.


4 decades ago, my husband and I were in the south of France, enjoying being at an outside resto in Cap d'Agde.....and - innocently - we ordered a plâteau de mer, thinking shrimps and oysters etc.... A gigantic tiered étagère arrived with all kinds of seafood cradled in ice - but everything was alive!! And I remember vividly the couteaux de mer - CRAWLING ALL OVER THE OTHER shellfish.......dragging their shells behind them. I couldn't eat a thing!!!
Now - those tapas though - they look utterly fabulous!


I have been following this column for many years, and have experienced all the "ups" and "downs" life has tossed at you and your family. It has, in fact, helped me through my own rough years. This new part of your life coincides with a major life change of my own as a widow. I will continue to borrow courage, as needed, from your up-beat attitude, and enjoy visiting and revisiting your columns. God Bless you all!

Jan Roese

Love your posts and have read them faithfully from the beginning. I especially love your photos, and I sometimes save them to my "typically French" file. Best wishes always. San Diego


Kristin, Thanks for sharing. We are going to rent a place in les Goudes this summer after the tours, the last week of July so we can do some early morning hiking in the Calanques and of course swim when it's hot. Would love to try this place...what a tuerie! If you are near Cassis, maybe we can meet you there.

Beth & Guillermo


Love Cassis. Love the photos. Love the story. But most of all, congratulations, Kristin, on fifteen years!!! You should be very proud of yourself, indeed.


Those are really beautiful tapas, which we eat in Spain often and also here in Collioure at Casa Gala. I ADORE tapas and yes, you can get a little nutsy eating tapas, which is the object!!!
We ordered wine often from Kermit Lynch in California. Great wines. I shall make a note of that bar as we are crazy for tapas.
Love from Loulou


Being around wine nuts when you dont drink can be tough. I used to do artwork for a New York Bordeaux specialist. Trips to the big wine fairs and the fete de fleur made it so difficult when even just tasting and spitting makes you woozy. Plus the opps to taste the grand crus. Many regrets that I'm wine intolerant, but never seafood intolerant. I could gladly leave this minute for those delicious razor clams.
Something to dream about 😀🎈🎈merci!

joie in Carmel

I will take one of each....except the prune dessert.

Sheryl Wells

Hi Kristi,

My husband and I were just in Paris for New Year's and I now know what I ate as a first course...Le couteau de mer. I had no idea what I had ordered but they were delicious.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and beautiful pictures to wrap us in smiles!
We always are so happy to participate in your life and all your fun(and interesting!) activities--you never fail to fill us with inspiration,for every event,whether happy or maybe not so much(!)
But what I most congratulate for today,though,outside of blending with,and appreciating such varied and talented company,is your strength and determination
to remain alcohol free,no matter what the surroundings.
15 years! We are so proud of you!
You give definition to the word courage--for this and to us for whatever challenge we also might find ourselves facing.
Thank you!
Natalia XO

Patricia Sands

Kristi, thanks for the resto info! Congratulations on your 15-year anniversary, with love and respect.

Nikki Maxwell

Love that place, Corey introduced me to it a couple of years ago, I'd always walked past it until then! Took guests there in September and we sat eating for about 4 hours!


Congratulations and thanks for sharing such a lovely day.

Lori Garon

Bonjour Kristin, A friend has just sent me the link to your blog! My husband and I spend 3.5 months each year in Eygalières and so enjoy learning of other places in southern France. We return to France in early Feb. and will surely put Cassis on our calendar. Thank you! Last call was 15 years ago? - BRAVO! And regrets for the loss of your belle-mere. No matter how expected, always a meaningful loss.


Hi Kristi
Love your blog which I have followed for several years from my home among the gum trees down under. I'm fascinated by Jean-Marc's love of eucalyptus! I am visiting La Ciotat later in the year (I'll have a branch of eucalyptus in my back pocket 😀). Le Vingtième at Cassis will definitely be on the agenda. If it is as good as it sounds and to the standard of the last recommendation I took from your blog (The Home in Sablet) it will be marvellous. So looking forward to my visit and thank you for your wonderful stories of daily life, ups and downs, in France.

Suzanne Codi

Hi Kristi! Your photographs are exceptionally appealing on this post! ( only thing missing is Smokey) I've picked up the " couteaux de mer " shells on different beaches (i think they're called razor back clams here?) but have never eaten any, something to look forward to next time we are in France!
And I echo some of your readers sentiments, so proud of you for staying on the wagon despite being surrounded by vino on a daily basis, bravo, tu as une force de caractere extraordinaire!

Don't remember if I've wished you and your family a happy 2018 yet, so I hope this year is another wonderful one for all of you, filled with love and adventures, good gardening and good food!

Stephen Battalia

Nice Post Kristi--I am just trying to do a dry January--you are very strong mon ami!

Zann in VT

Bonjour Kristi, et toute le monde—ouch IPad does not like to write French!
Usually I just follow the wonderful stories, but today I have a question for you,
or your faithful & gifted followers:
Is there a “typically French” equivalent for the American phrase “stray pup”,
As in, “the lonely boy followed the mechanic around like a stray pup”.
Loving all you do!


Bravo, Kristi, for staying well on that wagon for 15 years, even when living a life somewhat driven by wine. That's determination and fortitude! Love "la tuerie"! It goes in my little notebook to pull out on our next trip to France. Merci!

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