Chantier or construction site + A hole in the wall is better than un trou dans la tête! Caution while sleeping....
Raconter des salades (Fountain Guy takes us for a ride) = today's expressions: se faire empapaouter or se faire berner:

Audacity and "avoir du culot": going beyond the limits in Elba, Italy

Cove Elba Island
A quiet cove at Elba Island, off the coast of Tuscany.

avoir du culot

    1. to have the audacity, to have balls, to have some nerve

365 Days of French Expressions. See the book.

Avoir du culot: listen to this phrase and the following sentence

Avoir du culot: Il faut avoir du culot pour dépasser ses limites.
To be daring: You've got to be daring go beyond your limits.


    by Kristi Espinasse

My husband has a gift for finding hidden jewels in nature. To get to these turquoise-colored creeks or calanques or coves, he will scale cliffs, repel from flat rocks, or simply jump in when there is no other way to "get down there"

But one of Jean-Marc's biggest challenges is being married to a poule mouillée--a wet chicken (French speak for "coward").  And my challenge (besides being married to him) is knowing and respecting my own limits: while I now understand that I do not have to keep up with him and his risk-taking friends, I do need to accept those invitations that are more in line with my Wet Chicken Adventure Level. Make that Wet-Chicken PLUS Level, for I've come a long way.

While I will never again follow a group of Frenchies through a railroad tunnel (to them it was an obvious shortcut, to me it was la folie!), I will, as of last week, trespass... It was during our getaway to Elba Island, off the Tuscan coast of Italy, that Jean-Marc and I visited a lot of public beaches, but one day we decided to drive to "Algue Cove"... Wandering through a neighborhood of stately villas, we searched for a path to the sea. We soon found one, but it was marked "Strada Privata"....

Villa in elba

"I'd rather not," I said, hurrying ahead of my husband. "Let's just go up here. Surely there's another way." And there was, if you didn't mind the north side of the peninsula where the wind was so strong our hair was twirling above our heads--making one of us look like an upside-down broom. Speaking of which, there was no clean way out of this predicament: if we wanted a tranquil beach, à l'abri du vent, we were going to have to soil our values and break the law (or at least the neighborhood rules)!

In the end it was no big deal. Those stately houses on this elite peninsula were all closed up this time of year. Il n'y avait pas un chat! We easily made our way down to the sparkling inlet, where Jean-Marc found us a nice spot on top of some flat rocks overlooking the turquoise sea. As my husband settled in for a nap, a strange impulse came over me....

Scoping out the cove and all of the visible houses (shutters closed in winter) until certain nobody was around...I threw off my clothes and hurried into my one-piece swimsuit. Now tiptoeing down the rocks, careful not to wake Jean-Marc, my adrenaline was so high I hardly felt the ice-cold water after quietly slipping in--and there, in the middle of tiny bay, I began splashing.

To no effect! Jean-Marc was oblivious to my antics. Now I was freezing--but determined as ever to prove a point. First I'd have to wake him up!

"Hey-oh! COUCOU! Jean-Maaaarc!"

My husband opened one eye. Then two. Now he was wide-eyed, just as anticipated! "Eh ben!" he said. (That's French for "well, what do you know!")

And that was exactly my point: that I am not always this way or that way--from picky to prude (I won't list every fault in between). "Things are not always black and white!" Having shouted it out--all those mysteries that still swirled within me--I blew my old man a kiss and swam like a flock of wet chickens back to shore. (Mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée!)


la calanque = inlet from the sea
la folie = madness
pas un chat = nobody around (not a cat in sight)
coucou = hi, hey there!
mieux vaut une poule mouillée qu'une poule congelée = better a wet chicken than a frozen chicken

It's almost swimsuit season. I like this one. See others here.

La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated the best by Consumer Reports!

Eiffel Tower Peace Sign T-shirt, order here.

If you haven't yet read my book, please check it out. Many thanks! Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

Kristin Espinasse 2018

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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Toujours. Adorable. Merci.


What a lovely photograph of the two of you. Such a tender look in Jean-Marc's eyes.

You've made me want to go back to Elba after (oh dear!) 50 years.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi and Jean Marc,

I'm so glad you enjoyed your vacation! You both look wonderful! Love your story too and the photos! Have a great weekend!

Jenny Sanderson

Belle vie.


You gave me a charming start to my day. Ditto all of the above comments. Hugs

Barbara B

I haven’t stopped to read any email other than what’s necessary in months. Today I read your blog. Charming and full of life.

Valerie Meluskey

Ah merci bien, Kristi! I am feeling daunted...wondering if I can summon courage to face a recent challenge, and here you come with feats of daring-do! May you and Marc feel all the love and appreciation that comes your way from so many of your readers, amicalement, V

joie in Carmel

Which one piece suit? Hmm.....shame on me, that might be too much avoir du culot for you.

Linda D.

Well, *I* don't think you're a chicken, Kristin! I truly believe each of us comes into this world with gifts and challenges and we tend to be WAAY too hard on ourselves for our perceived limitations. One of the things I most admire you for is your *fearless* (boy do I wish I could italicize right now!) writing. Without hesitation you let us into your world and allow us to live your adventures (and there are MANY) vicariously. I cannot thank you enough for that! <3

Janine Cortell

Wonderful story. You look beautiful and it is obvious Jean Marc adores you!!


Bonjour, Kristi,
From one poule mouillé to another I applaud both your limits and your challenging those limits. Just a word of caution though. Someone I know trespassed on private property while chasing an off leash dog and witnessed an illegal activity. As my son said, ‘You cannot unsee what you have seen’.


I’m always zipping thru my emails only reading essentials and nothing too long but whenever I stop to read yours I’m always captured - you got me at avoir du


Our dear Kristi,
You two are precious!
What a darling picture!
As Clint Eastwood once said "Man(woman!) has got to know their limitations!")
And!Bravo to you for pushing those limitations and enjoying such a fun and fulfilling adventure!
Proud of you!
Thank you for giving us the inspiration to do the same!
Natalia. Xo
PS wonderful vocabulary section today!

Carolyn R. Chase

In American "wet hen" goes along with being angry - madder than a wet hen.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Linda! Italics or not, that is a wonderful compliment about fearlessness in writing--and most encouraging.

And to all who have taken the time to comment, above or below this note, mille mercis. Your words mean so much to me. Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. P.S. If you want to see photos from our recent adventure-to the beautiful Parc du Mugel, here is the link (there is a very small area on the rightside of the photo, hit it to see all 7 pictures!: 

Kristin Espinasse

Valerie, sending you bon courage! Bon courage, mon amie!


Pure joy and accomplishment! Proud of you, Kristi!

Sarah La Belle

poule mouillée, that has different connotations from pusillanime ? The latter was a fun word to learn in high school. I look forward to your computer coming alive to allow an audio version of the sentence. How is Culot said differently from “des culottes” ? Des culottes referring to trousers or short pants, not panties as Google translate thinks is the exclusive meaning. That sounds fun to wear your swimsuit and slip into the chilly Meditèrranée in March.

Patricia Sands

Fabulous photo!

Not a soul in sight......I would prefer no swimsuit, n'est pas?!!! Bizous. Love the photo too!

Stephen Battalia

Lovely--here is to jumping into strange waters and surprising our partners


....t'was warmer WITH a swimsuit, lol?


Here's to wet chickens worldwide!! Really enjoyed your first dip of the season, Kristi!! ;)

Suzanne Dunaway

Hey, forget the suit next time...that would wake up JeN Marc, no?


Funny, the guys are always more willing to 'take a chance' than the women. I think many women(myself included) spend a lot of life trying follow the rules. However, I have noticed that as women get older they are more likely to be the adventurous ones! xoN

Brenda of SF


At times I have been a "wet chicken" too.
Bravo to you for challenging yourself.

Brenda of SF

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Well done, Kristi! I loved this playful tale of courage and leaps --- and honoring our unique gifts and challenges! Thank you for inspiring me to step one chicken foot in front of the other!

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