A near disaster & Ouf! Phew!
The French word for Puppy (see Smokey and his 5 sisters when they were baby goldens)

le déchet : What the tourists regularly toss into our garden

Chief Grape
Jean-Marc and Kristi will be in Denver soon, attending a wine tasting of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape wines that Chief Grape exports to Colorado. This event will take place September 13th from 3 to 6 PM at The Vineyard Wine Shop, 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!

Today's Word: le déchet

    : waste, litter, rubbish, refuse

Les dechets

Les déchets sont faits pour être jetés dans des poubelles adaptées, pas dans les jardins.
Trash is made to be tossed into designated garbage cans, not into gardens.

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    by Kristi Espinasse

I received the following courriel from reader Joséphine....

Hi Kristi, I am wondering how you manage living on the beachside after living so many years in the vineyards? I imagine it is a little frenetic at times?

Coucou, Joséphine.

The first few months were strange indeed. It was awkward having strangers so close to our front porch, even if a brick muret and its scraggly hedge formed a boundary. Whereas a few rows of sunflowers lined the edge of our (previous) deck, now groups of tourists are springing up! There, where giant yellow tournesols once swayed in the wind, beachgoers bow forward in a constant flow toward the sea. Toddlers regularly throw tantrums (the injustice of having to return home after building sandcastles all morning!), and it is not uncommon for couples to meltdown, too, as they discover parking tickets, or les amendes, on their windshields and point the finger at one another ("Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros--c'est pas assez pour la journée!").

This massive flux in summertime took some getting used to. Once, a group of seniors stood casing my fence (up one side...down the other) and I watched as, one by one the women lifted their cameras and began firing away, their lenses trained on a vignette of bombonnes in our yard! ("Fair enough!" I figured, remembering my years as a trigger-friendly amateur photographer roving the villages of France. I had my share of tongue-lashings by angry residents, I recalled, as I silently watched the women from behind my window and its spy-proof reflection.)
Mais, chère Joséphine, there is one thing about living in a tourist mecca we will never grow used to or accept....and it is this:

Smokey and litter
All the litter! As waves of visitors file by on their way to the beach, some of them drop their garbage onto the street. Others set it on our fence (having sat there, smoking a cigarette). Still others toss their trash right into our garden! Beer bottles, napkins, even the odd rubber sole...are now "fixtures" in our yard (that is to say,  we regularly remove the litter, but it comes right back the next day!).

This morning, while planning a much-needed chicken-run (to run along the periphery of our yard) I was amazed at les déchets I found. Despite there being TWO poubelles within meters of our fence, passers-by tossed empty packs of cigarettes, plastic cups, a bottle top,  snack dispensers and plastic wrapping over our fence.

But what disturbed me most was a tiny pink bille...it must have come out of one of those toy guns. Were there more plastic billes in the garden? Not good for my grazing chickens or my curious, eats-anything chien!

Thank you very much for your question, Joséphine, and for the opportunity it offered to talk about litter. I hope, together, we all will find an answer. 


le déchet = litter, waste, rubbish
le courriel = email
coucou = hi, hello
le muret = low wall
le tournesol = sunflower
une amende = fine, penalty, parking ticket
la bombonne (also bonbonne) = giant glass wine or jug
la bille = ball
le chien = dog
Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros c'est pas assez pour la journée! = I told you, Maurice! Five euros is not enough for the day!

Smokey sad eyes
Smokey says "Utilisez les poubelles, s'il vous plaît!" Use the trash receptacles, please!

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Janice Linhares

Chere Kristi, we have the same problem in the country. We've notiiced that there aren't many easily accessible poubelles for visitors. Why not contact the Mairie and ask them to put a poubelle near (but not too near!) your house. And you should see what gets left by the side of the road here when the dechetterie is closed. Yikes. Bon vacance, Janice


This is unacceptable . Especially if there are receptacles available. France always appeared as if no one ever tossed trash on the ground. Everyone has been recycling there long before the states. I too live in a "tourist" town and it is about this time of the summer that you say...."tourists , go home." Hopefully just a couple more weeks. Please tell me they don't leave it on the beach too.

Larry Griffith

We live in the country on a corner lot. The small turn out for our street is wide enough to be used as a parking area or turn around. IMMEDIATELY within this same intersection there are poubelles. Some (many) idiots who use this for a lunchtime location or a place to meet others simply are too inconsiderate by leaving their lunch litter (dechets) on the street where they park. They simply are too lazy to walk 10 meters to place the dechets in the poubelle. I often pick up the dechets simply because I do not like litter...it is disrespectful to residents and to the environment. grrrr


Put a sign up saying “put trash in trash cans”.


We have a problem with people tossing litter out their car windows onto our lawn (not to the extent you are experiencing but still annoying) and I go around picking it up and putting it into my garbage can for pick-up. I want to ask them, « don’t you realize people live here? » I would never think of dropping my litter in the street or tossing it into someone’s yard. I wonder if a nice sign painted by Jules might help. Something a long the lines of « Thank you for using the trash cans. This is our home. »

Nancy Stilwagen

I would suggest you blow up that last picture of Smoky and the trash and make it into posters to put on your fence. Maybe it would help.


I agree with Jackie and Nancy. A sign may make a few people think twice (and I particularly like the idea of the Smokey poster), but of course not all. Many people will never learn not to be self-centered pigs.

"The more I know of people, the more I like my dog." (Mark Twain)


On a totally different subject, my 14 year old high school freshman started French class this week. (She had just finished Kindergarten when my husband & I visited you @ Domaine Rouge Bleu!) I know you & I can appreciate that (as well as so many of your readers). It is such a fun experience to learn a new language and the delight that comes from your child when they come home and introduce themselves “je m’appelle Ava, et vous?” Or sing the “new” alphabet they just learned. It takes me right back to when I first became a Francophile & fills me with pride & joy that my daughter wants to do the same. Afterall, it’s the little things in life that we all need to relish!
Thank you for all of the daily glimpses of your French life that you selflessly give us!

Nyla Witmore

We cannot come tomthe event in Denver but hope we can connect at the CHEESE EMPORIUM in Longmont? We have houseguests from Sept 11-17. When and how long in Colorado? You have my email and facebook. I want to give youn a donation for your blog for the four years I have been a follower of your blog. (I do not use pay pal.)

Leslie NYC

I don't understand the motion of opening your hand and letting a piece of litter drop onto the ground. Your situation would make me a little crazy, but I am sure you and perhaps Jules will come up with a beautiful sign or approach. Maybe stand outside and offer free litter to passersby?
In rural Virginia, where I am this month, we have trouble with people rolling couches, mattresses, washing machines, and tires from the road into the creek below. A former neighbor filled my old well with bottles, trash, and animal carcasses, according to the new owner. That is my project next week, dealing with that!
In some ways thoughtless tourists are worse than rural people who don't want to drive to the dump.
I don't know the answer. Good luck!


Dear Kristi, It really hurts and offends doesn't it, this litter problem? I could weep when I see our beautiful countryside in the UK with miles of litter-strewn verges and woodlands piled high. The bottom of our garden runs along a main road and we have to "litter pick" the lawn and the outer verge every few days. If there is ever a set of temporary lights on the road, the litter trebles or worse. It seems motorists stuck in jams and white van men, seize the opportunity to tidy out their vehicles while waiting, then WE have to dispose of their stuff! I think it's a huge wide-ranging international problem that at least is at last on the radar e.g. in the press etc. and there are some organisations raising awareness and actually clearing some of it up. Also many schools are trying to educate children and the very young ones at least do understand. Supermarkets and coffee shops are at last beginning to listen and respond and behind them a FEW of the manufacters and packaging people. Meanwhile I think you should try some of the readers' ideas. You have my sympathy though. It's a horrid problem and you deserve much better. Don't forget your local press and Council. They both want and need tourists and the nice tourists don't like litter!


Littering Is illegal here and if person is caught littering, they get a hefty fine! Naturally there are always some that don’t get caught. Smokey’s sign w/ thank you for using trash might help some. People R lazy and disrespectful! Easy to agree with mark Twain!

Gail L from AZ

Cheese Importers is a regular stop for me when in Colorful Colorado! :)

Andrew Kleeger

Je pense qu'une clôture électrifiée est probablement trop dure, mais peut-être un capteur de faisceau lumineux qui déclenche une sirène lorsque les intrus brisent le faisceau, et peut-être fait tourner le tuyau d'arrosage sur eux? Mais ce n'est que moi et je deviens un bourru.

Gail L from AZ

People throwing trash into your yard is just sad. It’s a problem everywhere, it seems. Signs would be a good experiment to try!

Audrey Wilson

Plus a large arrow pointing to where they are !!!


Thoughtless people everywhere it seems. Sorry you are having this problem. I would try a sign for two weeks if no difference look into building a higher wall. Love those terraced steps behind Smokey.

Georgia Schall

Hi Kristi,

Terrible that some people are so careless!

Perhaps, the Smokey poster could say, "Smokey thanks you for putting your litter in the trash can!" (In French, of course.)

Have a lovely weekend!

Cerelle Bolon

I don't know, Kristin, why people and especially, I fear, the younger ones throw trash everywhere. We find fast food containers, etc in the desert and in my front yard or the street in front of my house. For a generation so worried about the fate of our planet, too many seem to forget when it comes to their laziness. And as for tourists taking photos of your yard, take that as a compliment. They like what you have done, an especially lovely flower or an idea to try, or a prized memory to remember in years to come. It is good that you are generous and let them 'be'...taking photos does no damage and leaves 'nothing behind'.
Hugs from Arizona...

Cerelle Bolon

A photo of Smokey on the sign and with this message might just work wonders with most people. For sure, there will be some blind and deaf to the message, but perhaps most would have a twinge of conscience and comply. 'Honey works better than vinegar' you know!

Patricia Ramos

Sweet Smokey on Litter patrol. Perhaps a growl could be perfected to ward off those nasty people. I notice the "frosty"
face developing. My sweet Melody has the "frosties" around her mouth area now. Wish they could stay young forever. xx


That's a good idea. Maybe some of your neighbors are frustrated by the same problem and you could start a petition to the city, and also all of you could call city hall. Repeatedly. Maybe you or they know someone with local government connections. Is there a local newspaper? Talk to them about the problem, too. Gradually escalate if the city doesn't supply poubelles.


very good idea

Lynne Schweitzer

Love your photo with the “Smokey says” message. That would make a good reminder to tourists poster :)


Our dear Kristi,
What a a disgusting bunch of tourists(possibly the same ones who fill the ocean with plastic straws and bags?)!
We live in a tourist town also.During one of our evening walks,we observed a couple ahead of us,just pitching their assorted trash stuff helter skelter,much
of it landing into the yard of one of the houses lining the walkway.A man(presumably the owner?) materialized from the shadows,picked up some of the trash items,stood right in front of these people and said"You apparently have lost this.Perhaps you'd like to take it with you."
Embarrassed,they slinked off,looking like the thoughtless fools they were.
Although it could not stop other future fools,these two for sure will not be doing that again.
Hopefully they will pass the word.
Natalia. Xo


Dear Kristi, Peu importe, Il suffit de construire une belle haute clôture et de planter les tournesols contre elle! Gros bisous,

Frantzie Couch

Suzanne - Very nice way of putting it!

Frantzie Couch

My thought as well. It's an adorable photograph, and the expression on Smokey's face is relateable!

lou bogue

Yes, it is a problem everywhere, in the world, unfortunatly it will only get worse, more people, more trash, grin and bear it, say a few cuss words, clean it up and move on, more important things in your life!!! have a great trip to the states, wish you were coming down to Dunedin,Fl. see you in Sept. Love to all, Lou

Patricia Sands

A lovely idea.

Patricia Sands

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this annoying situation! Hopefully it will lessen considerably after the rentrée. I hope you enjoy every minute of your trip to the States and wish you and J-M record attendance at The Vineyard Wine Shop event!


Hi Kristi - This blog received so much response because, unfortunately, litter is such a rampant problem. We live in a remote area with only two houses surrounded by hundreds of acres. Two miles from our home is a “ transfer station,” or dump, open every Fri.-Mon. People who try to visit there on the wrong day think nothing of chucking trash bags, furniture and even a stair master exercise machine (too lazy to use it obviously) along the public road between there and my house. I have to look at it every day until the County responds to numerous calls to pick it up. Dating myself, little kids my long-gone age would never, ever be “litter bugs!” So as one reader said, some early indoctrination would help, along with good examples set by their parents. In your situation, the winning suggestion appears to be a Smokey poster (great picture!) with, “Smokey thanks you for properly disposing of your trash - this is our home,” in at least French and English. On a happier note, “Bon Voyage” to CO - wish I could meet you there! - Janet

Leslie in Oregon

A great idea, Nancy! Because of a "Don't Be a Litterbug" campaign launched in Oregon in 1953 and long continued, my peers and I learned at a very young age never to litter (and always to be prepared to remove litter and put it where it belonged), and we, along with many other Oregonians, became lifelong litter fighters. One feature of that campaign that proved especially effective was its use of animals (who could be harmed by litter) to voice its "Don't Be a Litterbug" motto. Kristi, your beautiful Smokey is an animal who could be harmed by litter, and a particularly adorable one. I bet that posting one or more photographs of him with a French version of that motto where potential litterers would see it/them would be quite effective at reducing, maybe even solving, your litter problem. (Especially with a garbage receptacle nearby that had room for more garbage!)


Bonjour Kristi- I just got back from Paris and one morning I stopped at the end of this the street where i was staying and counted 6 poubelles in my line of sight. And that was just looking straight ahead!

I dont’t understand why people litter. I like the idea of making a sign with Smokey asking that people use the poubelle.


Le Puy de Fou in France found the answer in crows!


Check out the story in the NYT!
Bonne chance

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

I always remember Europe being less littered than the US but on our trips over again I see that is changing. It's a sad thing to see. I am always picking up litter from the front of our property, mostly Bud Light cans. One day on a walk I took a trash bag with me and I collected so much trash on my 2 mile walk that I looked like Santa Claus with a big bag over my shoulder. I ended up having to drop it on the side of the road and go back with my car to pick it up. I found lots of bottles, beer cans, plastic snack packages. I wonder if a sign with big eyes and something like, "keep OUR city clean, people are watching" or even better, "Be a good steward of our world, our children are watching". I agree that maybe petition the city for another trash can near your home. I don't understand why people can't just throw it in the trash. It's a very sad statement on our societies.


I am shocked to see this problem in France - it's more like S Africa. I hope the worldwide swing of opinion against plastic comes into effect soon. Many shops in France offering alternatives like paper or latex. By the way dear Smokey is looking quite old now. I have followed him since he was a puppy!

K.J. Laramie

Posters are open to interpretation 😳 especially by non-readers. I personally would not let the general public know a dog lives there! “Contributions” of other food, or worse, might follow after seeing Smokey with candy wrappers.
Perhaps a simple sign, “You are on camera. Litterbugs will be caught and fumigated!” will do the trick.

Mary Anne Komar

I often wonder if they do the same thing on their own property or in their own homes! A sad commentary on the Golden Rule-do unto others.it seems very thoughtless and selfish. They would probably be irate if someone did it to them.


Like jklaramie’s suggestion...make sure u catch them on camera before fumigating them, however...u may need to show proof of their actions!


I love Smokey!!!

Barb Michels

So sorry for your trash problems. I will be thinking of you at the wine shop in Cherry Creek. We used to live nearby and went there quite frequently. Our church pastor went there all the time. As church vocalist he used to gift me some of the fine wines. Bon Voyage y Via Con Dios.

Anne Umphrey

You could put up a large sign that says, "Would you throw your dechets on your yard? Don't throw them on mine." If you wanted to be polite, you could end the sentence with a "please", but since they aren't polite I think that you do not need to be.


It's sad that some people show such disregard when it comes to garbage (I have come to call it 'rubbish' since moving to NZ). Over here, we have many beach clean-up days and a few local cafes offer free coffee to anyone who grabs a large rubbish bag from the establishment and returns with it full after cleaning the beach.

Marianne Rankin

I live in a house on a corner, a block from a main road, almost across the street from a high school, and half a mile from a mall. I get all kinds of trash in my yard, too, in spite of being miles from a beach. I periodically go around the yard and pick it up. I try to recycle what I can, such as the plastic bottles.

Maybe put a sign on your fence, with arrows pointing to the poubelles?

Diann Shannon

How good to hear that you are coming to the Denver area on September 13th. We plan to attend the tasting. Bob and I met you at your vineyard in Provence in October 2011 when we were there to attend his daughter's wedding. Diann Shannon


I agree with the comment to organize with your neighbors to address the problem. And with the sign idea, perhaps one like this? https://www.accuform.com/safety-sign/please-do-not-litter-bilingual-french-FBMHSK966

K.J. Laramie



Hi Kristin

Do you know about the 5thingsclear.com initiative. Perhaps it’s good to share with your readers so everyone around the globe does their bit for the planet clean up!

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