Dazed in Reims: A boxing incident lands Max in ER
Sans plomb, essence, caoutchouc, and a gas station story on French nonchalance

Tout rikiki, fastoche, and the unexpected French word for "good luck" + my would-be 15 seconds of fame

Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse
There was just one eensy-weensy--tout rikiki--detail that would prevent a documentary film crew from interviewing an American about her French vineyard life: we no longer live on a vineyard. This logistical pépin was quickly patched up (filming will take place elsewhere...) only for another oops-a-daisy to arise: "Parlons-en," the journalist began, "de vin."

Normally, at this point, I would've thrust my trusty side-kick, Chief Grape, in front of me, but the story, part of a bigger compilation to air on France's Canal+, is from an American's vie-en-rosé perspective....

Just when it seemed this interview had bitten the dust (I admitted to the production team that months before my husband began shopping around for a vineyard, I quit drinking...)--so just when I was waiting on a "thanks but no thanks" email response from the interviewer, she came back with"ça ira!"

So now here I sit, at my kitchen table, practicing being filmed working at my ordinateur while blogging (that part, so feared when the interviewer suggested it, will be fastoche compared to talking about wine, comme si de rien n'était! As if there weren't a giant white elephant in the room, slurping on a mug of rosé)....

Wish me Merde! (That's "good luck" in French.) I'm going to need it. That or a giant mug of rosé. Oh gosh no. That's the last thing I need!


tout rikiki = eensy weensy
un pépin = snag
parlons-en = talk about
le vin = wine
vie en rosé (a play on vie en rose) = life in rosé, life's view from behind rose-colored glasses
ça ira = that'll work
un ordinateur = computer
fastoche = easy peasy
comme si de rien n'était = as if nothing were amiss
merde! = good luck!

Our former vineyard and sunflowers

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


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Jim Monette

Salut !

Le mot , ca n'est pas un mot vulgaire ?

Merci pour votre explication,


Kristin Espinasse

Hi Jim, Hopefully a French native will answer (Cécile! Are you reading?)  Meantime, I think it is pretty innocent in this *good luck* context. 

Marika Ujvari

Congratulation dear Kristi, and good luck! I love you!!!
Marika in Colorado


Merde à la puissance treize!

Brenda Prowse

How exciting Kristi! You are a star. Really. Very proud to know you just a little! Bisous et Bon Courage

Suzanne Codi

Kristi, I know you'll nail this interview, no problemo, but merde anyway!! And break a leg too!! xoxo Let your devoted followers when and where we can see this...

Kathi Koegle

I so admire you for saying "oui" to what could feel like a scary experience! You always shine when you are true to yourself.

Keep us posted so we can watch you from a distance.

Blessings and congrats!!


Though unlikely that many 6-year-olds are faithful readers, let's hope we don't hear them wishing classmates "merde" before today's geography quiz.

Suzanne Dunaway

Fantastic! And please let us know when you’re going to be on television because we watch going out places in France and would love to know!

Delilah Smith

Thank you for the update, love the sunflowers in the photo.

Rob Tonkinson

I hope that, after it airs, the interview will be posted somewhere that we can watch.

Roxanne Mauger-Pafundi

hahah....I say "Don't be such a quitter!" hahah...why ever would you give up wine? Either way, totally enjoyed today's post and - Merde!

Mary Ann Boysen

Will this film be viewed in the states? Good luck! Sounds like fun!

Susan Dupuis

Peut-être parmis les jeunes, merde est passé du royaume vulgaire à l’usage quotidien, mais je ne le dirais jamais à ma belle-mère. C’est comme “terrible” qui peut exprimer “formidable” mais qui risque d’être mal compris. Je note que cette deuxieme définition de terrible ne fait toujours pas partie de la définition Larousse.


That’s what I always thought, too! We need more info!

Kristin Espinasse

Mary Ann, I do not know, but there seem to be some French channels available via cable. 

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Rob,

I will share the link, if there is one, and if everything goes smoothly :-)

Christina Johnson

In US theatre communiry, good luck is stated “break a leg!” In Paris 19th C theatre, audience arrived by horse carriage. The more “merde” in the streets, the greater succes of performers’ and playwrights’ efforts. So “merde” became perfect word for “good luck!”

Chris Allin

I learned this word for this purpose (as well as the real meaning) in the 1960’s as a teenager in France. Always understood it to be a colloquialism.


I love your blog and stories. I am so bummed I missed you when you were in Denver. I live in Colorado Springs and traffic would have been a night mare after work. I've studied French for 20 years now. I learn so much from you! This story taught me several words and phrases! Also, I too quit drinking, and you continuously inspire me. Thank you! Excited to watch this when it comes out.



When I clicked back to the "I quit drinking" post that you highlighted, I re-read Chapter One of your memoir. It is good. Very, very good. I completely understand your reservations about continuing. But I have this deep-seated feeling that you will accomplish this some day with God's help. We have these stories inside us that must come out in order to be complete. (Dr. Curt Thompson (Anatomy of the Soul) has some interesting thoughts on this.)

I have used you several times as a positive example for a loved one who struggles with alcoholism. She sometimes despairs of ever being set free from her addiction, but I point to you... "Listen, there's a blog I read written by a lady in recovery who lives on a vineyard! She hosts wine-tastings that she can't participate in! If someone can do it under those conditions, then it is possible!"

I hope that you will keep speaking your truth as you can, when you can. As you already know, truth does set us free... but even more than that, speaking our hard truths helps set others free.

("Lit" by Mary Karr, and "Sober Boots" by Heather Kopp are two wonderful memoirs that have inspired me.)

Bon courage, brave lady.

We'll all be anticipating the documentary!

Chris Allin

That would make sense!


Sounds like fun!


Bon chance from Maine, Krist!

Carolyn Chase

Wine may have been the topic originally chosen, but it was merely an excuse to be able to interview you. Simply being yourself will make it a great interview, which is, after all, merely a conversation. You are a delightful, genuine person. I'm afraid I agree with Susan Dupuis, however, and prefer to err on the side of caution, and wish you "Bonne Chance" as well as "Have fun".


Tout le monde ne dit pas "merde " quoi que ... je n´en suis pas sure...
En France on dit que de marcher dans la merde du pied gauche porte bonheur
et, en effet on dit "merde" pour souhaiter bonne chance. Je ne dirai pas que c´est vulgaire mais plutôt populaire !


Wonderful news, Kristi! With your movie-star looks, you were always destined for fame. But it's your inner beauty that really shines to your fans. Tell them an anecdote about your early days in France, and the filmmakers will see it, too.

When it comes to wine, you can talk about wine-MAKING and how you helped in the fields and fed French crews American meals. Whatever you do, I'm sure it will come out great.

I still remember the TV interview with Jean-Marc--it was after Rouge-Bleu was written up in Wine Spectator--where the interviewer asked you if you had ever worried about "des échecs." And you replied in your slightly American accent, "Que'est-que c'est qu'un échec?" It was utterly charming.

Keith Van Sickle

Bon courage !

Kristin Espinasse

How interesting! Thanks, Christina! 


Love it. And i see Mr. Sacks made into the photo!

Kristin Espinasse

Ah, merci Cécile. 🌞


Very cute Kristin....I think you natural charm will win everyone over...I feel awkward saying wish you Merde but OK...Good luck! xx


Et bien, jjust when I think I’ve heard it all, I was pleasantly surprised about the new vocabulary “ fastoche” and rikiki...that’s got a melodious sound to It!

On a different subject, what exactly does your husband’s t shirt say? Is the last word “ train”?. I would love to get one for my son in law who is an engineer for CN rail. And yes, when will your interview be broadcast?

Bonne journée


Bonjour, Kristi,
Cassez-vous la jambe!
Amitiés, Joanne

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Vicki, the T-shirt says Real men drive tractors. It is one of his favorites, and it was a gift from Chris, whose comments we can see above :-) 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Teresa, for these helpful suggestions! I am touched by your compliments and by your remembering that clip! 

Mike Locke

ha! Ha! Ha! De la lecture de ce qui précède peut-être pour être plus clair, je devrais dire «beaucoup de merde du cheval» !!!!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Carolyn. I love the thought of it being a conversation. Good way to think about it!

Kristin Espinasse



You are so brave! Go for it and we will all be supporting you!

Natalia Radula

Our dear Kristi,
I thought I submitted my comment to your always wonderful blog earlier today(!)
but I don't see it so it has to be this operator's error (sigh)(not the first nor certainly not the last time for something like this,either)(another sigh).
Did not want to miss missing you a very bon chance!!
You are,always have been,and always will be terrific in both your interview(or in anything else you undertake).
So proud of you!
So look forward to seeing the completed interview!
Yay,Kristi!Way to go!YAY!!!
Natalia xo

Tamara Dever

It'll be wonderful and congrats on being part of this, Kristi! Sending hugs to all. :)

Chris Allin

Try googling “real men drive trains t-shirt”. Then go to view all (of the pictures.)I found the shirt on a couple of sites. Not sure about them...

maryann New York

You are terrific! Bonne chance and carry on.

Patricia Sands

Hi again ~ I left an early comment that seems to have disappeared. I hope you did see it.
This is such wonderful news ... no surprise ... and you will be brilliant just being your own
sweet self with the stories we all love to hear from you. I'll be watching for the link.
Merde!!!! xo

Cynthia Lewis

It all sounds so exciting and well deserved! Remember when you gave a reading of your book at Shakespeare Book Store in Paris? This should be just as thrilling; you will be fabulous and all of your fans will be there in spirit wishing you "Bonne Chance". Best wishes always.

Ahulani McAdam

Everyone has said it all, but nonetheless, this is going to be so much fun. Sayiing "Yes" takes courage, but it is really the way we can receive the life god is giving us. Yes and Yes you have said over and over again, even at times with trepidation and reluctance. Showing us all how a lived life can be led, day after day.
So, "Merde to you!" (It does sound weird.)
I love "Marche dans la merde du pied gauche!"
Have fun!

Adeline Richarson (ile de La Réunion)

Super nouvelle!

Mille fois merde Christi!!!

Et puis en français, la règle est ne jamais répondre en disant "merci"... ça ne porterait plus chance!!!

Je pense que l'on peut dire "merde" à tout le monde, si c'est dit avec sourire et amitié!

Merde pour cette belle nouvelle aventure!

Catherine Stock

Your posts strike a wonderful balance between warmth, charm, anecdote, useful French vocabulary, and occasionally brave intimate revelation! You are strong and fragile at the same time. And love your photographs.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Catherine. Your words mean a lot to me and are enormous encouragement to continue. 💛

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Bonne chance et mille fois merde aussi! :-)


When my daughter, Jackie - now 25, started dance 22 years ago we quickly learned to say "merde" before going on stage. After all you don't want to tell a dancer to "break a leg"! I as a French teacher was completely unaware, and now as a the grandmother of another dancer I have learned that is not just a dancers' good luck! Merci bien!

Carla Wakefield

Bonjour Kristin! I'm a friend of Kathy Denis and I just moved to France a month ago. I live in Le Dramont Saint Raphael. I follow your column. I'd love to meet you someday; it would be nice to have some English speaking friends! If you want to know more about me you can look at my blog sixtyisthenewsassy.com. Thanks!

Carla Wakefield


At school in England in the 1950s, I was taught that "merde" was a word that I should never use in public. In fact, I was told to forget that I had ever heard it!

Kristin Espinasse

Nice to meet you, Carla! I enjoyed my visit to your blog and look forward to meeting in person. 

Sandra Allen

It does say on your website, over to the right, that you live in a vineyard. You might want to correct that. Sandy

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sandy, for catching that! I need to update this...and the photo (fromn1992) too 😂😂.

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