Fastoche Loaf--you must make this savory bread (via this cool hack for the favorite French yogurt cake!)
Entertain friends with this delicious French synonym + Mieux vaut tard que jamais!

Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher (These boots are made for...)

Maison de village in saint chaffrey alps
Village home in Saint-Chaffrey, Southern French Alps

Today's word: la botte

    : boot
    : bundle (sticks)
    : bunch (radishes)

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French
Eh bien, ces bottes sont faites pour marcher et c'est exactement ce qu'elles vont faire. --Nancy Sinatra
These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...by Kristi Espinasse

Our drive up to the Alps was getting off to a bleak start. Not five minutes into our trip and we encountered a monumental embouteillage, only this time it wasn't les gilets jaunes protesters--it was VINCI--the company in charge of the motorway. It was they who had closed les péages. I looked out our passenger window to a sea of commuters who would not make it to the office by 9 a.m..... 

Jean-Marc began driving on the road's shoulder, passing two lanes of stalled vehicles to reach a raccourci farther up on the right. Following a caravan of renegade drivers, we weaved back down through La Ciotat...to shimmy up the backside of Cassis. There we broke off from the southbound traffic and entered the freeway north--not a single car ahead of us now. It was surreal--like the day after the end of the world, and only the two of us remained.

On the opposite side of the autoroute, heading toward Marseilles, thousands of cars were backed up. Little did they know what lie ahead. Les pauvres!

The two of us carried on, three-and-a-half hours northwest to Serre Chevalier--where a group of mountain towns are niched among the southern French Alps. It was there, 24 years ago, on the banks of the rivière Guisane, that Jean-Marc proposed to me. But that was not the reason for our return....

We were there to celebrate the 50th birthday of Jean-Marc's friend Fred (godfather to our son Max). It was Fred's parents who loaned us their apartment years ago, for Jean-Marc's special plan. As we drove past Saint-Chaffrey, I looked up the street to where that old telephone booth used to be--the one Jean-Marc slipped into to phone my Dad and ask permission to take my hand in marriage. He burst out of that phone booth like Superman, having transformed from a bachelor to a near-married man!

Nostalgia courses through me when we return to les Hautes-Alps. It was here our children learned to ski, and here where we have our longtime mountain friends--a group of athletic bon vivants who love nothing more than to wake before the sun rises and hike 8 hours (mountain peak to mountain peak?) in the summertime. They are funloving, hard-playing professionals--and for years I have watched them from a distance...in awe.

Coincée, bloquée, compliquée--or simply lacking confidence--I often find a pretext to stay in our cheap hotel room rather than pile in with a houseful of extroverts while les sportifs go downhill skiing or meet for a daylong randonée. I don't have the gear and have all the fear. Part of this (the non-idiosyncratic side) goes back to a mistake I made years ago when Jean-Marc took me to the top of the mountain to une piste noire.  It was there I learned I could not ski. I eventually inched my way forward, on my bottom, cussing all the way down the icy, steep slope. (This explains why I no longer cuss, or dire des gros mots--I used up every single expletive on that day!)

While the black diamond (the word for a vertical ski run?) was Jean-Marc's mistake, I regret to this day that I didn't sign up, then and there for ski lessons. And so, for all these years I've stayed in my room, which only alienated me from our mountain friends who came to know me as Jean-Marc's femme sauvage. In the end, I didn't even bother to go to the mountains, but sent Jean-Marc off on his own.

This time something shifted in my brain. It might have been all the walking (and some running) I have done since September. Or my state of mind (improved from physical exercise). Somehow all those blocks--or one of them--lifted! And when we walked into our friend Guillaume's ski shop, I marched right up to the sales girl and said je voudrais des bottes qui ne glissent pas! 
Hautes alps piste trail hiking boots ski de randonne
Hiking while Jean-Marc does cross-country

Having found a solution to a fear (slipping) I've held on to for ages, I followed my husband to the nearest piste and chased him right up the side of the mountain (OK, a small section of it) but I may as well as arrived at the summit of Mont Blanc! That is how good it feels to overcome something that has held you back for a very long time.

At Fred's 50th birthday party, I joined our friends and danced the night away in my new hiking boots. The faux-fur trim is an affectionate nod the femme sauvage at heart who is, little by little, climbing her way out of her hotel room--to the dance floor and beyond.


Non-slip bottes de neige
Visit our mountain friends here:
Guillaume's ski shop 
Benjamin and Virginie's restaurant (menu pictured below)
Lionel's Bière Alphand
Hervés Hotel (not the cheap room I mentioned in my story!)

Le white restaurant at serre-ratier benjamin melquiond

FRENCH VOCABULARY

la botte = boot
un embouteillage = traffic jam
les gilets jaunes = the yellow vests, see yellow vests movement
le péage = toll (booth, bridge)
VINCI = partner to the French government, this company is in charge of many of the roadways throughout France
le raccourci = short cut
les pauvres = poor things!
bon vivant = one who enjoys life
coincé(e) = uptight
sportif, sportive
= athletic, sporty type
ski de randonnée = ski touring
une piste = track
je voudrais des bottes qui ne glissent pas = I would like non-slip boots
merci = thanks
femme sauvage = wild, unsociable woman
Little chalet of dreams
A stone chalet in the Hautes-Alps. Do you enjoy reading about this part of France?

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Comments

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Anne

Congratulations!

Muriel

Merci for talking about overcoming fears.

There is so much of France for me still to visit.

melinda

Ha..this post made me laugh.....it was exactly at Serre Chevalier that I was "introduced" to skiing ...here I was a college girl spending junior year in Paris from New Orleans (not too many hills there not to mention snow) Some French friends talked me into trying a supposedly easy slope (are there any there?) after just one lesson.....the lift was a challenge & I wrapped myself around the ankles of a stranger when I fell off the tire-fesses thing....Then I can still picture looking down from what looked to me like the top of the world and realizing there was no way I could get down on my feet...after a bit of sitting & scooting I finally got to a lower part that I could try to manage standing up...after only a couple of turns, another friend zoomed past me & promptly fell & broke his ankle....ski patrol was called & he was taken to the hospital!! Not much skiing since

Marcia

The only ski trip I went on was in 1968, a Baptist church youth group ski trip to Wisconsin. I failed miserably, I was only skiing the 'bunny slope' as they called it. I managed to ski alright, found it difficult to control the skis when they would spread out and sat down everytime I approached a tree and scooted around it on my bottom. I also never managed to figure out how to use the rope lift. One girl got her long blonde hair tangled in it and nearly strangled. Plus my rented ski boots kept detaching themselves from my skis. I spent the rest of the evening in the lodge where it was cozy warm. I prefer sledding! haha

Gary

Rent snowshoes

Ophelia T Paine

BRAVO! And beautiful bottes, too. Isn't it wonderful, a joy really, that as we age we can still tweak our thoughts and behaviors, learn and try new things. Age is not a hindrance but an ongoing opportunity for growth. Merci, Kristin. You are an inspiration. Love all the words, too.

Christine Kelly

Skiing in home state (then) Wisconsin in high school, I remember those horrible rope lifts. My arms would give out eventually and my ski gloves would wear through from the constant rubbing. Here in PA my husband's first ski trip involved taking off his skis to walk down an icy slope, while my first time skier son did the black diamond some how. Memories.

But congrats, Kristi for your courage... et les belles photos.

Cynthia GS

Bravo Kristi! Keep walking, climbing, dancing and enjoying life. Personally the first time I went skiing at age 18 I had absolutely NO FEAR. I snapped on those boots and skis and just went for it. And I suppose that is why I fell (third time down though) and broke my leg and my ankle! A little caution can be a great thing.

Meiling Newman

Kristi, love your post today. I miss 🇫🇷. Enjoy the snow.

Bettye Dew

Good for you, Kristi. Most people, especially those of us mercifully lacking the "thrill gene," have been hampered by one kind of fear or another. But when that fear is based on old memories and pure habit, how satisfying it can be to put it to rest. Now that you and your impressive boots have discovered the joys of alpine life, I wish you more such happy days. There is nothing like mountain air to renew our souls.

Trisha

Three cheers for you Kristi!

Audrey Wilson

My youngest daughter took me once to the Cascades in WashingtonState I tried a tentative move forward on the skies ,promptly fell & said to her "I'll meet you in the Aprés Ski !!!

Linda R.

Good for you !!
p.s. your Instagram photos of the trip are beautiful.

Susan Hodgson

My first thought was, Holy Cow! They left Julie home alone. She has been known to get in a little mischief. And yes I know she and I are in our 70's now and should be decorous.Your mom was that friend that always had the best Ideas for fun and mischief.

(Great boots! Now is the time to use those boots.. Empty nester years are the best!)

Mara

My husband is a black diamond skiier, Class 4 rapid kayaker, long distance backpacker, outdoorsy kind of guy. I am not. I have tried downhill skiing a couple times and even took the lessons, but, it isn't my sport at all! I salute you for trying, again, to find a way to be sporty in the ice and snow! Snowshoes might be fun to rent next time!

Linda Darsie

Bonjour, Kristi! I'd rather go zip-lining! I finally got to do that at the (fairly) local Bristol Renaissance Faire this past August. It's fast, and over with quickly, but it's really fun!!!

Natalia

Our dear Kristi,
So proud of you!
HUGE congratulations!
Seeing(and applauding!)how you overcame this very real fear is nothing short of an inspiration for all of us!(especially since I did NOT,and wish I had!)
Also!That you stopped using bad words!
Another inspiration!
No matter how hard I try,I am still making spectacular slips!(sigh)
Love
Natalia .xo

Joie

I think you are embracing the "La vie c'est bon". Dance, sing, laugh and love. It is good for the soul and the heart. Maybe next time try cross country on the trails.

Judy Feldman

Kristi, I have a similar memory. In France, I was taken to the top of a black diamond run by my French pals. I had only just learned to ski, and she I saw the drop, I started to cry! Luckily, one of my friends helped me navigate my way down, but I was still in snowplow stage, and it took forever! I did learn to ski better, but never that great. I’m so glad you are overcoming your own fears! Bon courage!e

Joanne

Bonjour, Kristi,
Comment vous soyez une bonne femme! I skied and worked at Olympic Village, California during high school and college where I began to explore dance and golf. I still recall the beauty and especially the quiet stillness of those snowy mountains. My older sister and her children still live in Olympic Village, but I mostly visit them in summer. Now that I am of a certain age I enjoy the gondola ride up and down the mountain and the creek walks are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Walking keeps me earthbound while my spirit soars!

Diane Young

Chere Kristi,
I always enjoy reading about snowy alps and,having about the sill level you have, remember fondly the times I skied in North Carolina when it was 10 degrees. After heat and hurricanes, I would love a brief ski trip, except I am in my 80's and using a walker. So, keep them boots a walking.

Lauren

A "friend" said he'd teach me how to ski and proceeded to bring me up to a black diamond piste. It was dangerous, I was furious and it destroyed a friendship. Why someone would do that is beyond understanding. But decent lessons allowed me to enjoy skiing after that for many years. The mountains are so beautiful. Since snowboarding has become so popular skiing has become too dangerous so I stopped. One kid skied right into me from behind and broke my leg. I miss the fresh air and the beauty of a slow ski down an easy mountain piste.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristi,

I bet the crunch of frozen snow beneath those boots was music to your ears!

On a rare hike with me to the Friedman Saddle in the Superstition Mountains, my wife said, “Take me picture because you’ll never see me here again!

Natalie Shaby

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Kristi and Jean Marc!
Thank you for the many years of wonderful stories of your vie francaise!
We hope to see you in 2019!
Best, Natalie and David Shaby

Keith Van Sickle

Good for you! It's never too late to overcome an old fear.

Nancy

Congratulations!! Have fun and enjoy - never to late to learn something new. Sounds like a beautiful part of France - thanks for sharing.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Good for you...you wild woman!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Love this story! Life is a journey...at any age!

Adeline Richarson (ile de La Réunion)

Thank you for this inspiring story ! Loved it !!

Ces bottes??? des bottes de conquérantes !

Jo

Congratulations Kristi! May the new year see you taking a critical look at anything that might hold you back from first n and adventure.
He t’embrasse fort,
Jo

Jo

I meant to say “fun”!

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

Fond memories of Serre Chevalier, too, as that is where my first skiing took place. With no money, the best I could do for clothing was an old black Japara and tracksuit pants. I froze on the ski lifts and wished I had the means to deck myself out in the brightly coloured all-in-one ski suits of the trendy ladies around me. Given my lack of skill, though, it was probably best that I remained incognito in my 'drabness'.

Karen Cafarella

Great for you!

Love the boots.

xoxo

Joan

Well done Kristi. Love the boots, especially the red laces!

Joan

Leslie NYC

Brava!

Brenda Chinn

Kristin

I, too, hated to be the "wet blanket" or "stick in the mud" when adventure called my husband and other friends. The key was to take baby steps and conquer each fear one by one.


Brenda in San Francisco

Judi in Lake Balboa

Brava! Skiing terrifies me, but it is beautiful to watch! I’m very proud of you for taking the steps that you did - very brave! I love your bottes!

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