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The French verb "lancer" + A lost phone and a found skill: Max's foray into juggling

Dolphin...and other seaworthy terms in French

Coastline in la ciotat

Many people are unaware of it, but this sea is home to dolphins, whales, cachalots, and pilot whales. Learn this sentence in French, in the soundfile section, below.

Today's Word: le dauphin

    : dolphin
    : heir to the throne
    : runner-up (beauty competition)

In books: Pronounce it Perfectly in French

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce dolphin in French in the following sentence
Beaucoup l’ignorent, mais cette mer abrite des dauphins, des baleines, des cachalots, ou encore des globicéphales. --Cetus Méditeranée

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

(This story first appeared in France Today magazine)

Coucou from down South. Having shared with you the beauty of our lively port city, La Ciotat, there is now one more thing to shout about: our coastline has recently been crowned La Plus Belle Baie du Monde! And though it is physically impossible to crown a body of water, one could prop a couronne on one of the hundreds of dolphins that regularly grace our shoreline!

Our sparkling baie en croissant will boast this title all year, at which point another aquatic beauty gets to bask in the saltwater spotlight (past winners include Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and the Bay of San Francisco). For now, we Ciotadins are gazing at our seafront with a new appreciation. And what better way to experience the splendour...than from a historical boat?

Les pointus as they are called, are the colorful fishing vessels you see bobbing in the port in Marseilles, in Cassis, in Sanary, and here in La Ciotat. And after wishing for one for decades (ever since strolling as newlyweds along the calanque of Sormiou) our dream has come true! We will soon be the lucky owners of one of these barques de pêche--built in 1925! Meantime, as Provencal bureaucracy kicks in (it's like winning the lottery to get to buy one of these boats with its own slip), the current owner has granted us access.

Pointu wooden boat carenage
old wooden boats during the carénage

Recently, Jean-Marc and I enjoyed a relaxing sortie.... After packing a thermos of tea (for the chilly sea breeze), and a bottle of rosé--and some sweet and savory goodies from la boulangerie, we set sail towards L'Ile Verte--the nearest island--only 10 minutes away in put-put time. This one-hundred-year-old barquette is slow...and so close to the water you can reach over the side and touch it!

Nearing The Green Island, Jean-Marc tossed the anchor overboard and we rocked peacefully for the next hour, enjoying the magnificent scenery (including Le Bec de L'Aigle--an impressive Eagle shape in the rocky coastline), and so many gabians--that's southern French for goéland, or seagull. On this day the French airforce flew jets overhead and with a whoosh they appeared over the island's Mediterranean forest every quarter of an hour. What a show!

If only my husband had more to show from the end of his fishing line.... It seemed the arapèdes he'd hooked there were not fooling the local daurade. Even les loups turned their noses. Next time he should try cake, I thought, as I began to doze off....

Lying there on the wooden sideboard, I dreamt I was eating une galette des rois, when suddenly I bit into the fève inside! My husband, following tradition, placed the cake's cardboard crown on my sleepy head...but the wind carried it right off. Searching for it in the distance, I saw the golden glimmer just as the dauphin disappeared underwater.

Oh, indeed! I thought, waking up. The Most Beautiful Bay in the World has received its deserved crown!

Cliff falaise along coastline la ciotat

coucou = hello
la plus belle baie du monde = most beautiful bay in the world
la couronne = crown
croissant = crescent
le pointu = wooden fishing boat
la calanque = rocky inlet
la barque de pêche = fishing boat
la sortie = trip, outing
le gabian = seagull, gull
le goéland = seagull
un arapède = limpet
la daurade = sea bream
le loup de mer = sea bass
la galette des rois = king cake
la fève = fava bean
le dauphin = dolphin

In books: Mastering French Vocabulary and 2000 Most Common French Words in Context

Yellow euphorbia and a euphoric view of the bay and the Green Island (1)
You can see many more pictures of daily life here in La Ciotat via my Instagram gallery, here.

Jeanmarc on a pointu traditional wooden boat from provence
One more reason to visit La Ciotat is to stop into our wine shop/épicérie--located conveniently off the freeway (take a right at the very first roundabout). Jean-Marc is there most days, and we will organize meetups, tastings, and a wine workshop for those interested. Thanks for telling a friend!

Parc mugel bench sea

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Tim Averill

So beautiful, and Lauren and I are sorry we missed you this summer. A bientot!


So pleased for you that you are enjoying such a beautiful place. So richly deserved as you have had quite a few of life's knocks, I think. And we probably only know the half of it. But you have this wonderful gift for seizing the day and living in the now. Thank you for sharing.

Beth Fiacco

Félicitations La Ciotat! Et le dauphin qui a gagné la couronne (at least in your dream)!Est-ce quelqu'un peut louer un pointu dans La Ciotat?


Hi Kristi,
Congrats to La Ciotat! You and Jean-Marc are lucky to enjoy the beautiful water in your little boat! Love all the photos!

Jerry Wood

Il y a longtemps à Québec le 6 janvier était le jour du roi pour les enfants. The child who found la Fève in theGalette was crowned king or Queen for the day and ruled the activities for the party.
As I have lived most of my life in the english part of Canada I don’t know if this still happens in Québec.
I would be curious if it still happens in France today.


Sounds like a heavenly day! Congratulations on finally getting your pointy. I know you both will get a lot of use and a lot of fun from it. La Ciotat looks so perfect!

Audrey Wilson

Congrats to La Ciotat .Well deseved methinks ! Do these pointus have names , Perhaps we could launch a competition for a name .MY suggestion would be "Une Reverie"

Carolyn Chase

Delightful thoughts and images, given it was 32 degrees (F) when we got up here in Salt Lake City this a.m.!


Bonjour, Kristi,
Peut-on nommer le pointu « C’est la vie »? Ça veut dire, « Life boat » en englais?
Comment vous soyez privilégiés vivre à La Ciotat!

Sarah LaBelle

Very clever how clicking on the word cachalots (it appeared in red) at the start of this post took me to the article about Sperm whales in English Wikipedia.

Very nice to live along the most beautiful bay! And to be in a boat atop the water.

Kristin Espinasse

Me too, Tim
Say hello to Lauren for us.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Margaret. 💕😘

Kristin Espinasse

Yes, there are many possibilities for renting small boats here in La Ciotat, which we did before we bought ours.

Kristin Espinasse

Jerry, yes indeed! The tradition lives on here in France.

Kristin Espinasse

Audrey, Yes, they have wonderful names. The one that came with ours is kind of boring (it is the combination of two first names, ChrisLine). I would like to change it but have heard some superstition surrounding the topic.😲

Kristin Espinasse

Joanne, Love the name...see my response to Audrey, above.

Kristin Espinasse

Sarah, Funny you should mention it. I decided to link to the page because there was no way I was going to write "sperm whale" in my newsletter (it would cause all the spam folders to fly into action!)

Faye lafleur

In SW Louisiana, we call it a king cake and a small baby(doll) is buried inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the doll has to buy the next cake. This occurs between epiphany and mardi grass ( before the Lenten season of Catholic Church)


Our dear Kristi,
I remember reading this wonderful story
in France Today,and I thought at the time,it is pure ekphrasis.
Reading it again now,I so completely agree with that thought all over again.
Natalia. Xo

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

I can picture it all. The simple things (escaping together for a couple of hours in a timeless vessel) truly are the best.


I'm happy for you, Kristin and Jean-Marc, but I'm also GREEN.

Suzanne Codi

Great story and pics, as always, Kristi! But what is a cachalot?

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