Adieu to a beloved Poet + favorite French words, in honor of Herman Meyer
Following a hunch from Paris to Miami + know these useful French words?: débrouillard, fonceuse, farfelu, embaucher, boulot, bagnole

Jules update + Which of these French words is new to you?: guet-apens, tuyau, épuisette, taule, couvre feu, comme si de rien n'était, arroser, pantoufle...

Max spear fishing in La Ciotat beach
My son, Max, spearfishing here in La Ciotat. In today's story, his grandmother Jules goes fishing in the garden, while I reel in a boatful of new French words for you. Enjoy, and please share this post with somebody who loves France or the French language. Merci!

Today’s French expressions: avoir la pêche (vs) aller à la pêche

  : avoir la pêche = to feel great, to feel happy
  : aller à la pêche = to go fishing

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence in French:

Quand ma belle-mère, Jules, a la pêche...Elle va à la pêche!
When my mother-in-law, Jules, is feeling energetic, she goes fishing!


“I feel good!”  my mom announces, stretching out her arms beside the budding fig tree. “Look how rosy my cheeks are!”

En effet! After hibernating all winter, Jules a la pêche. Her energy stores are full and she is ready to return to work as our resident Tuyau Operator, in charge of watering all the flowers and veggies. It’s about time Sleeping Beauty woke up. Les hibiscus ont soif!

Mom surveys the wild garden and its unruly grass, its patches of buttercups, dandelions, grape hyacinths, and, oh—look at those two-foot-high beanstalks! Our front yard has come to life, just like Mom and her furry, elderly assistant, Smokey (who’s put on a few pounds after guarding Grandma all winter. The two share the afternoon goûter in bed, and I suspect it’s not the only snack for nos aînés gourmands!).

Plus de Pantoufles!
When Jules, in her black Converse high tops, marches past her favorite Papillon chair, you know she means business. No contemplating the clouds today, c’est l’heure d’arroser.

I pass by the fountain on my way to meet her, and the water begins to tremble. Can you believe that’s 4 dozen baby koi rushing to the surface? The doves use a similar attention-getting strategy, going as far as to knock on the window until Jules gets up to feed them! Everyone is hungry now that winter is over, ou presque

Un guet-apens? (An ambush?)
Jules grabs the long wooden pole and net—the épuisette—and plunges it in and out of the water sending petrified poissons darting toward the papyrus for cover.

“I caught 5!” Mom gasps, upending the net and watching the fish land in the copper jam pan (a recent gift Mom picked up for us at la Coop Agricole). 

“Hurry! Get some water in there!” Mom signals, as the fish flop around their copper tôle, or prison.

Les yeux ébahis, I scramble to fill the copper jam pan with water before the fish (that's slang for inmates!) go into shock. Visiblement, Mom’s energy is running ahead of her again. If you think her motor is charged, you should see Smokey! Our 11-year-old golden retriever has leaped over the fence and is trespassing in the neighbor’s yard, probably eating the cat food again! “Smokey! Reviens ici!” Whereas moments ago our senior chien jumped over the fence, he is now crawling under the flimsy barrier, comme si de rien n’était.

As you can see, I’ve got my hands full keeping these thrill-seekers in line. But I’m not complaining. I’m too dazzled by the koi swimming in the copper jam pan. Jules has the coolest ideas and her creativity is enough to wake a zombie (or anyone feeling lethargic during a pandemic!).

“It would be a fabulous centerpiece for your next dinner party!” Mom adds, easing into her butterfly chair. Time now to contemplate the clouds, and think up more adventures in this era of couvre-feux and confinement.

Post note: No photo of the fish in the bassine à confiture, or copper jam pan. When I tried to recreate the scene, fishing wasn’t as easy as Mom made it look! 

Fish in pond

un jeu de mots = a play on words

en effet = indeed

avoir la pêche = to feel energetic 

le tuyau = garden hose

avoir soif = to be thirsty

le goûter = snack

la pantoufle = house slipper

nos aînés = our elders

le gourmand = food lover

arroser  = to water

ou presque = or almost

un guet-apens = an ambush

une épuisette = pole and net for collecting fish or clearing  leaves from the pond

en taule  (en tôle) = in the slammer, prison

le poisson = fish

visiblement = clearly

reviens ici! = come back here!

le chien = dog

comme si de rien n’était = as if nothing were amiss

couvre-feu = curfew

The paris library
NEW IN BOOKS: THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles. 
Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. Order a copy here.

Smokey in papillon chair
Or senior chien, Smokey is doing great. Don’t miss this story of Mom’s papillon chair, click here.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
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.

K. J. Laramie

You paint lovely scenes. Endearing!
Refreshing! Lively!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you so much, K.J.!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Hello from Atlanta, Georgia this morning! I am here visiting my mom for her 82nd birthday!
Thanks for such a fun post today...I love hearing about Jules and Smokey's adventures!
I don't remember ever hearing the word for garden hose or ambush! Thanks for teaching me new French words!
Have a lovely weekend!

Trina in St. Petersburg, FL, USA

Oh, non! At first, I thought the koi were going into the pan to be fried for lunch. Ce n'est pas le cas!

Trina in St. Petersburg, FL, USA

PS I forgot to add, it's so good to her Jules is doing well.


I was wondering why, when the day's French expressions are introduced, "avoir la pêche" is defined as "to feel great, to feel happy," while three lines later, just before the text begins, it's translated as "feeling energetic." And in the French Vocabulary list at bottom, it's also defined as "to feel energetic," but there's no mention of feeling happy or great. Do all three definitions apply?


Must be a popular book...I am #274 on 35 copies from King County Library system. (And, I just went there from here!)

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Michael, Yes, all three meanings are correct. *Avoir la pêche* means to feel great and also to have a lot of energy.

Judith Cheney

Moi aussi!

Judith Cheney

Moi aussi, Trina!

Susan Villiere

I usually love your anecdotes except just this once.
It will have stressed your Koi to be caught and put in a jam jar or what ever...don't think that was necessary, they look quite wonderful in your fish pond.

Patricia Sands

It's an excellent story. Well worth the wait!

Patricia Sands

How wonderful to have news of dear Jules! And what an excellent book to recommend. It's next on my TBR list and I've listened to the author interviewed several times.


You read my mind - at the end of your last post I was wondering how your mother was getting along. So glad to hear and what a lovely post. Sounds like Spring has arrived. Happy Weekend. Lynn


I always love reading about Jules! What a wonderful person!!

Suzanne Dennis

Two new phrases for me ... en effet and reviens ici. Plus a delightful story about your morning in your garden with Jules and Smokey. Love that photo of Max!


Christine, This is Emmanuel [and Gwen] 1/2 time resident of Les Arcs. Follow us on Twitter

Remember when all the French songs had a story and you could understand what they were saying without distorted too overwhelming beat music? Check it out today at 4pm on
produced by @csibon

Judi Miller

Your stories of life always help me to keep my “happy” going! I appreciate you so much and of course always am smiling with tales of Jules and Smokey! Thank you!

Cynthia Lewis

Ce matin j'ai la pêche à cause de votre histoire! Merci bien!

Bettye Dew

Formidable, Kristi. Formidable. From beginning to end, this piece was a coming-together of rhythm, spirit, and storytelling. Loved it!

Nyla Witmore

For those without ponds or real koi....consider this as a substitute in your backyard or balcony. Get a ceramic wide bowl deep enough to hold a couple inches of water. Drop flower blossoms in to float. Or consider as you travel, collecting miniature ceramic objects of fish, or other aquatic life. Even plastic ones will do. Change the water ever few days and play with your arrangements. A small rock in the basin is perfect for displaying little land-oriented animals....all in miniature. It is great entertainment and you will not need “une épuisette” . A bird might even land in the rock to inspect your creation.

Gail Larson

My dear French friend, I awoke in a funk this morning. However, after reading your delightful post I feel like j'ai la peche. Sorry I don't know how to put the accent mark on the e. You always lift my spirits ❤

Karen Cafarella

What wonderful story. Happy to hear Jules and Smokey are doing well.


Our dear Kristi,
As always,your beautiful stories and pictures just wrap us in hugs--and inspiration!!!
Dear Jules is a gem for all of us, and you, deat Kristi, are very much her daughter!
Arms around you all
Blessings always
PS This book is wonderful!!!
Thank you!!


What a delightful scene you have painted, Kristi. Jules is an inspiration to me, reminding me to keep seeking beauty and magic everywhere, every day. Merci.

Christine Broussard

bonjour Kristin, je vous ai donne le nom d'une nouelle amie qui veut pratiquer le francais: Nada M.
et j'ai bien recu deux livre que vous aviez recommande.
Dites moi si vous avez une boutique ou vous goutez ou vendez vos vins. Nous avons des amis a laCiotat qui nous sonnerions votre adresse et nous viendrons faire votre connaissance des que nous pourrons voyager sans masque!
Toujours enchantee de lire vos essais.

Bebu sa Ware

Vocab: comme si de rein n’était = as if nothing were amiss
Typo: rien


I remember in How The Grinch Stole,Christmas movie, that a part of the dialogue was "pantoufles", at least that is how it sounded to me. Fun to see the word here!! So glad that your Mom has lots of energy. You are a very loving daughter, Kristi. God bless you all, C-Marie

Kristin Espinasse

Merci beaucoup ! 


Oui, "avoir la pêche" signifie aussi "avoir la forme" (ou la super forme aussi!), ou avoir le "peps", bref on peut dire également et plus familièrement... "péter la forme" !
Merci Kristi pour vos posts toujours adorables de votre vie dans notre Sud.
Carry on, it's so delightful !!

Kathleen Bidney

I just bought the Paris Library. It has been recommended by our Indie bookstore here in Madison. I look forward to reading it.
Love the story of Jules, Smokey and the Koi. You are so lucky that the birds ( Egrets or Blue Herons) have to eaten them. All of ours were eaten by Blue Herons and a Minx, therefore, no more Koi. I am afraid to get them and have them become dinner. Ours were about 18” long.
Have you been able to get your Covid shot/jab yet?
Stay healthy and stay safe.
Peace, Kathleen

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
So uplifting to hear about Jules and Smokey. Joie de vivre and unconditional doesn’t get better than that!
Between pretty pictures and colorful words, the pure pleasure of spring and the hope that comes with it is emerging here. Thank you for seeing such beauty as we wind our way through these dreary times.


Charming story as always... and thanks for the book recommendation!

Though I am no longer a supporter of Amazon... it's local all the and independent stores.. I have .enough with these giants and monopoly companies.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)