France's "Cité de L'Espace" and SpaceX "dearMoon" + Jules is ready to fly the coop.
Wish us luck (Souhaitez-nous bonne chance)! + Putting the cart before the horse (la charrue avant les boeufs)...

Demain il fera jour: A reminder not to take work (life, everything) too seriously + Escapade to Porquerolles Island

Bike rental on porquerolles island France
If today's word is too easy for you, détrompez-vous. Think again. This letter has a lot more to offer when you read to the end.

Today's Word: la plage
1. beach
2. track of music
3. time span, range

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following in French and English

Porquerolles, ses plages de sable fin, ses eaux turquoise et transparentes. C’est un véritable paradis à quelques minutes de la presqu’île de Giens en bateau. -Hyères Tourisme Porquerolles, its fine sandy beaches, its turquoise and transparent waters. It is a real paradise, a few minutes away from the Giens peninsula by boat.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Sand, Pétanque, Sea urchins and a "Be Here Now" mindset

Lundi dernier, on my husband’s 54th birthday, we boarded une navette and cruised over to the island of Porquerolles. It was the week before France's 3rd confinement and this 3-day getaway was like a large breath of liberté before lockdown.

The ferry was almost empty. We huddled at the back of the shuttle, enjoying the open-air seating with the other passengers, some dressed in shorts, some in sundresses, all of us wearing masks. Within 15 minutes we arrived in Paradise. Like the other two islands in the Îles d'Hyères, Porquerolles is known for its crystal clear, turquoise waters and fine sandy plages. There are few cars on the island (only those needed by the local businesses), bikes are the way to get around.

"I prefer to walk," I said to Jean-Marc, as we headed past some bike rental shops and made our way to La Plage d'Argent, a 25-minute marche from town. The scent of eucalyptus filled the salty air as we passed fields of wildflowers, a vineyard, and an impressive community garden full of potager beds! "Maybe we should move here?" I challenged Jean-Marc.
"Pourquoi pas!" said he, kiddingly. We would probably get island fever after the first month. Et puis tout se sait sur une petite île! On a little island, there are no secrets!

Donkeys on porquerolles island
The donkeys are slightly camouflaged. Can you see them, left of center?

"Regarde! Il y a des ânes." There were a trio of donkeys in the maquis. A sign posted nearby said that these animals help débroussailler, or clear away of the dry undergrowth which could lead to fires. "We could have used those!" I said to Jean-Marc, remembering the yearly visits by the police to our vineyard, threatening une amende if we didn't get our property cleared before the heat of summertime.

This reminded me: the last chapter of our vineyard memoir was due tomorrow! I also had a blog post to create and send out in 3 days... and a sinking feeling told me today was the deadline for my France Today article on Cairns (or rock stacking in France). I knew when Jean-Marc planned this escapade, that it would fall right in the middle of a week of deadlines--but this trip was his birthday present. I began to sweat over this decision to put everything off until our return, when a little voice within piped up....

Aujourd-hui, c'est aujourd'hui!  Today is today!

Everything in life needs a balance, especially for those who are self-employed and pressuring themselves to stay on top, to not slip or fall behind. If there is one life lesson that I cannot seem to learn it is this: Keep it in the day! A chaque jour suffit sa peine. Be here now! L'instant présent! Or, as Jean-Marc's Mom always said, Demain il fera jour.

Tomorrow is indeed another day! I reached into my bag, grabbed an apple and began eating. I never eat when walking. And I am never late with work. And I never play pétanque (but would, by the end of our périple). 

Ironically "nevers" don't exist on Never Never Island. Et heureusement! I took another bite of my apple and caught up to Jean-Marc, who was heading down to the beach. Aujourd'hui, c'est aujourd'hui! I said. Happy Birthday! Joyeux Anniversaire! Thank you for this getaway, ce dépaysement! With that, we set down our only beach towel (having forgotten to pack another), and kicked off our shoes. Feet in the sand, I unpacked our picnic: last night's omelet tasted delicious on the beach, along with bites of poutargue (a sliceable mound of dried fish eggs--we're addicted!), an avocado, cheese and the main course: les oursins! Jean-Marc put on his wetsuit and headed out to the rocky edge of the beach where he found the urchins among a lot of seaweed (an astuce learned from a friend. Normally they're found clinging to rocks). 

Our stomachs full we shared the beach towel for an afternoon nap. The next two days were rebelote--or much the same: long leisurely walks to the beach, a simple, delicious casse-croute (and more oursins) followed by un roupillon. It was a wonderful birthday celebration, and a good break all around. And when thoughts of work returned throughout our stay, so did my belle-mère's wise words about keeping it in the day:

Demain il fera jour.


More photos on my Instagram

détrompez-vous! = think again
lundi dernier
= last Monday
la navette = shuttle, ferry boat, water bus

le confinement = quarantine
la plage = beach
la liberté
= freedom
la marche = walk
pourquoi pas? = why  not
le potager = vegetable patch, kitchen garden
tout se sait = there are no secrets
regarde! = look
un âne = donkey
le maquis = scrubland, shrubland, brush
débroussailler = to clear (dry grasses)
une amende = ticket, fine
une escapade = getaway, break, trip, escape
A chaque jour suffit sa peine = Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
demain il fera jour = tomorrow is another day
le périple = journey, trek
et heureusement = and thank God for that!
le dépaysement = change of scenery
un oursin = sea urchin
une astuce = tip, trick, hack
rebelote = same thing again
le casse-croûte = snack
le roupillon = nap, siesta
la belle-mère = mother-in-law


Domaine de l'ile - one of 3 vineyards on this island full of character. See more photos of this paradise:

Jean-Marc and his urchins cutters or coupe-oursins, and on the right urchins on the half shell.

More stories: The last time we went to Porquerolles, our kids had a wild party at the house, click here

Read about the creative "mop spear" Jean-Marc invented while on the island: more here


Kristi and Jean-Marc
Aujourd'hui, c'est aujourd'hui! Bye for now and remember to enjoy the day by living in l'instant présent.

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


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Eileen deCamp

Happy Birthday to Jean Marc! Your trip looked wonderful and the photos are gorgeous!

Cindy McDonald

Bonjour Kristi
I visited beautiful Porquerolles 17 (!?) years ago et thought it enchanting. Wonderful memories ❤️
Thinking of you all during your latest lockdown.
J'aimerais vous rendre visite au sud de la Louisiane et profiter
de notre temps de printemps... en plein air.
Bisous à tous.

Leslie NYC

The best possible reminder!


I thought of Jean Marc when I read recently that California has a sea urchin problem. The purple sea urchins like to eat the bull kelp, so much so that it is disappearing and they are recommending that folks catch and learn to eat them.

Lis Steeden

Happy happy birthday Jean-Marc...what a lovely way to spend your birthday...totally envious of your trip to the wonderful's a wonderful place to visit...we have been a few times...would love to go for my big birthday this summer, however, not possible as it's during in the big 4-week music festival in our village, and we'll be fully booked and busy...!

Glad to see you both looking well and on the edge of 13/84 life is not bad either, due to the lockdown...our lives extends to go to the market in Lourmarin and in our village, having said that, part of our old staircase is being rebuild over the next two weeks... so that will be a very dusty affair. We have had trees chopped down in our little garden, so we now have more space, and we're just waiting for things to be delivered so we can finish the project too...and on a very different note...we we are still waiting for that vaccine to come our way!

All the best to you all...keep smiling...:)

All the best Lis, Graham & Max x

Rob Tonkinson

Are sea urchins just cracked open and eaten raw?


Belle histoire! One question though, is turquoise invariable? I would have thought eaux turquoises.
Aloha from Honolulu!


Wonderful trip - Happy Birthday to JM and many more great ones to come. I think everyone could use a getaway like that. Wow. So glad you got to do that before going into another lock down. Thankhyou for sharing - so beautiful.

Karen Cafarella

Happy Birthday to Jean-Marc. Looked like a wonderful trip.

Sending love.

Cynthia Lewis

Happy Birthday, Jean-Marc! You and your Lady-Fair were truly in paradise for three days. Stay well and safe during the confinement. Best wishes for all.


I too would love more details about eating sea urchins. I live on the S Oregon coast where, like California, the purple sea urchins proliferate. I’ve not heard about eating them straight from the ocean, nor seen the "urchin cutter". Thankyou!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Phil, you bring up a good point. Yes, it would be just as you wrote it, for the French. I will have to check how I spelled it in English.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Rob (and also Deirdre, who asks a similar question, a few comments down). The sea urchins are eaten raw, right after they are scissored open. Use a spoon to scoop out the roe. As for opening the oursins, you may use the excellent urchin cutters (available in specialty stores or online), or a fork (poke a hole into the side and use the same fork to scissor all the way around, a real *tour de main* !)

The sea urchins in the Pacific may taste different (which may explain why they are not as popular?). Can anybody comment on this?

It is against the law to hunt sea urchins at certain times of the year (when they multiply), and a 5000 euro fine keeps people in line!

Judi Miller

Happy Birthday Jea-Marc! A beautiful loving celebration in a beautiful location. So wonderful to enjoy the day with your bride!

An Scott

Happy Birthday to Jean-Marc! Loved hearing about your trip. When my husband and I move to the south of France, in a few years, I am adding it to our list of must visits, for a little getaway. I haven't had sea urchins in years. I used to go to a Japanese restaurant that would make sake shots out of them. The urchin would be in the bottom of a little shot glass full of sake....and "down the hatch". Someone told me they were aphrodisiacs. Do you add any sauce or just down them like raw oysters when you catch them right out of the ocean?

Beth Fiore Kral

Happy Birthday, Jean-Marc! Robert and I totally need a getaway like that! 😀 It’s been way too long!

Christine Jones

Salut Kristi - adding this to my bucket list. Joyeux anniversaire Jean-Marc!


Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful birthday gift and trip for Jean Marc!! Wishing him many more spent in health and joy with his beautiful wife and family!!
Kristi, once again(!) You have put things exactly in perspective!
Many years ago, a dear friend gave me a trinket box that was engraved with the sentiment"if you worry about tomorrow, you will miss today".
At the time we were surrounded by deadlines and time sensitive issues,
and those words not only proved most true and excellent advice for then but also the future.
I hadn't heard anything similar till your beautiful post and pictures today.
Thank you!!
Blessings always

Suzanne Ridley

Hello Kristi
I really enjoy your stories and French lessons snuck in. One comment I have on all language translations, however, is that the translation is rarely literal, that is to say, "maison nous" gets translated as "our house". That is fine except that one never really learns how that language is put together, for instance saying "house ours" so that when a learner tries to put together a sentence, knowing vocabulary doesn't really cut it. If you agree, maybe you could give the interpretation followed by the literal translation of what the French words mean in English. Ma belle mere interprets as mother-in-law, but is literally "beautiful mother" ??? Just a thought. Keep up the growing and learning and wishing you and family well.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Suzanne, for your thoughts. It would be a good idea to add the literal translations, I agree. I will try to do this when I can. It is fascinating how many of these terms do not translate exactly. 

Patricia Sands

Oui! Demain il fera jour ... toujours! Joyeux anniversaire!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Merci millefois, Kristi! A new 4-week Stay At Home order started here in Niagara Region, Canada today, though outdoor exercise is okay to do. Such a happy kick to receive this new piece and to bask in images and word-portraits of your getaway to Porquerolles. An ideal celebration of J-M's birthday that looks to have been a Joyeux Fête indeed. A glorious setting! The duo-selfie of you two simply radiates ease and wellbeing. Wishing you all the best in this latest lockdown and beyond. xo

Catherine Berry

A lovely read in celebration of so many things - J-M's birthday, finishing your vineyard memoir and finding peace in your day. Sending love and best wishes to you both.

Andrea Hughes

Bon anniversaire, Jean-Marc! What a special way to celebrate together!!

Gail Larson

You always take me away from my worries to a beautiful place. And I love all things from the ocean! I wonder if I could eat the sea urchins that I see in Hawaii while I snorkel? Will have to ask the native friends 🙂


Love the story. Some day Dean and I will visit Porquerolles - it sounds and looks so lovely. Stay safe and stay healthy. When will you be getting your Covid vaccine? We have had both shots, but as we know, we still have to wear our masks, social distance and wash our hands frequently.
I can’t wait to be able to go on a vacation, especially to France. It has been too long, but working n my garden helps. It is great to relieve the stress and makes you happy as you see plants and birds and spring bursting forth.
Peace, Kathleen

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Phil. Re turquoise, I now see you are referring to the example sentence (I also used the word in the story). Thanks again for your question. Here is some info I found on the net:

« turquoise » est un adjectif invariable. Donc, on n’ajoute pas de -s et surtout on n’enlève pas de -e car à l’oral, ça ne passe pas du tout.

And here is the forum where this topic is discussed:


Please don't use only literal translations. I really enjoy thinking about your vernacular French.

Colombe McCarthy

Hi Kristi and Happy belated birthday to Jean Marc!

Re your question about sea urchins in CA. My ex-husband used to dive for them in San Diego, many years ago (before I was in the picture!), with a friend who did this commercially. The sea urchins were immediately shipped to Japan and nobody ate them in CA They are a super delicacy in Japan, as you may already know. If you eat sushi in the US, you'll recognize the name on the menu as Uni. It is also very delicious, but not the same as our smaller ones from our area in the Mediterranean. It would be great if people started to realize how good it is in CA and it was a public service to eat them as well!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Colombe, for this info. It is good to know that Pacific sea urchins are delicious to eat. We hope to have the chance to try them fresh in California! Take care and hope to see you soon.


Merci c'est très utile


A new phrase demain il fera jour and I will use the phrase casse-croute when shopping in Paris next time. I want to try that poutargue. Sounds like a wonderful periple. Joyeux Anniversaire, Jean-Marc. The photo of you two is lovely! e.

Liza Reavis

Bon anniversaire, Jean-Marc!

J'aimerais bien acheter votre livre, Kristi, le memoir, mais pas par Amazon. Pourriez-vous me conseiller?

Je voudrais que vous continueriez avec les vins mais je comprends que c'est une vie difficile. Toutefois, j'aimerais bien acheter un de vos vins!


Liza Reaivs

What incredible moving stories you share, Kristi. The French version always gives more emotion, but I thank you for your honesty. Do you get more money with a cheque or Paypal. Let me know. If I can ever have the courage to get on a plane again, I would love to meet you both. Your stories keep me so hopeful that we can still be human. Bises, Liza

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