Name your favorite drink + What does the French “bredouille” mean in English? (Hint: it doesn't mean 'tipsy')
A Strange Coincidence, “soul-daughter”, and wonderment in French

"Regretfully" in French + to spin out of control + One of us moves out...

historic building La Bastide Marin La Ciotat France
Which family member moved to the historic grounds of La Bastide Marin? Read on, in today's chronique and learn a dozen more useful French terms.

Today's Word: à contrecoeur (or contre-coeur)

    : regretfully, reluctantly, grudgingly

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear today's word + a dozen more vocabulary words. Next, scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your comprehension.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce a list of French words

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Ever since our hen, Edie, lost 4 camarades (victims snatched by des oiseaux de proie, two died mysteriously), our poule has struggled with la solitude...which is why we let her out of her empty pen and gave her the run of the garden.

An unbridled hen in un jardin is a catastrophic thing (for starts she ate the artichokes, the favas, and the nasturtiums), but not as catastrophique as a hen in a home...
"I did not encourage her," my Mom swore, the day I found our chicken nesting in a corner of Jules's ADU, or "garage apartment". It was hard to hide the delight on her face (Mom's or Edie's) and equally hard to hide the trail of seeds leading into Mom's studio....

hen chicken in art studio
photo by my belle-soeur Cécile, wine bottles painting by Jules

For weeks we hid the whole pagaille from Jean-Marc (did my husband know but looked the other way?). But when Mom became ill 6 weeks, coughing night and day (a cold? bronchitis? Covid??), I wondered, could she be allergic to our big bird?

An online search for "bird flu" brought back chilling results: Avian influenza in humans can cause a range of serious and potentially fatal complications, including eye infections, pneumonia, viral and acute respiratory distress....

Enough was enough! Edie expulsé, I spent all day Saturday getting any bird traces out of Mom's place, vacuuming under the bed, wiping down the walls, tossing damaged things--rearranging everything.

Mom didn't speak to me for weeks. The invasion of her privacy! The violation! The eviction of Edie!

Had I crossed the line of dignity? 

Mom got better (though she still held a grudge at "Sergeant Kristi") but now there was Edie to worry about. No longer queen of the garden (what was left of it...) she was back in her empty pen--a dustbowl compared to the Garden of Eden she ate before moving into Grandma's. Alone she lamented from morning to evening. Have you ever heard a chicken lament? Our entire neighborhood has! I spent my days hurrying back and forth from house to hen, trying to appease our lonely chick with snacks and water...which only exacerbated another problem: all the neighborhood doves and pigeons had moved in to feast on the food and water (they were drinking from Smokey's bowl, too. Was this healthy for our dog?).

A Jumpity Sergeant
Slapping at my arms and legs (mosquitos!), I stood guard while Edie ate or drank, but the pigeons were determined. The food and water supplies dwindled along with my nerves. The situation became unmanageable... là, tout est parti en cacahuète! Everything spun out of control.

I knew I needed to find a home for Edie, but what if our free-spirited hen ended up in a cramped poulailler? In full sun? Who would take good care of Edie, if I couldn't?

I remembered reading about a friendly farm, La Ferme d'Autrefois, here in La Ciotat...
"Located in the park of the classified domain of La Bastide Marin, the farm proposes ludique and educational animations in order to sensitize young and old to the protection of the environment in contact with the animals, to support the discovery and the learning of the activities of the agricultural world."

I knew this would be the only place for our cocotte, a pleasant environment to thrive in. Contacting the person in charge of the ménagerie, I was so relieved by Marion’s willingness to adopt Edie. And so it was, last Saturday, our hen nestled comfortably in a straw cabas, Jean-Marc drove us the 5 minutes to the historic and lively domaine. For Edie, it will surely be a change from Jules’s cozy studio (or from my tasty garden) but it beats an empty pen and a jumpity sergeant. 

Post-Note: since relocating Edie to the friendly farm, we've returned weekly to visit her and bring her treats (she loves tomatoes, and so do the roosters that follow her around. After living in a hens-only home, I hope all these new suitors are suitable for her! 


la chronique = column
la (le) camarade = friend
la solitude = loneliness
un oiseau de proie
= bird of prey
le jardin = garden
catastrophique = disastrous
ADU = Accessory Dwelling Unit, in-law suite, garage apartment
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
la pagaille = mess, mayhem, chaos
expulsé = evicted
partir en cacahuète = to spin out of control
le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop
la ferme d'autrefois = "The Days-Gone-By Farm" (or The Once-Upon-A-Time Farm)
la cocotte
= hen (in child's language)
la ménagerie = menagerie, small zoo, group of animals
le cabas = straw basket
à contrecoeur (contre-coeur) = reluctantlyIMG_2259

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James Brown

Hi Kristi - I was having problems when travelling with breathing. I happened to read a story on-line about a chap who had experiences similar to mine. He discovered he had Avian Protein Allergy! Feather pillows and duvets! Now I ask those be removed from hotel rooms or rental homes and I am fine! We didn’t use these in our home as I like blankets and cotton pillows.


Not knowing the Mas, I thought maybe one of the young adults had moved on! 😂

Deb Locke

A delightful story, if only Jules hadn't had a bout of illness as the catalyst for Edie's expulsion. Gary and I are back at our house in Sablet -- after 22 months away due to Covid -- and enjoying autumn in Provence. Warm regards to you and the family.

K.J. Laramie

Remembering the joyful day when your hens were brought home and each named. So sorry to hear about this! I’m also allergic to feathers. But animal dander, dust mites, and mold are just as bad! If there are rafters or recesses with old dust in the garage, that also could be causing Jules’ distress! Mold is the worst. Hope this is helpful.


Hi Kristie,
I’m glad Edie’s story has a happy ending!
P.S. Typo on “cacahuète” in the story…

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Jean. Off to fix it :-)

Lynn Mcbride

A wonderful story. But poor Jules! I hope she is fully recovered. Gros bises to all.

Tim Averill

Dear Kristi,
Your experience made me think of a poem by Jane Shore that we in the New Yorker about a solitary animal. Here it is:

Jay and Linda moved to Plateau Road
and brought with them a pair of horses:
old Kahlua and his longtime mare.
When her heart failed suddenly, Kahlua—
a paint the color of the Mexican liqueur
and swaybacked like a hammock—
went on a hunger strike. Fearing
that he might die from loneliness,
Jay and Linda heard about a donkey
housed unhappily an hour north,
whose spouse likewise had died.
Donkeys are stoic, disguising their pain,
and we know grief is pain. They hauled
him home, installed him in the barn,
to see if the widowers could get along,
the Odd Couple of Central Vermont.
Nickolai, a Slavic name, means “victorious;
conqueror of the people,” and, if that’s so,
he’s won us over, my husband and me,
Jody and David, Cathy and Eric, and other
long-marrieds of Peck Hill Road.
Driving to town for groceries and gas,
I shift my Subaru into neutral
to admire our two old bachelor uncles
free-ranging along the electric fence.
Their partnership so far so good.
Nickolai’s fur, mottled gray and white
like burnout velvet, gets waterlogged
when it rains; Kahlua’s is waterproof.
Nickolai’s lovely !oppy donkey ears
are much larger than Kahlua’s,
and he has a stiffer mane; his bray
is not Kahlua’s pleasant whinny—
his hee-haws, like a wheezing accordion,
reverberate off our bedroom walls.
I once saw Kahlua bare his teeth,
like Mr. Ed, the TV horse who could talk.
But they say that donkeys are more personable
than horses. More affectionate than dogs.
So it’s easy to forget that he’s a jackass—
confined to the barn all freezing winter,
tired of nipping at Kahlua’s !anks,
he stomped Jay’s pet rabbit to death.
From afar, you cannot tell which one’s
the boss, albeit equal on the equine scale.
On days when it isn’t thundering,
you’ll find them both civilly ensconced,
silhouettes grazing against the sunset,
the moon rising over Max Gray Road.
They stand head to tail, or tail to head,
their long tails ticking metronomes,
!icking !ies away from the other’s eyes,
their warm sides barely touching.
Facing opposite directions, they’ll
age in place, bickering, companionable—
a photo on a country calendar.
Published in the print edition of the September 7, 2020, issue.

And of course, having lost my wife recently, I can relate!


C'est vraiment amusante!! Merci pour l'histoire!

Leslie NYC

Thank you, Kristi.
Thank you, Tim.
I'll add this fragment from a poem by Ocean Vuong:
"Loneliness is still time spent with the world."
Bon vendredi.

Julie Farrar

I'm so glad the story had a happy ending. Count me in on a feather-free existence at home or hotel. And after two years I'm finally back in France doing serious apartment maintenance. I hope borders opening means you can see your family soon.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post(!) and one which once again fills me with admiration for you in finding Edie a happy new home instead of some other way less fortunate alternatives.
And!Am especially glad to know that dear Jules has recovered.
My hubby is and has been allergic to feathers and feather filled items so we can truly relate to Jules' illness and everyone else who suffers from this.
Thank you for bringing it to light.For the longest time these symptoms could only be attempted to tolerate.
Natalia. Xo

Mary-Jo Johnston

I have to admit that I held my breath slightly as I started to read...and then all was well. I expect that Edie will be very happy and so wonderful that you can visit with treats. All's well that ends well...thank you for sharing a lovely story. Hope that Jules is feeling better.

Georgia Schall

Delightful story! All’s well that ends well! I bet Edie enjoys your visits and am glad your Mom is better now!
Best wishes to all!

Karen in NY

I have to admit the idea of a house chicken does have some appeal. I'm pet friendly. But, yeah, allergies, diseases, and adventures in housekeeping are discouraging. Edie's new home looks wonderful. Lucky bird. Here's hoping your mosquito season is brief or your coast is often breezy.


C’est incroyable ce qu’un poulet solitaire peut faire de son chagrin!


Hi again…you corrected the correct one in the vocabulary. Both should be cacahuète — no “O”

Suzanne Dunaway

Well, at least Jean-Marc will never be hen-pecked…your comments box and info will not let me comment because it keeps asking me to put in a ‘valid’ url, which I do, over and over!!! Please enter a valid URL


Out of the blue, I had trouble adding comments, too. Name OK, email address OK? but website url? After trying to figure it out through googlinbg questions to which I got complicated responses, it finally worked by putting as the website address, and I haven't had a problem since. Of course I cross my fingers every time!

Kristin Espinasse

Ah, zut! Merci, Jean :-)

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for this helpful info, Suzanne and Joan. Have you tried leaving the website url box blank? I think that is ok to do, unless there is a recent glitch.

Carolyn R Chase

Kristi, I certainly understand the heartache one can feel about an animal. Glad to you found the way. it sounds like the right solution to the hen situation.


Lucky Edie to find a second home.


You found the ideal home for your cocotte. That is so cool - well done.

Donna Blanton

Tim, what a lovely poem you shared with us all. I'm so sorry for the recent loss of your wife, but I'm glad you've found some solace in this touching poem. I hope you'll find another widower soon with whom you can be bickering & companionable friends in your golden years. Santé!

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