Burlesque in Burgundy... (A Cheeky Cabaret to Celebrate a friend's 50th birthday)
An exhausting surprise at Jackie’s Alpine “hébergement”

Guess Where Jackie is moving?... and the expression “être sur son trente-et-un”

Chantemerle Serre Chevalier Vallée Alps France
The French Alps at Serre Chevalier. Have you heard of this popular ski resort in Southeastern France?

TODAY’S WORD: être sur son trente-et-un 

  : to be all dressed up, all dolled up

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here to begin listening

by Kristi Espinasse
“Être sur son trente-et un”

Behind a curtain at Le Printemps department store, dans une cabine d’essayage, my daughter is trying on an elegant black pantsuit. The gabardine costume is similar to an outfit a friend wore to Saturday’s dressy gala...

“Jackie, that looks great on you! It’s a classic and you will have it for a very long time. Dress it up or down—you could wear it just about anywhere!"

My 24-year-old agreed, adding, “I can wear it to work....”

Her comment was so innocent... Truth be told this was not an appropriate outfit for her new job. Should I gently enlighten her? After all, this would not be the same dress code as Baccarat... shouldn’t she know that by now? 

By now, seven weeks since leaving Miami after une escroquerie, our cadette was doing better. Gone was the numbness, la colère, and the depression. Maybe it was a good sign she suddenly wanted to wear a power suit? I just wouldn’t want her to feel out of place—when even France feels out of place to her right now. And I’m so afraid she’ll get back on that airplane and disappear...yet I’ve got to be honest with her and quit handling my grown girl with kid gloves.

“I don’t think this is something you could wear for your new job at the ski shop...” 

“Pourquoi pas?” Jackie countered and this time Innocence wasn’t talking. This was Boldness. She reminds me of her grandmother when that rebel spark flies out. 

Jackie’s grandmother, Jules, also worked in a ski shop. While we wore jeans (my sister Heidi and I worked there too) Mom wore silk dresses and patent leather pumps at The Alpine Ski Keller, in Phoenix Arizona. But that was the 80s. That was also a time of transition in Jules’ life. There, in “The Valley of the Sun,” Mom went on to become a top producer in real estate before burnout led to her early retirement in Mexico. 

Back in France, in Serre Chevalier Vallée, Jackie will soon be in a similar transition. While she has recovered from a terrible scam, she is still trying to find her footing, après avoir perdu pied. Going back to Miami is tempting, but something tells her ce n’est pas le bon moment. So when a friend put up a Help Wanted sign in their family-owned ski shop, the universe seemed to be nudging.

Bienvenue à Jules Melquiond Sports!
Since getting the job, Jackie’s been busy researching the company, founded by Jules Melquiond. champion de ski et ex-slalomeur de la grande équipe de France des années 60.... Searching the company’s Instagram account and its website, Jackie shared various nuggets with me as I cooked dinner: “Did you know the shop sells luxury ski apparel? And that it boasts one of the best French boot-fitters in the country?”

Skilled boot-fitters? Our girl is sure to find her footing in the mountains! And high-end apparel? She might be able to sport that elegant costume after all. But for now, please join me in wishing Jackie bonne chance at Jules Melquiond Sports. She begins training next week!


I leave you with a postcard from the collection of love letters Jean-Marc sent me 30 years ago... the message on the back is timeless as our daughter begins a new chapter in the Alps.

Serre Chevalier est un pays magnifique. Tout est sain et je me plais à venir ici...avec toi. Serre Chevalier is a beautiful place. Everything is healthy and I enjoy coming here...with you. —Jean-Marc

être sur son trente-et-un = to dress up 
la cabine d’essayage = fitting room, dressing room 
le costume = suit
une éscroquerie = a scam
un(e) cadet(te) = youngest
la colère = anger
pourquoi pas? = why not
Serre Chevalier Vallée = major ski resort in southeastern France
perdre pied = to lose one's footing, to be overwhelmed
ce n’est pas le bon moment = this isn’t the right time
champion de ski = ski champion 
équipe de France = French team
bonne chance! = good luck!

Chantemerle sapin de noel wood heart door star
For more photos and a story about a stolen kiss in the Alps, click here.

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Jackie Sand

Love the expression"être sur son trente-et-un! Like we say in English, "to be dressed to the nines". I'd love to trace the history of these two expressions. 9 and 31????

Catherine Berry

Oh, I do know Serre Chevalier. This is where I was taken to ski when I was working as an assistante d'anglais in Grenoble in the 80s. The problem was I had never skied before and my instructor/teaching colleague was a confident black run skier. Proof of her kindness and beautiful character was that we became friends and made that journey back to this ski station many times subsequently. Good luck, Jackie.

Ellen A.

Jackie is to be commended for getting back into the world - and for her good taste as to where she is going. This should be a beautiful passage for this part of her life. Fresh mountain air and good friends, along with more business experience. Bonne chance, Jackie!

Karen in NY

Very best wishes for your new adventure, Jackie. It's a stock phrase but I really do feel for young people finding their way in this crazy world. It looks like a breathtaking place. And no Cat 5s!!

Suzanne Dunaway

Felicitations pour Jackie! But what is this scam you mentioned? Horreur.

Susan Stafford

I admire Jackie’s resilience and flexibility in searching out new paths forward. Bonne chance !

Kathi K

Jackie has learned well from you and Jean-Marc that when life disappoints or disillusions us, you face it and put your feet forward with hope for the future. Shine on, Jackie!!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Suzanne, Here is the post:


Joanne Fischer

Bonne chance, Jackie! Enjoy your time working in the ski shop and who knows, a bigger opportunity might show itself!

Karen Cafarella

Best of Luck Jackie, sending hugs.


Bonne chance, Jackie!! I hope you have a wonderful experience there.


Bonne chance, Jackie! You’ll do great!


Bonne chance, Jackie! Enjoy the moment!


Hi Kristi and Jackie,
Thanks for your story today! Bonne chance to Jackie! I love the phrase "être sur son trente-et-un" and wonder how it came to be? 31?
Bon Weekend!

Aleta Rossi-Thomas

Bon chance Jackie - into another chapter of your life. Don't let what happened in the US make you anything but more careful. It can happen to anyone, and it has happened to many. Welcome back to France !


What a wonderful opportunity for Jackie! The resort looks beautiful - and, she will only make it be even more beautiful --- esp in her sophisticated black suit! I think we always knew fashion would be a part of her life! (ever since you brought her to Paris for an internship at a fashion house and we met at that tea shop on St. Andre des Arts). Felicitations to Mother and Daughter - moving on!

Cynthia Lewis

My very best wishes, Jackie. I feel confident that you will love and do well in your new job, while finding living in the Alps a marvelous experience. Bonne chance!

Kathleen Bidney

Bon chance Jackie. Enjoy your new adventure and I hope that you get to do some skiing. Enjoy ⛷🎿


Jackie a traversé une mauvaise passe mais elle est en train de recupérer bien! Ne vous inquiétez pas, je suis sûr que tout ira bien pour elle.

K. J. Laramie

So happy to hear this news. Jackie’s artistic, elegant, and free-spirited genes will fit right in there! What a beautiful opportunity! She is being guided to a new, life-changing adventure, and in such a healthy, inspirational setting. I can’t wait to hear how she uses her unique ideas, skills, and refreshing personality to fulfill her destiny.


I have noticed that some of your readers asked about the strange expression "se mettre sur son 31" and I would like to share this with your readers:
There are various hypotheses about the origin of the expression "se mettre sur son trente-et-un" and the most plausible is this one: in the Middle Ages, "se mettre sur" meant "mettre sur soi" = to wear. Trente-et-un is supposed to be the mispronunciation of "trentain", a fine and expensive fabric whose warp was made up of "trente centaines de fils".
Hope this helps!
I noticed the name of the village where Jackie is going to work, which is delightful bearing in mind that "merle" means "blackbird" and there happens to be a lovely village near where I live called Chantemerle-lès-Blés (lès, not to be confused with the article "les", means "near").
I wish Jackie all the good luck she deserves in her new job.

Marti Hinman

Bon courage Jackie.

Sharon Marchisello

Felicitations et bonne chance à Jacquie !

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