Chapeau bas and Froissé (do you know this emotion in French?) + Ski Lessons from Mom
Sacoche: How to say "Man Purse" in French + update on Mr. Sacks

To chill or relax in French + allergy season in France

Port capucins la ciotat south of france wooden boats pointus
Photo of Port des Capucines from my Instagram where I have been posting a daily photo and French word all week. Be sure to hit the follow button on my Instagram for the daily updates.

Today's Word: décompresser

    : relax, chill, chill out

Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here to listen to soundclip

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Chilling" in French

When Jean-Marc returns home from work in winter he sets down his trusty leather bag, "Mr. Sacks", and heads straight to la cheminée. "Bonsoir, Chérita!" he sings, in passing. As he builds a fire, I'm curled up on the couch nearby, trying to contain a day's worth of thoughts in the time it takes my husband to décompresser, or chill, from a long day at his wine shop.  

Recently when he returned, he must have brought with him a generous sprinkling of pollen, because I began sneezing uncontrollably as soon as he walked through the door. ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! So much for a peaceful accueil. A day later, Jean-Marc was the one sneezing. "Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai!" he complained. His head was "dans le brouillard" and he had le nez qui coule. "I think it's allergies," I said. "It's that time of year."

"Peut-être," he said, reaching for another mouchoir. I made a mental note to buy more Kleenex and observed my husband as he skipped dinner, drank a warm tisane, and managed to stay up late enough to watch le foot (that's soccer, in French, and that night was PSG - Real Madrid!). But by the next day he was in worse shape, and I guessed he was worn out from sneezing and blowing his nose. The French call hay fever le rhume des foins (foins corresponding to dried grass or hay) or la rhinite saisonnière and it is the first time Jean-Marc's suffered from it, or so he thinks.

And that's the problem with seasonal allergies—they’re so easy to confuse with a cold. Maybe his yearly cold was hay fever, after all?

Still, he is complaining of les courbatures and chills--two symptoms not associated with allergies. And this throws a wrench in plans for today's essay (which was supposed to be all about hay fever!).  We still don't know what Jean-Marc has (he tested negative for Covid), but I hope it isn't la grippe.... Meantime he's headed back to the snowy Alps to ski and to help out our daughter (maybe catching her Dad's cold is not what Jackie had in mind when she reached out to us recently...).

As for me, I'm learning to stay out of it (or most of it): let everyone decide for themselves and live with their own decision-making. Best to stay curled up on the couch and keep my many thoughts and opinions to myself so that everyone can décompresser (my husband is certainly chilling--et c'est le cas de le dire!). I’m a lot more chill these days too, and that (first line in this last paragraph) is my new tool in my Human Relations tool belt.

And now, a good day to all, thank you for reading and remember to look out for you continue to quietly look out for others.


la cheminée = fireplace
Chérita (from "chérie") = dear
décompresser = to chill, relax
atchoum! = atchoo!
un accueil = reception, welcome
Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai! = I don't know what I have
dans le brouillard = head in the fog
le nez qui coule = runny nose
peut-être = maybe
la tisane = herbal tea
PSG - Real Madrid = the Paris and Madrid soccer teams
la rhinite saisonnière = seasonal rhinitis
le rhume des foins = hay fever, allergic rhinitis
les courbatures = aches and pains
c'est le cas de le dire! = and you can say that again! 

Vocabulary added later (and missing from the sound file)
le mouchoir = tissue, Kleenex
la grippe = the flu

Sacoche mr sacks briefcase
Jean-Marc's trusty leather bag, Mr. Sacks.

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It is hard to “chill” when one has children. But, it does get a little easier with time. Bon courage.

Heather Donaldson

It sounds like Covid. Isolate and take a test.


Kristi…the “new” tool you have decided to use in your Humans Relationships tool belt is one I will include in mine, too. Thanks for the information!


Yes in my own experience, staying in my own business certainly frees up a lot of energy :-) and chilling is perhaps the pinnacle of wisdom for it all unfolds rather gracefully (if we only get still enough to notice).

Or as my mother always says
What will be, will be.

And her other favourite which always makes me laugh - it’s only money.

And I find myself saying these things more and more as I get older!

Sarah LaBelle

If the sneezing stops in the Alps, then it may mean allergies. I am figuring that the tree pollens have not appeared up that high. I could be wrong.

Le nez qui coule, that is a phrase I can use year round.

Letting others handle their issues even when showing illness, that seems like a big test of willpower. And growing wisdom.

Suzanne Dunaway

Just curious. Why is he going skiing with a bad cold, possibly flu? Whoa...


Such good advice -not always easy to follow! Hope you stay well and enjoy some fireplace cozy time!! Best to J-M-he’ll probably freeze the germs right out!

Marcia Fyfe

Marcia Fyfe

I’m writing from Arizona, a little north of Yuma and loving winter in the desert but I just had to tell you that Jean-Marc’s “Mr. Sacks” reminded me of our visit to the museum of costumes in Moulin in 2015.
In the amazing collection of Rudolf Nureyev there is a glass case holding his leather satchel and looks as loved as the one your husband carries. If I could add a picture I would.
It is well worth a trip to this museum that incluses a film of Nureyev dancing and many of the costumes he wore.


For JM: maybe try a Neti Pot (sinus wash)
Helps me out this time of year:)

Feel better Jean Marc!


Suzanne M Dennis

Oh, I remember Mr. Sacks! I think I even wrote a post for you about Jean-Marc leaving it at our gite in Vaison-la-Romaine after dinner one evening. His every present but often left behind leather sack.

It sounds like JM has a cold or the flu. Of course, Mimosas will be blooming now but the sneezing the cause don't cause chills!


Love the Human Relations tool belt! Where can I get that?🤣 I guess I’ll have to make one…..

Laurence S

Me too - Love the Human Relations tool belt!
Hi Kristi and Everyone,
Stay chill and healthy!

Karen in NY

We usually let an elevated temp, 100°F (37°ish C?),determine whether to try to work it off or sleep it off. But athletes? My dear friend and triathlete kept up a running schedule through treatment for leukemia. Against all kinds of advice. She's fine. Probably written up in a journal somewhere. I so agree with respecting other folks' decisions. Though I may cringe and eye roll prior to a trainwreck.


Ah, JM needs what I needed while in France years ago and caught something which stuffed up my head so bad. I knew it was seasonal and headed for the drug store, but to ask for what I needed in French was tricky. So I literally asked the pharmacist for le sel de mer liquide dans une boigt aerosol pour mon nez with my horrible grammar and accent, and he understood immediately and took me directly to what I needed to get! It's the best thing for cleaning out the yuck in your sinuses and feeling better along with Tylenol. That saved my vacation!!
I hope JM feels better soon, and no one else gets it!

Aleta Rossi

All these great suggestions :). I typically go for a neti pot ( rhino horn in French ) to clear up clogged sinuses. I hope Jean-Marc feels better soon !

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