To chill or relax in French + allergy season in France
Lunch in Arles, "Séjour" in Camargue, wild horses and a cool rancher's hut

Sacoche: How to say "Man Purse" in French + update on Mr. Sacks

Jean-Marc and Mr. Sacks on Porquerolles Island South of France
Notice the leather satchel on the ground: meet Mr. Sacks, Jean-Marc's lovable sidekick. This picture is from my Instagram where I've been carefully choosing photos & pairing them with interesting French words. Follow me on Instagram for more. 

Today's Word: la sacoche (sah-kohsh)

    : handbag, saddlebag, purse, bag

from the Italian saccoccia, or "little pocket"

Audio/Listening: 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 for the sound file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
"Ode to Mr. Sacks"
(The photos in the following story were taken over the years....)

I couldn't believe my ears when Jean-Marc, packing for his business trip, mentioned: "I'm not taking my sacoche with me." 

Vraiment? My husband might as well have decided to leave an appendage behind--son bras droit, for example, the one he uses to lift his wine glass. That is how vital his trusty, takes-with-him everywhere sacoche is to him.

What with increasing restrictions for carry-on and check-in, Jean-Marc's dear sidekick, Mr. Sacks, is the latest victime of airline cutbacks!

Poor Mr. Sacks! I've never felt sorry for the old bag before. Mostly, I've felt envious. Mr. Sacks is the one who goes on all the business trips with my husband. Mr. Sacks goes to all the local wine tastings while I sit at home guzzling tap water.  

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks in Paris... the one on the left. (Make no mistake, the other bags mean nothing to Jean-Marc!)

man purse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Ventimille, Italy, watching locals play boules, or pétanque.

I do pity, Mr. Sacks, now that his saggy little body is pouting in the corner of my husband's office. This is the first time in his 12-year-old life that he's collected dust. Normally he's on the go....
Croatia (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks cruising the island of Cres, in Croatia. Just kidding, Jean-Marc would never put Mr. Sacks in this predicament (water). This brings me to the next point...

Regularly I am asked to hold on to Mr. Sacks while my husband sprints off to use a public restroom or when (as pictured above) he is practicing a sport. "Tu peux prendre ma sacoche?" he asks. And I always grumble, not wanting to hold the heavy "third wheel". Apart from tractor wrenches, he even keeps wine bottles (for his tastings) in there....

spitoon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks (on the floor, next to the bucket spittoon)

Some refer to Mr. Sacks as a "man purse".  That always makes me snicker. Hahahahahaha! Man Bag!!! Sac Homme! I point at Mr. Sacks. But Mr. Sacks isn't laughing... 

Kristi Mr. Sacks Malta
Me, babysitting Mr. Sacks in Malta in 2017. Jean-Marc purchased the leather bag in une maroquinerie  in Draguignan, years and years ago. C'était le coup de foudre! Love at first sight!

the guilty look (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc's got that guilty look on his face. He's always holding hands with Mr. Sacks instead of with me--and he knows it!  While others worry about the other woman, I have to worry about the old bag!

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is with my husband on bad hair days...

beach in Ste. Maxime (c) Kristin Espinasse
And on good hair days. Here they are at the beach in Sainte-Maxime.

Avalon (c) Kristin Espinasse
And especially on family days!

Lourdes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Visiting the healing waters at Lourdes. Can you spot Mr. Sacks?

sacoche brief case Burgundy france Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Burgundy... with the winemakers...

fountain (c) Kristin Espinasse
But old Mr. Sacks, as you can see, is beginning to sag. I worry that items inside him will begin to fly out of his slouching pockets. I especially worry that money will fly out. For this reason, I sometimes follow close in Jean-Marc's wake as he goes about his errands. I am stumbling along behind him swatting my arms back and forth prepared to catch those banknotes that might come flying out of that sagging bag. 

vintage sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is coming apart at the seams, which just goes to show even satchels experience a middle-age crisis.

Over the years I've tried to get Jean-Marc to consider buying a new bag. Nothin' doin'! "But it's a hazard," I argue (a financial hazard at that! Just think if money really were flying out of that bag). 

"I'm keeping my bag!" my husband always argues back.

in Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of weeks ago Jean-Marc announced with an ear-to-ear grin: Je l'ai fait réparer, mon sac. He had brought Mr. Sacks to the leather mender's, in town. The guy did a wonderful job, Jean-Marc told me, adding that the man was nearly 90 years old. 

Any ill will or harsh feelings I may have felt regarding Mr. Sacks flew out of the picture (as those bank notes might have...). My heart smiled thinking of the wrinkled man sewing the wrinkled bag, one soul giving life back to the other, each content to be of service for as long as they were needed or wanted.


Mr Sacks new flapUpdate: Since this post was written, 10 years ago, Mr. Sacks has had yet another facelift (thanks to our friends at Mon Cordonnier, in Aubagne). Mr. Sacks will turn 23 years old soon and he's as busy as ever (this morning he journeyed to Marseilles with Jean-Marc and my Mom, to pick up Jules' new French health card. All documents are safe with him. Thanks, Mr. Sacks!). 

le sacoche = satchel
= really
le bras = arm
droit = right
tu peux prendre ma sacoche = can you take my bag?
la maroquinerie = purse, bag, and luggage shop
le sac homme = man purse 
je l'ai fait réparer = I had it fixed
mon sac = my purse
le coup de foudre = love at first sight

Jean-Marc and Mr. Sacks on Porquerolles Island South of France
Oh dear. Here is Mr. Sacks on the little island of Porquerolles, with Jean-Marc and his formidable mop-spear. I hope you'll read about this unusual confection--Jean-Marc was very proud of it.

Flower steps in Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Caltagirone, Sicily... can't you see him sniffing the pretty flowers? Voilà, for this edition. If you feel like one more story, read about the time I found a heart-stopping message inside of Mr. Sacks.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Diane Heinecke

Loved your descriptions and photos, Kristi! Just like Linus, the Peanuts character, we all have our security blanket. When someone has a beloved object I've learned first-hand, don't try to fix it or replace it. Long live the sacoche!

K. J. Laramie

Great photos! Lucky bag! Lucky wife!
Your handsome husband could be a model!

Andy Homer

As ever, I have enjoyed the chatter around some colloquial French while my wife & I enjoy our "maison secondaire" on the west coast of France. But you have stretched me here... "Man purse"??? Never is all of the 66 years I have trod the earth... 1) a purse is a small wallet-like container which women keep their cash in. Thus the only usage in the same sentence will be something like "a man holds his wife's purse...."; 2) I realise that the UK and the US are 2 English-speaking nations divided by a common language but my best mate in the US called my "man BAG" a "fanny pack"... As a Brit, I needed some help saying that too!!!!!

Deborah Locke

Charming and funny! I enjoyed following the travels (and les travails) of M. Sac this morning...


Great story!! I remember the picture of Sicily and now see the bag, having not paid attention to it before. There are so many stories within a picture. Thank you for the lovely story adding light to a dreary day here in Virginia.

Karen in NY

Mr. Sacks looks like a briefcase to me. Thanks for the smiles this morning. Great pix. And I read the story from the ER at the end. It reminded me of a hospital visit from months ago... a big, city hospital waiting room with food service provided by Au Bon Pain. Except, if you didn't have that much french, all you saw walking into the hospital was the word PAIN in yard high red letters.

Rina Kampeas

Hello, Andy. Speaking as a Canadian: In North American usage, "purse" means "woman's handbag"; and the wallet-like container women keep their cash in is indeed not just wallet-like, it's a "wallet". And a certain type of handbag used by men is. yes, a "fanny pack"; but it's also a "man purse". I've never before encountered "man bag", but I've taken it on board now as a Briticism.


Mr Sacks always makes me smile, in particular because of the way you describe his outings and relationship with Jean-Marc. That said, it is obvious that Jean-Marc is devoted to the things … and people… he holds dear.

Patricia Sands

Oh Kristi, these were the best morning laughs I've had in ages. What a fabulous post! Vive M. Sacks!

Suzanne Dennis

Thanks for the link to Instagram. I haven't finished looking at your photos but they are wonderful. I especially like the one of you in the big white hat kissing Jean-Marc. Love these photos of Mr. Sacks and the repairs looks good. I remember rescuing Mr. Sacks in Vaison-la-Romaine.


I love the expression “man-bag” as it just simply sounds masculine! And funnily enough, I have often wondered what a fanny bag was, and voilà, I discover what it is in your wonderful French blog today Kristi. In Australia, the word fanny is a crude reference to female anatomy, so I had this vision of the bag being hung low over a woman’s pelvis, not for a moment thinking it would be for a man to use! Language in all it’s difference mores is such a fascinating thing. 😊

Patricia Raffy


gary mcclelland

Something about reading the long history of Mr Sacks, whom I've met in person, reminded me that I hadn't made a contribution in a while. Perhaps you haven't either. Now would be a good time to use the links at the bottom of the post to make a contribution to ensure that FWAD keeps arriving in our email inboxes. And to find out where Mr Sacks will go next!


Thank you for this charming story and pictures.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Gary. I appreciate the reminder you shared and I thank you for your donation (a proper remerciement is on the way!).
Thank you all for these thoughtful responses to my story. It is a joy for me and my family to read these messages (mostly Jules and Jean-Marc reading :-) 

Janine Cortell

Your personification of Mr. Sacks makes him so real, a true friend.
In a culture when we so often throw away rather than repair, Jean-Marc's attitude is refreshing.


Pourquoi pas écrire les petites contes pour les enfants, Kristi? Il me semble que tu as le talent pour ça! Bonne histoire, merci.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Suzanne! And I remember that evening well!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
This is such a sweet, endearing story. You have so aptly shown us how Mr Sacks is always there for Jean-Marc, by his side, loyally supportive. And how, no matter how old or beaten up something becomes, restoring it can give strength back to it. As you also wrote, the heart and soul emerges, from within the old leather sack and the talented old gentleman , restoring new life to both. Ah, sigh ~
I shall skip along through the next few days with a restored look at life…


Very clever article!! un peu jalouse....n'est-ce pas?


I was smiling the whole time, reading this missive - a review of some of your former tales and photos and so great to see again! I was just looking earlier at a leather purse of mine that has been relegated to the closet, in hopes of a miracle 'reincarnation' - (leather handles really need to be replaced) - rest of bag is fine. Your story has given a push for me to find a leather repair person and see what might be done to make my little red leather purse wearable again. My own little Ms Sach!

Renee Hewitt

I enjoy reading your stories and seeing your photos! I have also read your books and so enjoyed them. The simple things in life and loved ones are really what makes life joyful. Thank you so much for sharing your daily life. A question, is your new book going to come out in print?


Kristi, Jean-Marc is not alone. Rick too has a Mr. Sacs, an old brown leather one that has been repaired as well. Maybe it’s a wine guy thing! He also has a nicer black one and one of those denim sailor bags he uses at the market. We do call them “man bags”. At least we don’t have to carry our husbands’ wallets in our purses!

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