French for "fighter, warrior, survivor" + Fate, Love, and Dogs: Our golden retriever is “un battant”
The French Word "Renifler" & Getting my Husband and My Dog to Speak the Same Language

Un Coup de Pouce: a helping hand from our daughter

Jean-Marc in BriançonJean-Marc, in Briançon. The words on the wall read: L'alpiniste est un homme qui conduit son corps là où, un jour, ses yeux ont regardé... " The mountaineer is a man who leads his body to where, one day, his eyes have looked. --Gaston Rébuffat

Today's Expression: Un Coup de Pouce

    : a helping hand, a boost, a leg up

French Audio/Listening: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the sound file

F is For France book"F is For France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders". If you are a Francophile and love trivia this book's for you! 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When our daughter moved home last week after temporary employment in the Alps, she had a lot on her to-do list: unpack, find a new job, renew her French passport, etc... But when she saw her dad and sensed he was a little down, helping him became her priority.

Un Coup de Pouce (A Boost)
"Mom," Jackie said, wheeling her suitcases into the guestroom. "This afternoon, I'm going to go through Dad's garde-robe and get rid of a lot of old clothes. Then, I'm going to help him shop for some basics. And maybe pick out some skincare essentials."

Skincare essentials? I could not see my husband patting l'eau de rose on his rugged face. Mais que sais-je? As Jackie pointed out, "When you take care of yourself, you feel better." 

It's true, Jean-Marc needed un coup de pouce. Since selling our vineyard and starting his wine shop, Chief Grape has been focused on his business. It was now time to focus on his well-being--via un relooking!

Out with the old...
The very afternoon of her arrival back in La Ciotat, Jackie was knee-high in a pile of her father's fringues as the two stood sorting vêtements in front of an old armoire. Right away, a plan of action was put into place...  Step 1: toss or recycle whatever clothes were abîmés, déchirés, troués, délavés, or moldy (this last problem began with a leak in our roof...long story). Step 2: Give away the clothes that are in good condition.

When Jean-Marc had doubts about parting with certain affaires, he remembered the ongoing exodus out of Ukraine and all those displaced families in need. "I'm going to give these to our town's collect, for la Solidarité Ukraine."  Two one-hundred liter bags now filled quickly and when the dusty armoire was empty, Jackie and I wiped it down from top to bottom, using a lavender-scented spray to finish off the job before welcoming back the rest of JM's clothes.

In with the new...
The next day father and daughter headed to Marseilles, to the shopping mall Les Terrasses du Port... where they found chinos, chemises, shorts, and mocassins. And that evening we were treated to un défilé de mode! 

Our family, including Jules and Smokey (covered with his own new "threads" or stitches), gathered on the two couches in front of the fireplace. Next, Jean-Marc appeared on the "catwalk" and strutted forth, wearing a jade green dress shirt, cream-colored slacks, and black loafers. Qu'est-ce qu'il est beau! Canon! we whistled. Reaching the center of our living room our mannequin swung around, shook his hips, and slapped his own behind, before strutting off with a big smile on his face.

I rolled my eyes back and shook my head, sacré Jean-Marc! When they made him they broke the mold!

"You two did a great job!" I said to my daughter, while our menswear model made his way back to the changing room.
"Thanks, but we didn't have time to get the skincare," Jackie regretted.

A moment later my husband returned, strut, strut, strut--SLAP!, wearing another tenue pimpante. From the glow on his rugged face, no l'eau de rose needed. Jackie's mini-makeover was already a helpful boost to her dad's morale.

L'alpiniste est un homme qui conduit son corps là où, un jour, ses yeux ont regardé. 
The mountaineer is a man who leads his body to where, one day, his eyes have looked.

un coup de pouce
= a little help, a lift, a boost
la garde-robe = wardrobe, clothes, clothing
l'eau de rose = rosewater toner
mais que sais-je? = but what do I know?
le relooking = makeover
les fringues = slang for clothes
les vêtements (m) = clothes, clothing
abîmé = damaged
déchiré = ripped
troué = full of holes
délavé = faded
la chemise = shirt
le mocassin = loafer
un défilé de mode = a fashion show
il était si beau! = He looked so handsome!
canon = gorgeous, hot (read the related post)
la tenue =  outfit
pimpant(e) (fringant(e) = smart, elegant 

Jackie raincoat armoir
Jackie, trying on the trench coat she made in design school. The armoire you see behind her is as old as Mr. Sacks, and has had various lives: as a kitchen pantry, as a duo-closet for JM and me. These days it's his garde-robe.

Jackie and jean-marc donkey
"Father and daughter," Jean-Marc giving Jackie un coup de pouce when she was little. Photo from the "Desiderata" poem post. Corrections to this letter are always welcome and appreciated. Merci d'avance!

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


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Suzanne Dunaway

You two have raised GOOD kids with kind hearts. You need never want more...

Suzanne Codi

What a great daughter!!Loved this story, thanks Jackie for taking good care of your Dad.Sounds like you both had fun!

And Kristi, if you think you may still have mold in or on top of your armoire, spray some Hydrogen peroxide ( careful not to get any on the new " fringues") and let dry completely, it worked for us when we had a similar problem and the mold/mildew kept coming back. The peroxide completely kills it, cutting off it's oxygen. Happy Spring!


Hi Kristi,
Lovely story and it sounds like JM's spirits were lifted!

Karen in NY

Oh, thank you so much for today's smile from across the pond. I can feel the warm from here. I can relate to being a bit down myself. How much red octobering is going on off our beautiful ocean beaches? But I think I will clean out a closet I haven't seen the back of in a really long time. And donate. And pray. Regards to your lovely family and gentle scratchies to Smokes.


Nothing like Daddy’s and Daughter’s!

Leslie Layton

I love this post!

Kathleen Bidney

I totally understand the cleaning out of the armoire. Many men tend to hang onto clothes which they can’t, shouldn’t and won’t wear again. Jackie did an excellent job not only cleaning and replacing clothes but giving her father a great present and her love. Congratulations Jackie. 👍💕
Peace, Kathleen


When my young husband passed away at 46 in an accident, we were able to laugh by getting rid of all the clothes they were embarrassed that their dad still wore. At a sad time, we were able to laugh. That is what I remember. He would have enjoyed the chuckles too! Remind JM how very lucky he is when he makes a comment about missing those old clothes!


Congratulations - you raised a smart and thoughtful daughter. Glad she is back from the Alps.


What a lovely daughter you have raised! Thinking of her father and giving him the boost in spirits and update for his wardrobe was such a blessing for all of you. His mood can be contagious & we all need an uplift right about now.


What a lovely story. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall as Jackie and Jean-Marc shopped. It’s wonderful to read of their beautiful love and connection. On to the exploration of skincare.

Lorinda Busby

Awww! Sooo sweet🥰, lifted my spirits too! Haha, I need “a Jackie” in my life to help clear out my closet and go shopping 😆


I love this story. Jackie wanted to lift her dad's spirits, so she did the things that would make her (or any girl) feel better: Clear out your closet, get rid of old clothes, clean the shelves and scent them with lavender. Go buy some new clothes and some skin care lotion to pamper yourself with. Who wouldn't want all that, the young woman thinks. And it worked. Because getting out and DOING something with someone who cares about you, no matter what you do, makes anyone feel better.


This is great. Well done Jackie.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

What a marvellous, joyous escapade, thanks to Jackie's genius and loving inspiration! Thanks so much for telling us all about it, Kristi -- brings a smile AND a song to my heart. Wondrous reminder that self-compassion and shared fun are fabulous tonics, able to brighten and lighten any 'day in the life'. Merci, Jackie and JM and Kristi for this proof of lovingkindness' flair for refreshing pure joie de vivre -- basking happily in the outward-reaching ripples m'self now!

K. J. Laramie

This story is so beautiful! Times two. The loving bond father and daughter keep fresh, and the important suggestion to donate clothes/supplies to Ukraine’s displaced. Beyond uplifting!!

Lauren Juliet Golden

Great post! But no photos of the defile de mode?


What a wonderful caring family that takes an interest in each other's well-being!
That is terrific example for us all.

Gail in AZ

What an inspiration this story is! Thank you for sharing!


Love this! Such a great story. Jackie is a fabulous daughter to help her dad. My own Dad would never let us pick out too much for him. Maybe a shirt. And he hung on to clothing 20 years more than he should have. So I commend Marc for being open to the experience. He will look sharp at work.

Carole Fitzgerald

What a lovely story , well done xxx

Jeanine Woods

I love this story. Jackie is a gem. There is nothing like a loving "child" to boost the spirits and give him a coup de pouce.

Maureen McCormick

Bonjour Kristi !

J'aime cette histoire ! Pour info, le mot " garde-robe " est féminin.

Bonne journée,

Mary-Jo Johnston

Your daughter is quite wonderful and insightful! I love how they are obviously close enough (not to mention trusting) to go through this type of "refreshing" experience together. Your recounting has put a smile on my face and boosted my spirits, as well.

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Maureen, Thank you for this helpful correction. Off to fix it now. 

Ms. Laraine Lippe

Brava, Jackie. How wonderful that she has such sensitivity to others and is willing to help at their time of need.

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