What are "les patins à roulettes"? + Embarrassment is the Thief of Joy
Les oisillons: baby birds fall into our yard + caring for injured and baby chicks

Slang in French for "to have a bite to eat" & La Loco (a delicious Italian restaurant in Cassis)

L'ardoise French menu at La Loco italian restaurant in Cassis France
A sympathique place to eat in Cassis. That's Max's pal, Antoine, and a couple of furry customers trying to get into "La Loco"--an Italian Restaurant facing the train station 1.9 miles above the Cassidian Port.

: “casser la dalle”

    : to have a bite to eat (slang)

SOUND FILE: Click the link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here to access the sound file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Casser La Dalle à Cassis"

"J'adore cette route!" my son, Max says as we zoom up and down the backroads of Cassis in our electric, blue bagnole. On our right a tiny vineyard cradled in a slope, looking left, a chalky white cottage perched above the road.

Windows down, inhaling a pine-scented breeze, it’s refreshing to break free from restrictive planning (moments ago I had been trying to figure out how to divide yesterday's salmon miettes with my son who unexpectedly returned home for lunch. And now here we were, immersed in the Cassidian countryside, after Max suggested we eat out.

A call rang in via the car's bluetooth connection and with it a stream of argot tickled my ears as I listened to Max and Yann's conversation (selected phrases follow):

"Ça va, Gâtée?" How’s it going, Bro*? (Max responding to his close friend).
Je suis avec ma mère, on va casser la dalle à Cassis.” I'm with my mom, we're going to get a bite to eat in Cassis.
T’es toujours à ton taf?” Are you still at work?
"Oui, on vote cet aprèm. Tu vas voter blanc?" Yes, we're voting this afternoon. Are you turning in a blank ballot?

Gâtée, casser la dalle, taf...I burned that slang into my memory as we fired up the hill and the train station came into view. And there, tucked into the south side of the street behind the hedges, was the eatery. “It's called ‘La Loco’,” Max explained, “after ‘locomotive’." Well, choo! choo! that made sense. Less clear was why the name of the restaurant was nowhere to be seen. Hmm. A secret-private insider address?

To be sure, La Loco had a lot of locals. Not a foreign accent to be heard and at least three of the diners had a dog.
"Salut Zoé! Salut Antoine!" We kissed Max's friends, working there, and met "Francesco" (François) the owner and chef, before settling at a table beneath un arbre on the sunny terrace. The plane tree's leaves were just coming out, but the thick trunk and branches were enough to shade us from the midday soleil.

A solo diner arrived. Antoine showed Mademoiselle to the table behind us. "You can sit by Jean-Luc. Il est beau, n'est-ce pas?" A middle-aged Jean-Luc flashed a toothy smile before returning to nurse his beer, and the young woman with the green nail polish, Doc Martins, tattoos on her neck, graciously accepted the seat, which meant the two strangers would dine face to face after the awkward introduction. I was already feeling anxious for them when, in reality the two characters managed just fine, without my own awkward projections and assumptions. Oh, to feel that free! I need to get out more. 

"Salut!" Max shouted to a friend who walked in. We now chatted with Luca, who'd just finished "son taf." Taf! That’s the third time in one week this unfamiliar word came up. I wonder how many other words fly in and out of my ears, never to be registered. 

We paused to study the ardoise as Antoine went over the menu. Max recommended the Macaronnade: giant rings of pasta with meatballs made with fennel seeds, and Antoine suggested we share les blettes anchoïade —a swiss chard-anchovy-mozzarrela entree. What sounded un peu dégeu turned out to be délicieux. Max and I took turns soaking up the anchovy sauce, with some crispy baguette, until the plate was dry.

In the interlude between le plat and le dessert (a delicious tarte tatin) we soaked in more rays.“What do you call someone with no body and no nose?” My son challenged.
“Um, uh...I give up.”
Nobody knows!”

With that Max cracked up as only a francophone who understood English could (later, when I shared the corny joke with Grandma Jules, who got a kick out of it too. And you?)

Luca (not to be confused with toothy Jean-Luc) reappeared and we realized he'd been missing a while. "La plonge? Did they have you doing dishes," Max guessed.
"Every time," Luca laughed, raising his beer, before heading to Jean-Luc's table to pour some into his cup. 

This time Max disappeared behind the bar, returning with two grand crèmes. “I made a heart for you,” he said, pointing to the design in my coffee. Appetite satisfied, my cup full, the sun stretching its rays down on us, we were a long way from those cold, indivisible leftovers in our frigo. In two hours my world went from calculated and reduced...to expanded like the open heart floating in my cup.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get any better, I reached into my purse to pay. “Ça y est. C'est fait. It’s all taken care of,” my son smiled, having treated me to lunch.


Anoine, Max, and Jean-Luc (who also disappeared from his table...to lend a hand drying glasses). 

I hope you enjoyed today's tasty entry. Be sure to eat at La Loco if ever you are in Cassis. You won't have to fight for parking (as you do by the port) and you'll surely find good company in which to casser la dalle. Be ready to help with the dishes :-)

Address: La Loco, 29 Av. des Albizzi, Cassis (right across from the Cassis train station)

casser la dalle = to have a bite eat
une route = road
une bagnole = slang for “car”
une miette = crumbs, scraps, leftovers
l'argot = slang
*ma gâtée = term of endearment, "bro", "dear" (not easy to translate...) This expression is now back in vogue after a certain rapper popularized it. 
un taf = job, work(slang)
l’aprèm = short for l’après-midi, afternoon
le vote blanc = blank vote, blank ballot paper
un arbre = tree
le soleil = sun
un casque = helmet 
salut = hi
l'ardoise = blackboard, menu
la blette = Swiss chard 
un peu dégeu (déguelasse) = a little disgusting 
la tarte tatin = upside down apple pie 
la plonge = wash dishes
un grand crème (un café crème) = coffee with milk
le frigo = fridge
Ça y est. C’est fait = it’s been taken care of

D4145DDB-075C-44EF-BA67-D8BAEE4B4AA9Max, bringing the café crème he made for me 

IMG_0719 (1)
Seated beside the beautiful plane tree. Max posted this photo on his Instagram, which explains the "Mom" and heart emoji on the tree.

Do you have time for one more story? "Cuellir", written in Les Arcs-sur-Argens when Max was  10-years-old, is a small window into our family life at that time. Though it paints the story of an organized, harmonious "team", we are most often trying to find that elusive balance et c'est la vie.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Waouh, Kristi,
Tu as un fils très, très gentil et magnifique!
Amitiés, Joanne


How much fun was that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christine Cuccia

What timing! I’ll be in Cassis in late May. Definitely will try it.

Leslie NYC

This was so inspiring. Coming out of winter, we can indeed make a decision to be happy, to appreciate whatever we have been given—even and especially in a time of horrors in the world. Max radiates joy and love.
Happy spring/ Easter/ Passover/Ramadan/love of chocolate bunnies and « Easter » eggs(probably a pagan tradition that Christians adopted).

Pierre Lerouge

Kristi, my friend Francois from Paris offered me "Le Larousse du francais argotique et populaire"; If you can find it you would. love it to further perfect your slang. :-). I use it to refresh my memory or when I teach "l'Argot" to our common friend Bernie, he his such a good student!! He loves to practice....

Dorothy in Rhode Island

What a nice story about a pleasant dejeuner. It makes me want to return to Cassis, which I visited way, way back in 1977 and 1979.


Max has an e bagnole? How cool is that!
What is the make?

K.J. Laramie

The floating heart grabbed my heart. What beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing this delicious and delightful joy with Max!

Diane Covington-Carter

Such a rich and touching time with Max. Thanks for sharing it with us. Such fun.


What a great lunch - sounds delicious. Happy weekend.


What a delightful afternoon & treat! Lovely picture of you- that is just how he sees you-with love.😀


This was a great one Kristi!
We are headed back to France in July. Always looking for new words to add to my French vocabulary, including some slang! Wonderful! My first slang words!

Clearly, your son has grownup, into a sweet young man, who loves his mother.

All the best, An from Naples, Florida

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Betsy, It is our family car, a Zoe electric vehicle, by Renault. Max usually drives a “fourgonnette” (half truck, half van), own by the vineyard he works for.

Caro Feely

Love this story Kristi! We are booked for holidays in Cassis this summer. I cannot wait. Will definitely go to Loco! :) Your stories are so uplifting. Thank you!

Suzanne Dunaway


Tom Donnellan

The late Fred Jessup, an Australian-born painter, who lived most of his adult life near Beziers painted some scenes of Cassis on his travels. Lovely to link your story with his in my mind's eye.

Kristin Espinasse

I had the delicious Macaronnaise (giant pasta rings with homemade meatballs. It also came with sausage). Max had Osso Bucco. We shared the swiss chard/anchovy/mozzarella entry. Then two apple pies (tarte tatin upside down version) for dessert. Miam miam!


Charming! Merci, Lana

Ophelia Paine

Love this story!! And the corny joke. : ) AND the photos. You make us smile.

Valerie Meluskey

Thank you for taking us with you, Kristi! Your writing filled my wish to see what was going on. At first I wished for a video, but then felt satisfied with your wonderful describing. [and now I'm getting hungry!]

Susan Barnabe

Another beautiful and touching anecdote, Christi. Merci infiniment.


Hi Kristi,
What a special day with your son! I know you enjoyed it!

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi,
Our souls do take delight in such carefree moments! Cheers to Max for suggesting this spontaneous meal and treating you! Thank you for reminding us all how lovely it is to step out of our routine! xoxo

Derin Gemignani

Well that just sounds so delicious! And so much fun to know about a local place. What I can't believe is how much Max looks like his dad now, how time flies and grows. Can't wait to get to Cassis and eat and do some dishes!!
Derin G.

Kathy Lechman

Merci, Kristin!
I enjoyed your story about your adventure in Cassis. Through your words I am soaking up the local culture, I love it. I hope to visit Cassis sometime in the near future. I am new to reading your blog and I am so happy I found it.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Kathy,
So good to have you with us. Thank you for your positive feedback. Bon week-end.


Happy Easter, everyone!

Marianne Rankin

What does Max do at the vineyard where he works? In any case, he should be able to use his family experience well there.

A Happy Easter to all.


Love when the kids do the paying! What an honor and such a delicious treat. Happy Easter and the Lord bless your family.


What a treasure Max is! ❤️


Thank you for this delightful story of your lunch with Max. My husband also like the corny joke!

Diane Heinecke

What a great story. It's so exhilarating to throw plans to the wind and enjoy the afternoon out. Max is so loving. Nice to see a young man proud of his maman and wanting to post it on Instagram.

sally vegso

A blank vote in this important French election? Scary.


What a joyful afternoon. Max is a blessing to be sure! And, I think he sees you as just as much a blessing!

Pat Lambdin

You have raised a wonderful son into a fine man and you can be very proud of him! What a fortunate mom you are. And that photo oh la la! I really thought it was a throw back photo of Bridgette Bardot before I saw the Mom and heart. And you have become a delightful writer. I always love your stories.

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