Terroir, French for "somewhereness" & that magnetic pull we feel towards France
Words, Meaning & Avoir le déclic (to have a lightbulb moment)

Update on Jean-Marc & photos from Bormes-les-Mimosas

Cistus flowers high up in one of France's most blossoming villages. Don't miss all the colorful photos in this edition, click over to the blog for the full post.

TODAY'S WORD: "alentours"

  : surroundings, vicinity

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 for the audio clip

by Kristi Espinasse

Jean-Marc has not been feeling well again, so our plans for a two-day escapade were up in the air last Friday. When finally we could not decide either way what to do, we just did. Typing this now my husband’s old saying comes back to me: Mieux vaut une mauvaise décision que pas de décision du tout. Better a bad decision than no decision at all.

A change of scenery turned out to be une bonne décision. One thing to love about France is how quickly the landscape changes in so little space. An hour east of La Ciotat, and we were entering Le Lavandou (the word reminds me of “soft lavender” for the way it is pronounced). No lavender fields here, but plenty of flowers and exotic trees (like les tamaris) and we were soon to enjoy softness on the cushioned transats at the beach. 

We found the hairpin turnoff Max had warned us about and took the narrow, winding road down to Tamaris Plage in Pramousquier Bay. Parking in the lot belonging to the restaurant, we left our overnight bags in the car–a no-no in France. As my belle-soeur says, “never leave so much as a mouchoir in your vehicle or risk someone breaking the window to steal it!” But if we were throwing caution to the wind it’s because we had a lot on our minds–and stolen pajamas were the least of our soucis.

My husband, for one, was on my mind. As for what was on his, that was, and still is, half the battle–for depression is a war of the mind. Jean-Marc’s latest episode began 5 or 6 months ago and, in finally recording it here, I’ve gone against plans to “share only the lovely things”--indeed a sticky note on my desk reads: A writer’s duty is to lift readers up. I admire that thought by E.B. White. But frankness and transparency are lovely things too. They reveal our shared human condition.

Now, if what is on the mind is half the battle, then what’s the other half? Jean-Marc is feeling his way forward in the darkness, but so far trust, courage, faith, perseverance and meds are soulagements. Leaving no stone unturned along the path back to peace, those pebbles on the beach in Pramousquier Bay, where we walked hand-in-hand, became solid reminders to persévérer

Returning from our shorefront stroll, Jean-Marc rested on the chaises-longues, feelings of oppression and defeat washing over him in waves. Positive reminders and comforting words helped, but when  a man napping nearby startled us with his thundering ronflements we both enjoyed a spontaneous chuckle. As for our snoring Samaritan, he was oblivious to his cathartic part in lifting a stranger’s heart. 

At the end of the day, nobody broke into our bagnole to steal our pajamas. At least one of us was relieved by this finding. As for the other, relief doesn’t come easily to him at this time. But many, regular reassurances help. Prayer works. And humor temporarily breaks the spell.

* * *

For anyone out there struggling with a setback in body, mind or spirit, experience shows things will get better. Accrochez-vous. Tenez bon. Hang on. And if you are alone, take courage: someone, somewhere cares about you. Chances are a lot of people do.

Thank you for keeping Jean-Marc in your thoughts and prayers. I leave you with some colorful pictures from our périple to Bormes-les-Mimosa and ses alentours.



JM in Bormes les Mimosas
We appreciate the support of friends and family. Someone dear to us recently wrote, "We know Jean-Marc is going through some inner turmoil now, but that is due to his sense of adventure and resourcefulness, the gifts of a true pioneer, and understandably nerve-wracking." Read more about this pioneering spirit in our 2019 vineyard memoir
The Lost Gardens

une escapade = escape, getaway, trip
mieux vaut une mauvaise décision que pas de décision du tout = better a bad decision than no decision at all
La Ciotat = our town, the next port east of Cassis
Le Lavandou = a town and commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France
le tamaris = salt tree, tamarisk
le transat =  sunbed
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le mouchoir = tissue, Kleenex
le soucis = worry, trouble, problem
le soulagement = help, relief, respite
la chaise longue = sunbed, sun lounger
le ronflement = snoring
la bagnole = car (in slang)
accrochez-vous = hang on
tenez bon = hang in there
le périple = trek, expedition, journey
les alentours = surroundings, surrounding area

Bormes les Mimosas perched village
Looking over the town of Bormes les Mimosas
Getting ready to close up shop for the day
So many boutiques...
A hat shop too!
A charming trompe l'oeil or "fools the eye" on the side of a building


Venelle des Amoureux "Lovers' Alley"

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