Update on Jean-Marc & photos from Bormes-les-Mimosas
Le Défi: An upcoming challenge for Jean-Marc + full story recorded in French

Words, Meaning & Avoir le déclic (to have a lightbulb moment)

A cafe in Montmartre Paris
A café in Paris. A bit of a coffee theme in today's story, so we'll pair that now with a picture taken years ago in Montmartre.

TODAY'S FRENCH EXPRESSION: "avoir le déclic"

  : to have an aha moment, a lightbulb moment

Click below 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

I will never forget the time the true meaning to an English word jumped from a French page. It was Christmas at our vignoble near the Drôme and a children's storybook was concise enough for me to pause amidst the holiday flurry and read to the kids. Only, as soon as the lecture began a certain mot moved me to tears.

Fast forward 11 years and one more vineyard later... My husband and I are going through another phase, and for this we have been talking a lot to each other. These causeries are encouraging, difficult, relaxing, and sometimes funny. Especially amusing is how each time Jean-Marc says the word "express" (a recurring term lately) it conjures up an image of an expresso machine in my mind. Suddenly I picture hot water being forced through a dense mass of ground coffee, the liquid coming out the other side in rich, dark droplets (our cafetière italienne could use a good détartrage for the expressed coffee to flow out).

The exact definition of the verb reflects this high-pressured process: to express... from old French expresser: “to press out, to obtain by squeezing.” Quelle image! Can you see how it illustrates the effort involved in transporting our thoughts or ideas to words? The next time I struggle to express myself I'll remember those precious droplets of expresso—it’ll also be a needed reminder to service our machine.  

Funny how remembering those gouttelettes is not helping much now as I try to conclude today’s causerie*...though droplets of another kind are forming on my brow from effort... One thing that helps me when I cannot express myself in French or English, specifically when I can’t find the word needed, is to stop squeezing my brain and quickly grasp for another way to say the same thing (this often involves a series of words to replace the unknown term). This keeps the conversation going fluently and requires creativity and un chouïa, or smidge, of confidence. When all else fails I have invented words, often accidentally, always to the amusement of my French interlocuteur.

In the name of expression, you might even borrow an inexact word (a colorful one, in theme with the discussion...) and plug it in juste comme ça, pour le plaisir. So, in closing, and for your thoughtful words following our recent update, Jean-Marc and I would like to espresso our thanks, in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, like good coffee, like a good verse.*  


Le café populaire


avoir le déclic = bingo! eureka! to have an aha moment
le vignoble = vineyard
la Drôme provençale = French department
la lecture = reading
le mot = word
la causerie = informal conversation, chat; *also means short essay
la cafetière italienne = Italian espresso maker
le détartrage = descaling, tartar removal, cleaning
quelle image = what a picture
un expresso = espresso
une gouttelette = a droplet
un chouïa = a tad, a smidge
un interlocuteur, une interlocutrice = conversation partner
juste comme ça, pour le plaisir = just because, for the plaisir 
amicalement = yours, best wishes, best

* "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" from Luke 6:38 

Cordonnerie shoe repair shop to coffee shop
La Cordonnerie: a former shoe repair shop now expressing itself as a coffee shop in Paris. Ah! The power--the sheer percolating force--of expression!

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Enjoyed the “café” post. Also, wondering if you ever did one on the hairdresser’s….I need some vocabulary!


But, but... Why do I still remember my daughter correcting me, in english, "Papa, when you order it, there is no 'x' in espresso"?


Take care. So many are ‘in your corner’

Suzanne Dunaway

I too have made up words and gotten a good laugh out of our French friends but when I mix up words entirely they really hoot. I was in when I asked for for sailors on the beach instead of four mattresses…


Emily Dickinson expressed your insight about the hard work of finding the right words in a poem in which the "screws" refer to a screw press (see Wikipedia for a picture) used to "express" olive oil and juice for wine, much like making espresso. Great minds think alike!

Essential oils are wrung:
The attar from the rose
Is not expressed by suns alone,
It is the gift of screws.

The general rose decays;
But this, in lady’s drawer,
Makes summer when the lady lies
In ceaseless rosemary.

gary mcclelland

reminds me of my first visit to a barbershop in Paris. I asked them to cut my horses. Fortunately, they just chuckled and cut my hair instead.

K.J. Laramie

So many precious memories flood over me! You are immersed in a land of unique beauty! May all your ‘talks’ and ‘expressions’ include that Truth. Every photo you post makes me swoon all over again. Hold these blessings close.


Good morning - relating to this with expressing a painting - pressing it out of my mind, paints, colors choices etc. Making sure some droplets go into the bin. And others are celebrated. Go figure.


Let's hear it for "le mot juste" even if it is an invented one....

Sarah LaBelle

I had not seen that poem until you shared it here, and explained the unexpected use (to me) of the word screw to mean screw press. Thank you.


Ah Luke, the patron saint of artists, if I am correct. There really is not other way, is there? MUCH LOVE to you both, Eileen XO

Laurence S

What a wonderful community of friends you have-we have, to whom you can espresso your always equally wonderful and charming stories. Much happiness to all. Despite everything that can go on, we need to reach for a little bonheur every day, it also keeps us in touch with our humanity.❤️

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