Le Défi: An upcoming challenge for Jean-Marc + full story recorded in French
The French word for "Fellowship" and (a funny term for "Homebody")

The worst thing about summer in the south of France + do you know these slang words?

Golden retriever Smokey in the garden
An almost 13-year-old Smokey, keeping cool in the garden. It's a good thing he can't hear so well these days, as the streets just beyond those hedges are loud at the start of summer. Read on in today's bruyante update.


  1. jam-packed, full (of people)
  2. loaded (with money)

blindé de monde = crowded, full of people 

In books: Travels Through the French Riviera: An Artist’s Guide to the Storied Coastline, from Menton to Saint-Tropez

 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 file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

Over lunch on our terrasse, we were discussing the busy summer season here in the south of France when my family used some colorful words and expressions to describe la foule passant....

C’est la folie!” my belle-sœur said, of the crowded beaches in Marseilles. So packed you have to move your beach bag to make room for a stranger to set down their towel. Forty-five minutes east, in La Ciotat, “C’est le bordel!” Max seconded, pouring some chilled rosé into his father’s glass. “C’est blindé!” Jean-Marc agreed—the seafront is teeming with people.

Blindé, bordel, folie...Quietly eating my salade de pois chiches, I began mental-noting all this juicy argot in time to share it with you in the following piece about le bruit. So plug a couple of boule Quies into your ears and read along--it's going to get loud!

Litter, crowds, and pee (or “la miction publique”) are some désagréments of the tourist season in our seaside town. But what pains us the most isn’t the smell, the swell, or la poubelle... it’s the noise--the ear-shattering clattering. By June, our normally peaceful garden is now a cacophony of screaming toddlers, quarreling lovers, and screeching teenagers. And while these strangers are not actually in our yard, their reverberations are...

...a woman is clapping her shoes together, shaking free le sable, clack! clack! clack!...a shirtless man at the parking meter is shouting to a friend 5 cars away, "C’est quoi le numéro d'immatriculation?" What’s the license number on your car? 
"C'est E....T....6...3...5....Q...L" the other yells back. Often my daughter and I are just beyond the hedges, our lawn chairs in the crossfire of so much shouting. If it weren't so amusing it would be maddening

I sometimes want to call out from the other side of the oleanders: Est-ce que vous vous rendez compte qu'il y a des gens qui vivent ici? Do you realize that people live here? Instead, I run for cover. But escaping into the house doesn’t bring the quiet I am hoping for, as none of our upstairs windows have le double-vitrage, or double glazing—worse, they vibrate with each slam of the car door. I'm amazed at how many times a family of 4 can slam the doors. I lie in bed counting... un, deux, trois, huit?! Wait, someone's coming back for a forgotten towel, neuf, dix! Even if I had earplugs to block out the sound my nerve-drums hear it all.

If the daytime decibels weren't loud enough, nighttime is booming with le bruit...et la bagarre! Someone’s set off another pétard. A gaggle of teenagers are now running down the street, shrieking with glee. A block in the opposite direction and a fight's broken out. Hours later, people are heading home, but not before a few revelers make a pit stop at our hedges, trickle, trickle, trickle. And then, finally, the quiet of the early morning hours.

Then the garbage trucks arrive at 6 in all their thunderous glory. Finally I give up, get out of bed and head out to say good morning to Smokey and to my mom, who's reading in her butterfly chair.

"Did you hear those firecrackers? What a noisy night!" I say.
"Oh, I don't mind. We're in the South of France!"
I'm with Mom: it's all about perspective, and attitude is one way to drown out the claquements. (The screeching cicadas and our water fountain are good buffers, too). As for la foule passante, it helps to remember "this too shall pass"—but not before I mental-note more words, expressions, and juicy slang to share with you in the future. Therein lies the gift of going with the flow and tuning in to the passing crowd. 

One of the boardwalks in our town, La Ciotat, above a tiny fishing port and its colorful “pointus,” or wooden boats.

Summer Reading: The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien Charles


blindé de monde = packed full of people
la terrasse
= patio, balcony
la foule passante = the passing crowd
C’est blindé = it’s packed
C’est la folie = it’s crazy
la belle-sœur = sister-in-law
C’est le bordel = it’s a mess!
le pois chiche = chickpea
= slang
la bagarre = fight, brawl
le bruit = noise
le pétard = firecracker
boule Quies = ear plugs (named after a popular brand, quies signifies calm, tranquility)
la miction = urinating
= public
le désagrément = annoyance, unpleasantness
la poubelle
= garbage can
le sable = sand
le claquement = slam, slamming
le numéro d'immatriculation = license plat number

Our front yard
One-half of our front garden. The other half is looking like the desert this sizzling time of year.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much 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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Just a little correction it is Bondé not blindé.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for your kind note and for the term bondé. I will add it to my repertoire! Blindé is used by my family, and may be a southern French term? See the fourth entry here, at wordreference.com:

Elaine Street

There are some very comfortable noise reduction earplugs called Fernida. I bought them on Amazon. Have you thought about trying; temporary insulation on the inside your fence., a tall wall, speakers with white noise or sounds of ocean waves in your trees? If you create a way to control this, you could sell it to many others in your position.

What a dilemma!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for these ideas, Elaine. Many of the neighbors have tall concrete walls along the street side of their property. 


The pictured part of your garden is gorgeous. Enjoy!


Oh how I’m missing the south of France and the beaches this time of year. So much so I bought the books Aix Marks The Spot and My 25 Years in Provenance plus watched Murder in Provence on Netflix. Maybe next year! Thanks for sharing your daily life!❤️

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Rina. My mom keeps it watered and that is making a big difference. 


That’s my favorite expression: qu’est-ce que c’est cet bordel! You can use it everywhere these days.

Trish NYC

My partner is originally from Haute-Savoie and he too says "blindé", especially when complaining about the Paris Métro!

Suzanne Dunaway

Oh, so sorry for the thoughtless summer visitor in the streets and on the beachs. We are so lucky to live on the OTHER side of town in our little village so we only hear the rock bands reverberating off the hills behind us, haha. Yes, summer is challenging....
Ear plugs, a good book, your maman nearby (lucky you), and a great family plus a chien sourde! What more could one ask for?

Cynthia Lewis

Thank you, Kristi and Jean-Marc, for all of the expressions and photos! I hope you don't have to use them too much this summer. Your garden is lovely ... hats off to Jules for keeping it watered during such hot dry weather. Best wishes for all!

Karen in NY

I can relate to summer crowd problems in beach towns. But if you're looking for extra blessings to count, I'm betting you don't check the weather service every morning to see if there are tropical storms headed your way. You know, blow off your roof and fill the first floor with sea water.
Any fun words for "ouragan"? Bordel will probably work...

Shirley  Babineaux

You are not really signed up for Zelle. I have tried to give you money three times and they keep telling me you are not registered. 💋

Sheryl Westenberger Wells

Dear Kristi,

We had to send our 13 1/2 year old beautiful golden retriever, Mulligan, to doggie heaven on Monday, June 13, 2022.
He is now running with the butterflies. He will always be in our heart. Hugs and kisses to your dear Smokey.


Linda Darsie

I love Smokey. I remember when he was attacked as a puppy! 13 already?! My Rough Coated Collie, Colleen, turned 12 on March 17. My vet said that she might have a case of “selective deafness”, and “hears” what she chooses to hear. Funny.... I remember my son and daughter “suffering” from the same malady!!! 🤣🤣🤣

Love to you all, from Rockford, IL.


Diane Heinecke

Loved all the new slang, Kristi. Near the beach here in southeast Georgia (U.S.A.) the residents have the same complaints during the summer. And we city dwellers wish WE lived near the beach. You can't win...

Kristin Espinasse

Oh, Sheryl, my heart goes out to you. Sweet Mulligan will be missed this side of the ocean, too. I love the cheerful image of him running with the butterflies. Sending hugs and love. 💕🐾💕🐾

Gerry Forth

Oh Kristi,
At least our little apartment building doesn’t have hedges, but we can relate to all the other sounds of summer. Thank you for the sentence on ‘don’t you realize people live here.’ I am going to repurpose it to ‘sleep here,’ but i promise not to use it until after 1 a.m. We do want visitors to enjoy our village as we do.

At least we have summer.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Shirley,
Thank you for trying and for allowing me to clarify here. I am at Bank of America and registered there to use Zelle via my email address. If you are at B of A, or another bank that offers Zelle transfers, then this will work, as I have received reader donations via Zelle before. You will need to look for the Zelle logo in your online banking, then enter my email address for the recipient: [email protected]

Merci encore for your interest in supporting my journal!


Hi Kristi,
I love repeating the vocabulary after JM....I love saying le pois chiche!
I would not like men peeing on my hedges. That's really inconsiderate! Could you put up a sign that says "Smile..you are on camera" lol

Tristan Sophia

I love seeing Smokey! I've been following you since he was a pup and remembering hearing about his attack by another dog. It is heart wrenching to see him at 13, but I guess we've all aged along with him. Give him a kiss from me, I've loved him from afar for 13 years. Merci beaucoup for your blog, I'm still hoping to make it to the South of France one day soon.

Kitty Wilsn-Pote

Kristi, this is so much fun (except how my nose wrinkles at the reminder of “la miction publique”; did get used to it there, years ago, but again seems a strange practice now!)

I am language curious: in your title, why did you choose to use 'Worse' rather than 'Worst'? Could be Americans use that form, whereas those of us with Brit ties have always said, "the worst thing about ..."? Would love to know, if you can tell me. Just now editing an ms by a fellow Canadian, so am super-usage-conscious today! No one else commenting has wondered, so 'the worse thing about' must be common usage for others too.

Merci for this vivid and cheerful example of 'turning poison into medicine' by perceiving unwelcome racket as the soundtrack of L'Eté Chez Vous. Your descriptive powers are non-pareil, as always.

K.J. Laramie

Sorry to hear this! 😓
Have you thought of renting your house and making extra cash to find a quieter substitute to lease for a more peaceful existence during the summer months, maybe on a cooler lake in the mountains? A handyman / property manager could be offered room and board in ‘the Grandma suite’ to maintain your rental property with it’s beautiful garden. If this person could also make a wonderful breakfast, it would make a very convenient beach town B&B. I’m sure it would be very popular! And lucrative.


You are in the South of France - as your mother said. Yes, that would compensate me for all the noise - just to be in the South of France!! Such beauty - your first picture inspires me to paint. Enjoy your weekend. Eileen has a very good idea. Might make them think twice.

Kristin Espinasse

K.J., This is a great idea. What holds me back is the idea of packing and organizing it all. But it would be worth the effort!

Kristin Espinasse

Kitty, I had a doubt when I used *worse*, and am glad you brought it up. I am not sure if it is American usage, (I doubt it). Also, thanks for the compliment, but it is your colorful comments that I find so delightful. Merci! 

Kristin Espinasse

Tristan, I will definitely give him that kiss for you. Smokey is doing well, and still loves to walk and play ball. He’s always showing up for a treat (cold bananas are a summer favorite of his).

Kristin Espinasse

Eileen, JM will be happy to know you like his recordings. I love that you repeat the words! Re the hedges, can you believe it?! Max caught a guy and asked him:
“Just what do you think you are doing?”
The guy answered: “Just watering the plants!”

K.J. Laramie

We’ve been to several B&B’s, beautiful and unique with special touches galore, family games, and every convenience of home. I think most owners keep their own personal items and valuables under lock and key in the garage or in a padlocked closet. No need to pack too much, Kristi, for your chalet get-away!

Rob Curran

“C’est la bordel!” Bordel est masculin. Mais les femmes du bordel sont féminines.

Rob Curran

Be thankful that it's not Americans making the noise outside your garden. "Amerloques" would be ten times louder. "Sotto voce" = "does not compute" with Yankee tourists.

Anne Umphrey

Kristi, I love reading your little stories. It has been about 62 years since I studied French in high school. However, I
love the phrases and have picked up a little French here and there. One thing puzzles me. I am often In Vermont where I grew up. Everywhere you see a trash bin and it is labeled “la poubelle”. I always think what a delightful word that rolls so sweetly off your tongue and is the name of a dirty old thing.

Anne Umphrey

Kristi, another comment, this one about the miscreant who was watering your bushes. How about putting up a sign that says, “ these bushes don’t need watering”

Nancy Prushinski

I have often wondered...which is the correct French spelling of Marseille/Marseilles?

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Rob, for the correction, and for the fun terms in your follow up note! Off to correct ce bordel!

Martin Wiltshire

Quelle horreur........Try Penge

Martin  Wiltshire

Love Smokie...sorry tired and moaning....i love your site and the words i learn...one day i might be nearly fluent.....randomly i found Radio Doum Doum from marseile


I hope you can drown out the sounds somehow and enjoy the summer!


I love this one! Many years ago our city organized a Slogan for (our city) Contest...My entry was "Welcome to (Our City), My Hedges Are Your Toilet"...I did not win. Perhaps I should have gone with my 2nd attempt, "Welcome to (Our City), Where My Business is Your Business and Your Business is My Business" (it's a small city!)...At least you are in the South of France. Thank God for Mom!

Donna Blanton

Salut Kristi d'Atlanta!

When I saw the title of your recent post 'The Worst Thing about Summer in the South of France' alongside that darling photo of your Smokey, I immediately thought:

Ouais, un chien au Sud de la France en été, c'est LA 'CANICULE' - truly the dog-days of summer! MDR! ;D

Je te souhaite un été plein de bonheur et de soleil!


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