Redémarrer: Bonjour. An update from Kristi
Vadrouiller: 7 updates while we roam around La Maddalena

Piquer: Guess who moved out of our house and stole away with our stuff?

Son Max apartment mirror cutting board painting
Max, working from his new îlot central. After 8 months of renovation, our son is finally settled into his new appartement.  

Visiting La Ciotat or a nearby town? Stop in and see us at Jean-Marc's wineshop. Call ahead and we'll set up a visit.

Today's Word: piquer
    : prick, bite, sting
    : to steal, nab, nick

Her Own Legacy Chateau de VerzatHer Own Legacy by Debra Borchert: A Woman Fights for Her Legacy as the French Revolution Erupts. Available in paperback or read it on Kindle

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce piquer +hear all of 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 Kristi Espinasse
Lunch Chez Max

Mom and I were driving to Max's new digs when I cautionned my passenger for the nième time to Hang on! 

But what is there to hang on to when you are seated with a cactus? We had just bought the prickly housewarming gift at la pépinière's, only to discover it was too tall to fit into the back of our jeep. That left the passenger seat....

As the tires eased over another nid-de-poule in the road, Jules shielded herself with a flimsy towel, using it as a barrier between her and the spiky cadeau which was set on the floorboard and stood level with Mom's shoulders. By the time we arrived at Max's condo complex, both driver and passenger were already worn out from the gift-buying adventure. Only now there were four flights of stairs to climb (pas d'ascenseur), to make it to Max's pad.

Introducting FLOF = "Free Lunch on Friday"...
We are so proud of Max for the way he planned and orchestrated the renovation of his appart (make that "condo" in English,  because even if apartments and condos look similar in France, in some cultures you don't buy an apartment--you rent one). Max called on friends and family for all works associated with his condo and managed this bighearted team on his own. Max and Uncle Jacques demolished walls and Jacques put in the dry wall, Aunt Cécile did the woodwork, architect friend Zoë drew up a floorplan, pal Clément installed the electricity, best friend Yann, his brother, and father put in the floortiles, Anaïs added many loving final touches and Jean-Marc and I did various errands and a lot of cooking! In the 8 months it took Max et compagnie to renovate his apartment, and while he continued to live here at home--nourri, logé, blanchi--I often hinted that it would be nice to eat chez lui one day. "We can call it FLOF! Free Lunch on Fridays!" Thus, FLOF was born and here we were, about to enjoy a meal--our first FLOF--chez Max! 

But, as guests...what to buy for someone who has everything? Let me tell you a little bit about how that happened. First, do you know the verb in French for "swipe" or "steal"? It's "piquer"! Here are some examples/funny synonyms of piquer--as well as a list of missing items from our family home:

Max a piqué le canapé... he nabbed the couch

il a piqué le gel douche... he pinched the shower gel 

il a piqué la lessive... he pilfered the laundry detergent

il a piqué le miroir... he lifted the mirror

il a piqué la table de nuit... he swiped the nightstand

il a piqué le repose-pied ... he stole the foot rest

il a piqué trois tabourets de la cave de Jean-Marc... he took three bar stools from Jean-Marc's wineshop

il a piqué la planche à découper...and he ran off with the cutting board!

(He yanked that last item right out from beneath the veggies I was about to chop! And, as usual, he offered a grinning and irresistable explanation: he's taken these items in the name of sentimentality. He grew up with a lot of this stuff--and would like it to live on chez lui. Blame it on la nostalgie!) As for the shower gel and clothes soap, his sister stole it back. (Go, Jackie!) I'd like Aunt Cécile's cutting board returned, but it does look good in Max's kitchen and who can resist that devilish grin, that twinkle in his eyes that says: it's mine now

Despite all that our son looted, I still got him an early crémaillière present. So, you might ask, what does one offer someone who steals? (Quelqu'un qui pique?)

Something piquant, of course!

And so, dear reader, we got him a cactus.


Chez son Max french mirror cactus basket apartment la ciotat
The cactus gives a touch of Max's southwest American roots.

While saving for a dining room table, Max is using this foldout card table (also snatched from our place...). He got the bistro chairs free, too, from our friend Fabrice, at Le Vin Sobre Marseilles, who was clearing out his own wine shop. The chess board was a gift from grand-mère Michèle-France, years ago. Max's cork bar stools (you can barely see one there at the kitchen island) are are available here. The bar stool reminds us of a champage cork and the wire cage surrounding it. 

Related Stories from the Blog Archives:
Mortgage is a Creepy Word... (Max looks to buy an appartement
Nid-de-Poule - insight into one of our vocab words via a story Max wrote when he was in high school
Cécile's work - a story about my belle-soeur

un îlot central (de cuisine) = kitchen island
un appartement = condo
piquer = pinch, nab, nick, steal
nième = umpteenth
la pépinière = the garden center, nursery
le nid-de-poule = pothhole
le cadeau = present
nourri, logé, blanchi = "fed, housed, laundered", the term is often used in a humorous, sarcastic sense
Max a piqué le canapé = he nabbed the couch
il a piqué le gel douche = he pinched the shower gel
il a piqué la lessive = he pilftered the laundry detergent
il a piqué le miroir = he lifted the mirrorµ
il a piqué la table de nuit = he swiped the nightstand
il a piqué le repose-pied = he stole the foot rest
il a piqué trois tabourets de la cave de Jean-Marc = he took three bar stools from Jean-Marc's wineshop
il a piquer la planche à découper...and he took off with the cutting board
la crémaillère = housewarming party
piquant(e) = prickly

Max Jules tv Queen Elizabeth death
Max and his grand-mère, Jules

Max and Jules
Feathers and clouds... 

Jean-marc pasta chez max mirrir
Jean-Marc enjoying Max's pasta. Max also made a delicious green salad and served Magnum ice cream chocolate pops for dessert.

Kristi and son Max

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Couldn't read this blog without saying what lovely apartment (or condo!) Max has made, with his friends and family's help - it's gorgeous! He has good sense (choosing his place and getting help with the improvement work) and good taste (decor and design) and it's lovely to hear about FLOF. Heartwarming that he has taken things which he grew up with, to make his new home with some of the old home. May he have many happy times there - congratulations to Max on obtaining this first place of his own and congratulations to you and Marc on raising such a wonderful young man (and your wonderful young woman, Jacqui, also!). You must all be very proud of your achievements. Enjoy!

Lynn ar Southern Fried French

Félicitations, Max! Magnifique! How nice to see you so grown up and in your own place. We have all watched you grow up! We’ll done.


good taste! Love the mirror, no wonder he stole it :-)


Susan Stafford

Well done, Max! It’s a classy and comfortable apartment. You have a good sense of design. Wonderful to have such generous friends and family to lend a hand and furnishings. :) Enjoy your new digs!

Suzanne Codi

Congratulations on your new digs, Max, and also to the renovation crew! Being married to someone in the business, and having done a lot of this work myself, I can tell you all did a fantastic job! Love the wall colors too. Enjoy!

Suzanne Dunaway

Don't tell me there's a mirror over the stove - holy tamale!

Kristin Espinasse

Haha! That is the mirror he swiped...from my own stovetop. It used to reflect all the green outside our kitchen window. Now, chez Max, it reflects the sea. He has a small view of the Mediterranean and now he can also see it while cooking. The only negative is grease marks, but they are not to hard to keep up with.

Karla Ober

Terrific story as always! On the blog archive link for nid- de poule, may I suggest “insight” instead of “incite”?


Maureen McCormick

Bon boulot, Max ! Or, as we say in my house, Bumbelo !

Kristi, you'll want to remove the accent: le cadeau = présent

Bonne journée, les Espinasses et grand-mère !

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for catching that, Maureen. So helpful. And I love Bumbelo!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Karla. Off to fix this one, and much appreciated!


Correction: it's not nieme, it's enieme with an accent grave over the second "e".

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for your note, Gail. As far as I can see there are two possible ways to spell umpteenth in French:ème

Suzanne M Dennis

Max's condo is fantastique! Having met him 13 or 14 years ago it is so nice to see him in his own place as a young adult. That cactus looks perfect against the sage wall with the tv. Is he is La Ciotat or a nearby town? Congratulations to all of his friends and relatives who made this possible.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Suzanne. Cécile helped him with the wall color. He lives in La Ciotat, too!

Sue Lennox

What a gorgeous pad for Max! And kudos to him for such organization of workers to accomplish the task. How proud of him you must be!

Henry Lambert

Mais sa mère l’aime.


Brilliant choice on Max's part of his condo, with its light and airy aspect. And such good work and design in all of the renovation! Bravo Max and team FAF (Family and Friends)!

K.J. Laramie

What a handsome place for a handsome young man!

Such a great story about giving and receiving love, too!

Happiness and the best of times to you all!


Hi Kristi,
What a nice apartment and I love the balcony! So nice that he is right there in La Ciotat!
The mirror looks great and I love the cactus! Is it a saguaro?
Have a lovely weekend!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Eileen, Saguaro—that is my guess too. Thanks and enjoy your weekend, too.

LeeAnn Bartolini

Just wanted you to know that we stopped at Jean-Luc's wine shop in May. He was not working, but his assistant was and we purchased 6 delicious bottles for our journey in the south.
The apartment is great.Congratulations.

Jill Mather

I get the mirror over the stove thing. I didn't have a mirror over my stove but a microwave with a dark glass door. Behind me was a big picture window overlooking our lake and I could stand at the stove and see the reflection of the lake with boats going by, birds and waves. Great when you're waiting for something to boil, etc. Always enjoyed that!

Judy Feldman

Max’s appart looks great - so modern & stylish! Love the stools! So perfect for Max. And, the cactus is an excellent choice (I’m slightly prejudiced, being from AZ).

Julie Zoeller

It’s so exciting to see our children thrive and blossom! Congratulations and enjoy the FLOFs!

Beth Fiacco

What a fun story, Kristi! I fully understand how our sons can persuade us mothers with those twinkling eyes and smiles. And how the sisters who set things straight! Bravo Max! Un très cool apart! p.s. - love the cactus - way to represent from Arizona!! ♥

Karen Cafarella

Love Max’s apartment and looks like a beautiful view. Best of Luck to him.

Diana weaver

I’m trying to find a great rosé.. I bought yours on a trip to Washington DC , but now I need more and I don’t yours is available near me. So what other one would you or John Mark recommend? There are too many for me to find one by trial and error. Merci


Waouh! Quel appart! Trés chic!


Bravo to Max. The apartment is fabulous and the cactus is perfect in every way. It definitely references his southwestern heritage and also reminds me of Jules time in Mexico.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Diana, I just sent a note to Max and JM and hope to get back to you. What city are you in? It will depend on your location.

Vance Anderson-Inks

Wow, Please tell Max I am very impressed, and a Hello to Cecile from the very appreciative American she took to la gare.

Barbara Stephano

Chère Kristi,
Les phrases utilisant piquer étaient hilarantes!
Chin-chin, Max!
Bisous, Barbara

Cate Salenger

Chere Kristi,

What a lovely place he's got! Looks like my dream home. Perfect in every way, especially with all your nice things. When I left home to go to college at 18 my father accused me of putting the house on wheels and taking it all. The truth is, I hardly took at thing because I moved into an apartment the size of a closet. Oh well.


maryann 'mimi" taylor

wow! time goes by. Max has grown into a handsome man

Douglas Bullis

Chere Kristi,
Have you or any of your readers ever wondered what everyday life was like in France three hundred year ago? Six hundred? Nine hundred? People like you and me, but way back then? Imagine for a moment a you-are-there cinema-like account of daily life in 1003, 1193, 1260, 1346, 1440, 1539, and so on. Today, as we look at the tohubohu of daily life around us, we can't imagine what life must have been like before electronics, self-powered vehicles, water we can drink, and prise électrique with wires coming out that give us light, warmth, and easy-to-prepare meals that would be fit for gastronomic royalty two hundred years ago.
Now imagine stepping back fifty years into France in the early 1970s. Would daily life in 1973 more resemble modern life, or life centuries gone by? I lived and travelled all over France and Francophone Morocco back then, and came away with detailed diary notes and photo slides of what life was like even so short a time ago. Mere jottings then, I came across them three years ago stuffed into a box I had forgotten for forty-five years. I was shocked: this was living history—and the diaries and photos described a world more like centuries prior than today.

So I wrote a book about daily life in France starting in the year 1003, progressing one or two days per century all the way up to 1975. I wrote it so the readers will feel as though they are walking side-by-side with people who lived in 1193, 1260, 1518, 1660 … all the way up to 1975.

Still that wasn’t enough. Words would be inadequate to fully get across the tenor of the times for we who live unimaginably distant from them. Hence I went back to pictorial images that were produced during the years described in the chapters. Illuminated manuscripts, Books of Hours, drawings, frescoes, engravings. It is astounding how much pictorial evidence exists of daily life in the thirteenth, fifteenth, or eighteenth centuries. I illustrated the book with 240 images that go back as far as 1171. Daily life reality in ancient France has never had so vivid a rendering.

To belabour the point no further, the book, called “Book of Days” (emulating the myriad Books of Hours produced between the 1300s and 1600s), is available for FREE to anyone who wants to download and read it. You and your readers can peruse and download it at .

Could you please post this for your readers? The daily lives of people long ago are just as real as our neighbours and your son Max at the chessboard in his dining table today

Thank you,
Douglas Bullis,
South Africa

Douglas Bullis

Kristi, the web link is


Wow..I missed this post from last year. I can't believe Max is all grown up now with his own beautiful apartment. I've been following these stories since I moved to France ~18/19 years ago. The kids have grown up, there have been several moves, there is always a wonderful adventure to read about.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Aleta, for reading this post from the archives. I am so touched to know you began reading when the kids were little. Wishing you a lovely rest of the summer. À bientôt. 💕

Marianne Rankin

I must have missed this post, and just saw the comments when reading about Max's new place.

I tried the link sent by Doug Bullis, but got a message that it said it couldn't find the page I was looking for. Is the "Book of Days' somewhere?

Marianne Rankin

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Marianne,

Try this link:


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