Piquer: Guess who moved out of our house and stole away with our stuff?
“La Douloureuse”: A funny way to say “the check” + A Tourist Trap, Beware!

Vadrouiller: 7 updates while we roam around La Maddalena

beach cove sea fennel plant nature La Maddalena Italy
A serene island cove off the Mediterranean sea coast of Sardinia

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


 TODAY’S WORD: vadrouiller 

: wander, meander, roam around 


FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce vadrouiller and all the French words in this edition. 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 

Bonjour from Italy ou on vadrouille. My husband and I are roaming around une petite île off the NE coast of Sardinia. So, for this week’s nouvelle, instead of writing a story, which would require full concentration, let’s enjoy some bribes (breebs) or “brief updates”. I think this is win-win or gagnant-gagnant for us both because you will have some variety and I will get to wander around some topics—as well as some island topography. Allons-y

  • Chapeau! Congratulations to my dad for his recent efforts to acquire a second language (Spanish). He has studied 80 days straight, anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours per stint, in order to parler espagnol. Really proud of him. (Though I wish he’d parler français.)

  • On allume les bougies. September 23rd. Time to light some candles—76 to be exact. Today is Jules’ birthday. Joyeux anniversaire, Maman! You are a LIGHT in our lives and your wisdom makes us stop and think and be more loving. 

  • Les Cendres - Have you ever seen a loved one’s ashes? I hadn't, which is why it took 2 months to get up the courage to pry open Smokey’s urn. To my surprise my dog’s cendres weren’t scary, nor were they gray and black. They looked like sand on the beach. While beautiful isn’t the word to describe cremated remains, those ashes were peaceful and so was the burial, thanks to the help of my husband. Alongside the urn, the package I received contained a paper heart soaked in flower seeds, which we planted among the ashes. 

  • Les Noces de Nickel: As go wedding anniversaries, 28 years corresponds to “nickel” and signifies resistance, malleability and equilibrium…

  • Sardo-Corse : the language spoken by locals here on the island of La Maddalena, where we arrived Wednesday morning. C’est dépaysant, Jean-Marc said. Italy is exotic, compared to France and a nice place to celebrate our 28-year union.

  • Une greffe - Tuesday I will have eye surgery to remove a “pterygium.” It’s a condition people from the desert or the seaside or from ski areas sometimes get. The harsh conditions (sand and sun) cause the eye to grow a protective layer...and when it spreads as far as the iris it can obstruct vision. Because pterygiums can grow back after removal, a graft is recommended… Mama Mia! (I wonder if that means “ouch” in Italian—or Help me, Mom!)

  • If you don’t hear from me next week it’s because I’ll be strutting around my neighborhood showing off a cool new eye patch. But more likely I’ll be resting in bed watching YouTube with my free eye. Jean-Marc has recommended a classic called La Grande Vadrouille. It’s a comedy and you know what they say about humor, le rire c’est la meilleure médecine.

Bye for now and see you when I see you.


P.S. After the vocabulary section, enjoy photos from Sardinia and La Maddalena

B7308FA1-E76C-428F-8167-07E12BA3317DLa grand-mère et la petite-fille. grandmother and granddaughter, Jules and Jackie. Photo taken Sunday, on Jackie’s own birthday—her 25th. 


ou on vadrouille = where we’re wandering around

une petite île = a little island

une nouvelle = story

allons-y = let’s go

gagnant-gagnant = win-win

Chapeau! = bravo!

parler espagnol = to speak Spanish

parler français = to speak French

on allume les bougies = we’re lighting some candles

Joyeux anniversaire, Maman! = Happy birthday, Mom

les cendres = ashes

les noces de nickel = nickel anniversary

c’est dépaysant = it’s a good change of scenery 

une greffe = a graft

La Grande Vadrouille = The Great Stroll

le rire c’est la meilleure médecine = laughter is the best medicine




Sardinia Italy fisherman basket village steps

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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Happy Anniversary and good luck with your eye surgery on Tuesday! I'll be thinking of you!

Barb friedman

Happy happy birthday to Jules and best wishes on your eye procedure.


La Grand Vadrouille is a fun film!

Lois Stewart

Bravo Jean Marc -- I never, ever, laughed so hard at ANYTHING as I did at La Grande Vadrouille with Louis deFunes and Bourville in Paris in the 60's.

Mary Elizabeth Earhart

Bonjour Kristi--Bonne chance avec l'operation a Mardi. Mes penses sont avec vous.
Mary Elizabeth


Bon anniversaire à Jules. She's still a few months younger than I am!


And to you, good luck with the eye procedure. My Lasik surgery many years ago and cataract surgeries more recently were both easy-peasy, so I hope yours will be too.

Sharon Marchisello

Joyeux anniversaire a Jules et bonne chance avec l'operation!

Carolyn Rider Chase

Wonderful post - thanks for bringing us along via photos!! Happy Birthday to Jules. We also mourn losing our 15 year old Tucker cat. Happy Anniversary - 28 years is a great time. You've won and triumphed over many challenges. At 55 years I can attest it's worth the effort.
Sending love.

Geraldine Ventura

so many bon wishes to Jules, you and Marc , and for your eye surgery! God bless all of you!

Ron Cann

In that picture of your Mom with Jackie, with that hat and her hand on her jaw and the angle of her face, she looks a lot like you (or I guess, in reality, you look a lot like her.) It hasn't always been so evident from the photos you post.
Hope the surgery and recovery are not too difficult. Always enjoy your column.

Karen Cafarella

Happy Birthday Jules and Jackie. Happy Anniversary to you and Jean Marc. Love the photos, what a beautiful place to celebrate. Good Luck on your eye surgery as well. Sending big hugs.


great photos and happy anniversary. We all need to get away, relax and just drop out of the times every so often. So, enjoy the rest of your time. Don't fret, don' worry, just be in the moment with Jean-Marc.

Leslie NYC

Coucou de Bandol!
Je vous souhaite du bonheur avec tout les célébrations et la chirurgie.
Je visite la plage ici chaque soir à six heures. Le monde départ et je n'ai pas le souci de brûler. La mer me nourrit. Aussi le dépaysement.

Alanna Strong

I predict (with no other reason or proof than my own successful pterygium removal) that your eye surgery will be a piece of cake and you will be so happy afterwards! No more catching of your eyelid over a scratchy eye.
Enjoy your Italian adventure! and HBD to the amazing Jules and the darling Jaqueline.
PS did your dad study on duolingo?

Karen Vigneron

J'habitais La Madd dans les annees 80. C'est bien la revoir. Et Castelsardo, j'ai un bureau en bois massif fait par un artisan de la-bas.

Lisa Smith

Surrounding you with love and healing for your surgery, and recovery (!), and happiest wishes to you and Jean-Marc, and joyeux anniversaire to dear Jules.
*And merci mille for your continued artistry. x

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Alanna, for your assuring words. And yes, Duolingo is the program Dad is using. He is very happy with it! 

Kristin Espinasse

Enjoy Bandol, Leslie. Are you at Renée Cros beach? Sorry to miss you this time!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Ron. I hear we look a lot alike. Facebook thinks so, and its robot will sometimes identify a photo of me and suggest it is my Mom. 

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Passant! That is good to know. 


I wish you all the best with surgery. I’m surprised they don’t want you to rest both eyes.

Happy anniversary! And happy birthday to Jules!

Ove’s ashes were sealed shut forever in a beautiful box carved in India. We received a paw print in a mold within a frame.

Gail Larson

Happy 28th ! You are an inspiration to me always! What a gift each time I find your lovely stories in my inbox. So happy to hear that you and your beau are enjoying Sardinia. The last European adventure that I talked my honey into was in 2015. We were in Sardinia. Such a lovely place and such warm people! I doubt that we will return together again to Europe but what a great memory I will always cherish. I hope some day 5o come your way when I travel alone to France and visit your wine shop. You will never know how much your writing helps to bring peace to my heart in these uncertain days. Bless you dear Kristen.


Good luck with the eye procedure. And promise yourself that you will wear wrap-around sunglasses every day (even cloudy days) when you go outside. This is the best way to protect our eyes.

Congrats to you and Jean-Marc on your anniversary! And a virtual bouquet to Jules for her birthday.

Your posts bring great joy to me and I am ever so grateful.


Patricia Nelson

Sending you both my warmest congratulations on your wedding anniversary. Good luck with your eye surgery on Tuesday.Happy birthday to Jules and Jackie. YOu are so like your lovely mother.Be gentle with yourself about Smokie. It will get easier. I promise.

Susan Leigh Blough

Bonjour, Kristi, J’étais à Meursault en Bourgogne la semaine dernière. L’office du tourisme a été très fièr que le film la Grande Vadrouille a été filmée à Meursault. Il faut que je le regarde!
Nous sommes de retour en France, mais malheureusement mon mari est devenu malade le jour après son arrivée, avec the covid, et je suis malade aussi aujourd’hui.
Susan and Larry d’Idaho


Hi Kristi;
I had surgery for a pterygium 8 years ago and it went really well and was an easy recovery time. My eyepatch was not nearly has stylish as I'd hoped! It looked like I had a bar of soap covering my eye! 😂

I hope your surgery is as successful as mine was!

Kristin Espinasse

Oh, zut ! I was hoping for a rock-n-roll eyepatch but I suspect it ne be the bar soap style, too. Good to read about your quick recovery. Thanks.


Happy Belated Anniversary, Kristi, and JM!!

I wish you all the best for a successful surgery, and speedy recovery!

Tamara Dever

Wishing Jules a blessed birthday and you and Jean-Marc a blessed anniversary! we'll be praying for your surgery next week. Sending hugs!

Suzanne Dunaway

Just make sure to eat spaghetti with botarga....Squisito!!!!! Good luck with your eye. In bocca al lupo!!!!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Tami, for the prayers!

Gerry Forth

Congratulations to you both at the 28-year mark. It reflects great mutual love and commitment. Many more to come.

Vance Anderson-Inks

I was with Jules, and Jackie on Jules birthday in 2017. We went to her favorite Chinese restaurant.
I would send a picture if I could add an attachment.
Happy birthday Jules, and Jackie.


Nice to know that there are quite places to visit in Europe. I wonder if any one else remembers an episode of Benny Hill, involving an "epic" Olympic Hide and Seek race. Just as one team was about to give up, a participant looked down and found a clue, an empty can of sardines. He knew, of course, that the other team must be hiding in Sardinia! Off to Sardinia, where indeed, the two teams found the prize at exactly the same time, after a race of hours, minutes and seconds. The race ended in a tie, and they would have to do the entire Olympic event again.
I don't think I made it up.

Cynthia Lewis

Gracious ... so many important dates to celebrate! Heartfelt congratulations to Jules and Jacki and to you and Jean Marc.
I'll be thinking of you when you have your eye surgery next week. I feel certain all will go well.
Thank you for the beautiful photos which you sent while "wandering". (Wonder how the super tall basket someone is weaving on the steep steps will be used?)
Best wishes always

Henry Lambert

Bonsoir K m’y friend Alice and I will be in Nice next week. Would you please give us the address of JM’s wine shop. We would like to drop by. Henry

Diane Heinecke

La Maddalena looks intriguing and peaceful. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. And when you return wish your mom a happy birthday. (We're the same age!) I'll be praying for you Tuesday. It just happens that I will have cataract surgery, both eyes, in October. Quelle coincidence!

Judy Feldman

Joyeux anniversaire, Kristi et Jean Marc! Looks like a lovely place to celebrate 28 years together!

Kristin Espinasse

That would be great, Henry, if you and Alice stopped by. But we are 2 hours from Nice! Also, Jean-Marc is not working on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday. 

Here is the address. Contact us to set up a time. 

Le Vin Sobre
45 Voie Ariane
13600 La Ciotat 

Joanne Ablan

Vous avez toujours les très bonnes vacances, Kristi. J'espère que tous va bien avec la chirugie.
Comme ton pére j'aime aussi le Duolingo. Je parle français avec une chouette chaque jour. C'est
un peu bizarre, n'est-ce pas?!

Leslie NYC

Yes! I am two blocks from there, on Rue des écoles. What an enchanting place, and it has what I call a beginner's ocean, which I love. The sea washes away my cares. If you weren't busy with surgery, I'd say let's have coffee or a swim. Meanwhile, wishing you the best this Tuesday.

Betty Gleason

Love and blessings to you and your family as you celebrate your individual and joint milestones. Bon courage for your eye surgery; they are usually a snap. You can always make a decorative eye patch to go over a utilitarian one.
I miss corresponding with Jules. Say “hi” to her from me. I am recuperating from a stroke, but all is well. As my 102 year old neighbor says, “Life goes on!”

K. J. Laramie

Endless joy and congratulations to all! 💕💓💕
This blog always brightens, and enlightens, my day.
🙏 for your successful eye surgery… and a jolie patch to match.😎

Dawn Johnson

Joyeux anniversaire to your maman. Jules. She and I share the same birthday and I do hope I get to meet her someday. I will be praying for a successful easy surgery for you. And Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc

Gwyneth Perrier

So much news in this post! Bon anniversaire à votre maman ! And the very best of luck for a successful eye surgery. Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc!

Brenda Pfel

Beautiful Scenery. Reminds me a bit of Villefranche sur mer. Will pray that the surgery goes well and that there’s no “mama mia”

Sue J.

Sending prayers your way for a smooth surgery, Kristi.

Jeanine Woods

Je prie pour vous et que ton operation sera facile et reussi. Félicitations et bon anniversaire de mariage. Et bon vacances! J'adore vos photos!

Julie Farrar

How did I miss this one! I love that red car(?)!

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