What to serve our Guests? (and "Bob's Your Uncle" in French)
Today is The Day! Something mammoth to celebrate!

Every Francophiles Favorite F Word + 2 Days in Paris!

Montmartre Paris France sacre coeur church
Evening in Paris is a magical time to flâner. Rounding a corner in Montmartre the Sacré Coeur Basilica came into view unexpectedly and took my breath away. Don't miss today's story, below.

TODAY'S WORD: flâner

    : stroll, wander, roam, saunter, meander
    : to laze about, to be idle

La flânerie = loafing, idleness

La flânerie, n’est pas seulement délicieuse ; elle est utile. C’est un bain de santé qui rend la vigueur et la souplesse à tout l’être ; à l’esprit comme au corps ; c’est le signe et la fête de la liberté . Strolling is not only delicious; it is useful. It is a bath of health which gives back vigor and flexibility to all the being; to the mind as to the body; it is the sign and the festival of freedom. -Henri Frédéric Amiel

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French quote and all French terms in this 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

On the train up to the capital I tapped my daughter on the arm. The TGV passenger in seat 661 pulled out her earpods. "Oui, Maman," she smiled patiently.
"Sweetie, we still haven't come up with a plan for our two days in Paris. Actually, we only have this afternoon, this evening, and all day tomorrow in the city. What would you like to do?”

"Hmm. Let me think about that. I'm a little hungry now. Did you say you brought a picnic for the train?"

"I did!" Reaching into my purse, I pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "I made you two: one on healthy bread and the other on the good bread! There's also an apple, some Snickers, and a bag of walnuts if you like--and some water!" 

 “Aw, thanks, Mom." Jackie said. "Well, how about dinner and a cabaret at Le Moulin Rouge?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that…” I said, wondering if the iconic cabaret was family friendly? Why not see The Nutcracker instead? No, Christmas was two months away.... Oh, what did I know about cultural activities anyway? I don't go to operas or ballets. They give me itchy legs. I can't sit still. Was there a Lady and The Tramp show? No, that was at Disneyland Paris, some twenty years ago. Jackie was five-years-old at the time. She is all grown up now and I've got to finally readjust my motherly lens, from the little girl of my heart to a grown woman--ever in my heart.   

"Don't worry about it Mom. We'll just walk around Paris and see..."

A scenic walkabout? I was tired already. This all sounded much better as a French verb... flâner!

Still, I didn’t know if my sore back could handle that much flânerie. But this was no time to be a wimp, or, as the French say une chochotte. For how often does one get the chance to visit The City of Light—even when one lives in France? And when would I see my youngest child again? Only one of us was coming home to La Ciotat this time. The other was about to fly off again, from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Seattle to who-knows-where after?

Even if this strolling strategy, this unfocused flânerie, was doable, la météo, which forecasted la pluie, could put a damper on our mother-daughter escapade. Finally, without some sort of itinerary, we might waste our time in this prized destination: historic Pa-ree! Just what were we in for then? As always, I tried to visualize every scenario, unsure of what to expect. Then again, expectation so often leads to disappointment. So why not go along with Jackie’s idea of a meandering--a carefree and much-needed vagabondage--and, as Yves Montand so famously sang, flâner sur les Grands Boulevards! After all, action leads to discovery, all we needed to do was put one foot in front of the other...and the streets of Paris would reveal a treasure of possibilities.

    *    *    *
I will tell you more about our time in Paris once I have organized my notes. Meantime, in the coming weeks, I'll be writing about matters closer to home, sharing a few updates about my Mom, her unexpected and grumpy companion, and a meaningful milestone in my career. Thank you, as ever, for reading!  

mother and daughter paris trip umbrella streets of paris rain

Paris coffee shop
A few more photos taken while flaning around Paris. 

max ana boyfriend girlfriend paris getaway
We bumped into a couple other flâneurs in Paris: my son, Max, and his girlfriend, Ana, who snapped the mother-daughter photo, above.

le bottier parisien cordonnerie shoe repair key maker

Dogs in Montmartre tableaux st pierre gravures paris montmartre
Dogs in the cobbled streets of Montmartre. I like this moody image of a woman walking her dogs, snapped while walking arm-in-arm with Jackie.

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Suzanne H. Bandy

Dear Kristi,
Thank you! Returned from a month of travel which included Paris and your reminiscence had me smiling. We met our daughter and son-in-law after spending time traveling with friends going from to Dunkirk across Normandy to St. Nazaire. After some days in Paris it was on to explore the Jura region of France and staying in Arbois before returning to the US. You now have an unrequested travelogue, but you provided an opportunity for wonderful reminiscing. Look forward to each and everyone of your posts.


Welcome to Seattle area Jackie. Hope you make to the Yakima Valley Wine area.


Flâner has always been my favorite French verb. I even named a former dog Flânerie, and she was true to her name: much more fond of the art of strolling than putting in good run. Of course, I had to constantly explain that no, she wasn't named for Flannery O'Connor ;-).

Suzanne in NJ

There is no better city than Paris to meander. Around every corner is another little "village." Looking forward to hearing more about your visit and about Jackie's next adventure!


To wander in Paris is to be reborn! I’m glad you had that bittersweet time with Jackie. Please send more photos & stories- so I can live vicariously!


We just spent 5 days in Paris at the end of our Eastern European cruise trip and just did le Flaneur thing as well. We stayed for the 1st time in Montmartre on a quiet street and loved walking around there, even if rain greeted us. We left just as demonstrations were starting and a general strike. Ah Paree! Back to LA & home to Taos.


Hi Kristi. Remember that we’re in Walla Walla if Jackie needs anything. BTW, I tried your tomato pie and crust last week - delicious!


Just thinking about favorite movies with a French Connection. In both Midnight and Paris and Sabrina, the main characters said that Paris is best in the rain. Amusez-vous bien!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Darcey!

Kristin Espinasse

That is so well said, Judi. Yes, to wander in Paris is to be reborn!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the lovely welcome, Muriel!

Kristin Espinasse

Suzanne, Sounds like a lovely visit. Thanks for sharing!

Kristin Espinasse

Merci, Joan!


Hi Kristi- I believe Paris is the ‘city of light’. Not lights. Reference to it’s being a Center of learning - light.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you! I was just in the middle of correcting this when your helpful email arrived. I was trying to remember how not to forget the spelling the next time, when I saw the French words La Ville Lumière (singular). Merci encore. 


Paris - who said Paris is always a good idea? Sabrina? Any weather is ok with me in Paris. How lovely to share that time with your daughter. thanks for sharing with us.

cynthia Lewis

Your photo of the Sacré Coeur is magical! Thanks for taking us on your walk around Paris with Jackie. "Bonne chance" to you, Jackie, as you head to Seattle. I have a granddaughter who plans to move there in January ... small world.
P.S. I like to call your "stories" vignettes. Since it is the same word in French and in English, it fits. Best wishes!

Pamela Hutchings

Merci Kristin for mentioning my book, A Visit to the Monastery! That is so kind of you! I have sent a gift of appreciation! Best wishes to you and your family!

Kristin Espinasse

You are welcome! Jean-Marc and Jules both loved your book, too. 
Thank you very much for your gift, Pamela!


And, in addition to Yakima, Walla Walla is a great destination for all things wine!


Is your book about monasteries in general or a specific one? I'm a fan of monasteries :)

Judy Feldman

Love the photo of you and Jackie under the umbrella! A sweet remembrance before her departure to a new adventure! I wish her the best, and should she decide to visit Phoenix, we are here for her!

Joanne Fischer

We just got back from a month in Europe, most of it spent in France and on our last day in Paris we strolled for 7 miles. It was a perfect blue sky day. My favorite way to spend a day in Paris!


Hi Kristi,
Paris is a flâneurs paradise. I love to wonder the streets and discover little shops and great boulangeries. My poor husband has been having back problems, but he’ll walk with me especially when we are not near any convenient metro stops. This September, while in Paris, we strolled around Île de la Cité and Île St. Louis. As we walked past Notre Dame, we read the placards depicting the fire and restoration. How sad to see it mutilated.
Peace, Kathleen

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi,
I am happy to hear that you enjoyed a getaway to Paris with Jackie. I can't think of a better plan then to meander and find inspiration as it comes. That is such a wonderful quote to which I must make note of! This describes how I feel when I have the freedom to wander.

Please have Jackie reach out to me if she needs anything while in the Seattle area.

I look forward to hearing more about your trip. xoxo

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, dear Stacy! Jackie leaves on Monday, but I will keep your offer in mind and let her know. 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Judy!


Hi Kristi,
What a fun trip with Jackie! I love just wandering when I travel with no set schedule! Love the photos!

Marianne Rankin

Will Jackie be working in Seattle? In the hospitality industry? I wish her lots of luck. If she gets to the D.C. area sometime, she can look me up.

Julie Farrar

I learned the "f" word early on and love the concept. My German friend and I met up in Metz with absolutely no plans except to see the cathedral. Even though it rained all weekend, we strolled multiple times from our lodgings on a canal barge into centreville, along the canal esplanade, criss-crossing the road to take photos of all the fountains and trees bursting with fall colors. We found a rue of the Dragon and a rue d'Enfer. We ate pretzels and crossed bridges over the multiple rivers. On every trip I take I plan for one thing each day and let the rest happen because sharing the time with my favorite people is always the best part. Bon chance to whatever awaits Jackie in Seattle.


Seattle is a wonderful city to explore. I just returned from a week there. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island so I could visit 525 Fern Cliff where my father grew up. It was a farm and is now sub-divided with many homes, but the farmhouse remains though it has been remodeled.
Back to Seattle—-we stayed at the Washington Athletic club at 6th and Union where my family stayed when we went to the Seattle World’s Fair to see the new Space Needle. Lilies Yang has her couture showroom just around the corner. Great seafood in Seattle: Wild Ginger is the best; it’s across from Benaroya Concert Hall at 3rd and Union. The Chihuily Glass Museum and Gardrns are a must see. Seattle’s old buildings have beautiful wooden interiors because of the lumber industry. Tell Jackie to go to the I ternational market for Oolong tea and sushi and groceries or go to the Pike Place Market for bouillabaisse and fabulous flowers! Get an orca card for the light rail and Metro when she needs a break from se flâner.


I just returned from 5 weeks in Europe and Paris was apart of that time. I strolled around despite the aches and pain of age. The Latin Quarter was my favorite this time as in the four times in Paris I had never walked to see the Pantheon. A walk in Pere Lachaise was also nice. I’m glad you had time with your daughter. Time away from the norms of life is always rewarding even if it is to say goodbye.

Robert McGowan

Been a big fan for years, Mme.Kristi. Isn't "esprit" in the Ariel quote also translated as "mind"?
Merci bien.


"Only one of us was coming home to La Ciotat this time."

Very powerful writing, Kristi. You don't whine, get teary, or complain--you simply state a fact. But it's a lonely fact, and the reader feels your pain (instead of thinking empty-nester, cliche, what did she expect?). This line is like Hemingway. You rock! Keep it up!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Marianne. We appreciate having you as a contact in the D.C. area! Jackie is in the States for a few more weeks...unless she decides to settle back down in the US. She is on a thoughtful break now....

Kristin Espinasse

Julie, Thanks, I loved what you said about traveling to a city:
On every trip I take I plan for one thing each day and let the rest happen because sharing the time with my favorite people is always the best part.

Kristin Espinasse

Joanne, After reading your note I want to go to Seattle. If I do, everything you mention is on my list! Thank you! 

Kristin Espinasse

Chère Buffy, I am sorry I missed the chance to see you. Thank you for mentioning aches and pains. I feel like une chochotte complaining about them in my 50s. My Mom likes to tease me: just wait another 25 years! I appreciate your mentioning the places you visited. Very helpful for the next time we are in Paris.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Robert! I appreciate the suggestion and the very kind words. They really keep me going! Off to edit that quote.

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Teresa, Thank you very much! Your note is a reminder to not tell too much and it is just the guidance I need today in my current writing and editing efforts. Merci encore for the serendipitous comment! Also, I have just ordered your book (Say It With Feeling). I am including the link here, for anyone who writes and may be interested: https://amzn.to/3VVzwks 

Teresa Meek

Hi Kristi,

I apologize--I'm catching up after a busy couple of weeks and just saw your comment. Thanks so much for ordering my little ebook, and for posting the link! I'm highly flattered! Even if you don't like the suggestions in the book, I hope you will enjoy the pictures. They were taken by my husband, a talented amateur photographer.

Thanks again. :)



But did you notice the Space Invader? (Above and to the left in your second photo.) They are guerrilla tile art that are scattered all around the city, always on the outside at the level of the premier étage. It is quite a game to spot them, and the many imitations and derivations that admirers have put up — e.g., on Rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais, there is a tile-pixelated Cheshire Cat!

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