6 Postcards from France: Les Cartes Postales
Something to Celebrate!

Advice for Each Decade of Life & Surrender: A Mother Daughter update

Cafe de l'horloge la ciotat france
Would this picture be good for the La Ciotat postcard series? Thanks for your helpful feedback and for your postcard orders this week! I am enjoying the quiet, mindful activity of addressing envelopes and my handwriting is slowly improving :-)

TODAY’S WORD: s'abandonner

: to surrender yourself to, to unburden yourself 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

As I walked into Le Café de L’Horloge two customers seated near le comptoir offered a warm bonjour.

"Boh-wher!" I replied, or tried to. For once it wasn't my faulty accent to blame. The freezing Mistral had numbed my face during the 30-minute walk to Port Vieux, where I was meeting my daughter for lunch. I waved goodbye to the diners after Jackie arrived, and the two of us headed upstairs to share a quiet booth with a view. "Isn't it cozy here? I love this place. It is open all day," Jackie said rubbing her hands together to warm them.

Hungry, I searched for la carte. "It's tucked inside that book..." my daughter pointed out.
"Oh, nice!" This artsy café had a charming literary twist (there are more books next door at the Emmaus bookshop). I reached for the menu inside a  paperback by Sylvain Tesson: "S'Abandonner à Vivre." Surrender to Live...

For now, we were surrendering to our appetites. Jackie suggested the bagel with salmon and la soupe de poireaux. A young woman from Paris took our order and disappeared down the stairs. "One more week of classes!" I said to my 25-year-old, who was completing a 4-week computer course offered by Pôle Emploi, the French national employment agency.

"Yes, but then what?" my daughter began to worry again. After some thought, I reminded her of a bit of wisdom I'd overheard recently:

In your twenties, try everything.
In your thirties, figure out what you do best.
In your forties, make money from what you do best.
Try not to do much in your fifties.

If I could say that in French it might go something like this:

Dans la vingtaine, essayez tout.
Dans la trentaine, découvrez ce que vous faites de mieux.
Dans la quarantaine, gagnez de l'argent avec ce que vous faites de mieux.
Essayez de ne pas faire grand-chose à la cinquantaine.

At 25 and 55 my daughter and I are at opposite ends of the career spectrum--between "essayez tout" et "ne pas faire grand-chose"--with Jackie trying everything between bartending and computer coding and me slowing down. Yikes. If Jackie has her doubts so do I (dois-je ralentir?).  And yet here we are, holding each other up with cheers and bouts of laughter.

"I'm going to embarrass you," I smile, giving my daughter an extra big bear hug back outside the café.
"No, you're not embarrassing me!" Jackie hugs back. We laugh and say our goodbyes before my daughter returns to computer class. She is anxious to see the 3D objet de déco she's designed which has just been cut out by a laser printer. It boggles my mind. Who knows what they'll print next. ..Baguettes? 

What would I do without my daughter? I think, on the cold walk home alone. Have I been present during lunch? Am I paying attention? Have I missed anything? I remember her smile. How she spoke to me in French and, catching herself, reverted to English. I think about the way Jackie ordered our lunch, poured the water, and spread chocolate over our shared gauffre before reaching into her purse for two euros, "I'll leave the pourboire." She is so calm. You’d never know she struggles with doubts and fears and anxieties.

Yet, she is showing me how to laugh at life. On the drive to pick up my daughter from class in the centre ville, I see her waiting on the side of the road. Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of a patrol car in my rear-view mirror...et c'est la panique! As I drive by my daughter my eyes widen and I begin wagging my finger back and forth, signaling I CAN'T STOP NOW! (Not in the middle of the road as usual.)

Finally, I pull over and my daughter, catching up to the car, opens the door. Neither of us can speak, we are laughing so hard. Eyes glistening with tears, we look at each other with comic relief. On rigole, et on rigole encore!

"Mom! You should have seen your face. I just knew you were going to freak! You and the cops! Toi et les flics--C'est toute une histoire! The fits of laughter continue until I have to wipe my eyes in order to drive. Fear and uncertainty have gone for the moment. These old foes will be back, but for now, we can laugh!

Well, dear reader, it is time to sum up today's story and bid you au revoir. So, no matter your age, be sure to slow down, try everything, and remember laughter is a form of surrender. Abandonnons-nous tous à vivre!

P.S. The next time you see cops and panic, do what the French do: whisper Vingt-Deux les Flics! ("Twenty-two the cops!") It doesn't mean anything. It's just funny and kind of freeing!  

I thought it would be interesting to continue the "Advice for Each Decade" info cited above. Will you add your experience and wisdom to the comments section and whether or not you agree with the 20s, 30s, 40s, an 50s advice? To rephrase:

In your twenties, try everything.
In your thirties, figure out what you do best.
In your forties, make money from what you do best.
Try not to do much in your fifties.
In your sixties (fill in blank)
In your seventies (fill in blank)
In your eighties (fill in blank)
In your nineties (fill in blank)
At 100 (fill in blank, and merci to our readers who are nearing la centaine!)

Cafe de l horloge street view
View looking down to the cobbled streets of La Ciotat.

Jules in la ciotat at cafe l horloge
Can you spy my mom in the background? Photo of Jules taken a few years ago in front of Café l'Horloge, at 7 Rue Albert et Georges Arnoux, 13600 La Ciotat. A nice place for coffee, lunch, or apéros!

AUDIO FILE: Listen to the French vocabulary list

Click here to begin listening

s'abondonner = to surrender oneself
le Café de L'Horloge = The Clock Café
le comptoir
= bar, counter
Le Port Vieux = The Old Port in La Ciotat
la carte = the menu
la soupe de poireaux = leek soup
le pôle emploi = job center, unemployment office
dois-je ralentir? = should I slow down?
objet de déco = decorative object
la gaufre = waffle
le pourboire = tip, gratuity
rigoler = to laugh
toi et les flics = you and the cops
c'est toute une histoire = it's quite a story
amicalement = yours, kind regards
un apéro = pre-dinner drink

Cartes postales post cards
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J Sand

You brought tears to my eyes, Kristi. Love your relationship with Jackie.

In your sixties, stop working when you can
In your seventies, travel travel travel and spend time with friends and family.
In your eighties, continue to eat healthily and exercise.
In your nineties, reflect on your accomplishments and cherish memories.
At 100, do whatever you damn well want and are able to do!

Suzanne Dunaway

You have better photos to use than the one today. It is a bit somber and grey, not at all like your lovely colorful photos, which I think will sell welll.

In your sixties wear the same crazy clothes you wore before and keep in shape to wear that string bikini on the beash. Just don't stay too long and remembr your sunscreen.
In your seventies you might just have an inkling that you are not 40. Same clothes..no sun, more naps...but with your honey, that's a plus!.
In your eighties...well, you suddenly realize you are not 50! Keep in shape with Pahla B on video for 20 minutes a day, and your same clothes will still fit, haha. You would LOVE her videos. Very positive and she's wacky.
In your nineties (fill in blank)Don't know yet but you will probably not thread a needle as well as before and remember, what other people think of you is NONE of your business. I love that.
At 100 (fill in blank, and merci to our readers who are nearing la centaine!) Not sure at all that this stage of the fame is necesary but I am such a wuss about death and dying that I'll just wear the same clothes and hug my honey more that I do even now and that's A LOT!


I'm in my seventies and still running my shop. Wouldn't give it up for anything. 42 years and counting. We've travelled extensively all our lives, including the Overland Trip from Australia to Europe in 1970, there's not much I'm pining to see any more.
In your seventies - keep on keeping on if you're enjoying it.....is my advice.
Keeps you fit and curious = vital and young.


sixties--find a new recreational pursuit with friends. Petanque, kayakimg, walking, painting etc.
seventies--become lovably eccentric with your enthusiam for projects - photography, the garden etc. Develop a new 'dream' about the future
eighties --become an 'activist' on social projects assisting young people.
nineties--slow down a but but don't stop!
100--let your kindly shared wisdom be for friends like sunlight coming through a beautiful stained glass window
At ALL decades--excercise regularly, eat sensibly but most of all --maintain the friendship of younger people

I have a 94 YO friend who people love to meet each week. He's fun and fit and interested.My mother had young friends until 99 and still joked to the end.


I think I must be going backwards according to your age chart :-
In my 50s I was divorced, moved to France alone, trekked to Everest Base Csmp and unable to continue working had to retire. Started travelling alone visiting relatives spread around Europe.
In my 60s continued travelling and birth of grandchildren.
Now in my 70s and continuing as before. Definitely no time to slow down. We’ll see what the rest of the decade brings…………………..



bonjour tous et toutes. Loved the post and many thanks for all of the advice as we grow.

K. J. Laramie

Do what you love and find a way to get paid for it …. at any age!

Love the picture with the keys! I once used a collection of old keys to create a tree with many branches on a wall-hanging.
The key is a metaphor for the point inside your brain which opens to the infinite where all the answers remain, pure and unquestioned, through meditation. Fear is turned into faith. Anxiety is only a wispy cloud to be observed unattached as a play floating by.

Jeanne Govert

I your 60’s move to Paris for 2 years and meet Kristin Espinasse!
In your 70’s relive that time and write a book about it!

Jennie Q

I love the first cafe photo for your series. It is real life. Not all days are bright colors. I’ll buy a whole set of cafe photos. [please continue and let me know when you have a cafe series.

Sue Lennox

Having a daughter (or two in my case) is a great gift for a Mom, especially as one becomes a “person of a certain age”!


Bonjour Kristi

22, v'là les flics ! est une expression française familière, voire argotique, qui est employée lorsque quelqu'un tient à avertir les membres d'un groupe dont il fait partie qu'il s'agit de fuir un danger. Elle ressortit au milieu de la pègre ou des truands dans les films noirs par exemple.


Suzanne in NJ

What a lovely time you had with Jackie! Yes, that photo would make a wonderful postcard. I want to be there eating la soupe de poireaux especially on a cold day. The old port looks like an interesting place to explore. That corner reminds me of the 7th arr. in Paris. Your story about the flics made me laugh too. We all get so paranoid ...


Very good advice! Merci!


I think the opposite of Suzanne D. - I love the photos. They create a mood for me and bring back memories of early morning walks or the contrast of the outdoors with the warmth of the inviting glow through the windows. This post resonated with me as I turn 70 this year and am struggling with what do I do now? Merci!

Kristin Espinasse

Excellent! Merci, Emmanuel! 


Hi Kristi,
Thanks for the wonderful story! Cherish your time with Jackie!
I am relaxing a bit in my 60's and I made a vision board for the first time ever and it was really fun!
Blessings to you and your family! Thanks for sharing your stories and wonderful photos and postcards!

andrew kleeger

I'm rather amazed that you say your handwriting is improving as you're addressing all these packets of cards ... mine does the exact opposite! As my hand and wrist tire, my handwriting resembles (more) the random scratches of your chickens!


La foto è bellissima!!

Chris Maxfield

Hi Kristi,

Nice photo of the café, but I think it would be improved by 1) having people in it, or 2) showing its warm interior lighting at dusk (similar to your later photo), or 3) both!

I always enjoy your photos. Wouldn't mind if you included more!


SusanIrene B

In your 70s - use those precious things that you have been saving.


At 78, I’m still trying to work this out 🤔. Enjoyed reading the perspectives!

Sarah LaBelle

My life did not follow that pattern, not as to work. I found my career in college, worked in it happily and with satisfaction until my 40s. Then I was fully disabled from work, a total surprise. My income fell, and was then based on my prior work. Had I not worked at two good jobs — no income now! The disability stopped travel pretty much. I am in les soixant-dix, la vie n’est pas du tout comme la vie de mes sœurs et mes frères. Mon petit frère est en Autriche aujourd’hui, il fait du ski. Je regarde ses merveilleuses photos.

I did try lots outside work in my 20s, and am glad I have those memories. My big trip to Europe, my first time backpacking in the US in mountains! More backpacking in mountains in my early 30s, then various physical issues ended that decade. I had one week in England when I was 39, started to learn how limiting the disease was when I had to return to the hotel to nap midday, not walk all day as I wanted.

Find love in les vingts, puis les enfants. Like your life, which has been full and rich with experiences and people.

I like the photo with Gambader (the stone steps and 2 dogs, posted in February) and also Patissier, Chocolatier from 14 février. Aussi, les pointus de La Ciotat, tous en enfilade.


Kristi, your photos and little vignettes bring such joy to my busy days working as a French teacher, in my 50s because we need health insurance! So even if I can't slow down, I can live vicariously through your stories and photos. I too have two daughters with whom i would LOVE to share lunch with but alas, live in other states. You are so blessed. un jour, j'espere qu'on se rencontrera en personne.

Kathy Heckathorn


Karla Ober

Thanks for another great post, Kristi!
Here's my contribution: In your 60s, follow your passions!

Alice Shupe

I agree with all of these!! In my late 60's now and want to be sure I do all I want before this body wears out, which it will eventually even with all the good nutrition etc. Here's to living life well at any age!

Alice Shupe

such a lovely "snapshot" of the joy you and Jackie shared that day. Long may it continue! I have two daughters with whom I am close and we share many laughs and joys, as well as the hard things. Such a blessing💕.

Lauren Golden

I guess no one mentioned what you should do in your teens (or before). Learn to play an instrument. You'll have that pleasure through-out all the other decades.

Leslie NYC

I like both photos of the café very much:
The first because it draws me in and has that vibrant, cinematic slice of sky.
The second because of the glowing inside and the chic & sporty man walking with his dog. Such a real street scene.
I am in my sixties(when did that happen?) and would say do better now( as in "when you know better, do better", trying to get Angelou's words right.
Read the good books.
Give hungry people food and money.
Take care of your well-being.
See great art.
Follow the seasons.
Rest often.
Move your ass.
Eat deliciously.
Express love.
Thank everyone.
Pet the dog--any dog.


Recently read “The Light of Paris” by Eleanor Brown and enjoyed it very much. It’s a bit on topic for the discussion today about stages of life and how we tend to lose touch with things which ignited our spirit when we were young. It alternates between a young woman examining her life’s direction and her discovery of a similar dilemma that her grandmother experienced.

Barbara Stephano

Chère Kristi, j’aime bien la perspective dans ta photo de café dans la rue. Il fait signe l’inconnu - très artistique!
Bisous , Barbara


Great advice, everyone!


Tomorrow, which is already today for you, I can retire from the fire dept as I turn 55, but I will stay at least another year. All I want to do is to continue to travel as long as I can. Today brings challenges with my adult kids and parents who need me more now. So as I go into the second half of m 50's I plan to do more for myself because except for that travel each year I never do it. So I'm tired most of the time, and worry about getting older. Actually its more like worrying what genetics has in store for me. I like the advice of others above. Staying active is the secret to staying around to enjoy those later years.

In my 20's I made mistakes, except for my kids
In my 30's or 32 to be exact I left my husband, joined the fire dept, ended up on the orad to a 22 year career in it, raised my kids, and enjoyed life.
In my 40's the same, adding travel.
In my 50's the body started to feel older, though I can still hold my own with the young guys at work. Who knows what the rest of life will bring, but one thing I do know is I plan for many adventures. Take care Kristin. I wish the same for you.

Patricia Sands

Les clés! Be sure to include a photo of your fabulous collection!


Loved all these posts, and related well to your precious relationship with your daughter (yes, I am similarly blessed). Now with hindsight, I can see that: in my twenties, I did try many interests and philosophies; in my thirties, I did those things I had always wanted to do, such as take drum lessons (I was terrible, but gained an appreciation for those who can control 4 limbs doing 4 different things; in my forties, I finally realized that no one “has it all together,” so I could just relax and do as well as I could in the areas I felt competent, and develop a strong spiritual base; in my fifties, I began realizing that time is short and retired early in order to enjoy the precious company of my husband; in my sixties, I made sure to arrange and treasure time with my family, including children and grandchildren, and started using my gifts (everyone has them) of teaching and facilitating in meaningful ways; in my seventies, since my husband of 51 years went to be with the Lord, I have developed skills in ALL the areas he had handled in order to lead a fulfilling life where I am humbly open to all the special people He sent my way to encourage and assist my walk. If I can say anything about life, it is good!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Lynne. Sounds like a good one. I will add this to the book list in this blog’s sidebar.

Maureen McCormick

J'adore la photo du jour !

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi! Your story is like a bouquet of cheery tulips or a glimpse of spring! I feel as if I'm laughing along with you and Jackie. This cafe looks to be my ideal place to hang out, converse and dream. I imagine we'd meet here often to share with each other our experience of being in our fifties. I think it would make the perfect postcard! Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your day! Love, Stacy


Everything we learn to do in life will somehow benefit you later. Perform every job to your best ability. That habit will benefit you.

Jeanine Woods

J’adore ce poste. Les filles sont spéciales, c’est la vérité! Aussi, j’aime la photo des bâtiments français avec les rues étroites. C’est charmant et pittoresque. Et finalement, je suis dans mes années soixantes et mon avis pour ce décennie est : essayez beaucoup, ne travaillez pas trop, aimer vos petits enfants, pardonnez, et prenez soin do votre corps et cerveau !


Moi aussi, c'est une bonne idée!


Dear Kristi, I remember your post from what was probably many years ago, though it feels like it was very recent, about driving Jackie somewhere and panicking when you thought that a police office was about to stop you. This story reminded me of that incident, and I wonder whether you and Jackie also thought of that memory.

As a 40-year-old at the start of a new career, I hope that it's okay to veer away from the advice you mentioned. Perhaps I'm a late bloomer, but in truth, I have always wanted to be une bibliothécaire and am proud of having recently completed my second Masters degree to allow me to pursue this new career. As some say, 40 is the new 20/30, so I'll go with that. :)

Kristin Espinasse

I am so happy to read your update. Congratulations on completing your second masters and may you find much joy in your new career as bibliothécaire! 
P.S. Thank you for remembering the story from years ago. I need to find it and link it to the current post. 

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