"Bisettes"- a favorite new word + photo essay with family updates
Feu! Fire! Scary mystery solved here at home

La Colocation: Jackie's house-share in Lyon is featured in the evening news!

Lyon Leon fish brasserie france
In the video at the end of today's column, see our daughter's cool house-share in Lyon--featured recently on the evening news!

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TODAY'S WORD: la colocation

    : house-share, apartment-share

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Carapace + pattes = carapater

At the weekend farmers market, I learned the most adorable French word: carapater. To better understand and appreciate this clever portmanteau--this mot-valise--let's conjure up an image of a carapace. Next, in your mind's eye, of some little feet, or pattes. Now imagine a turtle hurrying off.

"Carapter. C'est sympa ce mot!" I said to the woman behind the vegetable stand, who'd just murmured it. "Attention," she'd said, eyeing the orange she'd just set on the table. "Elle est en train de carapater!" It's getting away!

I watched the orange roll a little farther before grabbing it and bagging it with the rest of the newly-purchased fruits and vegetables. "Merci! Au revoir!"

"...Et bonjour à ta maman!

"Ce sera fait! Merci!"

On my way home from the Saturday market, I began to imagine this week's post--excited to have a new and colorful word in which to weld it together with more bits and pieces of family life... which brings us to our first photo:

Souder = to weld. Just look at those golden sparks! On Monday, my sister-in-law came over to repair a few metal meubles chez nous: there was the broken brasero (ours is placed on a wine barrel--perfect height!) and several of our green metal garden chairs had come apart (where the lower back meets the seat). After, we had lunch and enjoyed the cream-filled Tarte Tropézienne Cécile brought over:

Cétait une tuerie = It was to die for! This two-piece brioche cake is filled with a thick layer of lemon and vanilla cream, and topped with pearl sugar.

Tarte tropezienne cream cake france

Une part = a slice. Jean-Marc had two slices and Cécile and I had  1.5 slices... Then we tried to walk them off... all the way to the port....

 Se sauver carapater wooden boat
carapater = to scramble off.  When exiting his little wooden boat, it is vital to hurry off the edge of the bow before it glides away from the dock. Jean-Marc has mastered this technique and, as far as I know, hasn't fallen in the water yet... (Do you think he would tell me if he has?)
 Still life
La pochette surprise = surprise bag.  Cécile returned home to Marseilles with this little surprise bag...later, she texted me this lovely still life, composed of plants in our garden: dried "soucis" petals (calendula), dried bay laurel, aloe vera, kumquat, a calendula flower and a postcard of local doves in flight. The note says "a few little surprises for my favorite belle-soeur (this last part is an inside joke, as we are each other's only sister-in-law :-)

Kristi gravier gravelGravier = gravel Here's a peak at the newly-poured pea gravel. We are thrilled with this new space, which brightens up the front yard. This reconstruction was "a good that came of a bad" un bien issu d'un mal as, sadly, we lost our two magnificent palm trees to a palm moth (the larva feeds in the palm trunks).

Palm tree
Les palmiers = palm trees. Here's a photo of the two palmiers, from the blog archives. That's Max, who was upset with us for losing those trees. The fact is, after losing the first palm tree (it was too late to save it) we looked into anti-moth treatments to the tune of 300 euros per year (!). We opted not to treat the remaining tree as there was no guarantee this would save it and I didn't want the chemicals falling over the rest of our garden.

After Jean-Marc took down the second palm tree (all on his own), he then split a 500-liter wine barrel and made two deep planters, setting one atop the palm tree stump which he had leveled near the ground. Now tomatoes and vegetables will grow in its place.

Doves in a wine barrel
Ouistiti! = Cheese! Meantime the barrel is a fun prop for a couple of photogenic doves, none other than Mama and Papa who are willing models. A few sunflower seeds and they're happy to say "cheese!" 

Tchin-tchin= cheers. Max, came over for dinner before leaving for ProWein in Dusseldorf. He will be at the German Wine Fair through Tuesday. He continues to thrive in the wine business, following in his dad's tracks. Here they are toasting a Gigondas from Jean-Marc's cellar.
La colocation = house-share, apartment-share. I leave you with a news report featuring Jackie's new house-share in Lyon! Our daughter was in school when the episode was filmed, but you will be able to see the inside of the house she shares with 12 other locataires, or renters. Click here to see the report (the house is shown after a brief commercial).



Click here to listen to the following list in French

la colocation = house-share, apartment-share
= to flee, to run off
le mot-valise
= portmanteau
attention = watch out
= thanks
au revoir
= goodbye
c'est sympa ce mot
= that's a nice word
= to weld
le meuble = furniture
le brasero = brazier, barbecue
la tarte tropézienne
= The St. Tropez pie
une part
= a slice
c'est une tuerie
= it's to die for
le soucis = marigold, calendula
la belle-soeur
= sister-in-law
le gravier = gravel
un bien issu d'un mal
= a good that comes of a bad
ouistiti = cheese ("say cheese!")
= cheers
la/le locataire
= renter
une bisette = small kiss
un fauteuil = armchair

Lili cat garden furniture
Jean-Marc, putting together new chairs for the garden, and Lili, trying one out. Jules offered Jean-Marc the fauteuils for his birthday, which is coming up.

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Carapater reminds me, tangentially, of a phrase I've heard here, 'here we go like a herd of turtles.' Lol, it always makes me laugh.


Hi Kristi,

I love the word ouistiti...:-)

Sorry you lost your palm trees. We have to treat our Ash and native fringe trees because of the Emerald Ash Borer. There are so many insects that destroy beautiful trees!

I hope Jackie is enjoying Lyon! We loved visiting that city a few years ago!


Suzanne in NJ

Your "new" front yard looks so inviting. Certainly, made a good thing from something bad.

Cheryl McCarthy

Chère Kristi
Quel dommage -- le video France-Radio sur la colocation est en panne, votre lien ici marche mais pas le video.
Je me demande si c'est une problem à la station pour les auditeurs outre-manche (Angleterre) car je ne peux pas voir aucun de ses videos!


For years, I thought my French friends were saying whiskey when they were actually saying ouistiti. 😹I think it’s a kind of monkey, if memory serves me right.

Kristin Espinasse

Merci pour l’info, Cheryl. C’est dommage.

Was anyone reading this able to see the video?



Hi Kristi,
The video does not open. C’est dommage !
Love your front yard. The big rage in Connecticut and maybe further is to create rock gardens or forget the grass and create a place for wildflowers and such. It is better for the environment and for the birds and many other animals and including bees and insects. You are environmentally astute. Thank you for being proactive.
Peace, Kathleen


I'm on Vancouver Island, and I could access it. I had a little trouble figuring out the word "co-living" pronounced the French way!! It sounded like colibri at first!

Chris Allin

Yes, I was…the whole video! It opened right up.

Lauren Juliet Golden

The video was very interesting and good for my French practice, but I couldn't see where your daughter's house was.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Lauren, My daughter’s house, which she shares with 12 other renters, is shown in the first two minutes of the video. They mainly filmed the interior. You can see the kitchen (with 2 refrigerators...), the living room, the stairwell, and one of the studios. 

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Lynne!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Chris!

Sarah LaBelle

I saw the video, no problems, except that I learned I am not quick enough to understand the quick speech in a news program. It seemed like most were in the same training, is that right?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Sarah, No, Jackie is the only one in web design school. But there is another renter who works in computer coding. The others have various jobs, in sales, etc. 


I was able to open the video, but I didn't see any "house". The video started with news items and then ended at a cafe, presumably in Lyon. No interior houses or apartments.

Meg N.

The link opened for me, but on a piece about blocking a street because of "rodeo". I don't think a rodeo in Lyons is the same as a rodeo in Wyoming. Cétait une tuerie is delightful. The cake looks delicious. It's a pity, about your palm trees (sorry Max...) but what you've done with the space is most inviting.


Hi Kristin,
Sadly, I had the same experience as An Scott with the video (which was very interesting in an unintended way!). I could only access the news clips and café, but nothing on Jackie’s house or it’s interior. C’est la vie!
I do love how you have “made lemonade out of lemons” with your new front yard and the loss of your beautiful palms….it looks stunning and trés modern. Enjoy it all.

Lauren Juliet Golden

Thank you for your response but, helas, il y a seulement les nouvelles, le cafe, un batiment Juif je pense. C'est tout! Je suis curieuse de voir l'appartement.

Gail Jernberg

I could see the correct video. It's the March 14th episode. You have to scroll down and find the earlier episodes and select the one for March 14.

Lauren Juliet Golden

Merci Gail!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Gail! So helpful.

Richard Kahane

The reason some people are having trouble with finding the TV program is that your line leads to the most current broadcast of the program, "Lyon 19/20.". To find the broadcast with the story on houseshares, go to t he bottom of the linked page and look for "Émission du mardi 14 mars 2023."

And by the way a useful (and related) slang word if "coloc," meaning roommate or housemate. (It is short for "colocataire"and is the same masculine or feminine.)

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Richard. I understand now what happened and have entered a new link for readers to click on. I think this solves the issue. Merci encore!

Judi Miller

The 'house' looks fantastic! Better than most single apartments that students usually have to rent. I'm glad she has company, with another student who is in a coding class!

The pea gravel looks great!! - I'm very sorry though about the palm trees! I think I may have lost my beautiful birch tree and am very sad. It was so graceful and brought me much pleasure looking upon it from my kitchen window. I keep watching, hoping for a bud or too, maybe it's just too early still, but I'll keep watching!


Coucou Kristi !

Attention . . . "Elle et en train de carapater!" . . . est en train de

Your cake looks amazing! Given how little was left over, I gather it tasted as good as it looked.

Bonne journée,

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Maureen, for catching that one. The little mistake almost got away. La faute...elle était en train de carapatter!

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