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Soyons fous! A Mother-Daughter Trip to La Côte d’Azur

Villefranche-sur-Mer, where Jackie and I spent three days last week.


  let's be crazy" or "let's be wild". 

Soyons fous is a playful and light-hearted expression that encapsulates the idea of taking risks, having fun, and embracing the unexpected. It's a reminder that life is short and should be lived with enthusiasm and a willingness to explore new horizons.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Pour la cinquième fois, ever since our first trip together to Paris when she was 16, Jackie and I had the pleasure of experiencing a mother-daughter getaway. On Monday, my girl at the wheel of our Suzuki Jimny, we headed East along the A8 motorway, direction La Côte d’Azur. What should have been a 2-hour drive turned into 4 given “le traf” as we jokingly called it, though le trafic didn’t seem so long in Jackie’s company.

The moment I put my daughter in charge of this mini vacation, Jackie decided on a 3-day stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I had given my 25-year-old a budget and a green light to select our hébergement but she surprised me by making lunch and dinner reservations, too—including an evening in Monaco! It was time to let go of my purse strings and practice the French art of leisure and enjoyment, and there was something to celebrate as well:

“You have made it to midterm, Chouchou! Look how far you have come. I’m so proud of you!”

Six months ago Jackie made the decision to leave bartending and study UI (or User Interface Design). Her swift vocational changes (from Fashion design to bartending to web design may have given me whiplash, but each seemingly unrelated étape is bringing her closer to her field, or to a field of possibilities. Already, this 10-month intensive computer design course in Lyon has given her a host of useful and technical skills, from website creation and coding to logo design.

As we drive East towards the Riviera at a snail’s pace, I notice all the logos along the autoroute, and Jackie and I tchatche about everything from design to user experience (something we’ll soon be laughing about when we “experience” our hotel room…).

Our stay at Hôtel le Versailles began with a birdbath (for me) at the sink after our room’s shower was too complicated to operate, in spite of the hotel’s laminated diagram (a clue we weren’t the only befuddled bathers). Next, it was the light switches, les interupteurs, which didn’t correspond to the lamps and the plugs which were few and far between. None of the switches on the hairdryer worked, making me think it was the fault of the plugs again when really it was a matter of locating the push-button on the back. Mais bien sûr…but then why not eliminate (as most hotels do) all the other buttons for clarity? The electric blind couldn’t be raised…until we finally located the switch (yards away from the window, above my nightstand. No wonder my reading lamp didn’t work). Because the hotel was historic, and the staff, kind, we overlooked all these design flops and, instead, had a good laugh with each new discovery.

That first night we dined beneath the stars at Les Garçons, a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The braised beef over mashed potatoes was delicious and filling, so when the waiter presented the dessert menu there was some hesitation until, with a devilish smile he exclaimed “Soyons fous!” Go ahead. Be wild and crazy! Have some dessert.

From then on, soyons fous became the catchphrase of our escapade

Soyons fous! And so we threw caution to the wind, ordering the Menu du Château in Eze…
Soyons fous! And splurged on paninis at The Jasmin Grill & Lounge in Beaulieu-sur-Mer...
Soyons fous! And drove to Monaco for reservations at Sexy Tacos--this, after Jackie won at the Casino (that's a whole nother story)!

Gripping the passenger door as my daughter navigated our mère-fille adventure, I tried not to worry about accidents or the money being spent. And when we cruised past the morgue and a lonely cemetery, ça y est, I knew this carefree time with my youngest was as priceless as life itself.

As if reading my mind, Jackie said, “If I die before you j'aimerais être incinérée.” The unexpected comment, coming from a healthy young woman, was halting. This many days later I am all choked up remembering the conversation in which, for a moment, we stopped to think about death and a life without each other.

“Oh, Jackie. It is hard to talk about la mort (pronouncing it now, I’m struck by how similar it sounds to l’amour, or love). Taking a deep breath, I copied my youngest’s wishes. “I would like to be cremated too.”

There!  We'd said it!  “It is all such a mystery, Sweetie. All I want when we are gone…is to find each other on the other side…two heart-shaped bubbles floating through space!”

In the meantime here we are in the heart-shaped present moment. With a reminder to seize the day. Soyons fous!  My wallet is empty but this mini-vacation with my daughter was worth every penny. And after a cathartic conversation in our car my spirit is bouncing again, comme une bulle d’amour bridging the gap between now and The Ever After. I am a little less fearful of the unknown. After all, “There is no fear in love.”*

*1 John 4:18   

To read the comments or to leave one, click here. Include your town or city and a weather report (my Dad, if he's reading, will appreciate it and so will I!). Click here to comment.



Click here to listen to the soundfile of all the French

soyons fous!
= Be wild! Be crazy!
pour la cinquième fois = for the fifth time
la Côté d’Azur = “The Blue Coastline,” The French Riviera
le trafic  = traffic
l’hébergement = accommodation, lodgings
Les Garçons = The Waiters, The Guys
une escapade = getaway
le chouchou/ la chouchoute = the favorite 
une étape = a step (in a process)
tchatche (tchatcher) = to chat 
l’interrupteur = light switch
mais bien sûr = but of course
le panini = grilled sandwich 
ça y est! = that’s it!
la mort = death
l’amour = love
une bulle d’amour = a bubble of love


I want to extend a big thank you to the readers listed below who have recently sent in blog donations. Your contributions go a long way in not only backing this journal but also in inspiring me to maintain my writing momentum during the summer break. Your support means a lot, and I'm truly grateful. Amicalement, Kristi

Mary T.
Sally B.
Betty R.
Linda G.

David C.
Heather H.

Suzanne D.
Bernadette G.

Natalia,Rod and Mignons

“Que cet petit pourboire vous encouragerez de continuer.” David C.

"Thank you for your always wonderful posts!! Your words never fail to touch our hearts! Blessings always Calins et bises!" Natalia,Rod and Mignons

"I enjoyed The Lost Gardens. Both you and Jean-Marc chronicled your Life Journey with such candor and honesty. Your descriptive writing styles kept me reading and cheering you on." Bernadette G.


At Les Garçons

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Cynthia GS

Lovely post today, Kristi. Brava Jackie!
Cynthia in Bandol, 32 degrees 😉

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Cyn. So good to see you note. Hello from Jackie!

Mike Pearson

Joyeux anniversaire, Kristi! Il fait tres chaud et sec a Houston.

Diane Heinecke

Making memories is the best gift of all! Loved reading this. I was all smiles. Thanks for the photos. Jackie is as pretty as her mother. Greetings from a toasty (90° F.) & humid Brunswick, Georgia.


Greetings from Birmingham, Alabama. It's a very humid 100 degrees today!

Helen Johnstone

I know Villefranche well our French home is in Beaulieu sur mer, we often walk from Beaulieu to Villefranche down past Nellcote the villa thr Rolling Stones rented way backi time.

It’s a lovely walk you come out at the gare end of Villefranche🥰

Patricia Sands

Loved going along with you both. What fun!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Helen. I will tell Jackie and we will try walking between the towns next time 👌

Karen in Northport, NY

What better to spend on than experiences to treasure. Thanks for sharing. Brings back some very happy memories. Love the quirky hotel. I do have a technical question about the word "fou". Having just learned the expression "je m'en f__" I admit to a moment of pause reading this week's headline. What exactly did the server suggest? Oh, OK. So maybe je m'en f__ isn't that rude? Reminds me of shopping in Juarez, speaking my primary school Spanish, and having shopkeepers burst out laughing. I really have no idea... Summer here is still being kind. Highs in the 70'sF this week. Concert in the park last night got into the 60's F. Dug out a sweater. Prayers to those struggling with fire, flood, and heat.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Karen, Here the meaning of *fou* is *crazy* as in *reckless.*  The waiter jokingly suggested we be a little reckless—and live a little—in ordering dessert. 


What a fantastic mother-daughter getaway you've had. It's such an important reminder, to soyez fou, to seize the day. I'll make the most of mine today, in the suburbs of Toronto, where the overcast 19-degree weather feels autumnal.


I hope to make these kinds of memories with my daughters (currently ages 4 and 9 months), for so many years to come! What a joy to have this time away with Jackie.

-Kaitlin, Everett, Washington (Sunny and 76 F today - it’s lovely, and we hope the wildfire smoke remains at bay to enjoy it).


Thanks for sharing that special mother daughter time. i took my 35 yr old daughter to Rome,, Naples, & Amalfi Coast in April and enjoyed special moments with her. We did our own thing some of the time so she wouldn't tire of me , and overall it was memorable for both of us. I did invite her for my week in Paris in November--not sure if she is taking me up on the offer. Greetings from beautiful Taos, New Mexico where temps are in the 80s!! Best weather anywhere in the US this summer!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, dear Katia. P.S. I made a mistake in the spelling of soyons fou. There should be an s at the end: soyons fous! (And for us: soyons folles!) P.S.S. Are you back in Toronto on vacation?


Loved the post and especially your hotel room. Dean, my husband, and I stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam designed by art students and our room was called Hide and Seek. All of the switches and door knobs were hidden behind, inside boxes or in another manner. It was on purpose, but yours sounds like they didn’t quite know what they were doing.
Enjoy your trips with Jackie and I hope that she finds her calling.
One correction… at the beginning you say traveling west, but the La Côte d’Azur is east.
Last night was 60F and today will be 75F in Connecticut - Usual for August but this whole spring and summer have been usual with lots of rain this August, so the grass is green and the vegetation is lush, but we have had sweltering muggy days and nights.

Kristin Espinasse

Kathleen, Thank you for the correction! And that sounds like a fun room you staying in--but it would take patience to enjoy it :-) Off to fix the mistake. Merci encore and bonjour to Dean.


I stayed at the Malmaison when I was in Villefranche sur Mer for a month while attending L'Institut de Francais. So many good memories of the Cote d"Azur!

Kristin Espinasse

Norma, That is a good idea to split up, and each gets a break. This would work well for longer trips, and I will keep it in mind. I hope your daughter will join you in Paris!

Kristin Espinasse

It is good to see your note, Kaitlin. You *will* enjoy these memories with your daughters! I remember when Jackie was your older daughters age and I could picture us in the far-off future, shopping and traveling. I am sure you hear this a lot, as I did: but that far-off future comes too quickly. 

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

Ah, Villefranche-sur-Mer ... On my last vacation with my mother and sister, we had a wonderful lunch there at Le Bleu Orsin. I think it may be adjacent to Les Garcons. I have so many lovely memories of that day. It is so nice to think of you and Jackie there on that waterfront.

That was the same trip when we ventured out to Mas de Brun for lunch with you and a visit with Max and Smokey. Cherished times.

Overcast and cool today with showers on the way.

Kristin Espinasse

So glad to share these memories with you, Suzanne, and to have had the chance to enjoy a few meals and several nice visits with you, you Portia, and Margaret. Sending hugs and love.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Mike, but my birthday is in December. Though a summer birthday celebration has always been my dream, (being born so close to Christmas). Keep cool. The temperature here hit a high of 37C, or 98F, this week and, without A/C I literally had a meltdown last night!

Dianne Shearin

I lived in Villefranche when I was 13 as my father was deployed to the Mediterranean. My French mother introduced me to my grandmother and uncle who lived in Cannes. Villefranche was a beautiful town and we lived in a villa near the sea. I long to return (as a senior) and visit the area before I can no longer walk. I have sciatica which is crippling at times, so I’m looking to find a better way to deal with it so I may travel. Thank you for bringing back lovely memories. Virginia, 81 F

Leslie, Singers Glen,Va.

Such a sweet story. I like following the route Jackie has chosen. Ad I have said before, she seems good at whatever she has thrown herself into.

Cynthia Lewis

What a priceless adventure you and Jackie had! You must have caused many a "head to turn" ... two beautiful ladies who only become more lovely as the years pass. "Mille mercis" for sharing your time and thoughts with us, your readers.

The weather from Eastern Shore of MD: cooler, in the 80's this week with rain/showers forecast.

David Van Etten

Wonderful message today, and it brought back fond memories of my own visit to Villefranche Sur mer.
David VE, from Moultonborough NH, where it is 74 degrees and sunny.

Judi Miller

My 42 year old daughter and I went to Paris in 2018 for about 8 days and it was heaven. It was like having my young daughter with me! We reminisced a lot and she so enjoyed seeing all the places I had been to over the past many years-and so fun to find new places for us to enjoy together. Never enough time for Paris! I can truly relate to all the conversations, surprise encounters, blips, and awe inspiring moments that you and Jackie must have experienced. So happy for both of you!!
After the so cal tropical storm and earthquake, we’re settled back into just plain hot! Take care! Judi

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Cynthia, for such kind words! Enjoy the cooler temperatures there in MD. And here’s to the rain!


Our dear Kristi,
My mind is caught in a time warp!! I keep seeing Jackie and Max as adorable little children, when voila!! Here they are instead as beautiful and accomplished adults,ones making their own ways in their own lives(!!)
But the most important thing remains absolutely unchanged: the bonds of love and respect you and Jean Marc share with them both, (and they with you),and very importantly, the wonderful gift of letting your grown up babies fly on their own.
Felicitations et bravo mes cheres-- this is the most unselfish of acts that only a parent can fully embrace-- and just exactly how difficult this challenge can be.
Another beautifully written and poignant post, dear Kristi, as only you can present to us.
Thank you!!
Natalia. XO

Alice Farley

I think you have the most wonderful beginning of a new tradition! It is one we practice in our family: My mother started it with my youngest, a daughter, and myself when my daughter was six. The trip was just for the girls. Our first trip was to Switzerland, but since then we've made trips to Paris many times, through Scandinavia, to the south of France, once to Japan, Botswana and South Africa, the Netherlands, to Washington and to the Amalfi coast.... girls only. After my mother passed away in 2002, Libby and I continued the tradition as a way of celebrating the bond we still felt with my wanderlust Mother. And now, in November, she and I will take a trip, again to Paris, as a prequel to her becoming a mother at 37 in January....to a daughter! So, the next trip after this will be again with three generations. I highly recommend it. We take care of each other, sharing the logistics and looking out for each other in the way only mothers and daughters do. Of course, I take many memorable trips with the wonderful men in our lives....but those trips are a different beast all together.

I love that you are cherishing those moments with your daughter. Life is so fleeting!

Fondly, Alice in Philadelphia


Dear Kristi!

I am thrilled to hear about your mother-daughter trip! This time together is to be cherished and has many health benefits for both you and Jackie! It is important to take a break from our daily routine and to remember the value of play.

Sending love from Stanwood, Wash., where it's a sunny 71 degrees.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

A lovely story. I am intrigued by the bubble hearts on your Instagram post about your journal today. (Wondering if they are a co-coincidence?)

The mother-daughter bond is such a treasure…

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Chris. The IPhone I use often casts a green dot on the finished video. I am not sure what causes this glitch, but it was unusual for there to be two green dots…and heart-shaped at that! 


Hi Kristi,
What a fun trip with Jackie! I am going to remember the phrase "soyons fous"
Have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend!

Frances in Napa, CA

How terrific that you two were able to have this special time away together. I love the expression - soyons fous! We are off to Pau, France next week for the wedding of the son of French friends of ours. My daughter and her husband will be with us for awhile. I plan to use that expression while we are there! Thank you, as always, for bringing a smile to my face.

Earle Self

It brought back memories of my daughters, both of whom I brought into my hiking/backpacking/kayaking life and the beautiful times we had. Now, they're a bit older than you and one spent six years running a restaurant in the French Alps. And not to mention conservation addicts. I get frequent thanks now for their upbringings...


What a fun adventure, for you and Jackie! Many fond memories of Villefranche, thanks so much for sharing yours! Soyons fou, love that.
Weather here in Portland, Oregon is very pleasant… Cool at night and 90° today with low humidity.

Kristin Espinasse

Enjoy the wedding, Frances, and being back in France! Enjoy time with family.

Elizabeth Whitfield

Sunny and 95° in Charlotte NC today. That forecast and your story brought a tear. Perfect love casts out fear. So too does crazy. ;) So glad Jacqueline treated you to such a special time. Beswitched, bothered and bewildered!💡🥴

At eighteen years old, I spent a couple of summer days in Monaco and Nice with a luxury condo in Villefranche-sur-Mer as our base. I swam in my first infinity pool and parasailed in the Mediterranean. To go back and do it all again. (Sigh.) Thank you for helping me do that in my mind.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing those wonderful memories. 

Jill Ferrie

In Vancouver today temperature was 28 C. Your mother daughter getaway sounds perfect! Here’s to many more!

Beata King

Greetings from Ariege, Midi Pyrenees. After weeks of canicule I can finally have a decent night sleep with temperatures around 20C

Soyons fous! what a great expression, I love it.
I really enjoyed your post , especially because my husband and I are going on vacation to Côté d’Azur next month. We will be staying 1 week in Nice and 1 week in La Ciotat! Any tips on what to see or do while we are there?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Beata, Like you, we are so thankful the heatwave has gone (even if the strong winds today are challenging my peace of mind!)

Here are some tips for La Ciotat: 

Figuerolles! It is a scenic calanque where you can have lunch, too.

Mugel: another scenic calanque and a delicious seaside restaurant where we go each summer.

Take the ferry from the old port over to The Green Island and hike around. There is a restaurant there that may be still be open next month. Reservations are necessary at all places mentioned.

Be sure to reserve dinner at Molto Mucho, located in the beautiful and lovely square of Sadi Carnot (I think it is), Antoine and Zoe serve delicious focaccia-based entrees. The meatballs are delicious!

Do not miss nearby Cassis and Sanary-sur-Mer. 


I truly enjoyed your story today, Soyons fous!
It touched my heart and made me think of the fun times I had with my late mother and the crazy times I have had with my daughters.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Camilla. Soyons folles! May the fun times continue with your daughters :-)


I loved this post! It made me tear up, and remember trips in France with my daughter - and remember how precious each moment with her is. So true about l'amour and la mort, knowledge of the latter deepening the former. Beautiful moments beautifully captured, thank you!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Gita, Those were fun times and it was great seeing you both when you were here! Take care.


Salut d’Antibes Kristi.
Such a brilliant trip for you and Jackie. I’d say she did well.
I have dear friends who have a home in Villefranche sur Mer. Les Garçons is their favorite restaurant and I always enjoy dining there.
I was in Villefranche for Fourth of July this year. They have a lovely celebration of the history of the interaction between the local population and the sailors of the US Sixth Fleet in Villefranche.
Here’s to your next voyage de fou. Bisous


What lovely story with quite deep bits...

Please let Jackie know that having a specialisation in l'accessibilité numérique is a huge atout for UX people !

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Vayia. I will be sure to share your note with Jackie!


Bonjour! I am writing from my own little paradise on the Central Oregon Coast, where I have enjoyed a summer of perfect weather ‐ 67°F every day, sunny and warm with a refreshing ocean breeze. However, during the last two days, we have had some light rain, for which I am grateful so the beautiful earth can have a drink of water. I enjoy your blog!

Diane Covington-Carter

So special and precious, those mother and daughter times. Lovely.

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