Renverser: Treasure at the bottom of Tante G’s Well
Soyons fous! A Mother-Daughter Trip to La Côte d’Azur

A Funny Nickname for “Dog” in French

In French, the term "patate” is sometimes used to describe an animal that is very cute and has a very endearing character. Dogs and cats are known for their sweetness and affectionate side, and that is why they are often nicknamed "potato." (French translation below)

TODAY'S WORD: “la patate”

   : potato 

Enfin, le terme « patate » est parfois utilisé pour décrire un animal qui est très mignon et qui a un caractère très attachant. Les chiens et les chats sont connus pour leur douceur et leur côté affectueux, et c'est pourquoi ils sont souvent surnommés « patate » —

by Kristi Espinasse

"Les Patates (The Potatoes)"

This month we are sharing our home with two little dogs, Izzy (pronounced "Easy") and Loca— otherwise known as “Les Patates.” The chiens belong to our son's girlfriend, Ana, who lives in Montpellier but braves many aller-retours to La Ciotat to be near Max. And because Max temporarily moved back in with us after renting out his snazzy apartment to tourists, we have le jeune couple here at home along with the dogs. 

Though I am a dog-lover, I didn't have an instant connection with these two toutous. I think any hesitation was more on the part of the dogs than on me. They only seemed interested in me when I was eating. Perhaps that is where they get their amusing surnom? (Ana calls them Les Patates which means “The Potatoes” in colloquial French.)

“Foodies” could just as easily be a surnom for these little sausages—given their ability to instantly manifest at the sound of a wrapper, or any ear-raising inking of food. 

As for me, I call them “Les Filles”, even if they are more like Les Mémés, or grandmas—hard of hearing and with cataracts. It took several visits before one of the girls eventually warmed to me. That is how Izzy (the 10-year-old pocket beagle) became my favorite, or le chouchou. I began to notice how sweet she is, how she'll eventually give you a kiss if you lean down and repeat "bisous" enough times, and how she wags her tail like a puppy when passing strangers on the street. 

After having two big dogs, I am seeing many advantages of small ones: they're easier to handle when out on a walk and they are moins encombrants (not that dogs could ever take up too much space in our lives, could they?). Compactness is a plus when it comes to hosting a couple of canines along with extra company (did I mention our daughter is home for vacation, too?).

As things get busier, messier, and louder around our household this summer, I have discovered an unexpected connection with the second dog, Loca, the French bulldog-Jack Russell mix. She too needs a room of her own, and blankets and snacks and YouTube when the world begins to hurl and whirl around her. Like that, one morning, the two of us found ourselves cuddled up in bed when a familiar feeling returned to me after a year sans chien: la paix.

There is something so calming about a dog snuggled by one’s side. Dogs are like comfort food, they nourish us in ways a healthy diet can’t. They fill and refuel us like a humble potato. Perhaps that is why the French call them “les patates”….

🐾   🐾   🐾   🐾   🐾

Thanks in advance for your comments which are the icing on the cake of this edition! I love to read your words and learn so much from you (including spelling and grammar--so don't hesitate to send in a correction). Click here to leave a comment.

A tomato on the left and a “potato” on the right. Loca, enjoying the front porch.


Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English

la patate = potato
le chien = dog
l’aller-retour = round trip 
le jeune couple = the young couple
le toutou = dog
le surnom = nickname
les filles = the girls 
les mémés = the grandmas
le chouchou = the favorite
le bisous = kiss
moins encombrant = less in the way
sans chien = without dog
la paix = peace

Max and Izzy

Izzy, Loca, and me at the beach


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Izzy loca Jules
Loca, Issy, and my Mom, cuddling

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Suzanne Dunaway

Oh, oh, oh, I adore these doggies and I am a Loulou mama, a kitty person, but Loca has my heart and beagles have always been lovely companions for so many I know. Can't wait to call the little squiggly yorkie up the street patate when she comes running to all the neighbors one after the other to get her snuggle.

Jo Diggens

Dear Kristi
Your story brought back so many lovely memories of owning a dog (or two). I’ve been dogless since 2007, and reading your words about bonding with “the girls” made me want to go out and rescue a dog straight away.
Love your stories
Jo xx

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Jo. I hope you will find a dog and enjoy many cuddles and adventures together. 💓

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Suzanne, a good friend of ours has a Yorkie who she named “Patate” — so it is both a good prénom and surnom. I think your neighbors will smile hearing you say it. P.S. Thanks also for your donation to my journal! Much appreciated!

Laura Purdy

Really enjoyed this post. Izzy and Loca are adorable. Bless you Kristi, for welcoming Max's girlfriend and her dogs into your home. Speaking as someone who also has two "patates" (love this nickname), it is not easy to find people willing to open their hearts and home to canine guests.


What a delightful post! Sometimes with dogs, as with people, it takes a while to warm up to being around others. I am glad they have found a place in your heart. Jo-Anne

Karen in Northport, NY

Sounds like your house is hoppin' this summer. Precious times, having everyone together again for a bit. Love those puppers. If only I could talk my cats into it.......

Earle Self

Not surprising in a language in which a loved one is called "mon petit chou"... :)


I loved this story of taking two unfamiliar dogs into your home and gradually, into your heart. I've adopted three senior rescue dogs (sequentially) over the years, and find it an extra blessing to provide a home and love to a dog in need. Sounds like a happy, lively canine-human home you've got there!

Cynthia Lewis

What an endearing post ... everyone "chez vous" plus two sweet dogs. "Les filles" are in dog heaven with so many hands to caress them and maybe give them a treat! This reminds me of Thanksgiving Day last year when our home was filled to the brim with relatives plus two standard poodles. I do believe the poodles had more fun than anyone, greeting everyone like a long lost friend. (Poodles belong to my brother-in-law or maybe it's the other way around.)

Thank you for the charming photos which I really enjoyed. Weather for your Dad: hot and humid,
85 - 95 degrees in Salisbury, Maryland; sunny most days with elec. storms/rain some evenings.


Our dear Kristi,
Every post you write( and have written!) is unfailingly wonderful, but your words today absolutely reached out and wrapped themselves around the heart of every fellow animal lover everywhere(!!)
Ma chere, what a gift you have!!!
Blessings always to you and your beautiful family
Natalia. Xo

Judy Feldman

OMG, I love this post! The cute names for our beloved dogs! I know just how you feel about cuddling up with a warm, furry pet. I do miss my Cleo so much. Still deliberating about getting another patate!

Theresa Ellis

Pembroke Welsh Corgis have long been known as 'potatoes' (Google corgis potatoes!) I also follow a Finnish Corgi on IG, topithecorgi, that recently while visiting France purchased a stuffed toy croissant that suspiciously resembles him curled up sleeping! Vive les chiens...nous les aimons. Et chats, aussi‼️😍😊😊

jean b palmer

A wonderful post. Thank you. I have two rescue dogs, Gina and Bella (they came as a bonded pair) who keep me going, though both quite elderly now. Love how they curl next to me in bed at night. As I say, they keep me going.
Thanks for sharing a great post that really meant much!!
Perhaps you should consider a small elderly rescue, or two? They really are special. Perhaps from someone who could no longer keep their beloved pet you could offer love and support? is that possible in France?

Frances in Napa, CA

Animals are so special in our lives, and our house is warmer and happier with our two cats, dog and Parakeet. Thank you for writing about these two sweet dogs. Our daughter and her husband recently got a dog who now visits often when my daughter has to go into the office and her husband is at work. She loves balls, and she manifests whenever a ball is at hand. Thanks for this beautiful story.

Joyce Hawkins

While you will never forget Smokey, it sounds as tho' you will soon be ready for a new little dog. I have had 4 while living here, & while I will never forget the others, I don't know what I would do without Kelly, my lovely Westie mix, especially now that my husband has passed away. Ross & I visited you at the vineyard about 10 years ago, and had a lovely afternoon.
Joyce Hawkins

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Jean, Good to know you have Gina and Bella keeping you on your toes. Enjoy the snuggles! Regarding a dog rescue, I am keeping all avenues open at this time. I really like Izzy and Loca and two such dogs would be a welcome addition to our home, just as one golden puppy would, too! 


Hi Kristi! This is such a delightful and heartwarming story, with equally lovely photos of your two canine house guests. I can't imagine life without a dog - or a few dogs - I currently have four! They bring so much love and joy to life and truly are a comfort. I'm grateful your summer includes sharing your home with Max, Jackie and these les patates!

Anna J.

Please know that cats can provide the same sense of peace and love, (when they want to. ;-) When our (cat)patate is on my lap, my S.O. knows better than to ask me to get up for any reason whatsoever. And then there is that purrrrr that goes straight to the heart, and warms it.
Your posts are always a delight! Thank you.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Anna. Here is to all those cuddly cats who bring warmth and companionship. Hip hip fur-ay!

Julie Farrar

I love these "patates." I went with a dog about these two dogs' size after two large ones. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but mine is content with one circle around the block instead of always heading to the large park for an hour every day like previous dogs. I just had my son's chien geant for three months while he was elsewhere, which made clear to me that I can't every take on my own big dog again. I hope you find your next dog (or your next dog finds you).


My son rescued a tiny Bassett Hound who was about to be drowned. He named him Grand Paws because of his Old Soul and because he had been malnourished, this baby puppy had a lot of growing to do to fill his already large paws. My Golden Retriever showed enormous empathy and love toward this impoverished adopted pup. We had many hours of enjoyment watching the Golden playfully coach Grand Paws on the life and relationship rules. The only time it was truly apparent that the Golden was "top dog" was when GP dragged a pillow over to the Golden's ottoman throne and climbed up to take his place. Our Golden gently, but firmly, flipped Grand Paws on his back and put a single paw on his belly!
Rescue dogs are indeed a challenge, but they fill the potholes in our hearts with Miracle Grow so that we can love more than before.

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