From France to New Zealand: Jean-Marc's Big News!
Ratiboiser & Cafi: Two Fun Words from The Olive Harvest

Joyeux Anniversaire! Let's blow out some candles & celebrate!

Heidi chocolate birthday cake with icing flowers and candles
A partir de ce weekend this journal begins its third decade! Here's my sister Heidi's scrumptious chocolate cake to celebrate.


    : Happy birthday!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
On Saturday this language and life blog celebrates its 21st birthday. Just think...if it were American it could legally drink. If it were French it could now drive a 7.5-ton vehicle. But having been born and bred, né et élévé, in France, this journal is some sort of wine-spitting hybrid. De toute façon, as we’ve discovered over the years, there are cooler ways to mark an occasion than by inebriation or barreling down the road in a Big Rig. 

Could anybody tell me just what those are? 

Only kidding—je rigole! I would like to shower this brief update in a thousand thanks, mille mercis to you for tuning in each week and giving me a reason to show up and write, whether or not la muse is present. Heureusement, creative inspiration isn’t mandatory when addressing someone who loves and supports you. I am blessed to receive your care and enthusiasm and this is what keeps me trucking into my 22nd year. You, dear reader!

You have taught me spelling and grammar. Helped edit and publish my stories. Sent cheers in happy times and condolences in sad ones. Voted for the right wine label or book cover or city (when it was time to move on). You have been subscribed for days or years and perhaps never reached out, yet your faithful subscribership has built this journal's foundation. Quietly or not, you are there, keeping me on top, in tune, and in touch with the creative thread of my days in time to weave the story of this French life one post at a time. 

As I think about my precious, invisible pact with you, dear reader, my daughter's words come to mind. She said recently, a little jittery before beginning her internship after 7-intensive months in web design class, “I just hope I can add value to the company that has hired me.” Pareillement, it is my mission to make the time you spend reading this journal count so that you leave with a smile, lighter and brighter than when you came in. Remarquez..a glass of champagne could have the same effect, but if there’s one thing I learned 21 years ago, a good effort (in whatever challenges you) leaves you feeling just as good! Thank you for your foundation of support without which today's effort may not have seen the light of day. 
Bien amicalement,

To leave a comment, click here. I would love to know how you found this blog and for how long you have been reading! 

Daughter jackie and mama kristi with chocolate birthday cake to celebrate
Both cake photos are from the archives. The cake, above, was for my son's birthday. He is now 28! My sister Heidi made the first cake for Jackie's 21st (she is now 26). This journal began when the kids were 5- and 7-years-old. The blog archives help jog my memory!


Click here to listen to the French and English words

joyeux anniversaire = happy birthday
soufflons la bougie =
let's blow out the candle
à partir de ce weekend
= beginning this weekend
né et élévé = born and bred
de toute façon
= in any case
je rigole =  I'm kidding
mille mercis = a thousand thanks
la muse = creative inspiration
heureusement = happily
pareillement = in the same way
remarquez (imperative) remarquer = come to think of it
bien amicalement = warmly

Thanks in advance to readers sending in a blog donation for the first time, and to my returning patrons listed below. Your support keeps the wheels of this digital journal turning, and I am truly grateful!

Peter J.
Chris K.

Carla W.
Duncan M.

Tammy S.
Suzanne D.
Laurence S.

”For NZ. . . have a nice glass or two of vino for us.” —Suzanne D.

"Kristi, thank you for your charming, honest and inspiring column which always is a pleasure to read. I've studied French since college and love hearing about your insights into French culture. Amicalement, Carla!"

The following video of Ricci (our new dog) was posted on Instagram. You may need to click over to the site to see it.

Le carenage wooden boat maintenance in la ciotat france
Random photo: Fishermen working together during boat maintenance season in La Ciotat. See you next week with more words and stories from France. Meantime, thank you for sharing this post with a friend!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Mike Pearson

Congratulations, Kristi! I have been reading your blog for a very long time but don't know how long. It has surely increased my vocabulary, and I feel like we know one another along with your family and livestock.

Suzanne Dunaway

I found you from seeing the title and thinking, YES French every day no matter how many or how few words I get. This lady knows how to write and I'm reading! I think I have known you for around 10 or 15 years, as I do remember visiting your first vineyard many years ago all too briefly and leaving my book. No matter how long it has been it has been WONDERFUL. Merci a toi!!!! Tu m'as fait ma vie plus riche!


Jackie is much like her momma! ♥


Happy birthday and well done having been so consistent and brave with your writing. You are an inspiration xxx Karen


Dear Kristi, I don't know how or when I found your blog but it's been a bright spot in my week ever since. I've purchased a couple of your books and I come to your site for book suggestions when I want something in French or about France. Your weekly updates are ideal introductions to French words and phrases that I would otherwise never learn. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your life with us.

Dana Sacks

I have been reading you since I bought your book several years ago. Thank you for all of the stories and letting us into your life.

Andrew Kleeger

I found your blog quite by accident maybe 10 years ago. I don't remember exactly what I was searching for at the time, but Mr. Google suggested you might be the answer. Two things happened almost immediately: first, I got hooked by your easygoing, non-classroom approach to teaching, and I began learning useful vocabulary.

Then, a few years in, one of your advertisements caught my eye, I responded to the ad, and my wife and I took a delightful culinary tour of Bordeaux and the Dordogne region with Kathy Denis.
During that trip I sampled Jean-Marc's wine (I had planned on bringing the bottles home with me, but they didn't quite make the journey.) The name of her tour company has changed since then, but she's still leading people to France.

A couple of years before Covid I decided to give myself an "immersion test" and I rented an apartment in Port-Vendres for a month. Part of the reason I had the courage to do that was gleaned from reading about your experiences in the South of France. I didn't have the courage to look you up during that visit, and I've regretted that ever since. It would have been nice to have shared an apero with you and Jean-Marc.


Congratulations - your level of commitment is inspiring. Please keep up the great work. I look forward to your post every week.

drina nadler

Congratulations 🎉
I have read through dogs lives, the children growing up, your husband and wine, your mother’s visits and now her
room. Years of family life and celebrations,
recipes, brother-in-law and sisterhood
and trips and vacations. Best to you and your family. 🙏💕👍😘😘🍷🍷🍷

Chief Grape

I am so proud of my beautiful talented writer wife 💕

Jill Ferrie

I started by reading your first book while commuting by train home from work in around 2005. I loved it and then found your blog. You writing is charming and inclusive and I’ve been a fan for many years. Congratulations on the longevity of French Word a Day! Looking forward to reading more of your French life. 🌹🎂

Patricia Nelson

I have followed your journey for many years now and I have listed all the vocabulary in date order which I refer to quite often. You lead a very full life full of adventure with your lovely family. Here’s to you. Thank you for allowing us to share it with you. Amicalement

Geraldine Ventura

Dear Kristi, Your stories remind me of all of our wonderful trips to Provence. Now that we are 90 my husband says no more traveling, so your blog is even more important to me. Thank you for all of those years you gave all of us a peek into your life….and what a wonderful life it has been! Joyeux Anniversaire!


Congratulations and merci beaucoup for sharing your joys and sorrows, your life and language lessons so candidly with all of us over the years!


Our dear Kristi,
I very definitely share in the touching words by your devoted husband.You ,ma chere, are not only gifted, but caring and loving to your beautiful family ,and needless to say, also a blessing to all of us. Your honesty ,insight,
and joie de vivre never fails to reach out and wrap us in the warmest of hugs.
What a gift it was for me when,in 2005, I discovered your first wonderful book in a cozy little bookshop while we were on a weekend getaway in Carmel,Califorina. Truly charmante both then and now,filled with quiet inspiration as only you can impart.( plus I so appreciate the tres utile vocabulary you give us!!)
What a gorgeous cake(!) for a gorgeous and talented lady!!
CONGRATULATIONS!!Just so very well deserved!!
Thank you,dear Kristi....Once again, you made my day!!
Arms tight around all of you.
Natalia. XO

Marianne S. Rankin

As best I recall, I found FWAD via a link on another site (I don't know which one) in 2006. Since then I have eagerly awaited every post. For sure, it has helped me not only keep up my French decades after I majored in it in college; it has taught me idiomatic expressions and other features of the language; acquainted me with much French culture - history, geography, food, music, etc. ; and acquainted me also with a wonderful family, one of whom (Jean-Marc) I had the pleasure of meeting in person a few times; I look forward to meeting the rest of les Espinasse un jour. The site is very interesting, and I am not just learning, I am sharing experiences with the family and everyone else who reads the blog. I am exceedingly grateful for what I think of as a ministry to Francophiles, and I look forward to every "issue". Long may they continue, and Kristin, thank you so much!

Cindy McD

Félicitations chère Kristi… beautiful Kristi. Cannot believe how the years have simply flown by ❤️ Thank you for sharing your life and your beautiful writing, your photography and wonderful family (les bisous à Jules.) Cheers to 21 more 😘

ann sorocki

congratulations, Kristi: I don't often write a comment; but I so enjoy reading your e-mails & all the comments. You are so inspirational to so many of us; you give us courage to say things & do things that we wouldn't ordinarily feel free to. I would so love to meet you & your family; but, it might not be in the cards. Anyhow, I look forward to the next years' emails. At the age that I am, I count one breath at a time. Amicalmente, Ann

Susan Carter

Dear Kristi,
I think I have been with you from the beginning and you were one of those who brought about my love of France. I've loved your books, watching your children grow up, Smokey, Jules and so many others. I still remember my excitement when I met Jean-Marc and your Dad at a wine shop in Newport Beach when he was promoting Rouge Bleu. Cheers to another 21 years of French-Word-A-Day.
Susan Carter

Karen in Northport, NY

Joyeaux anniversaire!! Still a bright spot in my week. Discovered while google searching Provence for a writing project during Covid. Read the Archives during quarantine when I needed all the "sunshine" you could offer. Perfectly willing to add comments to things that happened to you 12 years earlier! 🤪

Frances, Napa, CA USA

Congratulations! Your writing always makes me so happy to read. I look forward to every time you write. Thank you!

Carolyn R Chase

Congratulations! I hope that your success with this letter has done something to boost the self confidence that you seem to lack, at times. Yet sharing your own vulnerability has offered all the rest of us the opportunity to look at what you do in spite of some halting feelings and say to ourselves "I should go ahead, as you do, in spite of our own self-doubts and shyness, reserve or hesitancy. All this is a bonus beyond the joy of being taken along on your adventure, an added gift to us, who have learned to love you like a friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Patti Raffy

BRAVA, dear Kristi!

Lynn McBride

oh my gosh! Has it really been that long? How did that happen! My warmest congratulations for your beautiful Blog, Books, Photos, , and friendship. You and they truly been an inspiration for these many years.

Leslie in SC

Fondest congratulations, Kristi! I’ve enjoyed your writing for over 13 years and recommended your blog to many.
I admire and appreciate your honesty and openness as well as your ever-present hope and faith. Your marriage and devotion to family continue to inspire me. God’s special blessings be with you!

Eileen Burns

Congratulations Kristi!....My father introduced me to your book.....Probably just after it was published....We read the essays together over and over and over again, always taking great delight...Somehow, at some point I discovered that you were on-line...Then we read each installment there....WITH GREAT JOY!... We discussed your family as though we knew them, followed every step and achievement.....And on the night he died, I read excerpts from your book, as he slowly left this life....It is an honor to know you and to read your essays...Thank you for never dropping out!...WITH MUCH LOVE, Eileen Burns

Judy Feldman

Kristi, I have read all these beautiful comments about you and your 21-year-long blog. You are a treasure to us all - what a wonderful community you have created! I don’t know of anything else as special as these bi-monthly posts! As a French-speaking francophile, I enjoy the vocabulary, but especially love the stories about you & your family. I am so happy that we have been able to meet 2 times - once in Phoenix, and once in France. Felicitations on your commitment to keeping us all informed and delighted!
Gros bisous, Judy

Katie Zeller

Congrats, indeed. I've been reading it almost that long... Time flies!

Gwyneth Perrier

Congratulations! I've enjoyed reading your blog for years because my sister-in-law's sister (American) recommended it so long ago. I was very interested in France and it was long before being married to a Frenchman and having the life I have today. You are a wonderful writer!

Joanne Fischer

Congratulations, so happy to have been with you all these years! We are currently in Paris heading to Champagne for a week. Will drink a toast to your continued success! Sending hugs!


Kristi- I rejoice with you! Your dedication, honesty and perseverance have brightened my days for so very many years! Your travels literally and emotionally have helped me know myself and of course know more French. Keep on! This voyage ensemble has been a heartfelt blessing!❤️ Jan on Cape Cod

Patricia Sands

Happy 21st! The joy you bring to each reader every week cannot be measured. Félicitations!


Congratulations Kristi! Wow! 21 years! I so enjoy your blog and photos! Here’s to another 21 years!
I don’t even remember how I found your blog but I believe I have been reading along since 2006?
Thank you for sharing your family and your life in France!

Sharon L Marchisello

Congratulations, Kristi. A friend referred me to your blog in 2011. I majored in French in college and spent a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship. Your blog has helped me keep up my vocabulary.

Elaine Mercier

Thank you & best wishes.

Always enjoy the weekly blog.

Elaine Mercier

Karla Ober

I've followed you for the entire 21 years, Kristi . . . and I own all your books!. From Southern California through retirement in Strasbourg, France! This English teacher has gone the entire distance with you! Congratulations!


Congratulations, and thanks for bringing all off us into the circle of your famille en France.

Susan Barnabe

Kristi, I can't remember how long I've been reading your stories but it has been at least 17 or 18 years. And one thing that I am certain of is that I ALWAYS feel better after reading. Thank you!
I am getting ready for a big move in the next few days, a huge down-sizing, now that my husband who has dementia is safely cared for an a retirement home. When I get supremely anxious about my impending move (which is very often!) I think of all the many moves you have endured and how you then flourished. I hope to live up to your standards, one day at a time!
Thank you for all you have done and taught us! Susan Barnabe

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
I found your journal at a time when I needed hope and rejuvenation, just over ten years ago. Since then you have been a bright shining light in my life, as well as in George’s. Then along came Jean-Marc and our inspiration was complete. You have both given us so much and helped reconnect us to the life we once had in France. Congratulations on 21 years! Bless you and all your family. Stay true to yourself and yours…

Angela Bell

21 years! SO well done! You’re a bona fide pioneer and you’ve kept it fresh and interesting all this time. Bless you all!

Sherry Frank

21 years. It is hard to believe it has been that long and I discovered you almost at the beginning. Have watched your kids grow into beautiful adults, traveled to France and met you and Jean Marc and even won the copy of the book you used to open a bottle of wine. If anyone has not seen that video, it is epic. Congratulations on 21 years of beautiful French words that have truly enhanced my life and I believe the lives of everyone who subscribes. Love you. Heres to 21 more.


Hi! I've been following your blog since March 7, 2010. I love France and missed taking French in Jr High, as they had no room when I wanted to sign up. I was so disappointed. However, a trip for a month to France in 1996 filled my senses and was so inspiring. Paris for a week, driving up to Reims traveling down through wine country and the south over into Italy, coming back through the Alps. Landed on Belle Isle after getting sick, oops, accidentally drank the water. When arriving home to the States was depressed for 6 months after seeing the wonders there. The language was music to my ears, are art unbelievable, food divine and the architecture most fascinating. I found a pen pal after coming back and we wrote for a number of years before my life took a turn. Met your wines and husband Jean-Marc at a wine tasting in Portland Oregon in possibly 2012. I lost track of your blog after 2016 and recently have returned. I so enjoy your stories and how your life has evolved. Thank you for all the years. Much joy to you and your beautiful family. Bonjour

Rajeev Varma

Oh my goodness! Is it really so long ago? That's how it happened! My heartfelt congrats on your lovely blog, books, photos, and friendship. You and them have genuinely been an inspiration over the years.

David Campbell

Joyeux Anniversaire to your delightful blog! Your words and stories bring joy to readers worldwide. Cheers to the wonderful journey and more tales to come! 🎉🎂✨

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