Thanksgiving Vocabulary + Périple: Jean-Marc's Journey from France to New Zealand & Bike Tour
Un Jour à la fois: One day at a time during the holidays + Tarte Tatin recipe

Raffoler: A Great Verb for Something You Love (such as dogs and cookies...)

Jean-Marc and Ricci mini australian shepherd
We are all crazy about our new dog Ricci, who gave us quite a scare recently....
Nous raffolons tous de notre nouvelle chienne Ricci, qui nous a récemment donné une sacrée frayeur.

TODAY'S WORD: Raffoler de

    : to adore, love
    : not be able to get enough of something

A DAY  IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Two weeks ago we nearly lost our little shepherd, la petite Ricci, adopted recently at the age of 3. Jean-Marc and I had been enjoying a stroll along the shore, and all the amusing dog encounters, when Ricci exchanged sniffs with a Boxer. When he got too playful our girl shot off like a bullet up les escaliers, over the boardwalk, and across two lanes of traffic!

We ran after our spooked chienne, bracing for what was around the corner by which she'd disappeared.

Incredibly, our dog had cleared two lanes of traffic before a stranger moved swiftly into action. The man swooped down, trapping her on the sidewalk in front of the pizzeria. We hurried across the street, and Jean-Marc retrieved Ricci while I grabbed the man with multiple piercings, hugging him like my own son--de toute ma force! 

Max Ricci Izzy Loca lap dogs
Sadly, no photo of Ricci’s sauveur. Standing in for this Good Samaritan are my son Max and granddogs Izzy and Loca.

With Ricci safely in Jean-Marc's arms, we walked the rest of the way home a little stunned. What were we to do now? We would like our dog to be able to play on the beach with other dogs--but at what risk? How is our dog supposed to get her zoomies out if she can't go temporarily unleashed? There are no dog parks in our seaside town, making it a challenge to exercise our energetic American Shepherd.

We have been sorting out this dilemma over the past few weeks and we are all making good progress. One blessing that's come of this is we have discovered the Parc National des Calanques here in La Ciotat--a beautiful natural reserve where we can walk along a rocky trail to the top of the city. 

Parc naturel des calanques la ciotat france
Read about this stunning natural reserve on the last page of the Feb/March edition of France Today.

After the randonné, it's time for a visit from Grand-mère (Jules has been catless ever since Lili returned next door, to live peacefully in our neighbor's armoire after three dogs moved onto our property). Jules adores Ricci, whom she visits each afternoon with her pockets filled with friandises. "Here comes the Cookie Monster!" my mom giggles, taking Ricci into her lap. We've given Jules a 3-cookie limit (per visit) for Ricci and I'm amazed she abides by the rules (if only this one time).


Regarding the dog biscuits, Ricci, elle raffole! She is crazy about them. As for us, on raffole de Ricci! We cannot get enough of her! With her soft-as-silk calico fur she's exotic and she has a very foreign--come to think of it a very French way of expressing herself: elle grogne. She is not visibly complaining or unhappy, she's "voicing" without words. You might say it's a kind of guttural dog purr....

"She doesn't seem like a dog" My mom brings up something we have all been thinking about our ethereal animal de compagnie. "I know," I say, wondering if Ricci is some kind of licorne...

"What do you think she is?" I ask Jean-Marc. After a bit of reflection, he answers "a cat."

"Ricci! I say, are you a little cat in dog's clothing?" Just imagine! One thing's sure: after the scare our pup gave us recently, she has nine lives... just like our dear Smokey had. Maybe he was a cat too? Nah, he was definitely a unicorn.

To leave a comment or a correction, please click here or simply hit the return button if reading via email. Merci!


Click to hear the French and English pronunciation

raffoler de = to love, adore, be nuts about
une frayeur = fright
une chienne = female dog
un escalier = stairs
de toute ma force = with all my strength
le sauveur = savior
la randonnée = the hike 
la grand-mère = grandmother
une friandise = a treat, a sweet 
elle grogne = she grumbles
une licorne = unicorn 

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!

Caro F.
Karen H.
Monica G.

I love your stories! The one about the train journey was an absolute gem. Caro F. 

Today’s story motivated me to make another donation. I look forward to each new tale and do practice the French I see with each new post. Ricci is wonderful. So glad you have this beautiful new dog. Happy Holidays to you, Karen

Ricci mini aussi and Kristi

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.


Ah she is so so cute! I love her. haha a cat in dog clothing.
Meanwhile one of our cats thinks he is a human... and insists on sitting at the breakfast table with us ... Looks even more funny because he is a British short hair so has a very funny sitting position.

Ah, animals, they are the best Company. I wonder how Jean Marc will get on missing Ricci when he goes to NZ. As I am flying home today, I have to really Psych myself up to miss my beloved animals for one month (and the husband of course).


Thanks, Kristi, for sharing your dog stories. They are my favorites. My sister and brother -in-law visited me and my other sister recently. They brought their Golden Doodle, Bogey, who frolicked on the Carmel beach with my other sister’s two Australian Shepherds, Arrow and Gypsy (a rescue). My older sister took Bigey with us everywhere including a whale-watching boat excursion! We all took Dramamine to ward off seasickness, even Bogey! He was also present at every family meal. The other diners and their dogs were constantly stopping by our table to introduce themselves and requesting permission to pet Bogey who feels an obligation to allow humans to express their affection. It’s his job and he takes it seriously!


I suggest getting a tracking device for Ricci. That way you can use your phone to find her if she travels too far. I am happy she did not get hit by a car. Maybe best until she obeys your commands to stay away from places with too many dogs. Any time a dog is off leash it is a risk. She must learn to obey so perhaps you can work with a dog trainer.

Eileen deCamp

Bonjour Kristi,
I loved this story and its happy ending! Our dog Tank also purrs like a cat when I hug him. It sounds like he is grumbling but he loves it! He also wraps his body around us in the morning and goes between our legs like a cat would. I am always surprised that this large 108 lb dog can curl around us like a cat!
I love the photo of JM and Ricci walking in the national park! What a view and good exercise for everyone!

Fay PLauche' Butler

Ricci might have given you a scare but not one as bad a my daughter, Suzanne, got on Thanksgiving day. when she was playing host to her daughter's dog and two other dogs owned by friends as well as her own puppy. Unfortunately, there was but one bone and a snarling disagreement began. Suzy put her hand down to retrieve the offending bone and got a serious bite on her hand and arm. One tetanus shot, a few stitches and a bandage from hand to elbow later, she is painfully resting.

The guilty biter has not conffessed as of yet. Fay Plauche' Butler

Kristin Espinasse

Yikes! Sorry for what happened to your daughter, and thankfully it wasn’t even worse. Wishing your daughter a full and speedy recovery. Take care. 

Kristin Espinasse

Aw, Tank sounds like a big snuggler. But be careful when he goes between your legs. Ricci does this too, and it can be destabilizing!


Hi. My dear dog has developed a bad habit, she doesn’t want to poop in HER yard, only on a walk, but she does always wear a leash.


Our dear Kristi ,
Your( once again! And always !so wonderful post and pictures!) filled my day with sunshine and hugs. You,Jean Marc,and Max have a lilt in your voices and twinkles in your eyes that only devoted animal parents can have and treasure.
Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.
After reading and enjoying them you truly make us feel that ,in our little corners at least,all is right with the world.
So needed and so appreciated.
Thank you!
Blessings to all of you.
Arms tight around you

ellen a

So great that Ricci is surrounded by love from everyone in your house. Until you are more certain of her staying near you or having a better recall, you might consider taking her to the beach on a long line (like 15 meters) that you can buy online. You can even drop it to let her play or run free on the beach, but it is easier for you (or a stranger) to grab if she starts to run off in the direction of the cars. Some dogs just always want to decide for themselves where they are going!


Oh, Kristi, I know what a heart-stopping experience that was for you! Before we took our Westie to the beaches in Carmel, Pebble Beach and Asilomar for the first time, I bought a very long red (to find easily) Nylon band made for mountain climbing and attached a leash hook to it. I made a knotted loop at the other end. Attached to that, he could cavort to his hearts content without us worrying he’d dash into traffic. On the rare occasion he’d pull loose, it was easy to stomp on the “leash” and stop him.

Karen in Northport, NY

SO glad Ricci's zoom had a happy ending. Trackers are wonderful to find wanderers but won't help in traffic. I like the retractable long line leashes for that. And the long cord on the collar for a quick stop works too. Used that one myself. I think there's a thing called traffic training. I know my in and out cat will listen for engine noises at the road and sit until the car passes. He moved to my house late in life so I don't know what was involved. Might be worth a look up. If a cat can learn it (and not food related), should be easy for a pupper.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Karen. Very reassuring to know how animals can distinguish between such noises, and good to read the example of your cat. I like the idea of traffic training. 


Loved your story and glad Ricci is ok and has a wonderful park to run in! My daughter's family adopted a Golden Doodle, Chloe. She is so adorable with black button nose and eyes and such a great puppy. I love to dog sit. Dogs bring us such joy!!

Julie Farrar

One reader mention a tracker tag on Ricci and the other mentioned a long line. Even though my dogs were trained in recall, I never took them hiking or to our local parks without the long line. I have a 15-20 foot leash that I could let go of if I was throwing the ball or something. It was something I could step on if they got distracted by a bird or person. I'm surprised with all the dogs that the French have -- and how many residents live in apartments -- that no one has started doggy daycares or that communities haven't built dog parks.

Sarah LaBelle

This is the opposite, an antonym of raffoler.
American sugar excess in Paris. America needs to take in French ways, not the reverse. I hope this is a short fad.

Haute cuisine: Hundreds of Parisians stood in line at dawn Wednesday, awaiting their first bite of a delicacy: a Krispy Kreme doughnut. The pastry chain opened its first restaurant in France, joining a market where American chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Popeyes are thriving. “This is all about American pop culture,” said Alexandre Maizoué, the director general of Krispy Kreme France. “They’ve seen all the American series. They like U.S. culture and the American art de vivre.”

barbara michels

She is after all a "herding dog". They always need something to do. Any sheep farms around?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)