Une Friandise: Chocolate Sundaes following Jules's visit to the Ophtalmo
Bougeotte = Wanderlust, the need to move about + A New Attraction The Paris Airport

Fou rire? Éclat de rire? How to say deep belly laugh in French

Dusk in La Ciotat old port mediterranean
Dusk in La Ciotat, where today’s story begins…

Jean-Marc’s PROVENCE WINE TOURS begin again in May! Cassis, Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape—don’t miss our beloved winemaker’s favorite stomping grounds for grapes! Click here.


    : the giggles, hysterical laughter, deep belly laugh

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It's dusk and I'm alone at home, emptying the dishwasher. When Ricci suddenly starts barking, I look over at our baie-vitrée only to startle at the sight of a figure looming beyond the glass, on the front patio. Our dog is yipping like crazy now, causing my heart to leap. Qu'est-ce qui se passe? Qui est là?

Ouf! Exhaling a sigh of relief, I recognize the young woman wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. Back now from her boxing class, it is only my "coloc," my roommate as she jokingly calls herself. I unlock the glass door to hear laughter on the other side. "Oh, Mom! You should’ve seen your face!"

"Trop drôle!" Har, har! I say, stepping aside to usher my daughter into the house. Noticing all the groceries, I wonder, hadn't I sent Jackie for some veggies and meat, seulement? Memories of my own antics when I lived with my dad flooded back—a time when I'd occasionally sneak in a Vogue magazine or some Maybelline mascara alongside our groceries, courtesy of Dad’s credit card. 

Still, I can't help but want to audit this latest grocery haul, and my daughter, as usual, can read my mind: "What’s up, Mom?" Jackie says, in her relaxed way. After two seconds of self-control, I blurt out my thoughts: "It’s just that I hope you didn’t buy things we already have…." That said, I resolve to keep the peace, even if I'm imploding inside. I will always struggle to lâcher prise. But it’s worth asking, now and then, just what is it I'm holding onto?  


Given Carrefour supermarket has an extensive beauty section, I'm wondering if un masque concombre purifiant or another soin intensif capilaire got mixed in with our "groceries." I'll just have a peek, now and then, as Jackie puts away les courses and I resume unloading the dishwasher.

"Bread?" I say, looking over from the cupboard. "But we already have that."

"Mom, I want to make sandwiches this week," Jackie says, with a hint of exasperation. She's tired of my one-pot meals? But they're convenient: make once and feast for days! Next, my volunteer shopper sets down a bunch of citrons verts

"Jackie! What do you need 12 limes for?"

"I like to cook with them, and they're great in water," she explains, with a touch of mischief.

"Well, OK," I relent. "But you know I can’t bear to toss out food."

"That I know!" Jackie laughs, recalling the 5-day-old chili I ate for breakfast. "I’ll pray for you!" she had said. I was touched by my daughter’s sudden piety…until I realized she was teasing me (she'd prayed I would survive the chili!).

(Prout! Prout! [Toot! Toot!] Evidence I’m still alive!)

Next, I stumble upon some cheese. "Parmesan. But we already have some!"

"I like the grated kind, Mom. It's for some carbonara I’m making you. Allez oust! Go do something else!"

"OK. OK!” I’m a few steps out of the kitchen when… “By the way, how was your meeting at the fitness club in Marseille? Did you sign up?"

"It was great. Yes, I signed up," Jackie smiles.

"Did you pay three months upfront?"

"I did."

"You did!" I say, surprised by an involuntary, head-to-toe wiggle punctuating my words.

"Mom? What did that mean?" Jackie laughs, mimicking my wise-cracking wiggle.

"I don't know!" I play dumb, but my body language has already given me away. I can now see how uptight I am being--so much so my body’s trying to wiggle me out of it!

“Just what was that?” Jackie teases, doing The Wiggle as she speaks, easing a few giggles out of me.

“Nothing, it’s just…” I begin to laugh… “You spent the same amount on your gym membership as I just spent on groceries…and I guess I was trying to make a point!”

Wiggle, wiggle! Jackie illustrates she gets my point.

But of course, she does! She can read me like a book. Not only does she have a high emotional IQ, but she’s street smart too, having weathered her share of mésaventure. After getting scammed in Miami and returning to France, Jackie has gradually built back her savings, her self-esteem, and enough trust in others to move on. That she can laugh this way today and encourage others to do the same is a testament to her strength. I can see it as we stand there bantering in the corner "ring" of our living room:

Jackie, still in her boxing attire, still laughing, performs a left-right punch to the air, signaling to me to loosen up a bit. Her antics are disarming and by now I’m laughing so hard my stomach muscles hurt. Ça y est, I think I know what it is I’m holding onto, after all: a lot of fou rires. It is clear I need to let go and laugh more often. And don’t we laugh the hardest with the ones that know us best? Their message is the same: you’ve got to laugh at yourself, let go and let others help you to do so.

Prout! Prout! From here on out I vow to keep trying! 


Jackie with sunglasses
Jackie, in Bormes-Les-Mimosa two summers ago.

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Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English vocabulary

la baie-vitrée
= glass door
Ouf! = phew!
le/la coloc = housemate
trop drôle = ha ha (sarcasm)
seulement = only
lâcher prise = let go
le supermarché = supermarket
un masque concombre purifiant = purifying cucumber mask
le soin intensif capilaire = intensive scalp treatment
les courses = groceries
le citron vert = lime
Prout! Prout! = Toot! Toot!
Allez, oust! = Go! Get out of here!
la mésaventure = misfortune

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I have enjoyed French Word A Day since about 2006. I always learn something - about French or France, about Les Espinasses, about human nature and life. It's a great blog. --Marianne R.

I really enjoyed today’s story. Your words are so visual that it feels like I witnessed the whole thing! Thank you! Linda F.

Ricci paws and pebbles
Stumbled across these artistic rocks on the beach, with beautiful handwriting. What is the story behind them? Why were they left behind? Share your guesses in the comments.

Paws and pebbles on the beach
When we were looking for a dog, Jackie suggested the name Marcel--because it is "doux" (soft). We then found Ricci and kept the name she was given, even if it sounds like Richie to me. (To think, she might have been...Marcella!)

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Suzanne Dunaway

Wait a minute. Is that 'toot toot' what I think is is and came from eating chili??? Uh, oh...Jacquie sounds wonderful, let her cook and buy limes and go read a book with your feet up. She can empty the dishwasher, too....

Kristin Espinasse

Suzanne, What can I say? Teaching French involves sacrifice! Sooner or later the French word for *toot* had to be addressed. This story provided an opportunity, so I ran with it!


I admire your ability to see your daughter’s growing maturity, Kristi. It serves you both beautifully. Bravo!

Jerry Wood

My daughter is now 52, however in my head she will always be my wonderful little girl. When I try to oversee something she is doing she laughs as if to say lighten up. Yes kristin they grow up and become wonderful daughters. It all happens too fast. Being scammed was a terrible thing, however it has made Jackie a smarter, kinder and wonderful adult. Make a coffee, grab a book and put your feet up. Tell yourself you have done a wonderful job raising her.


A "rocky relationship" for all to see?


A delightful story. Also, a great reminder to laugh at daily events rather than to fret about them. It is the attitude you bring to your life that determines your level of happiness. No one can make you happy, you alone can choose it.


I'll try to remember to "lacher prise" at 2 a.m. when thoughts are keeping me awake. Easier said than done!


Our dear Kristi ,
Once again today's post wrapped me in smiles! So enjoy and appreciate sharing in your lives,all the many achievements, and especially the wonderful pictures.
I laughed at Jackie's comments,remembering my own with my dear Mama; one in particular regarding my( lack of) finesse with the laundry at that time,and which later never failed to fill her with humor-- particularly how the sheets resembled an accordion when I then took them out of the dryer--- later,after my marriage, I diligently ironed them all to look pretty!! ( truthfully, I still do!!)Ah,yes! Time apparently is a great equalizer!
Blessings always.Arms tight around you all.
Natalia XO

Eileen N

I agree with Joan. These are old rocky relationships that were written on rocks and then tossed onto the beach for the sea to claim or maybe for the waves to pound them into sand in order to find a place on the beach forever.

Karen in Northport, NY

The rocks were placed by school friends setting out on life plans. Saying goodbye to the beach hangout. As good a theory as any.... IMHO there's nothing better than laughter. Lovely to read about a mother daughter laugh fest. Thanks for sharing. And after a bit of research I now understand why there are no French children named Peter.


Pierre Curie, Pierre Corneille to name a couple....
I told my students to remember the New Testament when Jesus said to Peter, "Thou art Peter and upon this ROCK I will build my church. It makes no sense in English, but it does in French...., Latin too I think

Karen in Northport, NY

Hi Joan. After further research...because, yeah, I didn't get that...the name Peter and the word rock are both Pierre. Ah. However, the name p-e-t-e-r also appears to be a french verb. Ok there's an accent in there too, but I don't know what to do with accents. I gather the verb and the name are pronounced differently so it's only funny in writing. Well, in my humor world anyway. Thank you for further expanding my horizons. I knew pierre was rock. Didn't know it was Peter.


Hi, Karen
The verb "peter" in French sounds nothing like the name Peter in English, and to add humor to the whole issue, "peter", the French verb means "to fart", what happened when our French friend ate too many beans: toot, toot! The infinitive "peter" is pronounced pet-tay, but in most of its forms, it is pronounced "pet". Yes there is an accent pointing north-west over the first e in je pete, tu petes, il/elle/on pete, and ils/elles petent, (which are all pronounced "pet"), but like you, I can't figure out how to make the accent marks work in the comments section! Probably more than you wanted or need to know, but there it is. Have a great Saturday.


Chère Kristi, strange that the only rock with a heart is a girl's name Berengère. The others appear to be masculine so perhaps the girl was in love with these men or they all love her. Which did she choose?

I agree it is difficult to "laisse le bèton" but you did an admirable job by turning the whole thing into laughter !

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Joan and Karen, Haha. I am enjoying this thread. To add another fun expression: faire peter (to pass). For example: fait peter le pain, or “pass the bread, or shoot me the bread basket” (overheard during a dinner party with Jean-Marc’s buddies from high school). My grammar may be wrong but the expression is used here in the south, by some . I don’t know about typing accents… but, sadly, a lot of punctuation doesn’t come through in the comments box. I’m not sure why.

Babette, Thank you for the expression “laisse le béton” and for the interesting interpretation of the rocks and the message 💕


A long time ago, I watched a French lady (in the USA) who was making mini cream puffs. As she squeezed the tiny puff pastry out of the tube on to the baking pan, she said the slang term for them was "petes des nonnes"! Little tiny nun farts...!

Karen in Northport, NY


Dana Ivey

"the giggles, hysterical laughter, deep belly laugh"

Those are three different types of laughter in my book. French does not differentiate?

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