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Il devait en être ainsi: Meant to be (predestined) in French: A Chance Encounter with some Ceyrestens

Primeur in Ceyreste South of France
The sign reads "change of ownership". Today's story takes place in a town nearby: Ceyreste. FYI: The inhabitants are called "Ceyrestens" for men and "Ceyrestennes" for women.

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TODAY'S WORD(S): Il devait en être ainsi

    : meant to be (predestined)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

While French greeting cards are interesting and exotic for family back home, I wanted to celebrate my nephew Payne’s college graduation in plain English and was delighted to find a clever card on Amazon France. But, when I received an email informing me I was absent for the delivery and would have to drive to the next town to retrieve my paper-thin parcel (the card would’ve easily fit in my mailbox), that delight turned to dégout. “But we were home all day!” I grumbled to my dog, Ricci. “I’ll bet the driver took the easy route, dropping it with a lot of other packages at the nearest (for him) dépôt!”

While I had a mind to report the rogue livreur, intuition whispered to go with the flow of what Life (if not the driver) had successfully delivered: an opportunity to put my current soucis on hold and get out for some fresh air and flânerie.  At the very least, it would be the chance to practice my driving, which is rusty after all these years of being a passenger.

The Mistral wind in full force, our compact Renault Zoe swayed back and forth along the road to Ceyreste but I made it safely to the village and even found parking. What a pleasure to see the vintage Tabac sign near the church square had not been taken down, and ditto for a few other old businesses including Boucherie Jacky. I would have liked to explore more but the wind was sending my hair flying in every direction and I just wanted to get my nephew’s card and go home to my warm bed for une sieste with my dog.

I don’t know what it’s like chez vous, but in France packages that cannot be delivered to a home address are rerouted to a point relais. It’s a good way to discover and support a variety of local commerces, who go to the trouble of handling the parcels. I once collected a dog leash at a cannabis shop and une couette at a former garage turned optical. For my nephew’s carte de vœux the packet has ended up at a primeur of all places.

The green grocer’s was easy to find, I could see the colorful produce a block away. Entering the shop, there was a customer before me so I mosied on over to the root vegetables and selected a bunch of carrots (for a fresh jus de carotte for Jules every morning to help her eyes). While filling my basket I overheard the shopkeeper talking to the older gentleman:

“I’m afraid we don’t carry fougasse here, Jean-Pierre,” she said gently. “You might try the baker.”

Monsieur looked confused. After a long pause he asked for du lait.

“Sorry, Jean-Pierre. No milk here. We sell fruits and vegetables.” With that, the shopkeeper shot a conspiratorial wink my way. “But I can offer you a coffee. The machine’s in the back.”

“Do you have sugar?” came the hopeful response.

“No, I don’t have sugar….”

Monsieur looked over at me as if I might be able to produce a few cubes from thin air. “It’s not bad without sugar,” I smiled. “C’est mieux pour la santé.”

Vous savez, j’ai travaillé dans le nucléaire.” You know, I worked in the nuclear industry, Monsieur offered, out of the blue.

I gathered he meant What does sugar matter when you’ve worked around radiation? but he was only reminiscing. “I lived in Avignon…and Qatar…and Algeria….(He mentioned a few other cities but I lost track, focusing instead on his innocent eyes, the color of la noisette he would now be drinking if only there was milk in this fruits and vegetables-only shop.

“What was your favorite place?” I set down my basket to listen closely.

“L’Algérie. Oui, L’Algérie...”

“I hear it is beautiful there,” I said.

As the venerable Ceyresten struggled to convey the beauty of North Africa to his captive audience of two, I experienced that rare sensation of time standing still. In that moment, there was no rush, no rigid routine, and no pressure to produce (though there was plenty of produce, green and leafy, surrounding us). When he finished speaking, I reached over and placed my hand on Monsieur’s shoulder, without stopping to think about cultural norms or boundaries.

“That’s lovely. Thank you, Jean-Pierre. Did your sister send you out for anything else?” The shopkeeper smiled, jogging Monsieur’s memory.

“Perhaps,” he said, thinking about it. During the pause, the shopkeeper gestured towards me and I handed over a basket full of carrots. “Oh, I have something to pick up as well. I don’t know why a little greeting card I ordered was delivered here,” I shared. 

The shopkeeper sympathized, “Maybe it was meant to be.”

Driving home I thought about the errant postman, who wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Now, looking at the bigger picture, I see his role as some kind of cosmic carrier, rerouting my own, and a few others' paths that day...and also the role of the tiny parcel, in altering our schedules and so tinkering with Father Time. Perhaps that is peace: when the clock stops ticking and the heart opens up to the moment at hand.


I can’t end this update without sharing the message on my nephew’s graduation card: (First, picture a dachshund wearing a party hat): “Well done you clever sausage!” the card reads. Today, this message also applies to my Mom, for her cheery, positive, and grateful attitude while being poked and prodded at Hôpital Européen in Marseille on Tuesday. As we keep Jules in our thoughts and prayers, her French health insurance is set to expire this week. We eagerly await its renewal, crucial for her upcoming 4-day hospital stay and a battery of tests aimed at uncovering the cause of her inflammation.

Dachshund card

To leave a comment or a correction click here. Merci!


Audio File Click here to listen to the French pronunciation

le changement de propriétaire = change of ownership
Il devait en être ainsi = it was meant to be
le dégout = strong disappointment 
le dépôt = drop-off site
le livreur, la livreuse = delivery man, delivery woman
le souci = worry
la flânerie = stroll, ramble
la sieste = siesta, nap
le point relais = parcel pickup location
la couette = duvet, comforter
la carte de voeux = greetings card
le jus de carotte = carrot juice
la fougasse = the French equivalent of focaccia bread
le lait = milk
une noisette = “a hazelnut” means a shot of coffee with milk in a very small cup
C’est mieux pour la santé = It's healthier
j'ai travaillé dans le nucléaire = I worked in nuclear

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Boucherie Jacky Ceyreste

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Bonjour Kristi. I hope all goes well for Jules. I understand the issue with delivery drivers indicating the recipient wasn’t home then taking the package to a depot. I find it usually happens with Collissimo deliveries. It’s a minor frustration easily overcome by the great good fortune of living in France. 💙🤍❤️


Sending some prayers for Jules,

Raw Cacao is amazing for inflammation! It has the highest antioxidants on the planet, way higher than wild blueberries even!

It is also known to lower blood pressure and increase oxygen to the brain by 30-40%.

It’s often called the bliss drink for this reason. Can be made into hot chocolate or put into smoothies.

Trina in St. Petersburg, FL, USA

What a lovely story, Kristi! And my best to Jules.
PS Hallmark.com has a sign & send service if you ever need it for the US. No extra charge for the postage. They will type the message & have a variety of fonts, OR you can handwrite the message, take a photo, & upload it to be printed on the card.


Such a warm and sweet story today, Kristi. My eyes were misty at the end. Thank you. And,
Best wishes to Jules.

Karen in Northport, NY

Oh, hugs to Jean-Pierre. And Jules. The adventures of aging. So glad you are/were there for them. 💕💕💕 Things that used to be simple... I attended a fancy, formal wedding this past weekend involving ferry rides, NYC driving, hotel rooms, and getting my very casual self spiffed up for the occasion. It was something of an ordeal. Remembering everything. My old eyes trying to watch 360 degrees of fast moving traffic. Not being able to dance the night away with an achy foot. I'm very glad I made the effort, it was beautiful, but I slept most of Monday. And now I have long lovely pink manicured fingernails that are both inconvenient and, apparently, indestructible. I could go on (and on and on) but will post now before I get distracted and forget I've got a draft going.....


Hi Kristi,
Cute card and I will be keeping Jules in my prayers!

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

Serendipity! And a lovely story. Merci for putting a smile on my face.

Patricia Sands

Je garderai chere Jules dans mes pensées et je souhaite le meilleur des résultats de bonne santé. Je vous embrasse fortement!


What a sweet post today, Kristi! You set a good example in so much of your life. And thank you for sharing your ups and downs and around with us. You are a great writer.

Debbi Moore Schwarz

Kristi, love all your stories but this one really hit me! Prayers for Jules!

Carolyn S.

I just want to second what Pat says - that you have become a wonderful writer over all these years. This story is simple but so heartfelt and just lovely. Merci!

Suzanne Dunaway

Oh, Kristie's maman, we hope so much for good health for you and smooth sailing when you're out of hospital. They are no fun (especially the food, n'est pas?) And what a lovely encounter at the point relais.
We have a sign on our door for dellivery people:

svp laissez le colis en bas devant la porte MERCI.

and when we are not home, Amazon or La Poste or whoever is delivering leaves the package at our front door, which is covered. If you have a place to leave things, just put a sign and they will leave the package unless it requires a signature. Point relais is NOT convenient but one does discover new things wherever it is!

Patricia Steel

Like other readers, your words brought tears to my eyes, I so enjoy your articles. Thank you. Patricia S.


Salut Kristi!

Quelle belle petite voyage a Ceyreste!
Ca me fait envie de sortir aujourd'hui. Je me sens 'cabin fever' ici a Wyoming au ranch!
Il devait en être ainsi ce matin pour lire ton blog et pour apprendre cette super phrase que j'adore!

Merci et gros calins a Jules!


Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

If this encounter made your day in this way, imagine what you did for the others.
A fleeting moment, a brief exchange, gentle words…can all have a lasting effect.
Surely it is providential ~

Congratulations to Payne. Quite an accomplishment! And prayers for Jules that she will find relief and comfort. ♥️


Merci beaucoup for this sweet story !
🙏 Prayers for Jules.

Leslie Singers Glen, Va.(for Jules)

Thank you for this open-hearted post. I agree with others that your writing has subtlety and elegance, a shimmer. You capture the quietest moment at the store, revealing a moment of grace. 🙏🏻

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi,

Life is made brighter by your grace and kindness! How beautiful moments such as these are - like ripples of love that spread throughout our world.

Thank you for sharing your story!

Earle Self

La Poste can be an adventure. When my daughter and husband moved to Savoie to open their restaurant, in the village where they lived, they had no street address. We were over for a visit and the carrier came to the door with a letter for my SIL. Only my wife was home. Her French from a short term as an exchange student was pretty rusty. She explained that Dominik wasn't home and then asked in English if the letter carrier spoke English. The woman replied that she only spoke French, stuck the letter back in her pouch, and left. It took a 20-kilometer round trip to pick it up. And don't get me started on the rooftop carrier I purchased from Amazon.fr. It took two weeks to travel from Strasbourg to Lyon - and then stalled. It was delivered, trashed, months later and it took me months to get my refund...


This was a reminder that I needed today! Thank you!

Catherine Berry

Opportunities to connect like this are special and, like a smile with a passerby, give me as much joy as I hope I emanate.

Susan Carter

Prayers for Jules.


What a great reminder- we are where we were meant to be. I have a watch that says “Trust the timing of your life”. We don’t always end up where we think we should be, but are somewhere that we can have an impact on another’s life or they can bring something special to our life-a change, a new thought, a moment of inspiration, a smile when we need it. Be mindful in your life of these fleeting opportunities. They may be just an instant but can be life altering.

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