Convoquer: Leap of Faith & Mom goes into the Hospital
La Belle Dormant: Jules Returns Home & A Reason to Be Proud of France!

Bonne Fête: Celebrating Moms Twice!

Bonne fete maman
Read about two inspiring women in today's story. One of them is my Mom, who sends sincere thanks for all the loving messages and prayers you sent her, following the previous post. Merci beaucoup!  Read to the end for a full update and picture of Jules.

Here in France, I completed and filed my US Tax Return electronically. I highly recommend Expatfile. Give it a try and be done, finally, with your 2023 tax return. (Income will not be taxed twice due to the tax treaty between France and the United States.) Click here for more info. 

TODAY’S WORD: Bonne Fête Maman

        : Happy Mother's Day, Mom


        : bolster (a long, log-shaped pillow)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Sunday morning, with ten minutes to spare before church, a rack of summer pants caught my eye. A little boutique on Rue des Poilus was going out of business, and everything was on sale. It was Mother's Day in France, and though we already celebrated American Mother's Day two weeks ago, I decided to observe it twice this year by offering Mom a nice pair of summer pants. We certainly had something to celebrate: Mom was getting a second lease on life after checking into the hospital last Monday.

Though she asked me not to visit this weekend, I missed Mom terribly. Besides, she needed shampoo, Kleenex, and a fresh towel after a week in the hospital (hospitals in France do not provide these essentials). I decided to surprise her with a brief visit—just 30 minutes. "Pas plus!" No more! After all, she had kicked me out a few times and gently told me not to come back over the weekend. I finally understood how exhausting it is to receive visitors, even your own daughter, when you're in a hospital.

Running late now for church, I grabbed a pair of black linen pants from the outdoor rack and hurried inside to pay when a woman of a certain age appeared at the entrance. "Coucou!" she said to the owner, wishing her the best with a wide smile. For as reserved and shy as the boutique owner and I were, Madame was exuberant. Impeccably styled with her hair teased and lacquered, she held a colorful bouquet of peonies and a bright yellow bag labeled "fine Belgian chocolates."

"Elles sont magnifiques!" the owner smiled.

"I bought them for myself—for Mother's Day!" the woman boasted, stepping into the boutique. "Et oui, les chocolats aussi!" she grinned.

As I watched her, she reminded me of Mom, just a few years ago. How I longed for her to return to her vibrant, adventurous self. But I knew Jules' fatigue wasn't from a lack of zest for life—it was from an undiagnosed health issue the doctors were only now beginning to understand.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I turned to the lady with the flowers. "Quelle bonne idée!" I said, admitting, "My kids haven't called me yet!" It wasn't fair to imply they had forgotten La Fête des Meres. I knew that, after church, I'd be returning home to a nice lunch on the terrace with Max and Ana, though Jackie would be at work. The idea I wouldn't see my daughter on Mother's Day saddened me.

The woman with the flowers turned to me, her smile radiating right through me. She shook the bouquet and smiled, "On n'est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même!"

Admiring her style with her leopard purse, her slacks/jacket ensemble, and T-shirt avec des paillettes, I just had to tell her how cool she was—in an indirect way (à la française!). "I love your attitude. And that’s such a great phrase. Could you please repeat it?"

"Bien sûr! On n'est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même."

As I struggled to remember it, Madame encouraged me to write it down, waiting patiently for me to open my phone and find my notes. I mouthed the translation as I typed: "If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself." It was a wonderful lesson from a dynamic woman, who shared she was eighty-five and always looking on the bright side. I couldn't wait to get to the hospital and share the encounter with Mom while she opened her presents (du coup, I also got her a box of chocolates and flowers, compliments of  my sister Heidi and me).

At the Hôpital Européen in Marseille, I knocked quietly on door number 3404. Mom sat up in bed, surprised to see me and Jean-Marc. She looked more beautiful than ever, without makeup and her trademark Panama. Une beauté naturelle! "I'm so glad you are here," she admitted, revealing her loneliness. When she reached out to hug us, I saw the bruises up and down her arms. "They're bloodthirsty here," Mom laughed, making light of the many prises de sang she had given the nurses.

I noticed Mom no longer had her new favorite pillow—the "traversin" she had discovered in her room that first day. She had shared that room with two different patients before being transferred to her own room, in which the traversin was forgotten.

"Mom, you’ve got to speak up. Ask for what you need! By the way, did they ever bring you that bottle of water? And are they giving you your eye drops—three different kinds a day? I hope they are remembering to take your blood pressure from below your knee!" (We learned that, in France, for those who have had breast cancer, protocol is not to take blood pressure from the arm. Something about lymph nodes and swelling.)

Not wanting to wear Mom out with reminders, I delivered the bottom line. "Mom! You know what Grandma Audrey used to say: 'The squeaky wheel gets the oil.' Do you know what that means?"

"It means bitch, bitch, bitch if you need something!"

Now that we were laughing again, I broke the news to her. "You will be here a few more days. I'll be back on Tuesday. In the meantime, you've got to advocate for yourself!"

"If only I could advocate for better food," Mom laughed. "Today's was the first good meal all week. So when I was done eating, I took that little menu included with each meal and flipped it over. On the back, I wrote 'BEST MEAL YET'."

I hope the chef will understand Mom’s English. But if Jules gets desperate enough, she might take Madame Flower’s advice and head down to the cafeteria to serve herself. Remember, dear reader, on n’est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même!

Post Note: Hurrying out of the boutique on my way to church, I rounded the corner and was surprised by a lovely young woman sitting on one of the steps. It was Jackie, waiting in the wings to surprise me with a “Happy Mother's Day, Mom!”

Madame Fleurs
"Madame Fleurs" and the shop owner, two lovely women I met on Sunday.

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

Bonne Fête, Maman! = Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
= the church
Rue des Poilus = Poilus Street
les pantalons = pants
elle me manquait = I missed her
Pas plus! = No more!
Coucou! = Hi there!
d'un certain âge = of a certain age
Elles sont magnifiques! = They are magnificent!
pour la fête des mères = for Mother's Day
Et oui, les chocolats aussi! = And yes, the chocolates too!
la joie de vivre = zest for life
Quelle bonne idée! = What a good idea!
ensemble avec des paillettes = outfit with sequins
à la française! = in the French way!
Bien sûr! = Of course!
On n'est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même = If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself
du coup = as a result / so
L'Hôpital Européen = The European Hospital
la prise de sang = blood sample
une beauté naturelle = a natural beauty
le traversin = the bolster pillow

”LES POILUS” (a historic note from Odile GOUGET)

Kristi, You mentioned la Rue des Poilus in your post. I thought your readers might be interested in knowing that "les Poilus" is the nickname that was given to the soldiers of the First World War (La Grande Guerre). 
One reason may be that in the trenches they grew their beards and moustaches and therefore all looked hairy.
Another reason may be that "avoir du poil" means to be brave. Les poilus were the brave men fighting on the front contrary to "les embusqués". In France during the First World War, an "embusqué" was an able-bodied man of mobilisation age who was away from combat positions. "Embusqués" included a wide range of categories: those exempted and deferred on health grounds, except for the obviously incapacitated, soldiers in the rear, men in the auxiliary services and the territorial army, workers assigned to the armaments industry, and civil servants with surplus pay. Protected from danger, the ambushers were generally despised and, at the same time, often envied. 
Best wishes from

Jules and breezy
A favorite picture of Mom, with Breezy, taken before she moved to France in 2018. As of today, Thursday, Mom has been in the hospital for 11 days—all for testing. Yesterday she was transported via ambulance from Marseille to Aubagne for a special TEP, or PET scan. We hope this is the last test and that she’ll be released soon. She is desperate to return home to her cozy studio, for a good snuggle with Ricci. Please keep Mama Jules in your thoughts and prayers for healing and for her insurance to kick in. The hour of reckoning is upon us! We can’t thank you enough for your caring notes 💗

Below is a beautiful painting Mom did years ago, representing our family here in France. The deer from left to right are Jean-Marc, Max, me, Jackie, and Grandma Jules. I brought the painting to the hospital to brighten Mom’s room and to leave her in good company when we are away from the hospital and she is on her own.  


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love, love the painting......she needs to come home and do more


Hi Kristi,
Keeping Jules in my prayers!
The painting is beautiful!

Yvonne Wilkins

J'adore toutes les histoires qui parle de votre mère. On peut voir qu'elle est une partie très importante de votre vie.

Ellen A

Omigosh, that is truly a splendid painting! What an amazing idea to represent the family as deer! It's like something from a fairytale. While a stay in hospital is never fun, I do appreciate the fact that the French don't toss you out after just a day or two. Sounds as if the doctors are really trying to find the problem, and a solution. Warm thoughts to you all.

Suzanne Dunaway

Lordy lordy what a maman!!!! Wonderful painting, just wonderful and I hope so much your maman will have healing help. You two look so much alike, so lovely both.


Bonjour Kristi. This not for you, pls forward to La Belle Reine. Jules, you should know that should I have been present for the taking of the photo included in this edition of The News From France Breezy would have been put on the floor and it would have been I who whispered in your ear. Your seem better this morning and that is a good sign even if it is Kristi’s evaluation and not yours. I had a small heart procedure recently and I remember the pokes and prods during the day and night. While almost intolerable there is an old young man across the pond who pulls for you every day. Keep smiling (that is the trick) and know I am here willing to fight Breezy for your beautiful ear, ;-). Get well. You are the only one who can do it even tho there are many standing by to help. Allons boire un coup? Bientôt.

Elizabeth Jones

Sending healing thoughts to Jules and hoping rapid return to your loving family soon! And Kristi you are an amazing daughter! 💕

Sue J.

so thoughtful to bring her beautiful painting, Kristi. You have a lovely heart. My prayers for dear Jules.


Happy belated Mother’s Day! Wishing all the best for Jules and you.

Gail in AZ

Praying for Jules, who I did not know was a very talented artist! Was thrilled to read Jackie was waiting on the steps for you after church ❤️

Yvonne Fulchiron

Prayers for your Mom. Love your wonderful site and French terms from an American point of view Bonne Fete


Our dear Kristi,
As always your gifted words fill us with with inspiration--and admiration(!!) for the closeness of your family and the love and respect you share together.
Todays post is filled with patience,perseverance, --and! At the top of the list ,hope! That all will indeed be well.
What a wonderful way to begin today-- or any day!!
Continued and unending prayers,ma chere.
Arms tight around all of you ( promising not to squish dear Jules too tight!)
Natalia. Xo

Carolyn R Chase

What a delightful article today, and such charming references to the similarities to Jules. How I wish I could still visit my own mom - and that I'd been able to visit her during the last half year of her life. At least by brother was able to stop by daily.
Please let Jules know that I have found great joy in the tales that have included her and look forward to many more. I have been encouraged to be myself, and perhaps a bit outrageous so that I'm more like the gal in the poem by Jenny Joseph, Warning (about wearing purple). I sense that Jules is an "old soul" - something that has been said about me. I pray for clarity and for a easy path back to health and energy and joy.

Elizabeth L

Chiming in with more best wishes for Jules and hoping that these long days of hospitalization and testing bring some resolution to the issues she’s dealing with (and comfort to all of you).
Your posts are always honest, candid and heartwarming. You must be so relieved to have J-M back by your side as you face your mom’s illness, as well as Max, Jackie and Ana nearby. Stay strong! Your world-wide community is thinking of you all.


Thanks for the post Kristi - blessings and prayers for Jules and your family. And Jules needs to paint more! ♥


Dear Kristi,

This was delightful. Thanks for updating us on Jules, I hope answers are soon forthcoming (to say nothing of that insurance finally kicking in) and she can be back at home with all of you. Her painting is precious.

Wishing you all well.

Laraine Lippe

What a beautiful painting! Jules is very talented!
I hope all the bureaucratic lunacy gets corrected ASAP and that Jules can return home and be with you all and with her Ricci!

Cate Salenger

Beautiful painting by an incredible woman. I've always admired your mom and her wonderful seemingly flamboyant personality. The compete opposite of myself so I'm all the more impressed and inspired. Many prayers and blessings. xoxo Cate

Kitty W-P

Simply superb to tag along with you before church, and then with J-M too, throughout your Mother's Day visit with dear Jules, Kristi.

Thanks, as ever, for bringing us with you. Cherished by us around the world, your family so deserves all that your hopes long for.

May you receive those blessings that will most enrich your precious web of wise and wondrous love -- that is, 'au sein de votre troupeau familial de cerfs courageux et beaux' as in Jules's gorgeous, soul-rich painting.

Like all of us here, I'm holding each and all of you in my heart -- including little Ricci, of course, who will surely be 'L'icône de *Bienvenue à la Maison, Chère Grand-mère!*' on the day!

Catherine Berry

Another family story full of heart. You are all very special.

Joanne Ablan

That's a very lovely painting by Jules! And how thoughtful of you to bring it to her.
Praying for her complete and swift recovery, Joanne

Jeanine Woods

Bonjour Kristi!
Je prie pour Jules, votre belle mère. Pour la bonne nouvelles et un rétablissement total et qu’elle peut rentrer bientôt chez vous. Aussi, je prie pour vous, que vous aurez le paix et comfort de Dieu pendant cette difficile situation.

K. J. Laramie

Oh, what a treat you’ve shared with all of us! That painting has been painted with so much love and special meaning. It is so well done! I use metaphor in my work and it adds a certain depth, another level of beauty, and spirituality.
We want more!! Get well soon, Jules. You are truly talented!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
This is beautiful.
I have learned that there is always hope, and wherever it takes you, trust in your faith that all will be okay.
Keeping you all in my hopeful heart…

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