A food that garantees happiness, luck, health and offspring?

Almond harvest

Happy, lucky, and healthy and we haven't even eaten an almond yet! Just goes to show the power of this fuzzy, favorite French fruit. Read on...

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Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click here for more pictures.

une amande (ah-mahnd)
    : almond

sugared almond = la dragée
almond paste = la frangipane
almond tree = un amandier
sweet/bitter almond = amande douce/amère
almond tartlet = une amandine
... and have you ever eaten a "Pithivier"? A pie made of puff pastry with almond paste inside.
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Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentences from Wikipedia.frDownload MP3 or Wav 

  • recouverte d'une peau veloutée au toucher, verte et duveteuse, l'amande est un fruit à coque/ Covered with skin that is velvet to the touch, green and fluffy, the almond is a nut.
  • au temps des Romains, on jetait des amandes sur les mariés pour leur garantir bonheur, chance, santé et une belle descendance. In Roman times they threw almonds at newlyweds, guaranteeing them happiness, luck, health, and many descendants
  • L'orgeat que l'on consomme de nos jours est une boisson fabriquée à partir d'amandes. The orgeat we drink these days is a beverage made partly from almonds.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

We continue this twice-weekly journal with photos rather than essaysThis way I can relax and focus on Mom. Only two more weeks together, time is flying past! Enjoy today's snapshots of our almond récolte and see you in a few more days, with even more pictures :-)

Kissing the almond harvesters

Mom and I returned home to a flurry of activity. Jean-Marc and his friends were tackling the almond harvest. We had been wondering how to approach the chore, hemming and hawing about it for days. Then Guillaume, his brother Benjamin, and Eric (all skiers from Serre Chevalier) showed up! In the no-nonsense fashion typical of les montagnards, or mountain men--the guys brought down the fuzzy shelled fruit in a shower of efficiency!

(There's Mom, kissing Benjamin each time he offers her une amande fraîche.)

Hugging the almond harvesters

Mom's right, a little show of gratitude leads to even more harvested almonds! That's Benjamin's brother, Guillaume, standing on the chair raking in the velvety "fruit."  


But let's not be too kissy-huggy... not with Chief Grape looking on! Good thing his specialty is wine, or he might be called Chief Nut. Just sayin'.


Back to business. Here's Eric, ski instructor and pub owner in Serre Chevalier. Looks like he is holding plyers in one hand. Other alternative nut-crackers included those heavy pétanque balls, which were handy for cracking the shells (see first photo of this series, lower right corner) 


 Trying my luck with the le râteau, or rake. How do you harvest almonds?

More importantly, how do you like your almonds? Roasted, raw and fresh (as devoured here, by the guys), in frangipane (le gâteau des rois...) Comment here, and share ideas on more ways to enjoy almonds!


 Favorite photo of Guillaume: The Art of Almond Harvesting


Benjamin, right, was just a kid when I first met him. Last year, after retiring from professional skiing, he coached the French Women's ski team in Sochi!


In addition to plyers and steel pétanque balls, another alternative to the nutcracker is displayed here. Guillaume, careful with your teeth! 

A message from our sponsors, and one more photo to come...

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Did you enjoy the almond harvest? And learn a thing or two? Here's another tip: A big straw hat makes a charming harvest basket. This one, found at the farmers market, was a gift from my belle-mère, Marsha,  and my Dad

Capture plein écran 16122011 162653Very excited and grateful for the latest review of Blossoming in Provence:

 "I loved this book, and wanted it to go on forever! I'm hoping for a lengthier book from her sometime in the near future." --LuAnn

If you enjoyed this book or the memoir, First French Essais, and would like to leave a review, please click here. Your ratings are so helpful in getting the word out about these books on French life.

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Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

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To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


Almond Trees (c) Kristin Espinasse

       Almond trees, "lemons", or jalopies... near the town of Orange, France.

fugueuse (foo geuhz) noun, feminine

    : a runaway

=> the masculine is fugueur (foo guer)
=>Also: la fugue: running away ; faire une fugue or fuguer = to run away ; le fugitif (la fugitive)

Sound File: Listen to American-accented French... in today's audio file (the Francophones in the house are doing la grasse mat* or "the sleep in"...):
Download MP3 or Download Wav

Braise, "la fugueuse", est rentrée avant hier après un l-o-n-g périple!
Braise, the runaway, returned day before yesterday.... after a l-o-n-g journey

*faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in  

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"A Sensational Walk in the Country"

There's plenty of time to collect a branch or two of almond flowers alongside the path, or sentier... for our dog, Braise, is dragging and I have to slow down and turn around several times to egg her on.

"Qu'est-ce qu'il y a, Fugueuse?" I tease our 5-year-old runaway. "Trop fatiguée? Et ben, je me demande pourquoi?!"

Our dog's recent escapade was enough to tire out my very tear ducts! Who knew that tear ducts could ache? A day and a half! One entire night! It was her longest disappearance.

What is sure is that our golden girl needs more exercise, more adventure... and it is up to us to get her out and about every day... else suffer another anguishing all-nighter!

Mmanm's photo's 269

"Come on!" I call, heading out to the river. The surrounding grapevines are leaf-bare and a blurry man is pruning them. I squint my eyes but he still won't come into focus, and so I do the wave: the big friendly whoever-you-are-I-salute-you! wave. It works and the stranger returns the greeting!

Braise would like to be even more amicale... she'd like to mosey over and discover just what's in the farmer's casse-croûte... but her roaming days are over (!) and I shout for her to follow us (not that Smokey is following along any better: he's taken along a picnic of his own in the form of one chewy oreille de cochon).

Between Braise's dragging feet and Smokey's smokey treat (he is obliged to pause every two minutes to lie on the ground and chew), ours is a slow stroll.

There is time to collect several branches of wild rosemary, the purple-blue flowers looking unusually true. After a despairing night, my senses are strangley "bright", so that when the noisy mallards glide out of the ruisseau... I am thunderstruck. I stop to watch in awe as the ducks fly off. 

Quickly, I step over to the stream, which is filled with irises -- soon the yellow flowers will pop out. But I am no longer searching for first flowers... it is the canetons that I'm interested in. When will the baby ducks appear?

Ma and Pa Canard are now circling cautiously above our heads and I understand only too well their concern...

I call after our furry fugueuse and our trio walks on amid flowering trees and morning song. It is time for us to return home from this sensual balade. So much to be grateful for. Yes! Thank God, Braise is back! 

Le Coin Commentaires
Join us here, in our community corner. Respond to today's story, offer a correction, or ask each other questions about French or France! Click here to enter the discussion or simply to learn from it.

And here's a recent comment from the What to do in Lyon edition. Margie writes: Wow! This was wonderful reading and many fabulous ideas for Lyon. Could we possibly ask same question but substitiute Strasbourg for Lyon? 

 Hi Margie. Yes, definitely! Stay tuned for the What to Do in Strasbourg - Que faire à Strasbourg edition :-) Meantime, Readers, get your ideas ready... and save them for the upcoming post!

Jean-Marc's USA Wine Tour: Meet Chief Grape and taste his wines in New York this Monday March 7th at Vestry Wines from 4 to 7 PM and in many other US cities !

French Vocabulary

le sentier = path

qu'est-ce qu'il y a = what's up? what's the matter?

fugueuse (fuguer) = runaway

trop fatiguée? = too tired?

et ben, je me demande pourquoi? = well! I wonder why?

amical(e) = friendly

le casse-croûte = snack

une oreille de cochon = pig ears (dog treats). These, and more pet supplies here

le ruisseau = stream

le caneton = duckling

le canard = duck

une balade = walk, stroll


Capture plein écran 01032011 193918 The Paris Wife: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Read the reviews, here.

Also see:

Nintendo's My French Coach :

Provendi Revolving Soaps The practical and very neat Provendi revolving soap fixtures have adorned public school washrooms throughout France for years. Now they're turning up in the most chic places. Order here.
It's All About Braise!
Since Smokey, below right, gets most of the blog space... it is time to shine the light on his Mama Braise! Here she is above, in Sept 2009, with Smokey and sisters... 


And though she lets others jump higher... she is the strongest of all!


She saved her son... on that fateful day in October, when two dogs attacked and left him for dead. She barked and barked, chasing them away.

But that doesn't mean she's not une chipie, or "a little devil", ever ready to elope with Smokey's dad, Sam (and ain't he "glam", that Sam (above, left)? Don't miss the story "Lost in Marseilles", when she and her boyfriend almost... almost took the train to Venice for "une fugue amoureuse", or elopement. Click here for the story.

Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.