Trompe-l'oeil (c) Kristin Espinasse

Picture of a "fools the eye" or "trompe-l'oeil" taken in the medieval village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens (Var, France).  

revivre (reuh veevreuh)

    : to live again

Listen to 13-year-old Jackie pronounce these French words (Download MP3 file

Aimer, c'est mourir en soi pour revivre en autrui. 
Love is to die to self so as to live again in others. --Honoré d'Urfé

Newforest (whom many of you know from the comments section) notes: I think "mourir en soi" means the same as "mourir à soi-même", which implies -> not to live for oneself any more, and to become free to give one's life to others, to put other people's happiness first. 


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

Guts & Gratitude

When Mom viewed Saturday's edition of Cinéma Vérité, she was transported back to France, to 2003, when, after breaking her hanche, she came to our village to recuperate. But once she arrived here to heal her hip, she began to notice a pain in her breast.... 

In the letter below, Mom recounts how she spent the hours leading up to her mastectomy. The idea of the surgery greatly troubled her and when the fear of the unknown became paralyzing she shot up... and proceeded to move every limb in her body in order to shake off the numbing unknown. Next, she flew out the door for a last-minute périple around the medieval village. What "unknowns" that troubled her heart were replaced by the "knowns" that had gotten her this far: namely, a community of caring villagers who had been there for her and her broken hip and who would be there for her even after this. 

Reviewing the snapshots of her former stomping grounds, Jules was overcome with gratitude: 

Darling Kristi,

You have flooded my entire being with memories of Les Arcs this morning. I used to run up those very stairs several times a day and night. I first started my voyage ascending in my trusty 'walker', then my cane, and finally achieved my freedom to practically fly up the cobblestone pathway to the castle above the night before my cancer surgery.

I remember that cool brisk evening. I was running all over the village, down to the train station, back up around the mountain to your neighborhood, back down through the village, across the bridge and up to the castle.

I was in another body that night, running from my fear, it was like I had a new body full of strength I didn't know I possessed... it was the longest night of my life. As I have said before of Les Arcs "It takes a village", they were my village and my family and without Les Arcs I would never be the person I am today.




Reading Mom's words, I can picture her in her straw fedora and borrowed hiking boots. I see her racing around in the dark night, stopping, par ici et par là, to look into the brightly lit households as the villagers, who poured another cup of mint tea (how many Moroccan families had taken her in and filled her with sweets?) or glasses of wine. I know she swept past her dear friend E's "home", no more than a cubbyhole at the back of a garage, where a mattress and empty beer bottles were evidence of her only comforts. Those, and her raggedy, gentle-natured dog.

Mom was a spirit that night, passing imperceptibly through the village, mentally tucking in all her friends before she tucked her own self in high up in a one-room loft, on loan from a friend. There, she slept peacefully... on no other than "Peace Street".

In Marseilles the next day nurses rolled Jules away on a stretcher. I stood outside the elevator, staring down at my Mom, who propped her head up and smiled back at me. The doors were closing and the nurses had asked me to step back please.

Mom winked at me. "I'm ready!" Mom chirped, to the French nurses, who looked at her bemusedly. "Roll me in! Praise God. I'm ready!"

That night the villagers drank their tea and their wine, depending on which household you peered into. And I like to think that they raised their glasses and toasted the free-spirited woman. Mom was no longer outside their windows looking in, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't busy blessing them.


Le Coin Commentaires
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Mom's departure 8.14.03 008
My beautiful mom, Jules, after the surgery in 2003.

Mom's departure 8.14.03 003
She didn't know it then, but another mastectomy awaited her in Mexico (the bad news). As for the good news: her husband was waiting for her. I cannot wait to see John and to thank him for all he has done to take care of my mom. I am only sorry it took this many years to express my gratitude.

Note: Mom celebrated her 5-year "all's clear" mark and is doing great! 

French Vocabulary

la hanche = hip

le périple = tour, journey

par ici et par là = here and there


Claras war
I could not put this book down!  I have packed it in my carry-on, to take to my mom. It has nothing to do with cancer, but everything to do with courage and today's verb, revivre! Order a copy here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Delphinium or Lupine near Orange (c) Kristin Espinasse
Are there seasons in Heaven? A field of French flowers for a favorite Uncle.

Help spread the French word: if you enjoy these thrice-weekly visits to France, perhaps a friend would too? Please forward today's edition or share the blog. (Smokey would like to add: "for those who don't fancy French... then please tell an animal lover about my own column: "A Day in a Dog's Life". There's somethin' for everyone chez nous!)

tristesse (tree-stess) noun, feminine

    : sadness

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

We need to keep this simple today. Simple as sadness.

For while love is sometimes a mystery...
can sadness be put in the same category?

No, sadness is simple... as love should be.

Sadness is frank. Sadness un-peels itself and off goes the coat, then the sweater, then the shirt... eventually bearing our hearts, our very hurts.

While our hearts hold on to Haiti, some people question the Pourquoi of it all: "Why would God do this?"

Adding to the tristesse is our own personal misery. My dear sweet Uncle Rusty (Jules's 66-year-old brother) passed away on Friday. Three months ago he was fine. Three weeks ago he learned he had cancer.

Along with others out there, I try to compose my thoughts about tragedy, calamity, and being taken "unawares" from this earthly "comedy". It has all happened so fast.

While others question the Pourquoi—and so slip into doubt and hopelessness, I am busy making a pact with my dear Uncle up above:

For as long as he looks down on me...
I promise to "smile up" and make him proud of what he sees.

We can choose to tangle ourselves in complexity (ever demanding Why? How could it be!) or we can get busy straightening out our arms, holding out our hands, helping others along, in love and simplicity.


Every comment is appreciated. Thank you.

Update (from my mom,  Jules):

Thank You all of my FRIENDS AT FWAD, Yes, I am still crying - your messages are helping my broken heart. Rusty was the shinning star of my life as a child, even until my 20's. I followed him around just like a little puppy, he was everything to me. Rusty was a mechanical man, when I received my first baby-doll stroller he dismanteled it in one day. He built me tree-huts and then moved on to building doon-buggies and jet-boats before they were even invented. When I was 10 and Rusty 13 a friend from California brought him the plans to build a skiff-type boat, that had a stand up bar which he held onto and a 35 hp. motor on the back. We spent all of our afternoons after school (me sitting in front of his stand-up bar with the controls mounted flying up and down the Colorado river chasing mud-hens. We looked like we were on a flying carpet-coffee table. In the evenings we would dance the jitterbug together. So many wonderful memories... XOXO JULES


French Vocabulary & Example Sentence: Download Wav  or  MP3

La tristesse ne manque pas de s'exprimer [sur Facebook]... "nous tenons tellement de choses pour acquises. Prions pour le peuple d'Haïti". There is no shortage of messages of sadness  [on Facebook]: "We take so much for granted. Pray for the people of Haiti". (FranceSoir: Séisme en Haïti)

pourquoi = why; la tristesse (f) = sadness



A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Smokey Dokey

Of all the members of our family... I am the one who most resembles our dashing Uncle Rusty. For one, we have the same color hair! Secondly, we have the same sweet hearts. Also, just as you, Dear Uncle, were a handy man, I fancy myself "handy mutt". More about those talents that I have inherited—from I know now who... in future episodes.

Love (and don't forget to forgive others, as we dogs do),


French Word-A-Day book For those of you who would like to order my latest book—and catch up on the word a day summer archives, click here.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device

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English Grammar for Students of French: The Study Guide for Those Learning French

Clean Provence. Eau De Parfum Spray

Sweatshirt "Provence-Alpes-Cote D'azur" Sweatshirt

Sea Salt by La Baleine -- a classic on every French table

crepe maker  Crepe Maker -- don't forget to buy some Nutella to top off these crepes! Nutella




French Word-A-Day in the news, er, "in the blogs":

A Taste of Garlic "Kristin Espinasse Interview" by Keith Eckstein

Blurb Blog: "From Blog to Book to Sales" by Eileen Hansen

Ann Mah's Dreaming of a French Life

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.