Slang in French for "to have a bite to eat" & La Loco (a delicious Italian restaurant in Cassis)

L'ardoise French menu at La Loco italian restaurant in Cassis France
A sympathique place to eat in Cassis. That's Max's pal, Antoine, and a couple of furry customers trying to get into "La Loco"--an Italian Restaurant facing the train station 1.9 miles above the Cassidian Port.

: “casser la dalle”

    : to have a bite to eat (slang)

SOUND FILE: Click the link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here to access the sound file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Casser La Dalle à Cassis"

"J'adore cette route!" my son, Max says as we zoom up and down the backroads of Cassis in our electric, blue bagnole. On our right a tiny vineyard cradled in a slope, looking left, a chalky white cottage perched above the road.

Windows down, inhaling a pine-scented breeze, it’s refreshing to break free from restrictive planning (moments ago I had been trying to figure out how to divide yesterday's salmon miettes with my son who unexpectedly returned home for lunch. And now here we were, immersed in the Cassidian countryside, after Max suggested we eat out.

A call rang in via the car's bluetooth connection and with it a stream of argot tickled my ears as I listened to Max and Yann's conversation (selected phrases follow):

"Ça va, Gâtée?" How’s it going, Bro*? (Max responding to his close friend).
Je suis avec ma mère, on va casser la dalle à Cassis.” I'm with my mom, we're going to get a bite to eat in Cassis.
T’es toujours à ton taf?” Are you still at work?
"Oui, on vote cet aprèm. Tu vas voter blanc?" Yes, we're voting this afternoon. Are you turning in a blank ballot?

Gâtée, casser la dalle, taf...I burned that slang into my memory as we fired up the hill and the train station came into view. And there, tucked into the south side of the street behind the hedges, was the eatery. “It's called ‘La Loco’,” Max explained, “after ‘locomotive’." Well, choo! choo! that made sense. Less clear was why the name of the restaurant was nowhere to be seen. Hmm. A secret-private insider address?

To be sure, La Loco had a lot of locals. Not a foreign accent to be heard and at least three of the diners had a dog.
"Salut Zoé! Salut Antoine!" We kissed Max's friends, working there, and met "Francesco" (François) the owner and chef, before settling at a table beneath un arbre on the sunny terrace. The plane tree's leaves were just coming out, but the thick trunk and branches were enough to shade us from the midday soleil.

A solo diner arrived. Antoine showed Mademoiselle to the table behind us. "You can sit by Jean-Luc. Il est beau, n'est-ce pas?" A middle-aged Jean-Luc flashed a toothy smile before returning to nurse his beer, and the young woman with the green nail polish, Doc Martins, tattoos on her neck, graciously accepted the seat, which meant the two strangers would dine face to face after the awkward introduction. I was already feeling anxious for them when, in reality the two characters managed just fine, without my own awkward projections and assumptions. Oh, to feel that free! I need to get out more. 

"Salut!" Max shouted to a friend who walked in. We now chatted with Luca, who'd just finished "son taf." Taf! That’s the third time in one week this unfamiliar word came up. I wonder how many other words fly in and out of my ears, never to be registered. 

We paused to study the ardoise as Antoine went over the menu. Max recommended the Macaronnade: giant rings of pasta with meatballs made with fennel seeds, and Antoine suggested we share les blettes anchoïade —a swiss chard-anchovy-mozzarrela entree. What sounded un peu dégeu turned out to be délicieux. Max and I took turns soaking up the anchovy sauce, with some crispy baguette, until the plate was dry.

In the interlude between le plat and le dessert (a delicious tarte tatin) we soaked in more rays.“What do you call someone with no body and no nose?” My son challenged.
“Um, uh...I give up.”
Nobody knows!”

With that Max cracked up as only a francophone who understood English could (later, when I shared the corny joke with Grandma Jules, who got a kick out of it too. And you?)

Luca (not to be confused with toothy Jean-Luc) reappeared and we realized he'd been missing a while. "La plonge? Did they have you doing dishes," Max guessed.
"Every time," Luca laughed, raising his beer, before heading to Jean-Luc's table to pour some into his cup. 

This time Max disappeared behind the bar, returning with two grand crèmes. “I made a heart for you,” he said, pointing to the design in my coffee. Appetite satisfied, my cup full, the sun stretching its rays down on us, we were a long way from those cold, indivisible leftovers in our frigo. In two hours my world went from calculated and expanded like the open heart floating in my cup.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get any better, I reached into my purse to pay. “Ça y est. C'est fait. It’s all taken care of,” my son smiled, having treated me to lunch.


Anoine, Max, and Jean-Luc (who also disappeared from his lend a hand drying glasses). 

I hope you enjoyed today's tasty entry. Be sure to eat at La Loco if ever you are in Cassis. You won't have to fight for parking (as you do by the port) and you'll surely find good company in which to casser la dalle. Be ready to help with the dishes :-)

Address: La Loco, 29 Av. des Albizzi, Cassis (right across from the Cassis train station)

casser la dalle = to have a bite eat
une route = road
une bagnole = slang for “car”
une miette = crumbs, scraps, leftovers
l'argot = slang
*ma gâtée = term of endearment, "bro", "dear" (not easy to translate...) This expression is now back in vogue after a certain rapper popularized it. 
un taf = job, work(slang)
l’aprèm = short for l’après-midi, afternoon
le vote blanc = blank vote, blank ballot paper
un arbre = tree
le soleil = sun
un casque = helmet 
salut = hi
l'ardoise = blackboard, menu
la blette = Swiss chard 
un peu dégeu (déguelasse) = a little disgusting 
la tarte tatin = upside down apple pie 
la plonge = wash dishes
un grand crème (un café crème) = coffee with milk
le frigo = fridge
Ça y est. C’est fait = it’s been taken care of

D4145DDB-075C-44EF-BA67-D8BAEE4B4AA9Max, bringing the café crème he made for me 

IMG_0719 (1)
Seated beside the beautiful plane tree. Max posted this photo on his Instagram, which explains the "Mom" and heart emoji on the tree.

Do you have time for one more story? "Cuellir", written in Les Arcs-sur-Argens when Max was  10-years-old, is a small window into our family life at that time. Though it paints the story of an organized, harmonious "team", we are most often trying to find that elusive balance et c'est la vie.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Cassis recommendation + Une Tuerie: a popular slang term often used by foodies and bon vivants

Bar du XX eme siecle Cassis France tapas menu cuisine wine vin

Looking for an authentic wine and tapas bar in Cassis, France? Read on! 


    1. to die for, killer, freakin' delicious

the original meaning of tuerie is: a massacre

LISTEN - hear Jean-Marc read the example sentence in French click here

Cick here to listen to today's word

Le gâteau au chocolat de ma maman est une tuerie!
My mom's chocolate cake is to die for!

Cassis france rue pierre


"A Parade of Little Plates"

  by Kristi Espinasse

As we walked down to the port of Cassis, strolling beside candy-colored buildings lit up by so much sunshine on a crisp January day, my husband quizzed me.

"So what do you think you'll have for lunch?" he grinned.
"Oh, I don't know," I played along. 
"Du loup? Ou bien...du magret?..." Jean-Marc persisted. Whether in French or in English, he was taunting me!

"Peut-être..." I tried to be nonchalant, or else show my weakness for eating--especially for pan-seared French bistro cooking which I trusted was on le menu du jour. But what an assumption that turned out to be! When Jean-Marc invited me along to his noon-time meeting with a couple of wine représentants, I imagined we would lunch in a cozy resto--at least that is what my man led me to believe when he told me about his meeting in Cassis.

But as we sidled up to the comptoir in a bar formerly frequented by local drunks, I began to regret the perfectly sound meal que j'aurais pu me cuisiner! The meal I could have cooked, had I not taken the bait! But who wouldn't be tempted by a visit to Cassis? I decided to focus on that part of the equation and forget about rotisserie chicken (or lamb chops I would no longer have). And just as I let go of expectations, one of the reps looked my way:

With the kindest eyes, trentenaire Maxime said: It must get very boring to sit through these wine-fueled meetings

The man who had the same name as our son must have caught me staring at the bar counter which was packed with opened bottles of wine. And he must have translated the expression on my face--a look that read what am I doing here? But he couldn't have read the rest of my thoughts: What--at 15 years sober--am I doing seated once again in front of a sea of open wine bottles? (I periodically asked myself the same question: what am I doing moving to a vineyard? What am I doing with a frigo full of wine samples? Married to a winemaker? Now a wine merchant? But two vineyards later, and many wine-fueled lunches (wait, where's lunch?) like this, and I've not fallen off the wagon, pas une seule fois!

Embarrassed to be caught looking so forlorn, I perked right up with the help of my bubbly drink (sparkling water, bien sûr): "C'est vrai--des fois çela me gonfle! True, sometimes it gets to be a bit much. Mais, c'est aussi un privilège d'être parmi...vous (how else to say it was a privilege to be among the movers-and-shakers in French wine?). There are so many characters in the wine industry, so many stories, so much camaraderie that even a teetotaler can manage to fit in somewhere. I pulled my barstool up a little closer, and j'ai lâché prise....

"I smell eucalyptus!" Jean-Marc was saying, swirling his rosé and dipping his nose back beneath the rim of his wine glass. I giggled to myself, of course, that's your favorite tree... isn't it true how we become more sensitive to the things Just as Jean-Marc loves eucalyptus trees (and was now tasting them) I love characters. A wonderful group surrounded us now.....

There was the gentlemanly owner, Jacques, and his wife Marie (was there ever a more beautiful face? a mixture of Greta Garbo and the author of the bestseller Mange, Prie, Aime...).  Then there were the wine reps, Pierre and Maxime - jovial opposites, and obviously good friends and business partners. By the end of our meeting ("our" for I was now very much connected) we all agreed to meet up for an oursinade--a half day of sea urchin hunting.  And speaking of food--the very reason I'm writing to you on the weekend--like magic it began to appear from the back of the bar... where a distinguished Spaniard appeared, with plate after plate of savory tapas!

Fried calamari at wine tapas Bar du XX eme Cassis France

Ardoise or chalkboard menu at XX eme siecle wine and tapas bar in Cassis France
A mouthwatering array of tapas on the bar's "ardoise" or chalkboard menu

C'était une tuerie! There were crisp-fried calamari, lightly-crisped potato disks and a creamy aïoli sauce...and there were couteaux (razor clams, pictured at the end of this post, are a "fruit of the sea" with a long "knife-like" shell), melt-in-your-mouth Iberian ham, anchovies in oil, and addictive tomato-rubbed toasts or pan con tomate. Speaking of addictive, can you get drunk on tapas? I don't know, drunk is no longer a feeling I enjoy--but I felt agreeably woozy after the delicious défilé--or parade of little plates.


le loup = bass fish
le magret (de canard) = duck breast
le menu du jour = today's menu
le comptoir = counter, bar
le trentenaire = person in their 30s
le frigo = fridge
ça me gonfle = it bugs, bothers me, I get fed up
lâcher prise = to let go
une tuerie = to die for
aïoli = Mediterranean sauce made of garlic and olive oil
le défilé = parade, procession

Adventures on the wine route

I forgot to say that this wine bar also hosts book signings. The walls of the bar are covered with large framed photos of French authors--but the owner happened to be reading a book by American writer Kermit Lynch. He was enthusiastically showing us the book, Adventures on the Wine Route

Wine reps Maxime Pierre and Jean-Marc
Maxime, Pierre, and Jean-Marc

Le Vingteme bar resto tapas wine in cassis france
If you go... here are the bar's coordonnées, or contact details:

"Le Vingtième" 
17 Avenue Victor Hugo, 13260 Cassis
Téléphone : 09 80 53 24 43

Le Vingtième is open from Wednesday to Sunday (winter hours) for lunch and dinner.

Le couteau de mer or solen or razor clams
Flowers and volets or wooden shutters in Cassis France

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Why sportsmen don't shave in France: l'influx nerveux

Cassis, France, fishing port, and castle (c) Kristin Espinasse
Ever been to the castle in Cassis, South of France? It overlooks the colorful fishing port and gives tourists one more reason to look up.

l'influx nerveux (uhn-floo-ner-veuh)

    : nerve or nervous impulse

More Audio + Example Sentence
by "Frank" from the site Eureka Sport:
Listen to Jean-Marc read it here:  Download MP3 or Wav file

On entend souvent parler de relation entre barbe et influx nerveux ; ainsi, beaucoup de joueurs de foot ne se rasent pas avant un très grand rendez-vous, une finale, généralement, pour "garder leur influx nerveux". Qu'en est-il scientifiquement ?

We often hear about the relationship between beards and nervous impulse; therefore, a lot of soccer players don't shave before an important event, a finale--generally to "keep What does science have to say?

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

When Jean-Marc returned from his marathon wine hunt (Paris, Champagne and beyond), he looked like a caveman. 

"Ça alors! A beard!" I said, opening the front door and welcoming my husband home. 

"It's for tomorrow's semi-triathlon," Jean-Marc said, mumbling something about influx nerveux.

I gathered the barbe was one of those trucs or astuces--or things athletes did to put all chance on their side before a challenge. I'd heard of another, called chambre à part, where sportsmen sleep away from their wives the night of a big event. (Ten days apart and we had that one covered, I thought, as I pulled my husband close, planting a kiss on his furry face.)

The barbed truc or astuce seemed to work, for Jean-Marc made it across the finish line, some four hours after diving off the coast of Cassis. After completing two loops from the shore to the bouées, he got on his bike and pedaled to the town of Roquefort-la-Bédoule. All was going smoothly when he left his bike (back at the beach in Cassis) to run to the presqu'île of Port Miou. Along the way, the triathletes encouraged one another. "Bon courage! Allez!" they cheered when passing.

Nearing la ligne d'arrivée, Jean-Marc needed to dispose of one of those energy gel packs. Approaching one of the race volunteers, he flashed a winning smile and pitched the plastic tube to the side of the road. "Veuillez la jeter pour moi?" he kindly asked, not seeing a trash can anywhere.

His troubles began when a race official, standing nearby and seeing the tail end of the exchange, held out a yellow card. Jean-Marc was sanctioned for littering! In the minute that followed a fiery argument erupted, ending when the official told Jean-Marc to run back and pick up the trash.

The fiasco may have shaved a few minutes off my barbed man's timing, but I like to think the irritation served to stimulate more of that influx nerveux--pushing Jean-Marc past the finish line.

Félicitations, mon chéri!

Jean-Marc finishes the Sardines Titus triathalon in Cassis (c) Kristin Espinasse
Not a gray hair on his head. As for the beard... Jean-Marc, resting after le défi, or challenge.

French Vocabulary
ça alors! = well take a look at that!
la barbe = beard
le truc = trick, knack
une astuce = trick (or clever way to do something)
faire chambre à part = to intentionally sleep apart from your partner
la bouée = buoy
une presqu'île = peninsula
bon courage! = courage! good luck! hope all goes well
allez! = keep going!
la ligne d'arrivée = finish line
veuillez la jeter pour moi? = would you be so kind as to throw it away for me?
félicitations = congratulation
mon chéri (ma chérie) = my dear, my darling

Cassis, France, retro postcards, produits regionaux, streets (c) Kristin Espinasse

My belle-mère, or mother-in-law, sends me these retro postcards. She's particular when it comes to postcard art, and is known to visit several shops before finding just the right card.

Cassis, France, and a goose, or oie, a boucherie, or butcher shop, and blackboard menu out front. Couscous for lunch (c) Kristin Espinasse

I took these photos while strolling through the town with Jean-Marc's Portland wine importer. Chris had just traveled with Jean-Marc, for the 10-day business trip I wrote about, above. 
Cassi, France, restaurant La Cigale et la Fourmi, blackboard, balcony, autumn leaves, blue door (c) Kristin Espinasse

La Cigale et La Fourmis - a restaurant in Cassis... and a famous La Fontaine fable

Cassis, France, L'ou Cassidenne, baker, boulangerie (c) Kristin Espinasse
After retro postcards, we have retro shopfronts or vitrines. How do you like this one?

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety