A Hidden Beach in Cassis, Freedom & Laughter = Eclats de rire!

Beach in Cassis
Following Jean-Marc's wine tour... lunch with Elizabeth’s family and friends at a hidden beach in Cassis. Left to right: Katie, Olivia, Victor, Kristi, Lily, Elizabeth, and Jean-Marc. 

For today's story, I asked Chatgpt to summarize the English text in one French word. Here's the response I got: "A word in French that summarizes your story could be "Éclat" which means "Radiance" or "Sparkle." It represents the vibrant and joyful atmosphere depicted in the narrative." Thanks, Chatgpt! And for anyone reading, find out where the joy and sparkle come from when you read the rest of this post.

TODAY'S WORD: un éclat

    : radiance, sparkle

un éclat de rire = a burst of laughter

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Sometime in the last week, les cigales woke up from their 5-year siesta and now they are screeching their lungs out. While that is a funny image, I guess it isn't entirely correct. That ear-piercing trille may be produced in some other energetic way, leaving me wondering where cicadas get all their peps in summer's heatwave.

I, too, am feeling unusually peppy this sweltering afternoon as I skip over to Mom's to share a recent adventure. As I reach the side of our villa and approach the sliding glass door to Chez Jules, a few black and white birds fly off. The royal blue patch on their backs is now a blur as the magpies disappear into the giant parasol pines above. I shake my head in appreciation. Mom is getting very close to taming those pies now that she's won over les tourterelles, les pigeons, les hérissons and a few stray cats. The trail of crumbled croquettes (appealing to birds, cats, and hedgehogs alike) leads right up to her baie vitrée. Sliding open the door, I enter the studio. Bookshelves flank the entry with each and every treasure Jules has rescued from the neighborhood “street library” in the 5 years since moving here from Mexico.

My mom is finishing her dinner. A copy of Battlefield of the Mind is propped open on the kitchen island (more books line the shelves below) and I see Mom's been busy with her green marker, underlining important passages. It seems Joyce Meyer is off Mom's liste noire for the moment. (Pastors walk a fine line with Mama Jules.)

"Whatcha got in there?" I say, smiling towards the frying pan. Looks like it's saumon et patates today, and it always hits the spot. Comfort food, Mom might say. Jules's fan is whirring from the kitchen counter. To think just last week the little space heater was propped up on that same comptoir. And now, le ventilateur. It's broken (and only goes up to the second speed) but it's fine, Mom assures me. Not one year ago that same fan was carefully placed on the floor, all for dear old Smokey's comfort. I can still see his golden locks fluttering in the "breeze," and my throat gets a lump as I recall the memory. 

"So what's new?" Mom asks and I tell her all about our lively lunch in Cassis with Elizabeth, Victor, and the girls. It all happened after Elizabeth responded to an announcement in my newsletter for one of Jean-Marc's wine tours...et voilà after several hours together in Cassis, I was feeling that kind of refreshment that comes from being in soulful company. Elizabeth's daughter, Olivia, and her friends, Lily and Katie just graduated from Georgetown. What a feeling that must be to have secured jobs after earning their degrees. And now to be toasting above the Mediterranean Sea. Tchin-tchin!

In a paillote above a hidden beach in Cassis, we shared deep-fried fleurs de courgettes, les accras, and crevettes and chatted about France, Charlotte N.C. and everything in between. That's when I realized I was the last person on earth to learn about Lorde--the girls' favorite singer.

I had been telling the girls about my job as a blogger--sharing about my readership (including Elizabeth, whose been a faithful lectrice since 2006) as well as a disheartening trend: this past 5 years, with the expanse of social media, blog subscribership has plunged. "These days people enjoy short snippets from Instagram or Facebook, and "reels" or videos that are no longer than 10 seconds," I explained.

That's when Lily told me about Lorde, the famous young singer who went off social media and began a weekly newsletter. All the girls agreed they enjoyed reading the longer format. It gave me such hope to know young people are signing on to newsletters and taking the time to read them. Algorithms be gone!

I returned home from that meetup feeling refreshed. "It's good to see you this happy," Mom said, as Lili the cat curled up between us." It was the second or third time Mom said it and, for a moment I felt a little defensive, as in, what do you usually see me as? Grumpy? 

This was no time to take things personally. "We all like to see each other happy," I replied. And with that, Mom and I began counting our blessings. Our conversation ended in les éclats de rire as I repeated a positive affirmation Mom first shared back when I was a teenager. Now, at 55 (and a little touchy from hormonal changes...) it still resonates: 

I'm on top, in touch, and in tune with myself
I like who I am and I'm glad to be me!
I'M FREE!

I may have made up that last line. But I like it and it's the message I'm leaving you with today, dear reader. Be free... on top, in touch, and in tune. I realize, now, that this is what I had experienced at lunch: a thoughtful group of people who were in tune with themselves and the world around them. And this was a blessing!

I leave you with another blessing, below, my wise Mom, and wish you all a happy weekend. 

Amicalement,

Kristi

Jules and Smokey
A photo of my Mom, Jules, and Smokey from last summer.

COMMENTS
Thank you for your comments and corrections, which are much appreciated. Click here to comment.

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and Kristi pronounce the French and English terms

un éclat
= radiance, sparkle, glow
la cigale
= cicada (funny, « cigale » can also mean « spendthrift »)
le trille = trill
le peps = pep
la villa
= house
la pie = magpie
la tourterelle = dove
le hérisson = hedgehog
la croquette = dry food, kibble
la baie vitrée = arcadia window, sliding glass door
le saumon = salmon
la patate = potato (in informal French)
le comptoir = counter
et voilà = and just like that
tchin-tchin! = cheers!
la paillote = wooden structure, hut (usually near a beach)
la fleur de courgette = zucchini flower
les accras
= Caribbean fish fritters
la crevette = shrimp
un lecteur, une lectrice = reader
les éclats de rire = laughter
la bénédiction = blessing

Wine tour at Domaine du Paternel
Visiting Domaine du Paternel in Cassis

REMERCIEMENTS
Sincere thanks to the following readers who recently sent in a blog donation or purchased our online memoir. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in publishing it week after week. Merci beaucoup! --Kristi

Al K.
Bob O.
Debra L.
Elaine M.

Cleeve C.
Marcia L
Jenean L.
Jeanne G.
C-Marie P.

And special thanks to Elizabeth and Victor for reserving a wine tour with Jean-Marc, and for your thoughtful note:
"All of us found both you and Jean-Marc to be just such a joy to be with... You are such a warm couple and both so good at your work and we love how you support each other. I love that both your jobs involve sharing your joie de vie and love for France and connecting with others."

Chateau de Pibarnon
Enjoying a wine-tasting at Chateau de Pibarnon in Bandol with Eric de St. Victor.

If anyone reading would like to reserve a wine tour with Jean-Marc, click here for more information

 

Plage du Corton in Cassis France
This hidden beach nestled beneath the cliff in Cassis is Plage du Corton. On the right, you can just glimpse la paillote where we ate lunch.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


“Smala” & Family Visit to Cassis, Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles

IMG_6818_Original
My family visiting Cassis: Kristi, Reagan, Heidi, Payne, Jean-Marc, and Max

TODAY’S Word: smala (smah-lah) noun, feminine

    : entourage, big family (famille nombreuse)

from the Arabic, zmalah: tribe

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

This first week with my American family has gone by en vitesse! Beaches, the farmers market, snorkeling in the Mediterranean and even cliff diving (for the guys). What a whirlwind good time it's been with Heidi, Payne, and Reagan since they flew in from Denver to Marseilles via Munich. So far we've visited La Ciotat, Aix-en-Provence, and Cassis and now my sister and her kids are in Paris (those last two cities rhyme if you pronounce them correctly…).

It was the first time my 19-year-old niece and 21-year-old nephew have been to France (not counting when Payne was a baby), and it was fun to hear their reactions to the culture (for them, the French light switches were backward, the toilet handle wasn't a handle (but something you pulled--thus the verb "tirer la chasse"--and a few other bizarreries in their Aunt Kristi's household for which we can't blame France!

A highlight of my family's visit was meeting up with my French family, thanks to Max who organized la sortie. My belle-soeur Cécile, beau-frère Jacques and his girlfriend Mariem joined us at the Vieux Port in Marseilles at Ciao Marcello for pizza. Though half the group could not understand each other, in the end language wasn't a barrier and our our mini réunion de famille was un succès.  After a 2-hour lunch we kissed each other goodbye. That is when a cozy feeling came over me as foreign word began to echo in my mind…. 

Smala. The word, borrowed from Arabic, means big family or entourage. As the word smala filled my mind, so did an appreciation for this chance to finally have my family in France for an extended period of time—time enough to, well, be a family in France: cooking together, cleaning together, caring for our Mom/Grandmother together, and especially laughing and loving together. At one of our big dinners on the front porch, I looked over at Jules and said: “Can you believe we are all here? All your kids and all your grandkids! We are all here because of you… “ Jules was visibly moved.

I was kicking myself this morning for not boarding the TGV to Paris with my sister and the kids for even more time with family. But I have a few obligations here at home....and just as soon as I typed those words I realized "will those obligations matter a year from now?"

The truth is, downtime is good. It is now thundering outside and the rain is pouring down—a good time to sit back and review some photos from this past week. I leave you with some of my favorite pictures and we'll see you next week for more updates from le bercail (another cozy word for home). 

Prenez soin de vous et à bientôt,

Kristi

COMMENTS
To leave a comment, click here. I would love to know what city you are writing from. Merci.

STORY ARCHIVES
Another highlight of my sister’s visit was visiting Flavia and Fabrice in St. Maximin. I wrote a story about a memorable meal there a few years ago, « Pour Vivre Heureux Vivre Caché » (To Live Happy, Live Hidden)

IMG_6785_Original

My nephew and niece is Cassis

IMG_6752_Original
Heidi, Reagan, and Payne in Cassis

IMG_6810_Original
Thank you so much, Jean-Marc, for driving us around and for being a great guide.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to the French and English terms

la smala = entourage, family
en vitesse = quickly, rapidly
Cassis = Cassis
Paris = Paris
tirer la chasse = to flush the toilet
bizarreries = peculiarities
la sortie = the outing
la belle-sœur = sister-in-law
le beau-frère =
brother-in-law
la réunion de famille
= family reunion 
un succès = a success
le TGV (le train à grande vitesse) = fast train
le bercail = home (slang)
Prenez soin de vous et à bientôt = take care and see you soon

IMG_20230609_123902_Original
Heidi, in Aix

IMG_6880_Original
Ana and Max making us dinner chez Max


REMERCIEMENTS
To the following readers who this past week sent in a blog donation or purchased our online memoir, your contribution towards publishing this blog is the key to its longevity! I am sincerely grateful for your support. Merci beaucoup! --Kristi

Susan D.
Jed M.
Eileen D.
Jeanine C.
Virginia G.
Deborah H.
Susan H.

 

IMG_8902_Original
Sisters. Thanks to my son’s lovely girlfriend, Ana, for this photo.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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.

FRENCH EXPRESSION
: “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 reduced...to 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.

  ***  

IMG_0718
Anoine, Max, and Jean-Luc (who also disappeared from his table...to 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)




FRENCH VOCABULARY
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 KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
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! 
 

UNE TUERIE

    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 DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"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 we...love? 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.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

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 KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
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 www.french-word-a-day.com (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 www.french-word-a-day.com (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 www.french-word-a-day.com (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 www.french-word-a-day.com (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 www.french-word-a-day.com (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 www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse
After retro postcards, we have retro shopfronts or vitrines. How do you like this one?

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety