trinquer + photos of winetasting

Harvesting grapes at Domaine Rouge-Bleu
My favorite harvester, Jackie, from Scotland.

Today's Word: TRINQUER

: to clink glasses, to toast

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wav file

Trinquer. Venez chez nous ce soir. On va trinquer à notre santé.
To toast. Come over to our place tonight. We're going to toast to our health.

Photos from our recent winetasting...

Baby vines at Mas Des Brun 

We sold Domaine Rouge-Bleu to Caroline and Thomas in the summer of 2012. Since, Jean-Marc and I have been building another vineyard and starting a permaculture garden behind our farmhouse, or mas. Little by little, we are getting our grounding here in "appellation Bandol."

Recently, we organized our first public wine tasting here at "Mas des Brun" and guests have been sending in photos ever since. What a pleasure it is to see our vineyard through another's eyes! Thank you, Dorothy and Steve Pancoast, for today's images which help us to see beyond the daily task list. Looks like those chores have added up and this place is looking snappy!

Mixed in with this group of pictures are a few snapshots from readers Nick and Jill. And, recently, Anita and Meiling, who met each other at the tasting, sent in some extraordiary shots! I hope to show you those photos at the next chance. If I forget, please bug me about it and I'll get on it dar dar!

Click here to see the photo album with some of the pictures from our first winetasting at Mas des Brun.


Photos in this post by Dorothy and Steve Pancoast. Click here to see the entire album.

Recent review of my book "First French Essais"
"Kristin Espinasse is an American from Arizona who moved to France several years ago to marry her French boyfriend, Jean-Marc who she lovingly nicknamed "Chief Grape" since he's into the winemaking business. As one who reads the author's blog, "" I pretty much knew what to expect since the "French Essais" in this book were taken from some of her blogs written over the years.

First-French-Essais-book-coverHer book (and her blog which is also written in English) take us to some of her interesting adventures in a foreign country and sometimes through trials and tribulations in living in France while trying to adapt to a new language and a new culture while raising two kids. Through Kristin's stories, we also meet some of her neighbors and colorful locals. What I didn't expect was the many beautiful photos throughout this book that the author has taken and they're all in color!"

To order your copy of First French Essais, click here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


A kind of borie (there is a well inside) exists peacefully in the field above us, here in our new domain--where olive trees grow. Beyond, Jean-Marc will plant grapes, appellation Bandol. He'll tell you about that later. Today, read a letter from the new owners of Domaine Rouge-Bleu! The story column follows.

la fourmi (for-me)

    : ant

More fourmi terms, expressions, and whatnots (add your own in the comments box):

l'Homme-Fourmi = Ant Man, a superhero
faire un travail de fourmis = to do a job meticulously well
la Cigale et la fourmis = The Cicada and the Ant (read the famous fable in French and in English) 
avoir des fourmis dans les jambes
 = to be restless (antsy), wanting to move on; also, to have a prickling sensation in the legs or, dans les bras (in the arms)

Reverse dictionary:
to have ants in one's pants = ne pas tenir en place 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, from Wikipedia: Download MP3 or Wav file 

La fourmi d'Argentine(Linepithema humile),originaire d'Amérique du Sud, forme une supercolonie qui va des côtes italiennes aux côtes espagnoles en passant par la France. The Argentinian ant, originating from South America, makes up a supercolony that goes from the Italian coast to the Spanish coast, passing through France.

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

Aimless—now there might have been a good word of the day... but for the ants! And, anyway, instead of focusing on my current weakness (floundering), I'd do better to turn my eyes toward another's strength: that of the Argentinian fourmi.

La fourmi d'Argentine, with which we share our new environment, is anything but aimless. Watch them trail up my nightstand, about to circle the rim of my tea cup (is it the miel they're after?); see them scale the sack of croquettes de chien—to Smokey and Braise's dismay! Notice the tickling sensation as they march over your eyelids, at naptime. Gently reach up and brush them away. They're harmless enough (they don't bite).

Observe how they advance, nose-to-tail, neatly along the outdoor clothesline. I tried plucking them off one by one—tiny things!—only to give in by throwing the sheets, the shirts, the jeans and the socks right over them.  (Sounds mean but I knew they'd bounce back.) Returning several hours later to collect the dried laundry, I see the invaders have lost no time re-establishing their queue along the tops of the flung sheets. I have to brush them off as I fold the laundry, there on a table beneath a wise old olivier. (Do olive trees snicker? or is that just the rustling of branches?) Invariably, a dozen or so ants hold on, no matter how wildly I shake the linens, and are so carried into the house to be transferred into our sock drawers and our armoires. For a time the ant-agonists will be dispersed and in the dark. This much we have in common.

This time last year I had no idea our little colony would be moving. The harvest ended, autumn, too, and at the start of the new year my husband admitted he wanted, needed rather, to move on. I was very unhappy, at the time, about this decision. But it happened fast as that, fast as my swooping up those ant-laden sheets and carrying them into the house with the dried socks, the jeans and things. 

*   *   *

There in the tiroirs and the armoires, squashed between the newly-dried linens, the ants are disoriented—but quickly working themselves back into formation. Jean-Marc is too. He's got a new permit to grow vines, this time appellation Bandol, and he's quickly re-establishing his personal and professional contacts after leaving the area 17 years ago, when our son was not yet 6 months old.

I should be so industrious. Instead I avoid my computer station and wonder, instead, What I will do today? In which direction do I set out? 

If I were to opt, this morning, to march along the clothesline... and you, dear reader, were to opt to throw a sheet over me, I might just lie peacefully beneath it--grateful for the empêchement, or obstacle. (I could teach this trick to the ants!)

Not to sound sad or even regretful--oh no! I am enjoying this new environment very much--how quickly it now feels like home! And I am relieved by this current break from the thrice-weekly newsletter, which, apart from the storm it takes to create it, takes up a lot of time to maintain.

This break is giving me more time with my family--especially my daughter, who is having a harder time than anticipated integrating into a new school. As for Max, the one who was supposed to be depressed by the move, he is doing fine. He's signed up for boxing in Bandol and he is eyeing the girls at school! 

Tomorrow my Mom arrives, clad in Frida. That ought to shake things up. See you next week with the scoop. Meantime, here's another view of that cape--at the end of this post.



 To leave a comment, please click here. Thanks for your positive letters and comments. We will try to answer many of your questions in the upcoming posts!


  Bar toutous

The day of the double-signing we gathered, afterward, at the new house. Almost everyone involved in the transactions was present: our buyers, Caroline and Thomas, our sellers, Maggie and Michael, our notaire, the Safer representatives, and our realtor. It was a unique moment!

We are so grateful to Maggie and Michael Moss, and to Maggie's brother, Ian, for allowing us to buy their home--after collecting memories there for nearly half a century.

Jean-Marc opened one of those big bottles of champagne...

Another view of that borie that we saw in the opening photo. Our home is just below, to the right. We might plant fruit trees in this spot. What to you think? They might mingle with the fig trees there.

One of the fun gifts that Maggie and Mike and Ian left was a well organized store room. I delight in returning everything to its place, each time I use something new. More photos to come.

The balcony off our bedroom looks over the oliveraie. The Mediterranean forest is alive, this morning, with hunters. I think I'll be driving Jackie to school, instead of taking the little path beside the forest. Yesterday, the sound of gunfire began when we were half-way to school, and I had to sing all the way home "je passe... je passe, la-la-la... JE PASSE!" I'm passing by, I'm passing by--la-la-la--I'M PASSING BY!

Jackie, swinging from the fig tree outside our home, is doing much better. The kids at her school are so warm and welcoming. And she loves her class, feels so fortunate! It's just that she really really misses her friends. The tears just won't stop flowing. "You are such a good friend!" I tell her. It cheers her and she is looking forward to showing her longtime friends around. Always look forward, sweet girl!

To comment on any item in this edition, or to correct something, please click here. Thanks. Do you know anyone who might enjoy these stories from France? Please forward this post, which includes this sign-up link.

*    *    *

An Update on Domaine Rouge-Bleu, which we sold last month to a wonderful Franco-Australian couple. Meet Caroline and Thomas, below, and be sure to subscribe to their Domaine Rouge-Bleu Facebook page  (click here) to keep up with their first year on the vineyard--may many more follow! 

Bonjour a tous! Hello all!

Merci to Kristi for posting this little message allowing us to say a warm hello and assure you all that Domaine Rouge Bleu shall continue with the same spirit that it was given by Jean-Marc and Kristi, Max and Jackie, Braise and Smokey, and by you all, whether you have been to visit, tasted a bottle, helped with les vendanges or followed the experiences here on French Word-A-Day.

We shall continue to host tastings underneath the mulberry tree, starting with Saturday 22nd September at 4.30pm (this will be in the middle of the harvest, so you can see the winery in action). Also, watch out for a re-vamped website (coming soon). Meanwhile, feel free to contact us via email for any more information:, or

Finally, bonne chance to la famille Espinasse for their exciting new life by the sea, and thank you for entrusting us with this wonderful place. We will miss you in Sainte Cecile!

Caroline & Thomas

Don't miss Caroline and Thomas's Domaine Rouge-Bleu Facebook page -- with photos and updates about their exciting vineyard adventure.


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


0812 19-001
Mas des Brun, where we moved to last week.... and where the seagulls sing (or maybe that's the neighbor's chickens?) Photo by Michael Moss, taken in December 2008 after an exceptionally rainy November (we hear the grass is not usually this green!)

s'installer (san-stal-ay)

    : to settle in

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, in French: Download MP3 or Wav file

On s'installe tout doucement au bord de la mer. We're slowly settling in beside the sea.


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

It's day six at our new* home and we are settling in nicely. On s'installe tout doucement, I keep reminding Jean-Marc, who seems to want to have every box unloaded hier, yesterday. I understand his excitement, but I also know about the need for some endurance: some sprinting, a little jogging, a bit of catch-your-breath walking—and we'll soon make it to the finish line. Then we can twiddle our thumbs.

After the initial flurry to get each major item in its place (the kids' beds, the armoirs, the canapé, nightstands, dogs, and télé, we are now taking our time to déballer the rest. As I type, Jean-Marc continues a steady stream of industriousness: putting in wifi receptors, hooking up the telephones and, just now, dangling over the balcony to prune a giant, fruit-laden figuier. I watch as he takes down just enough branches to reveal a Mediterranean mosaic: from our bedroom window, I now see an olive tree, a cypress, an amandier, and several pines. Soon we'll see the meadow with more centuries-old oliviers, in groves.

Walking Jackie halfway to school this morning, I noticed the ground outside is covered with pine needles. The scent brings me back to my childhood, to weekends spent at Kohl's ranch in Arizona. Exploring these new stomping grounds, just as I explored the Arizona forest, I am as delighted as that 9-year-old, by the unexpected discoveries: the thousands of asparagus that carpet this Mediterranean floor (hello les omelettes d'aspèrges)—and there are enough fallen leaves from the old olive trees to start a mulch factory (oh happy potager! But do olive leaves make good kitchen garden soil? Maybe the fig leaves would be better... I see Jean-Marc has built piles of them!).

Another bright discovery is all the cactus growing here. After ignoring the nutritional value of those cactus pears that dotted the desert landscaping of my enfance, I can now experiment in the kitchen with the figues de barbarie that are nestled in around our new property (a YouTube search reveals that the cactus pads are edible too. Let's make nopales stew or even cactus couscous!). Having learned the hard way, I will wear gloves this time, when harvesting—to avoid being stabbed by a thousand invisible, hair-thin needles. It was no fun tossing and turning, during a noon time nap, only to discover the needles had followed me all the way to bed. Aïe aïe aïe!

Trial and error. It is all part of the adaption process. Off now to harvest some cactus for lunch. Will wear gloves this time.


 * "new" home: this mas dates back to 1875.


 French Vocabulary

on s'installe tout doucement = we're slowly settling in

hier = yesterday

le canapé = sofa, couch

la télé = TV

déballer = unpack

le figuier = fig tree

un amandier = almond tree

un olivier = olive tree

une omelette = omelet

une asperge = asparagus

le potager = kitchen garden

une enfance = childhood

la figue de barbarie = cactus pear

nopales = a vegetable made from the pads of a prickly pear cactus

aïe aïe aïe = ow ow ow


How are the dogs getting along? Just fine! They sleep inside at night. By day, they have good shelter in this former cabanon de cochon, or pig hut. Don't tell Braise, but we'd love to put a few chickens there...

Jean-Marc, pruning the figue tree.

Mom's paintings need to be hung. Meantime, they look like a work of art sitting there on an old trunk.


Some chaos and our 17-year-old, who started school today. He'll be at the lycée in la Ciotat. 

The kitchen and some swiss chard, or blette. There are maraîchers on every corner! Have you ever had a swiss chard smoothie?

A yellow canary melon, some roasted peppers, and a few thirsty dogs drinking from their gamelles.

Jean-Marc and Jackie preparing for a game of boules. Smokey and Braise looking on.

Bar toutous
Thanks, Caroline, for taking this picture of the ceremonial "opening of the new house". Caroline and Thomas, who bought our home in Ste. Cécile, were with us on this special day. Handing me the keys, were Maggie and Michael Moss, who sold us this memory-filled home. It was a tearful and exciting moment and I am so happy these women thought to make a ceremony of it, for I would not have thought to. Thanks again Caroline and Maggie! Michael Moss also took photos of this scene, as well as the gorgeous opening photo, at the top of this post.


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 19th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

Mille mercis for purchasing our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.