Sacoche - how to say satchel or briefcase (or "man purse") in French

St Tropez south of France scooter
A scooter in St. Tropez. Look closely at the sagging object my husband is carrying. Meet Mr. Sacks, Jean-Marc's lovable sidekick. The photos in the following story were taken over the years....

Today's Word: la sacoche (sah-kohsh)

    : handbag, saddlebag, purse, bag

from the Italian saccoccia, or "little pocket"

la sacoche en cuir = leather bag
la sacoche d'écolier = school bag
la sacoche à outils = tool bag
une soirée de sacoches (Canadian expression) = girls' night out, evening with girlfriends

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
Ode to Mr. Sacks

I couldn't believe my ears when Jean-Marc, packing for his business trip, mentioned: "I'm not taking my sacoche with me." 

Vraiment? My husband might as well have decided to leave an appendage behind--son bras droit, for example, the one he uses to lift his wine glass. That is how vital his trusty, takes-with-him everywhere sacoche is to him.

What with increasing restrictions for carry-on and check-in, Jean-Marc's dear sidekick, Mr. Sacks, is the latest victime of airline cutbacks!

Poor Mr. Sacks! I've never felt sorry for the old bag before. Mostly, I've felt envious. Mr. Sacks is the one who goes on all the business trips with my husband. Mr. Sacks goes to all the local wine tastings while I sit at home guzzling tap water.  

 

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks in Paris... the one on the left. (Make no mistake, the other bags mean nothing to Jean-Marc!)

man purse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Ventimille, Italy, watching locals play boules, or pétanque.

I do pity, Mr. Sacks, now that his saggy little body is pouting in the corner of my husband's office. This is the first time in his 12-year-old life that he's collected dust. Normally he's on the go....
Croatia (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks cruising the island of Cres, in Croatia. Just kidding, Jean-Marc would never put Mr. Sacks in this predicament (water). This brings me to the next point...

Regularly I am asked to hold on to Mr. Sacks while my husband sprints off to use a public restroom or when (as pictured above) he is practicing a sport. "Tu peux prendre ma sacoche?" He asks. And I always grumble, not wanting to hold the heavy "third wheel". Apart from tractor wrenches, he even keeps wine bottles (for his tastings) in there...

spitoon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks (on the floor, next to the bucket spittoon)

Some refer to Mr. Sacks as a "man purse".  That always makes me snicker. Hahahahahaha! Man Bag!!! Sac Homme! I point at Mr. Sacks. But Mr. Sacks isn't laughing... 

Kristi Mr. Sacks Malta
Me, babysitting Mr. Sacks in Malta in 2017. Jean-Marc purchased the leather bag in une maroquinerie  in Draguignan, years and years ago. It was love at first sight.

the guilty look (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc's got that guilty look on his face. He's always holding hands with Mr. Sacks instead of with me--and he knows it!  While others worry about the other woman, I have to worry about the old bag!

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is with him on bad hair days...

beach in Ste. Maxime (c) Kristin Espinasse
And on good hair days... at the beach in Sainte-Maxime.

Avalon (c) Kristin Espinasse
And especially on family days!
 

Lourdes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Visiting the healing waters at Lourdes. Can you spot Mr. Sacks?

sacoche brief case Burgundy france Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Burgundy... with the winemakers...

fountain (c) Kristin Espinasse
But old Mr. Sacks, as you can see, is beginning to sag. I worry that items inside him will begin to fly out of his slouching pockets. I especially worry that money will fall out. For this reason, I sometimes follow close in Jean-Marc's wake as he goes about his errands. I am stumbling along behind him swatting my arms back and forth prepared to catch those banknotes that might come flying out of that sagging bag. 

vintage sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is coming apart at the seams, which just goes to show even sacks have middle-age crisis.

Over the years I've tried to get Jean-Marc to consider buying a new bag. Nothin' doin'! "But it's a hazard," I argue (a financial hazard at that! Just think if money really were flying out of that bag). 

"I'm keeping my bag!" my husband always argues back.

in Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of weeks ago Jean-Marc announced with an ear-to-ear grin: Je l'ai fait réparer, mon sac. He had brought Mr. Sacks to the leather mender's, in town. The guy did a wonderful job, Jean-Marc told me, adding that the man was nearly 90 years old. 

Any ill will or harsh feelings I may have felt regarding Mr. Sacks flew out of the picture (as those bank notes might have...). My heart smiled thinking of the wrinkled man sewing the wrinkled bag, one soul giving life back to the other, each content to be of service for as long as they were needed or wanted.



FRENCH VOCABULARY
vraiment = really
le bras = arm
droit = right
tu peux prendre ma sacoche = can you take my bag?
la maroquinerie = purse, bag, and luggage shop
le sac homme = man purse 
je l'ai fait réparer = I had it fixed
mon sac = my purse PORQUEROLLES (c) Kristin Espinasse
Oh dear. Here is Mr. Sacks on the little island of Porquerolles, with Jean-Marc and his formidable mop-spear. I hope you read about this confection--Jean-Marc was very proud of it--in the chapter "Lance".

Flower steps in Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Caltagirone, Sicily... can't you see him sniffing the pretty flowers? Voilà, for this edition. If you feel like one more story, read about the time I found a heart-stopping message inside of Mr. Sacks.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Sacoche: How to say "Man Purse" in French + update on Mr. Sacks

Jean-Marc and Mr. Sacks on Porquerolles Island South of France
Notice the leather satchel on the ground: meet Mr. Sacks, Jean-Marc's lovable sidekick. This picture is from my Instagram where I've been carefully choosing photos & pairing them with interesting French words. Follow me on Instagram for more. 

Today's Word: la sacoche (sah-kohsh)

    : handbag, saddlebag, purse, bag

from the Italian saccoccia, or "little pocket"

Audio/Listening: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the sound file


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
"Ode to Mr. Sacks"
(The photos in the following story were taken over the years....)

I couldn't believe my ears when Jean-Marc, packing for his business trip, mentioned: "I'm not taking my sacoche with me." 

Vraiment? My husband might as well have decided to leave an appendage behind--son bras droit, for example, the one he uses to lift his wine glass. That is how vital his trusty, takes-with-him everywhere sacoche is to him.

What with increasing restrictions for carry-on and check-in, Jean-Marc's dear sidekick, Mr. Sacks, is the latest victime of airline cutbacks!

Poor Mr. Sacks! I've never felt sorry for the old bag before. Mostly, I've felt envious. Mr. Sacks is the one who goes on all the business trips with my husband. Mr. Sacks goes to all the local wine tastings while I sit at home guzzling tap water.  

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks in Paris... the one on the left. (Make no mistake, the other bags mean nothing to Jean-Marc!)

man purse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Ventimille, Italy, watching locals play boules, or pétanque.

I do pity, Mr. Sacks, now that his saggy little body is pouting in the corner of my husband's office. This is the first time in his 12-year-old life that he's collected dust. Normally he's on the go....
Croatia (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks cruising the island of Cres, in Croatia. Just kidding, Jean-Marc would never put Mr. Sacks in this predicament (water). This brings me to the next point...

Regularly I am asked to hold on to Mr. Sacks while my husband sprints off to use a public restroom or when (as pictured above) he is practicing a sport. "Tu peux prendre ma sacoche?" he asks. And I always grumble, not wanting to hold the heavy "third wheel". Apart from tractor wrenches, he even keeps wine bottles (for his tastings) in there....

spitoon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks (on the floor, next to the bucket spittoon)

Some refer to Mr. Sacks as a "man purse".  That always makes me snicker. Hahahahahaha! Man Bag!!! Sac Homme! I point at Mr. Sacks. But Mr. Sacks isn't laughing... 

Kristi Mr. Sacks Malta
Me, babysitting Mr. Sacks in Malta in 2017. Jean-Marc purchased the leather bag in une maroquinerie  in Draguignan, years and years ago. C'était le coup de foudre! Love at first sight!

the guilty look (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc's got that guilty look on his face. He's always holding hands with Mr. Sacks instead of with me--and he knows it!  While others worry about the other woman, I have to worry about the old bag!

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is with my husband on bad hair days...

beach in Ste. Maxime (c) Kristin Espinasse
And on good hair days. Here they are at the beach in Sainte-Maxime.

Avalon (c) Kristin Espinasse
And especially on family days!
 

Lourdes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Visiting the healing waters at Lourdes. Can you spot Mr. Sacks?

sacoche brief case Burgundy france Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Burgundy... with the winemakers...

fountain (c) Kristin Espinasse
But old Mr. Sacks, as you can see, is beginning to sag. I worry that items inside him will begin to fly out of his slouching pockets. I especially worry that money will fly out. For this reason, I sometimes follow close in Jean-Marc's wake as he goes about his errands. I am stumbling along behind him swatting my arms back and forth prepared to catch those banknotes that might come flying out of that sagging bag. 

vintage sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is coming apart at the seams, which just goes to show even satchels experience a middle-age crisis.

Over the years I've tried to get Jean-Marc to consider buying a new bag. Nothin' doin'! "But it's a hazard," I argue (a financial hazard at that! Just think if money really were flying out of that bag). 

"I'm keeping my bag!" my husband always argues back.

in Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of weeks ago Jean-Marc announced with an ear-to-ear grin: Je l'ai fait réparer, mon sac. He had brought Mr. Sacks to the leather mender's, in town. The guy did a wonderful job, Jean-Marc told me, adding that the man was nearly 90 years old. 

Any ill will or harsh feelings I may have felt regarding Mr. Sacks flew out of the picture (as those bank notes might have...). My heart smiled thinking of the wrinkled man sewing the wrinkled bag, one soul giving life back to the other, each content to be of service for as long as they were needed or wanted.

***

Mr Sacks new flapUpdate: Since this post was written, 10 years ago, Mr. Sacks has had yet another facelift (thanks to our friends at Mon Cordonnier, in Aubagne). Mr. Sacks will turn 23 years old soon and he's as busy as ever (this morning he journeyed to Marseilles with Jean-Marc and my Mom, to pick up Jules' new French health card. All documents are safe with him. Thanks, Mr. Sacks!). 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le sacoche = satchel
vraiment
= really
le bras = arm
droit = right
tu peux prendre ma sacoche = can you take my bag?
la maroquinerie = purse, bag, and luggage shop
le sac homme = man purse 
je l'ai fait réparer = I had it fixed
mon sac = my purse
le coup de foudre = love at first sight


Jean-Marc and Mr. Sacks on Porquerolles Island South of France
Oh dear. Here is Mr. Sacks on the little island of Porquerolles, with Jean-Marc and his formidable mop-spear. I hope you'll read about this unusual confection--Jean-Marc was very proud of it.

Flower steps in Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Caltagirone, Sicily... can't you see him sniffing the pretty flowers? Voilà, for this edition. If you feel like one more story, read about the time I found a heart-stopping message inside of Mr. Sacks.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


What to do on Porquerolles Island? Que faire sur l'île de Porquerolles?

Le Port pizzaria on Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc and I stole away to Porquerolles island recently. Because it was play and not work, I didn't pay a lot of attention to detail or think about what could be shared in another France city guide.

This is where you come in. If you have been to Porquerolles, or have researched it while planning a future trip on the southern French island, please share with us here some of the activities and tips that come to mind:

  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • ferry info
  • what to pack
  • how to get around on Porquerolles
  • activities for kids
  • favorite beaches
  • what not to miss
  • nearby islands and towns to visit
  • etc... 


Meantime, I'll share a host of photos and add some interesting facts beneath them, in hopes that you'll be inspired to visit this little pedestrian island only a hop, skip, and ferry ride from the coat of Giens. 

Jean-Marc and "Mr Sacks" on the main square in the village of Porquerolles (c) Krisin Espinasse
Jean-Marc and Mr Sacks on the main square in the village of Porquerolles. Eucalyptus trees frame la place which is lined by boutiques and café-restaurants. 

  • The size of the island = 12,54 square kilometers (or 4,84 square miles)
  • It's one of the 3 Hyères islands a.k.a. "the golden islands"


Island dog and laundromat on Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Island dog and laundromat. 

  • Though you'll see plenty of island dogs, the village of Porquerolles gets its name after the wild boar that once roamed the island


Mehari and island vehicles on Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
You cannot bring your car onto the island, but you can appreciate some of these local classics-on-wheels. The one of the right is a Méhari. You see lots of these off-roaders threading through all the foot traffic.

sandwich hut on the port of Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Save a few euros by ordering a sandwich and eating it on one of the many benches that overlooks the gravel square or the port or, better yet, take a picnic and hike inland a few kilometers for a view of the vineyards and vergers, or orchards or for this view:

Calanque in Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse

  • Not pictured here... but among the many points of interest is the botanical garden or la conservatoire botanique national méditerranéen de Porquerolles


Exotic door in Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
 Off the main square there is a long alley of what seem to be bungalows. This narrow had one story habitations on either side and one had the urge to jump up and down like a pogo stick... to see what sort of bucolic scene was on the other side of these walls....

 

  • It is said that in 1912 the island was purchased as a wedding present for a lucky bride-to-be. Buyer François Joseph Fournier then planted 500 acres of vines. (No wonder Jean-Marc loves this island!)
  • In 1971 the state purchased most of the island in an attempt to preserve it from development.


Artisinat on the island of Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
Out in front of the artist's house... or one of the artist's homes. There must be plenty of them living on this begs-to-be painted island.

Domaine Perzinsky on the island of Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
Walking towards Domaine Perzinsky, on our way back to the village.

Porquerolles vineyards were among the very first to be classified Côtes de Provence. There are three vineyards on the island:

  • Le Domaine de l’île
  • Le Domaine de la Courtade
  • Le Domaine Perzinsky



Le fort du Grand Langoustier (c) Kristin Espinasse

There are nine forts on the island of Porquerolles, including Le fort du Grand Langoustier (pictured) and Le fort Sainte-Agathe.

DSC_0369
From the port of arrival, this is the first beach on the left. Pass in front of all the cafés, go around the corner and you're there! Off season you'll see this peaceful scene. 

  • Porquerolles was the inspiration for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Teddy Bears on the island of Porquerolles (c) Kristin Espinasse
The laid back islanders on Porquerolles are known as les porquerollais (see exhibit A, above... and if you love teddy bears, see exhibit B here!)

To respond to this post, thanks for leaving a message here in the comments box.

For help creating this edition, I looked up facts in these guide books/sites. Click on the titles to view them:

DSC_0360
Has this post tickled your fancy for Porquerolles? Will you be adding  it to your bucket list? I'd love to know, here in the comments box.

Check out some of the excellent reader-submitted tips or What to do in France guides:

Kristi's nap (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse
After lunch I borrowed Mr. Sacks for a pillow and took a nap while Jean-Marc went hiking and photographing.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


fouiller

Flower steps
In case you're wondering: my husband gave me permission to write the following story! Here he is with his tattered and sagging sacoche. (side note: the bag has been on its last leg since 2004, and just keeps going and going and going!) Photo taken in 2010 in Caltagirone, Sicily. 

fouiller (foo-ee-ay)

    : to rummage through something (a pocket, a drawer)

Audio File: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following French sentence: Download MP3 or listen to Wav file

À l'hôpital d'Orange j'ai fouillé dans la sacoche de mon mari. At the hospital in Orange, I rummaged through my husband's bag.

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

Several weeks ago, after rushing Jean-Marc to the emergency room, I was asked by the night shift nurse to provide my husband's papiers d'assurance. Zut! I was afraid the nurse would ask for those! 

They had to be in here somewhere.... I set Jean-Marc's sacoche on the counter, unbuckled the tattered leather flap and began searching for some papers—the kind my husband would have folded and stuck into his wallet... or maybe in a side pocket? After a few fruitless attempts at locating the insurance documents, I tapped on the glass divider window to alert the nurse.

"When you find them," the nurse persevered, "pass them to me here." As he spoke, he pointed to a little cutout in the glass wall, through which I could transfer the needed paperwork.

"Il n'y a pas le feu!" the infirmier assured me. No, there was no rush. An emergency room visit in France could last three hours or more! That ought to be enough time to go through the entire contents of Jean-Marc's sacoche, which was something between a briefcase and a men's purse. My husband has a mobile office inside that bag! and room for a bottle of wine or two, which he tucks inside whenever he visits his cavistes in Marseilles or Paris or Portland. Finding those papers inside Ali Baba's* bag was going to be an adventure!

Entering the salle d'attente, I noticed a handful of other accidental insomniacs. Like myself, they had found themselves here in the middle of the night because of an accident or illness of a loved one.  The gray-haired woman, seated alone, looked distraught—though the young twenty-something women with the toddler running between them seemed bored. I took a seat next to the man with the dark mustache and beard, facing the pretty young women.  I wondered whether they knew each other? To whom did the child belong? The brunette or the blond? Was the man the grandfather?

No time to play connect-the-dots, I needed to find those insurance papers! Still, I couldn't help wondering what sort of catastrophes had struck the others' loved ones? Perhaps, they were wondering the same about me?

Only a dislocated shoulder, I would assure them... if perchance they happened to ask. When they didn't, it was the least I could do to maintain a cheerful demeanor to reassure them. On second thought, perhaps I looked a little too happy as I sat there rifling through my husband's bag?

Perhaps they thought I was taking advantage of my husband's absence... to go searching through his private affairs? That's it, they think I am snooping! 

After all, no sooner had I sat down in the waiting room than I began rifling through the manly sacoche. Obviously it was not my own. They knew it was my helpless husband's! In their eyes I might be nothing more than an insecure housewife taking a cheap shot at uncovering some sort of double-life of the man who had disappeared into the emergency room!

 Just when I began to suspect—and even invent—a few more condemning thoughts coming from the others in the salle d'attente, my eyes fell on a little piece of paper inside my husband's bag. As I studied the scratchy handwriting the room around me disappeared completely. Gone were the paranoid imaginings, gone was the connect-the-dot curiosity. A bigger question began to form in my consciousness.

Just what was this? My heart thumped slowly as I pulled out the flimsy piece of paper, letting the bag fall aside. 

I read and reread the handwritten notations which appeared on a cut-out piece of paper (wallet-sized) which seemed to be part of an official document; it read:

Je soussigné (here, my husband had written in his name, in all caps)... exprime par la présente mon choix de la crémation après mon décès. Je demande que mes cendres soient (here my husband had filled in the blank line to read "...que mes cendres soient) déversées dans la Méditerranée"... to which he specified "(Marseille)."

I (here, my husband had written in his name)... presently express my choice of cremation after my death. I ask that my ashes be (here my husband had filled in the blank line to read "... that my ashes be distributed in the Mediterranean sea"... to which Jean-Marc specified "Marseilles)."

A few fearful and mysterious moments passed before I regained awareness of where we were in the grand scheme of things: we were OK—especially HE was OK (only a displaced shoulder!), and this was just some sort of carrying card—a cremation card (did we even have these in the States?), dated September 2004, a card that I had not seen before, for whatever reason. But everything was all right. Any such events were in the far future... only, some of us had thoughtfully left instructions in the event of....

 My poor dear husband, ever so responsible! Though I was surprised by the carrying card, I was not surprised by Jean-Marc's instructions. I might have guessed. I only wish I had the courage to write some instructions of my own, and to imagine as beautiful a resting place one day, far off, with him. Yes, the Mediterranean!

***

Post note: Aside from the sea, I had always imagined we'd be buried near to each other, something that may no longer be ecologically friendly or feasible? Though, I hate the thought of drifting away from my love!

Comments

Voilà -- difficult topic tackled! Is this too creepy or upsetting a subject to talk about? Would you be willing to write your burial (drifter?) instructions on a carrying-card? Have you? Do you know what your parents' wishes are? Your spouse's? Your significant other's? Are you too superstitious to talk about it?

Thanks for sharing here in the comments box.

P.S. I finally found the insurance papers! They were next to Jean-Marc's organ donor's papers from France ADOT. In addition to those, I found Jean-Marc's Carte Nationale de Donneur de Sang Bénévole

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le papier d'assurance = insurance paper

zut = darn!

la sacoche = satchel, bag

la salle d'attente = waiting room

Il n'y a pas le feu (Il n'y a pas le feu au lac !) = there's no rush! (literally "there's no fire on the lake")

un infirmier, une infirmière = nurse

un caviste = wine seller

Ali Baba (from the popular French expression une caverne d’Ali Baba, or "vast collection of things")

 

Christine cmkmax
Chris visited us a few years ago and I meant to post her photo... getting to that now! Next time we'll get a close-up!   Left to right: Jean-Marc, Chris's cousins Elizabeth, Heather, and David, Chris's hubby Fred, Kristin, Christine (that's Chris!), and daughter Laura

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens