Orageux: Stormy Night and visit chez le podologue

Chair in field
Chapter 9 of our vineyard memoir is online now. Mike, reading along from South Africa, writes: "For me, quite the most enjoyable chapter so far, because it gives insight into your personal migration over the years."

Merci, Mike! For all of us, the pursuit of a dream, whether life in France or a satisfying relationship, involves an emotional migration of the ego and soul. This message is at the heart of our book, available here.

TODAY'S WORD: ORAGEUX

    : stormy, tempestuous

AUDIO: Listen to Jean-Marc read his sentence in French


L'épisode Méditerranéen en cours dans le sud de la France a provoqué un temps orageux hier soir sur La Ciotat.The Mediterranean episode underway in the south of France caused stormy weather last night on La Ciotat.

Mediterranean episode = a particular meteorological phenomenon around the Mediterranean (Wikipedia)


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When we heard the storms were coming Mom suggested we cancel her appointment chez le podologue. But because her big toe--her gros orteil--was in pain again (that ingrown toenail!) I didn't want to put off the rendez-vous. It'll be okay, I assured Mom. We don't have too far to drive....

We left our one umbrella behind, in favor of wide-brimmed hats, and we borrowed Max's bagnole, which works pretty well despite le frein à main, which is broken...

Driving along the front de mer, the sky ahead of us darkened. "Oh, Kristi, this is exciting!" Mom said. "We should get out more often!"

Exciting? No, this was nerve-racking! My hands gripped the steering wheel as I navigated the wet roads. "Look at all the people that are out walking along the beachfront," I said to my copilot. Interesting how some people hurried inside before a storm... while others ventured out to watch it. That was the difference between Mom and me! 

A thin white line pierced the horizon and a moment later, a crackle and BOOM! Lightning and thunder. The car windows began to fog over so I turned on my A/C full blast, hoping the cold air would clear the glass. As Mom and I wiped the windows with our hands, the bumper-to-bumper line up came into view with its tunnel of red brake lights. The police were redirecting traffic away from the seafront as giant waves sent sand flying from the beach onto the boardwalk, inches away from the vehicles!

I ditched the plan to leave Mom at the corner closest to the foot doctor's. Deep puddles had formed everywhere and I didn't trust the other drivers, what with the reduced visibility. "Let's stick together!" I said. "We'll park and walk the 3 blocks."

Finally, we descended into the underground parking lot, where Mom got out of the car to help guide me into a narrow parking slot. Next, we headed up the ramp, single file, and right out into the storm.

WHOAH! The rain was pouring down. It felt like buckets of it were hitting us and, within thirty seconds, I was entirely soaked through! My floppy sunhat, I learned, was not waterproof, and my hair (just washed and blown dry back at home) was sticking to my head as a river ran down my back.

Mom's hat was waterproof, and her cool new coat, silver like her gorgeous hair--a 7-dollar brocante find (the coat, not Mom's hair) kept her dry. It was her slippery chaussures that were failing her. Flip flops--the only shoes she could wear with that painful ongle incarné

"Maybe I should take off my shoes?"

And go barefoot in this déluge? No way. I laced my arm through Mom's and pulled her close as we walked on, leaning in to the buildings as the cars whipped by on our other side. Rivulets of rain water took up half of the narrow trottoir.  Every so often, in addition to the torrent of rain hitting us, we had to walk beneath a fountain of water flooding off the rooftops. There was no way around the additional downpour, given the cars were inches away.

What a relief to finally turn off that busy road!  Another block and we hurried into the podiatrist's office, where we peeled off our wet coats and hats. The young foot doctor, Mélinée, was Armenian, and as she cared for Mom's feet, she shared about the cuisine of her ancestors. She asked, Had we ever tried dolmas (rice, pine nuts, and herbs wrapped in grape leaves)? As we chatted, Mom began to relax, and we both were warmed at last, as though seated beside the communal oven. 

I leave you with a picture of my mom, Jules. The snapshot was taken at our former vineyard near Bandol.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le/la podologue = podiatrist, foot doctor
le gros orteil = big toe
la bagnole = slang for "car"
le frein à main = parking brake
la chaussure = shoe
l'ongle incarné = ingrown toenail
la brocante = second-hand shop
le trottoir = sidewalk

le déluge = flood, downpour

Mom as mas des brun

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Art and Contretemps, and a walk with writer Catherine Berry

PPWT-2020

My dear friend Tessa is organizing more art escapades in France, check them out here. Her colorful flyer, above, sets the tone for today's topic: art.

CONTRETEMPS (con-truh-tahn) noun, masculine
    : mishap, mischance
    : hitch; delay, inconvenience
    : syncopation (music)

  arriver à contretemps = to arrive at the wrong moment
  jouer à contretemps = to play out of time

Click here, listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

Nos destinées et nos volontés jouent presque toujours à contretemps. Our destinies and our wishes are almost always out of step. --André Maurois

Thank you to Joan Link for her help in translating today's quote.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The French word "contretemps" means, among other things, "a note played against the beat". I wonder whether that is why art means more and more to us lately, enough to dare us to put meaningless obligations aside in order to pursue creative activity, and so make a swift turn, marching to another drum beat: our own.

Break apart the word "contretemps" and you get "against time" which explains why artists find it difficult to practice their art. Who's got "temps" to sit quietly, waiting for the muse? And so we must make it (time and art): we shove a few things aside, allow the dust to build up, let the cat eat dog food, don't care about our hair... wear holes in our socks and dive into design when and where we can. If the muse is present, great!, if not, then ainsi soit-il! Nothing's stopping us now.

Contretemps: Part Deux...
As commitments creep in, and you feel like your plate is too full, duty dripping over at the sides, you might be tempted to invent a contretemps in order to excuse yourself from the whirlwind. Who wants to be in a crowded, cacophonic room, when one's own soul-centering sofa beckons? A reading lamp with a warm golden hue dancing beneath the dusty lampshade, a pile of favorite books, a jam jar full of colorful felt markers and a sketchbook by one's side... music musing in the background. When's the last time you were there, in that cozy chair?

Contretemps: Intermezzo
(We'll now take a break in the midst of this dilemma, its theme having to do, we think, with "art 'against time' or 'time against art'"--whether that be the art of writing, of painting, of singing... or simply the art of living...)

Contretemps: Conclusion
My Mom sent me an inspiring arty video the other day. "For Jackie and Max," her note said. I clicked open the link and found myself carried away by a quirky Canadian creator: a filmmaker, in all due respect. And I *do* respect the dues and bad days that an artist pays to get to such freedom. For isn't that the end result
of art
: when the viewer (reader, or listener) is liberated, from time and space? Off we fly, if not contre le vent, then, somehow, "contre temps" and time's constraints.

Contretemps: to play out of time
This post was written in 2008. I'd like to add a section on art and conversation. This past summer I had the pleasure of spending a few creative hours with the writer Catherine Berry. During a stroll along the promenade here in La Ciotat, we talked about writing, sharing the ups, downs, misunderstandings, risks, fears, joys, freedoms and priviledge of expression. 

Many thanks to Catherine for her story about her visit, and for the photo, below. Read the story at Catherine's blog, But You Are in France, Madame.

And please check out her wonderful and relateable memoir, available in paperback (click here) or ebook.

But you are in France

 
Kristi espinasse and catherine berry la ciotat
Me and Catherine Berry. 

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Fournisseur: Photos from the Grand Opening of Jean-Marc's wineshop!

Inauguration window shop hours le vin sobre jean-marc espinasse la ciotat

On Thursday, October 10, my friends, suppliers and other guests came to the official opening of Le Vin Sobre La Ciotat. (See the French translation and listen to Jean-Marc read his words, below)

 

Today's Word: le fournisseur

    : supplier, provider

Click here to listen to the example sentence in French:

Le Jeudi 10 Octobre, mes amis, les fournisseurs et d'autres invités sont venus à l'inauguration officielle du Vin Sobre La Ciotat.

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

This story is dedicated to our longtime friend Pascale Gauthier-Keogh, who could not be at the grand opening, but who helped enormously in getting the word out about our new wine shop. Merci, Pascale!

Here in La Ciotat there was quite a turnout for the inauguration of Jean-Marc's new wine shop, Le Vin Sobre. I drove to our cave à vin with friends Julie and Dan, visiting from Nice, and we arrived early enough to see the fournisseurs setting up. Our friend Lionel Alphand of Brasserie Alphand was already serving his beer-on-tap in front of the shop, and inside we met Stéphane from Maison Matthieu, busy preparing cured bonite (a kind of tuna) and said bonjour to Olivier from La Cave à jambon.

Olivier la cave a jambon la ciotat le vin sobre jean-marc espinasse
Olivier from La cave a Jambon
Lionel brasserie alphand le vin sobre la ciotat jean-marc espinasse
The wonderful Lionel Alphand, center, and our friends outside the wine shop


Another guest arrived and quietly introduced himself. Anthony Stagliano, from the service de la communication de la Ville de Ciotat, took photos and video clips throughout the event and made the extraordinary (and extraordinarily helpful!) video of the night's celebration, and we are so grateful! Merci à Anthony ainsi que La Ville de La Ciotat!

Friends began arriving, as well as vignerons and those representing our favorite wineries. Fanny was here from La Mascaronne! And there was Eric from Château de Pibarnon and also Jean-Christophe from Domaine du Paternel as well as Harry from Domaine de La Mongestine, where our son Max is currently completing his work-study.

inauguration vin sobre la ciotat max espinasse
our son Max and friends Marianne and Michel, and Nicolas


Christophe, Jean-Marc's shop assistant, who worked day and night to get thousands of bottles and stock into place, and most of the associates were present at this grand opening, including fondateur Fabrice Dammann who began the Vin Sobre Wine shops (there are now four, including ours) almost 20 years ago.

Jean-Marc called me over to meet the mayor of La Ciotat, Patrick Boré, who had arrived with several people from the mairie. Next, Jean Marc gave a touching speech before opening a giant 3-liter bottle of Billecart Salmon champagne for everyone.
As guests sipped bubbly, including me (sparking water) a reporter from La Provence who was taking notes turned to me ...
and posed a question that everybody's been asking...

D'ou viens le nom Le Vin Sobre? Just where did the shop name come from?

I thought about just how many times a day we get asked this question and it is time to set the record straight, or
mettre les choses au clair...

No, it has nothing to do with one of us being abstinent (as those of you reading our memoir-in-progress have guessed), it is, according to Le Vin Sobre founder, Fabrice, simply an amusing play on the words vin et sobre, wine and sober. 

I find it endlessly amusing, too!  This humorous and ironic twist--this vin, this sobre, could be the story of our lives.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

l'inauguration = grand opening, unveiling
le vin sobre = (literally) the sober wine
le cave à vin =wine cellar (also used for wine shop)
ainsi que = as well as
la mairie = town hall, city hall
abstinent = teetotaler, non-drinker
d'ou viens = where does it come from?
mettre les choses au clair = to set the record straight

MVIMG_20191010_203642

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


S'emballer: Jean-Marc's heart after the 2019 Ironman Barcelona

2019 Ironman Barcelona Jean-Marc Espinasse
In between these letters, you can follow colorful updates on my Instagram @kristinespinasse

Looking for a gift? An Audible Membership is an enriching present! Click here for the world's largest library of audiobooks.

Today's Word: s'emballer

    : to race, to bolt, to soar, to rocket

=> s'emballer also means to get carried away, to lose control of yourself

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following update, click here
À 28 kilomètres de la ligne d'arrivée de l'Ironman Barcelona, mon cœur a commencé à s'emballer et j'ai senti dès fourmillements dans les pieds, les mains et le cou. J'ai alterné marche et course ensuite et lorsque j'ai ressenti une pointe au mollet à 14 kms de la  "finish line" j'ai décidé d'abandonner.

At 28 kilometers from the finish line of the Ironman Barcelona, ​​my heart began to race and I felt tingling in the feet, hands and neck. I alternated walking and running next, and when I felt a stab to the calf 14 kms from the "finish line" I decided to give up.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
  By Kristi Espinasse

My Ironman is sleeping after a challenging 24-hour day, Sunday, in which he pushed his 52-year-old body to its limit. Twenty-eight kilometers shy of the Ironman Barcelona finish line, after swimming, biking and now running... Jean-Marc's heart began protesting. Next, he had les fourmillements--"crawling ant" sensation in his feet, hands, and le cou. At that point, he began walking to the finish line...when his mollet began to shoot with pain.

His first words when he called me were, "Je vais bien. Ne t'inquiète pas..."

I wasn't the only one concerned! My Dad, over in Idaho, was also tracking Jean-Marc--via the Ironman app. When Dad's watch dinged, shortly after he'd gone to sleep, he realized the race had begun. Jean-Marc had dived into the Mediterranean Sea in Calella, Spain, and this immense physical épreuve--among men half his age..and a few older--was on.
 

Screenshot_20191006-194743

Dad's watch continued to ding throughout the night, alerting him (and my belle-mère?) to Jean-Marc's progress. By the next morning when the sun rose in Idaho, Jean-Marc had finished the biking and was now running. But my Dad became concerned when Jean-Marc fell off the radar and could no longer be tracked...had Jean-Marc had an accident?

Screenshot_20191006-194621

Meantime here in La Ciotat, my phone was dinging as well. It dinged when I went out to feed the chickens their breakfast, dinged after I made our daily bread, and dinged on my way to church...and dinged when I returned home and when I took my nap. I was amazed to check my husband's progress thanks to each alert. It was incredible to think that while the rest of us were going about our day, waking, eating, gardening, sleeping, Jean-Marc was carefully meting out his energy reserves on what would be for him a 12-hour course.

I was thankful our son Max had driven across the border with his Dad to help out with the equipment and cheer him on in person. Speaking of Max, this is the reason Jean-Marc had called so late at night....

"Everything thing is ok," my husband assured me. 

My sleepy brain tried to process Jean-Marc's words. Why was he calling? What had happened? Last I checked he was 2 hours from the finish line. Where was Max? 

Max was fine (indeed he'd had a thrilling day following his dad, cheering him on, photographing him, and enjoying the Spanish seaside town. He too was receiving those dings, or notifications... while he ate ribs, spoke in Spanish to the locals, and even managed a little spa time during the 12 hours that his father advanced toward the finish line....

But he was currently unaware of his father's injury. "Call Max and tell him I will meet him back at the hotel."
Jean-Marc's voice was level and I knew not to ask too many questions, but to get the message to Max asap. 
When next I heard back from the two, they were already on the road, for the 4.5-hour drive home (with Max at the wheel).

It wasn't the first time I thought: This is crazy. He is overdoing it--once again squeezing a mountain of activity into the space of a day! Driving almost 5 hours home after midnight and after an all-day triathlon! He has not slept in 24 hours. Why don't they just stay one more night and get some sleep?

Because that's Jean-Marc, and I am learning to let him be, all the while keeping a watchful eye on this Ironman.

"But I am not an Ironman," I did not finish the triathlon, Jean-Marc replied, as he cracked open our bedroom door at 3:03 am, having arrived safely home.

"Yes, you are! As far as we (your family) are concerned, you are a Finisher. And we are so proud of you! Tellement fier de toi!"

*    *    *

I am still editing this post, but will pause now to make lunch for our Ironman, who is up and walking around now. If you see any coquilles, or typos--or simply want to congratulate Jean-Marc--thank you for using the comments box below.

For those reading our memoir, you will be familiar by now by Jean-Marc's drive. Indeed it's driven us from town to town, project to project, where he's raced after his dreams 24/7. It caused a fair amount of tension in our relationship, something I am writing about (8 chapters have now been posted). Let's give Jean-Marc the rest of this week to finish his latest chapter. He needs a little rest for now. Click here to read about our memoir-in-progress.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
les fourmillements = tingling
le cou = neck
le mollet = calf
je vais bien = I'm okay
ne t'inquiète pas = do not worry
une épreuve = test
la belle-mère = stepmother
tellement = so very
fier de toi = proud of you

 

A


Screenshot_20191006-194039

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


A lost phone and a found skill: Max's foray into juggling

Max juggling tassels
Learn and listen to this sentence in French, below: Juggling is an exercise of skill that consists in its strictest sense of throwing, catching and relaunching objects in the air. It can be a game, a sport, an art or a religious rite.

Today's Word: lancer

    : to throw, toss, launch 

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French

La jonglerie est un exercice d'adresse qui consiste dans son sens le plus strict à lancer, rattraper et relancer de manière continue des objets en l’air. Elle peut être un jeu, un sport, un art ou encore un rite religieux. --Wikipedia.fr
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

The other night I was treated to an impromptu juggling performance, after our son returned from Montpellier. Max is home for 3 weeks for his internship at Domaine de la Mongestine, and will return to the university every month to complete his final year of business school. Having found a short-term rental to share with his pals, Cameron and Souhail (also completing une année en alternance) the classmates are getting used to homework again after a year away from classes. And in their downtime, they have found a few ways to décompresser, or chill out (besides les boîtes de nuits!)...
 
Watching Max jongler was impressive. "Bravo! When did you learn to do that?"
 
"After mon portable went missing. Ten days without a phone...on s'ennuie!  Voilà -- I learned something new!"

Nodding my head in appreciation, I studied the juggler's equipment: All you needed were three small balls and you were in business! You could carry them in your backpack, and always have a form of entertainment handy--or a way to earn some cash for a starving student!

Screenshot_20191004-095102

"Hey, by the way, where did you get those pompoms?" 
 
"They fell off the Souhail's pillow..." (aha! I guess Souhail ended up on the couch). "...so Cameron collected the pompons and began juggling. That's how I learned...by watching Cameron's technique!" 
 
"That is so cool, Max! But are you sure you all didn't help that pillow to lose a few more tassels?"
 
"Haha. We came up with a second use, too... Each night after dinner, we each tossed a pompon. Whoever made a basket did not have to do dishes!"

Gosh, now I really wanted my own set of these ever-amusing and useful pompons. I don't think any of our pillows have tassels on them, so the first trick will be to look at all the objects in our house... with fresh eyes!  Maybe some wine corks would work? We've got plenty of those!

     *    *    * 
I'll take this opportunity to remind you that Jean-Marc has opened his wine shop here in La Ciotat. It is so easy to access. Simply exit the freeway in La Ciotat, take the first right and you're there--at Le Vin Sobre wineshop If Max is in, he'll share his pompons with you. There is also a puzzle you can help finish and next time I stop in I am dropping off a guitar. And there are books! This should make the shop even cozier, so stop in and enjoy a glass of wine.

Jean-marc reading words in a french life
Jean-Marc, pretending to read Words in a French Life , in stock now! :-)

Jackie Jean Marc Max Kristi at Vin Sobre Wine shop La Ciotat
Are you on Instagram? More photos from day-to-day life, follow me here

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une boîte de nuit = nightclub
en alternance = work/study training program  
décompresser = relax, chill out
une boîte de nuit = nightclub, club
on s'ennuie = one gets bored
jongler = to juggle
un portable = cell phone, mobile phone
un pompon = pompom, tassel
 
 
In this contemporary version from Paulist Productions, Barnaby ekes out a bare existence juggling in the street for coins. He is broken-hearted over the death of his wife and best friend. Barnaby drifts aimlessly until he stays in a small community where he is treated kindly. As Christmas approaches, all are making special gifts for the Lord. Click here to view The Juggler of Notre Dame

IMG_20150511_202424
Another ball game Max (second on left) loves: pétanque. Photo taken at our former vineyard, Mas des Brun. That's Jackie on the right. Wish her luck, she passes her bartending exam in Miami next week!

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Dolphin...and other seaworthy terms in French

Coastline in la ciotat

Many people are unaware of it, but this sea is home to dolphins, whales, cachalots, and pilot whales. Learn this sentence in French, in the soundfile section, below.

Today's Word: le dauphin

    : dolphin
    : heir to the throne
    : runner-up (beauty competition)

In books: Pronounce it Perfectly in French

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce dolphin in French in the following sentence
Beaucoup l’ignorent, mais cette mer abrite des dauphins, des baleines, des cachalots, ou encore des globicéphales. --Cetus Méditeranée


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

(This story first appeared in France Today magazine)

Coucou from down South. Having shared with you the beauty of our lively port city, La Ciotat, there is now one more thing to shout about: our coastline has recently been crowned La Plus Belle Baie du Monde! And though it is physically impossible to crown a body of water, one could prop a couronne on one of the hundreds of dolphins that regularly grace our shoreline!

Our sparkling baie en croissant will boast this title all year, at which point another aquatic beauty gets to bask in the saltwater spotlight (past winners include Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and the Bay of San Francisco). For now, we Ciotadins are gazing at our seafront with a new appreciation. And what better way to experience the splendour...than from a historical boat?

Les pointus as they are called, are the colorful fishing vessels you see bobbing in the port in Marseilles, in Cassis, in Sanary, and here in La Ciotat. And after wishing for one for decades (ever since strolling as newlyweds along the calanque of Sormiou) our dream has come true! We will soon be the lucky owners of one of these barques de pêche--built in 1925! Meantime, as Provencal bureaucracy kicks in (it's like winning the lottery to get to buy one of these boats with its own slip), the current owner has granted us access.

Pointu wooden boat carenage
old wooden boats during the carénage

Recently, Jean-Marc and I enjoyed a relaxing sortie.... After packing a thermos of tea (for the chilly sea breeze), and a bottle of rosé--and some sweet and savory goodies from la boulangerie, we set sail towards L'Ile Verte--the nearest island--only 10 minutes away in put-put time. This one-hundred-year-old barquette is slow...and so close to the water you can reach over the side and touch it!

Nearing The Green Island, Jean-Marc tossed the anchor overboard and we rocked peacefully for the next hour, enjoying the magnificent scenery (including Le Bec de L'Aigle--an impressive Eagle shape in the rocky coastline), and so many gabians--that's southern French for goéland, or seagull. On this day the French airforce flew jets overhead and with a whoosh they appeared over the island's Mediterranean forest every quarter of an hour. What a show!

If only my husband had more to show from the end of his fishing line.... It seemed the arapèdes he'd hooked there were not fooling the local daurade. Even les loups turned their noses. Next time he should try cake, I thought, as I began to doze off....

Lying there on the wooden sideboard, I dreamt I was eating une galette des rois, when suddenly I bit into the fève inside! My husband, following tradition, placed the cake's cardboard crown on my sleepy head...but the wind carried it right off. Searching for it in the distance, I saw the golden glimmer just as the dauphin disappeared underwater.

Oh, indeed! I thought, waking up. The Most Beautiful Bay in the World has received its deserved crown!

Cliff falaise along coastline la ciotat

FRENCH VOCABULARY
coucou = hello
la plus belle baie du monde = most beautiful bay in the world
la couronne = crown
croissant = crescent
le pointu = wooden fishing boat
la calanque = rocky inlet
la barque de pêche = fishing boat
la sortie = trip, outing
le gabian = seagull, gull
le goéland = seagull
un arapède = limpet
la daurade = sea bream
le loup de mer = sea bass
la galette des rois = king cake
la fève = fava bean
le dauphin = dolphin

In books: Mastering French Vocabulary and 2000 Most Common French Words in Context

Yellow euphorbia and a euphoric view of the bay and the Green Island (1)
You can see many more pictures of daily life here in La Ciotat via my Instagram gallery, here.

Jeanmarc on a pointu traditional wooden boat from provence
One more reason to visit La Ciotat is to stop into our wine shop/épicérie--located conveniently off the freeway (take a right at the very first roundabout). Jean-Marc is there most days, and we will organize meetups, tastings, and a wine workshop for those interested. Thanks for telling a friend!

Parc mugel bench sea

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Relationship tip? Keep 'em guessing! Deviner is the word of the day

Alcudia Majorca Spain Balearic Islands
For our 25-year marriage anniversary, I reserved a surprise for Kristi. Guess where we are going to go... (Listen to Jean-Marc read his sentence in French, below.)

Today's word: deviner

    : to guess
    : to figure out
    : to surmise

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French
Pour notre 25ème anniversaire de mariage, j'ai reservé une surprise à Kristi. Devinez où nous allons aller. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When Jean-Marc told me he had reserved a surprise destination for our 25th wedding anniversary, the guessing began as I packed my carry-on: if we took a plane, all these toiletries would need to be under so many grams in weight (just how many?). But if we were traveling by train or via ferry boat, then this giant-size tube of sunblock could go with us. Did we even need la crème solaire?

Mais bien sûr! That much I knew about my husband: this Mediterranean likes to go where he can put his feet in the sand while setting his rosé on the table--alongside his olives and cacahuètes (autrement dit: he loves to dine on the beach--les pieds nus)!

I emptied out some hotel shampoo bottles and refilled with lotion and sunblock just in case we were boarding a strict carrier (living near Marseilles is wonderful for that: so many islands (Malta, Sardinia, Corsica) and cities (Rome, Barcelona, Palermo) can be reached via the friendly skies in under 2 hours for under $100. I packed a swimsuit and various layers to cover any situation: la pluie, la canicule, le froid... and then threw all cares to the wind, or tried to, and got into our car wearing my best version of adventurer.

Which reminds me of one of the reasons I married Jean-Marc, there would always be adventures, which is just what this homebody who likes to know what's going to happen next needs. Speaking of what's next, who knew if our car ride would be 45 minutes (to the Marignane airport) or 2.5 hours (to the Italian border?)--or an all-day journey to Croatia (we drove there once. You should have seen the look on my family's faces when, at border patrol, and after 15 hours on the road--in traffic and heat for the last leg--I realized I'd forgotten my passport)....

I have never forgotten my documents since! "But I cannot find my Residency card..." I said to Jean-Marc, panicked. (If you are a foreigner living full-time in France, you must be ready to show this extra ID card at immigration along with your passport when traveling outside of the country). When my husband wasn't concerned about the missing card, I realized we were probably not flying anywhere...

And when Jean-Marc drove right past the port of Toulon, I had to scratch "ferry boat" off the list of possible destinations. Now it seemed we were headed to the Nice airport, another 2 hours down the coast.... But just when I felt sure, my driver did a switcharoo, looping back into town. By now I was laughing. I love this! I said. The control freak inside of me must have nodded off for a siesta. Meantime, my soul was awake! Oh, the power of letting go! Freeing yourself of reservations, fears, conclusions, expectations and the rest of those monsters and party poopers.

At last we drove to the Port of Toulon, and it was crystal clear we were taking a boat over these turquoise waters just ahead. But which direction? There were three lanes leading up to the drive-on boarding: one read "Ajaccio." One read "Bastia." And the lane in the middle read "Alcudia." All boats read, in huge letters CORSICA FERRIES, leading to many assumptions....

So we are going to Corsica, I chirped. I love Corsica! And I love taking the overnight ferry! 

Jean-Marc's sideways smile told me the game of devinettes wasn't up. "If that is what you think," he said simply. Looking back at the signs, I had to admit...to not being able to identify one of those cities on a giant Map of Geography. Just where was Alcudia located? It had to be Corsica...for everything pointing to that direction. 

"Can I use my phone and google it?" I begged. 

"If you want," my driver said, nonchalant.

And that, dear reader, is how I learned that Alcudia is located... on the Spanish island of Majorca. Now I will never forget that and, si Dieu le veut, look forward to many more geography lessons in the next 25 years!

*    *    *
Mr Sacks and Jean-Marc pointu boats
Guess who came with us on this trip: Trusty Mr Sacks. He's almost as old as our marriage. More pictures of Mr Sacks over the years, click here. 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

autrement dit = said otherwise
les pieds nus = bare feet
la cacahuète = peanut
la pluie = rain
la canicule = heatwave
le froid = the cold
devinettes = guessing game
si Dieu le veut = God willing

Reverse Dictionary

carry-on = le bagage à main 
toiletries = produits de toilette
Beach in majorca spain
Jean-Marc needs sun. I need shade. We're learning to work it out. That could be our memoir in a nutshell. Chapter 8 has just been posted, and the second half of it (Jean-Marc's account) is coming soon. Thank you for reading our book-in-progress.

Church door in Roussillon France
Church door in Roussillon, photo from the archives of this blog. I just received this note--via snail mail--from Elaine: 

Kristi, So enjoy your work and finally can send a check by mail. Every best wish, Elaine

Thank you so much, Elaine! And for those of you who enjoy this journal, it is now possible to support it via a check in US dollars or in euros. Here is the information:

Le Vin Sobre
Att: Kristin Espinasse
45 Voie Ariane
13600 La Ciotat
France

Horse and cart in mediterranean sea kaki polizzi la ciotat france
The shores here in La Ciotat. Photo from the archives of this blog. Thank you very much to those who read it and support it.

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


On s'aimera toute la vie

Vintage book

Chapter 8 of our vineyard memoir has been posted. Below, I am including an excerpt from the end of that chapter, which includes these charming illustrations. I leave you with today's phrase and wishes for a lovely weekend!
Today's phrase: On s'aimera toute la vie
    : we will love each other all our lives

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
(the following passage is a postnote from the end of chapter 8...)
The title of this book (from the 50s) reads: We will love each other all our lives. Finding this vintage volume was serendipitous: I had been returning from a morning swim, having taken Jean-Marc's invitation to join him. On my way home, I stopped at the neighborhood book lending box, and was instantly enamored by this treasure looking up at me from the shelf.

I had been struggling to find a photo for this latest chapter, a passage I procrastinated on because it seemed dark (were the past chapters dragging the book down?). The illustration on the cover reminded me of the underlying theme of our book...and that is why I find it perfect for the end of this chapter.

Peynet illustration
The drawings (by Peynet) inside the book are cheeky. This one jumped right off the page and delighted me. It speaks volumes of our relationship. From the moment I married him, Jean-Marc has kept me wagging my fingers with each and every DIY impulse of his! In the moment, it really frustrates me. But looking back over all of the quirky creations and repairs he has done (he would indeed go as far as to borrow the back of my dress if it served a purpose!) I can't help but smile in appreciation for it all. "It all" being the life we have shared up until now.

The memoir Jean-Marc and I are writing will speak volumes to anyone in a relationship, and anyone who has ever followed a dream and suffered setbacks along the way. Your purchase is a great support to us as we face the next chapter, always seeking the balance between transparency--and (to use the illustration above...) not revealing too much! Click here to purchase our book-in-progress, and thanks in advance!


Drawings from the book on s aimera toute la vie

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Two Milestones: News about Jean-Marc and Jackie

Jackie Jean Marc Max Kristi at Vin Sobre Wine shop La Ciotat
Photo of our family in Le Vin Sobre wine shop--a project Jean-Marc has been working on all summer. The doors officially opened, here in La Ciotat, on Friday. (left to right: Jackie, Jean-Marc, Max, and Kristi.)

Today's word: vieille canaille

    : old scoundrel

Click here to listen to the following sentence
Bonjour, c'est Jean Marc. Je vous invite à venir visiter ma cave à vin - épicerie fine à La Ciotat. Vous y découvrirez toutes mes sélections ainsi qu'une section intitulée "vieilles canailles".

Hi, Jean-Marc here. I invite you to visit my wine shop/épicerie fine in La Ciotat. You will discover all my best selections as well as a section called "old scoundrels".*

"Old scoundrels, here, refer to Jean-Marc's old vintages, for sale at the shop.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
, by Kristi Espinasse

Two Milestones

The picture, above, was snapped moments before we took our daughter to the train station in Marseilles.  Her voyage to Miami, where she began bartender school on Monday, was about to begin. Sometime last year our youngest began a transition, leaving behind her fashion studies in France to find work in the States. The job she found at the Ritz Carlton, serving drinks and occasionally helping as barback, awakened a longtime interest in mixology. Voilà for the first milestone which passed the week of her 22nd birthday (which is today, September 18th! Happy Birthday, Jackie!!).

The second milestone belongs to Jean-Marc, who opened his Vin Sobre wine shop here in La Ciotat on Friday! He could not have known when he began his journey into winemaking that he would end up here. But, if there is one thing I am learning, "to end up somewhere" is not in his vernacular.

There is no "end," only a day to day trek towards the future. Happy travels to all and, should you find yourself in the area of La Ciotat, please enjoy a rest stop along your journey... at the Vin Sobre wine shop, located conveniently off the motorway :-)

Le Vin Sobre La Ciotat
45 Voie Ariane, 13600 La Ciotat
Tel : 09 88 06 18 58 - 06 65 21 35 92
Instagram : @le_vin_sobre_la_ciotat
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LeVinSobreLaCiotatCaveAVinEpicerieFine/ 

Vin sobre cave wine shop la ciotat

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****


Freedom & Fer: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.

Bird tracks on the beach and the sea
Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. Don't miss the translation, below.

Today's Word: le fer

    : iron
    : shoe, horseshoe
    : rail

les fers = chains

Click here to listen to the following sentence

L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.  --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
    by Kristi Espinasse

Have you ever noticed the self-imposed prisons we sometimes check into when we put limits on our freedom? Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously wrote: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.
 
La liberté is a gift. To some it is a right. Either way it is something to be thankful for each and every day, so why would anyone ever restrict their own champ des possibilités
 
We do this in ways in which we are often unaware...
 
Out walking along the seafront this morning, I suddenly froze at the sight of a familiar figure in the distance. I felt the urge to turn around and hurry home, or else bump into somebody I was avoiding. I could have bucked up and continued on, but it would have been an awkward march forward. Which, come to think of it, is better than a bloody march forward, as those who have fought for our freedom have suffered on not-so-distant sandy shores....

Because of this absurd social dilemma I now had to change directions, which was dommage as it would curtail my daily walk (an exercise that began a year ago, with the goal of restoring peace of mind. Quelle ironie!
 
Alors, in a quick change of itinerary, I took up a parallel path on the sandy beach just below. By zigzagging up and down the narrow plage I could elongate this alternate route and--unexpected bonus-- improve my workout, thanks to the different niveaux along the beach, and to the sable, which is more challenging to walk on.
 
No sooner did I begin snaking my way home (down to the water, back to the boardwalk, and down again) than I became aware of just how dorky this looked (in comparison to the other morning sportifs, all advancing in a straight line, on a designated path), for who loops up and down a narrow beach if not a loopy person! 
 
Oh, but it was enjoyable while it lasted! even if the couple in their beach chairs stared (I swear I could read their thought bubbles: "What's up with Loopy Doop?").
 
That's when a thought bubble of my own came up: YOU HAVE GOT TO PRACTICE YOUR FREEDOM! 
 
This was true... And here! And now!

At that moment I looked down and saw hundreds of fine tracks in the sand--made up of little affirming steps just like mine! The tiny four-toed footprints zigzagged and looped up and down the beach... What was striking was who left these exquisite tracks... it was no other than the symbol of freedom herself. For who is freer than a bird? 

Allez. En avant! No matter your setbacks, keep moving forward in your own original way, thankful all the while for the freedom to be able to do so.
 
Doves by the sea in la ciotat
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
les fers = chains
partout = everywhere
la liberté = freedom
le champ des possibilités = field of possibilities
dommage = too bad
quelle ironie = How ironic
alors = so
la plage = beach
le niveau = level
le sable = sand
le sportif = athlete
allez = go on!
en avant = keep move forward

Bird tracks on the beach

 

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



****