A Common Mistake + favorite English word translated to French

The kasbah Agadir Morocco North Africa
The Kasbah. Agadir, formerly "Santa Cruz", is located on a seismic line. Agadir was rebuilt after the 1960 earthquake that killed 17000 people and destroyed 60 percent of this city. More about our visit to this former French colony, in today's post.

NEW: The audio section has moved and is now a dual-recording. Jean-Marc pronounces the French and you'll hear my Arizona accent for the English! To access the French/English sound-file, scroll to the vocabulary section. Reading via email? You will need to click over to the website for the full edition.

TODAY’S FRENCH WORD: se ressaisir 

    : to pull yourself together, to buck up

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I love the slightly old-fashioned expression “to buck up” and its various definitions:

To buck up is to become encouraged, reinvigorated. To pluck up courage. To improve, smarten, to raise the morale of, to cheer up… In French, to buck up could be translated to se ressaisir.

After selling his wine shop, and following his last day as a business owner and gérant, Jean-Marc wanted to travel somewhere warm and sunny for some renewal and cheer. He finally settled on Agadir, Morocco--a 3-hr direct flight from nearby Marseilles.

By Sunday morning we were walking along an exotic beach when my husband turned to look at the giant, white-tipped vagues which draw so many surfers to the area.“I wonder if la mer is warmer here?” 

“The sea?” I grin, but it’s too late, he can’t take it back. And now it’s my turn to have a little fun with Jean-Marc:

“But this is not the sea! It's the ocean.”

How my spouse loves to correct tourists who visit our own station balnéaire, who innocently confuse the sea and the ocean as I often did. But here, on vacation in North Africa, it must be the relaxed state he is in that’s caused the confusion. “Oui, l’océan!” Jean-Marc smiles. "Je sais. Je sais."

“But do you know the difference between the ocean and the sea?” Quizzes Monsieur Smartypants, only to answer his own question: "Une mer est entourée de terre…a sea is surrounded by land.”

"I know, I know." But the truth is I'm just scraping by when it comes to geography. Witness this letter I received from a reader, following my previous post: Richard writes: “A lovely story, but if you were in Agadir, the sun was setting in the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean!”

Oups! The funny part is both Jean-Marc and I missed the error when proofreading the essay.

Here on Agadir plage, on the Atlantic, the beach is so wide and deep and smooth the locals play soccer on the endless sandy field. The sun is rising when a young man with a stick draws a large rectangle over le sable. The rectangles extend down the plage for a half kilometer as a dozen or more teams enjoy early morning practice.

There are a few other women walking on the beach at this early hour. Their heads and sometimes faces are covered with scarves. Up on the hotel terraces overlooking the shoreline, bikini-clad tourists (mostly French) will soon be sunning themselves. Just when I'm feeling super foreign, I notice the soccer players are all playing ball dans leurs chaussettes! As a mom, I can suddenly relate to their moms, who are not going to be happy on laundry day. As exotic as the women here look to me, we are all dealing with the “outdoor sock issue” back home.

Back in our hotel room overlooking the pool and the sea—l’océan—I am tugging at the one-piece bathing suit I’ve ordered online. Yay, it fits…even if it doesn’t fit in with the barely-clad Frenchies. I take that back. It looks like more French women are wearing one pieces....

I’ve settled in poolside when another woman arrives. She sets her beach bag down four chairs away from mine. When she removes her paréo, I see she’s wearing the same black one-piece as me. I reconsider walking past my sosie to get to the pool stairs, where I was headed for a swim. Oh buck up! I think instead. I’m tired of hiding from everything and everybody. Vive la liberté! Freedom calls!

Only, the water in the heated pool is not as warm as the “piscine chauffé” sign would lead one to believe. It is so cold that I regret I didn't follow my husband who just dove into the sea. I mean the ocean. Oh, you know what I mean! 

I leave you with my favorite English verb, to buck up. For the rest of this year, I will be practicing it--even if I never did buck up and dive into... l'Atlantique!
***

Kristi berber horse agadir morocco
That's me being taken for a ride--in both senses. I could have ridden this sweet horse forever, this gentle cheval erased all my fears... for the brief moment we were together. (The unsolicited ride began "for free" and ended up costing a Moroccan day's salary. Thankfully, the berger and the tourist came to a settlement wherein each left with their dignity intact.

Soccer practice agadir
Remember the soccer players? Those are socks--and not shoes--on their feet. Ouch! They also kick the ball barefoot! 
Camels view from kasbah
Part of the panoramic view from the Kasbah.

BOOKS: The Conquest of Morocco
"...in the mad scramble for African colonies, Morocco had one great attraction for the Europeans: it was available. In 1903, France undertook to conquer the exotic and backward country. By the time World War I broke out the conquest was virtually complete." --from "The Conquest of Morocco"

FRENCH VOCABULARY
se ressaisir = to buck up
le/la gérant(e) = manager
la vague = wave
la station balnéaire = coastal resort, seaside resort
l’océan (m) = ocean
je sais = I know
une mer est entourée de terre = a sea is surrounded by land
oups = whoops
le sable = sand
la plage = beach
dans leurs chaussettes = in their socks
le paréo = beach cover up
le sosie = twin
vive la liberté = long live freedom
la piscine chauffée = heated pool
l’atlantique = the Atlantic

AUDIO FILE & SOME HISTORY
Following the vocabulary list, there is a pause in the recording. Then you will hear the sentence below. (I get a little tongue-tied toward the end!) Do you enjoy these husband/wife recordings? Let us know.

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


La langue française fait partie de la vie quotidienne des Marocains. C’est un héritage d’une période de colonisation durant laquelle elle avait même été proclamée langue officielle des institutions coloniales. Aujourd’hui encore, plus d’un demi-siècle après l’indépendance du pays, la langue française reste très répandue au Maroc, notamment dans les secteurs des entreprises privées et de l’éducation. (credit: LeMatin.ma)

The French language is part of the daily life of Moroccans. It is a legacy of a period of colonization during which it was even proclaimed the official language of colonial institutions. Even today, more than half a century after the country's independence, the French language remains widespread in Morocco, particularly in the private business and education sectors.

Agadir riflemen war 1913 tirailleurs maroc
The handwriting from 1913 reads "north-east side is camp of the riflemen. What else can you say about this postcard? Share your history knowledge in the comments section and add to this post. Merci!

Camel and shepherd berger kasbah agadir morocco


Moroccan pastries corne de gazelleSWEET OF THE WEEK, NO 8: North African pastries, made by our Algerian friends (thanks Sidi and Sidi's mom who made them). Here's a Makroud, a baklava (my favorite!) and a corne de gazelle. So delicious and satisfying with or without mint tea. Ants love them too so don't hide them in your nightstand.

La ciotat france mediterranean sea paddle board sunrise
January sunrise. From shore to shore. From surfers to paddle-boarders. After the ocean in Agadir, here is the sea in La Ciotat, near Cassis. Please check out the book list in the side column (or end) of this blog. New books have been added.

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

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

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


Bonjour from North Africa + A Gift from Strangers!

Ocean sunset jean-marc agadir morocco north africa
Twilight in Agadir, Morocco, in Northwest Africa. Jean-Marc snaps a photo of le coucher du soleil.

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TODAY’S WORD: le crépuscule

    : twilight, dusk, gloaming, nightfall

EXAMPLE SENTENCE & AUDIO FILE
Listen to all the French in today's story via the sound file below. Then scroll to the vocabulary section to check your language comprehension.

Le crépuscule c’est la lumière incertaine qui succède immédiatement au couché du soleil. The twilight is the blurred light that immediately follows the sunset.

French-English Audio file here

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE…by Kristi Espinasse

“Just 5 more minutes,” my husband says, as we gaze at the glowing red Moroccan sky. Jean-Marc’s bare feet are planted in the wet sand on the smooth shore of Agadir. We’ve been standing a long time before le coucher du soleil, until all that remains are ink black lines drowning out the fiery blaze beyond. The horizon resembles molten lava.

Jean-Marc is transfixed by the final curtain on this radiant show called “Nightfall.” Only 5 days ago the curtains were drawn on an episode in his own life. After a chapter called “Rouge-Bleu” and another called “Mas des Brun” (2 vignobles), Jean-Marc has reached the end of the current chapter “La Cave”. He has sold his wine shop and for once in his life he doesn’t have a plan. Looking straight ahead can be blinding.

“Don’t stare at the sun,” Jean-Marc cautioned, taking my hand as the soleil made its descent into the Atlantic. Looking away I catch another glorious scene: all the colors of the sunset are reflecting on the wet sand. C’est merveilleux!

As the sun goes down I close my eyes and carefully make a wish. My vœu is to grow closer and closer to my husband, like the colors melding together on the horizon. 

When next I open my eyes, something magical happens…

THE NEWLYWEDS (Les Jeunes Mariés) 

A few strangers approached us from behind, waving a smartphone. “We were adjusting the settings on our new camera when we got this picture of you two….” The young couple pointed enthusiastically at the phone’s screen.

Jean-marc kristi holding hands sunset morocco

Jean-Marc and I were caught off guard but were soon reassured by two smiling faces. “We just got married,” the strangers offered and the joyous sparkle in their eyes was contagious.

Vous êtes en lune de miel? You are on your honeymoon?” Jean-Marc asked, and so began a little conversation in the sunset's afterglow.

Before we said goodbye to les jeunes mariés, I typed my email address into the woman’s phone, thanking her for her offer to send copies of the photos. “It will be a nice souvenir of our trip. Merci beaucoup!” I say, gazing at the image of a peaceful couple—us—holding hands before the sunset. In an instant, our 28-year married life flashes before me. Next, I think about the newlyweds innocently beginning their own nuptial journey. Whoah! Like molten lava it will be beautiful, it will sizzle, and it will sometimes burn.

One thing that will help any marriage, new or decades-old, is the support from friends and family--even the benediction of strangers, and in this case it was reciprocal: in their photo, the young couple captured an ideal image of our union and in return we left them with a blessing.

Tous nos vœux de bonheur pour un long et heureux mariage! All our wishes of happiness for a long and happy marriage."

Back in our hotel room, I found an email from The Newlyweds, containing the peaceful photo—our best version of our married selves. Sweet and united. “Closer and closer.” Remembering the sparkle in the young couple's eyes I turned to my husband and smiled: In this next chapter we could be newlyweds….

It was just an idea—an inspiration. Because at this point we don’t have a plan for this next chapter. It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone…. Only I don’t want a husband zombie roaming around the house all day. That’s been my turf for the past 5 years while JM was away at the shop all day. I wonder…is anyone out there hiring? I’ve got a stellar candidate who is thoroughly knowledgeable in French wine and who appreciates a good sunset anywhere in the world.  

***

Jean-marc kristi sunset
24/7 or full-time housemates in this new chapter. (Only now, at the close of my story, do I understand the irony in my “closer and closer to hubby” wish :-)  Currently, I have put Jean-Marc to work making lunch as I finish typing up this post. Earlier, he washed the windows, changed a burnt-out lightbulb, and swept the front patio. I'm going to keep him busy! (Photo credit: Majdouline B.)
 
IN BOOKS: Your Name Is Renée: Ruth Kapp Hartz's Story as a Hidden Child in Nazi-Occupied France
Ruth kapp hartz your name is renee
While in Morocco I had the chance to read Ruth Kapp Hartz's story "Your Name is Renee". I have read many Holocaust accounts and this one is especially touching as it is the survival story of a friend and reader of this journal--and it takes place in France. Thank you, Ruth, and Stacy Cretzmeyer (who told Ruth's story) for this unforgettable read. Interestingly there were several mentions of Morocco as Ruth's father initially avoided deportation by joining the French Foreign Legion in Morocco. Please check out Ruth's book.)

Ruth and kristi
Ruth (center) and Monique visited us at our vineyard in 2009. 

Barry ruth jm moniqueBarry, Ruth, and Monique tasting Jean-Marc's wine at our first vineyard.

Kristi in kitchen at domaine rouge-bleu
Ruth also sent this snapshot from our kitchen at the vineyard. It's a sweet souvenir. Merci, Ruth. I hope others will read your highly recommended book.

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

le crépuscule = twilight, dusk

le coucher du soleil = sunset

le vignoble = vineyard

le soleil = sun

la cave = wine shop

la lune de miel  = honeymoon 

C’est merveilleux! = it’s magnificent

le vœu= wish

les jeunes mariés = young married couple

Tous nos vœux de bonheur pour un long et heureux mariage! All our wishes of happiness for a long and happy marriage.


Moroccan cookies patiesseries desert
Sweet of the Week, No 7: "Les Pâtisseries Marocaines." On our third night in Agadir, we ordered room service. We shared a vegetarian pizza and, for dessert, these chewy honey and nut cookies. I hid several in the nightstand and was punished for hoarding them when a bunch of ants invaded my side of the bed!

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

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

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


Every Francophiles Favorite F Word + 2 Days in Paris!

Montmartre Paris France sacre coeur church
Evening in Paris is a magical time to flâner. Rounding a corner in Montmartre the Sacré Coeur Basilica came into view unexpectedly and took my breath away. Don't miss today's story, below.

TODAY'S WORD: flâner

    : stroll, wander, roam, saunter, meander
    : to laze about, to be idle

La flânerie = loafing, idleness

La flânerie, n’est pas seulement délicieuse ; elle est utile. C’est un bain de santé qui rend la vigueur et la souplesse à tout l’être ; à l’esprit comme au corps ; c’est le signe et la fête de la liberté . Strolling is not only delicious; it is useful. It is a bath of health which gives back vigor and flexibility to all the being; to the mind as to the body; it is the sign and the festival of freedom. -Henri Frédéric Amiel

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French quote and all French terms in this post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio file

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

On the train up to the capital I tapped my daughter on the arm. The TGV passenger in seat 661 pulled out her earpods. "Oui, Maman," she smiled patiently.
"Sweetie, we still haven't come up with a plan for our two days in Paris. Actually, we only have this afternoon, this evening, and all day tomorrow in the city. What would you like to do?”

"Hmm. Let me think about that. I'm a little hungry now. Did you say you brought a picnic for the train?"

"I did!" Reaching into my purse, I pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "I made you two: one on healthy bread and the other on the good bread! There's also an apple, some Snickers, and a bag of walnuts if you like--and some water!" 

 “Aw, thanks, Mom." Jackie said. "Well, how about dinner and a cabaret at Le Moulin Rouge?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that…” I said, wondering if the iconic cabaret was family friendly? Why not see The Nutcracker instead? No, Christmas was two months away.... Oh, what did I know about cultural activities anyway? I don't go to operas or ballets. They give me itchy legs. I can't sit still. Was there a Lady and The Tramp show? No, that was at Disneyland Paris, some twenty years ago. Jackie was five-years-old at the time. She is all grown up now and I've got to finally readjust my motherly lens, from the little girl of my heart to a grown woman--ever in my heart.   

"Don't worry about it Mom. We'll just walk around Paris and see..."

A scenic walkabout? I was tired already. This all sounded much better as a French verb... flâner!

Still, I didn’t know if my sore back could handle that much flânerie. But this was no time to be a wimp, or, as the French say une chochotte. For how often does one get the chance to visit The City of Light—even when one lives in France? And when would I see my youngest child again? Only one of us was coming home to La Ciotat this time. The other was about to fly off again, from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Seattle to who-knows-where after?

Even if this strolling strategy, this unfocused flânerie, was doable, la météo, which forecasted la pluie, could put a damper on our mother-daughter escapade. Finally, without some sort of itinerary, we might waste our time in this prized destination: historic Pa-ree! Just what were we in for then? As always, I tried to visualize every scenario, unsure of what to expect. Then again, expectation so often leads to disappointment. So why not go along with Jackie’s idea of a meandering--a carefree and much-needed vagabondage--and, as Yves Montand so famously sang, flâner sur les Grands Boulevards! After all, action leads to discovery, all we needed to do was put one foot in front of the other...and the streets of Paris would reveal a treasure of possibilities.

    *    *    *
I will tell you more about our time in Paris once I have organized my notes. Meantime, in the coming weeks, I'll be writing about matters closer to home, sharing a few updates about my Mom, her unexpected and grumpy companion, and a meaningful milestone in my career. Thank you, as ever, for reading!  

mother and daughter paris trip umbrella streets of paris rain

Paris coffee shop
A few more photos taken while flaning around Paris. 

max ana boyfriend girlfriend paris getaway
We bumped into a couple other flâneurs in Paris: my son, Max, and his girlfriend, Ana, who snapped the mother-daughter photo, above.

le bottier parisien cordonnerie shoe repair key maker

Dogs in Montmartre tableaux st pierre gravures paris montmartre
Dogs in the cobbled streets of Montmartre. I like this moody image of a woman walking her dogs, snapped while walking arm-in-arm with Jackie.

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

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

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


“La Douloureuse”: A funny way to say “the check” + A Tourist Trap, Beware!

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Handwoven fishing baskets on La Maddalena Island, off Sardinia. Read about how we got trapped in a tourist net in today’s missive, and learn another meaning for la douloureuse. Speaking of pain, my eye surgery went well. Thank you for your kind notes.

Today’s (Slang) Word: la douloureuse

  : the check, the bill, “the painful”

AUDIO: Click the link below to hear the example sentence + all the French vocabulary. Then scroll down to check your French comprehension.

Click here for thr MP3 file

L’argot s’est enrichi d’un mot charmant. La note à payer, connue sous le nom d’addition, s’appelle, depuis quelque temps, la douloureuse. Slang has been enriched with a charming word. The bill, known as “the addition,” has for some time been called “the painful.”— Aurélien Scholl

In books: How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse 

La Maddalena c’est le royaume du poisson! Jean-Marc said, and from the selection of fish on display outside the island eateries, I could see why.

It was our second day along the Italian archipel, and we had reservations at a restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host. Seated now among the stylish clientele, I began to feel uneasy in my sundress and mismatched wool cardigan. Tant pis! I was in good company. There across the table sat my husband, wearing his favorite T-shirt: “Real Men Drive Tractors.” Regarding evening attire, we might be slowing down... But in affaires of the heart we are making good progress. For that I raised a glass of acqua frizzante as my date reached for his Vermentino and we toasted to 28 years of marriage. Tchin-tchin!

They say novelty is one key to a good marriage and something new for us is letting me pay the bill. All these years my husband has handled l’addition, for a “pain free” transaction. Even if the debit is coming out of our mutual account, I don't feel it so much when my spouse takes care of the check. I became aware of this when traveling to the US last month, when Mom surprised me with $500! “It will make things a little less painful for you while on vacation. Enjoy your time with your sisters and your dad and use this to help with the restaurants.” How generous of Jules to offer me spending money to make the bill—or “la douloureuse”—as they call it in France, a little less painful.

Les Oursins Dans Ma Poche? It isn’t that I have prickly sea urchins in my pockets, preventing me from reaching for my cash. It just depends on the situation. While spending is one thing, giving is different matter and something that doesn’t hurt at all (as Jules says: it feels good to give!). But overpaying, that’s another story and so on with ours….

Jean-Marc and I had settled on the pasta and fish (I would order the pasta, he would order the fish and we would share our main (and only) dishes. But when we learned the fish of the day didn’t have a set price (it was listed at 7€ per 100 grams) we asked the waiter for just one serving or “fish for one” figuring we were within our budget.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said he, “we only have turbot in that case.” Having never had turbot, I figured he was apologizing for having only a substandard fish “for one.” “It’s ok, I’ll have the turbot!” I decided, certain it was the best deal on the exotic fish menu….

For a substandard fish, that turbot was magnifique! It was a flat fish, similar to sole, and very delicate looking. The waiter carved it for us and we each had a palm-sized portion to go along with the pasta dish we were splitting. I ordered cheesecake for dessert and Jean-Marc ordered an extra spoon for his “taxable” portion as he calls it. (The kids and I call it Get Your Own the Next Time! But the kids, all grown now, weren’t here and so the bill would be even less—or should have been....

Holy cow! No wonder the French call the check “la douloureuse.” The meal we shared cost 108 euros. Just as I was resigning myself to pay the painful note, Jean-Marc smelled something fishy….

“Sixty-six euros for the turbot? But that’s impossible. We ordered fish ‘for one’!”

“But maybe we should have asked the price?”

“One serving of fish is around 500 grams. They are charging us for almost one kilo!” An argument ensued when the manager came over. “This is NOT fair!” my husband insisted, giving his final word. With that, the manager pointed to the bill and drew a line through the 108 euro total…JM and I were hopeful… until the manager scribbled “100.” 

Fifty euros per person was not unreasonable for our anniversary dinner, and I just wanted to pay the bill (more than ever) and leave before the scene got any bigger. But my husband wouldn’t let that fish go! On the way out he stopped the manager, who was in the middle of serving clients on the terrace. Next, Jean-Marc raised his finger and wagged it like never before. Wag, wag, wag! “La prochaine fois qu’on vous demande un poisson pour une person ne servez pas un poisson facturé pour deux persons!!!” The next time someone asks for fish for one don’t charge for a fish for two!!”

I stood there feeling as awkward as my dress until, finally, I grabbed my husband by the arm, sunk my fingernails in and the finger-wagging stopped. Next, we stumbled off, one of us shaking in indignation, the other struggling along in slippery sandals. 

We passed several more eateries on our stroll back to the rental apartment, and I wondered just how many other tourists were in for a surprise when la doleureuse arrived. Meantime, my husband walked silently. It was time for some humor to dispel the mood, and what better than a play on words?

“We’ve got to remember never to order turbot again. It’s the most expensive fish!” 

“No it isn’t,” JM corrected me. “All the fish cost 7 euros per 100 grams.”

”Well then, you might say we were ‘turbo’charged!”

So that’s my fish story, dear reader. I would love to read about your own mistakes or any tourists traps you yourself fell into while traveling. Thanks for sharing and see ou next week.

***

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FRENCH VOCABULARY 

le royaume du poisson = the kingdom of fish
tant pis = oh, well
les affaires = articles of clothing
l’acqua frizzante = sparkling water
le Vermontino = a grape variety from Corsica, Sardinia, Liguria, and Provence
tchin-tchin! = here’s to you!
la douloureuse = the check, “the painful thing”
avoir les oursins dans la poche = to be a cheapskate, “to have sea urchins in your pockets”

In books: Her Own Legacy by Debra Borchert. A Woman Fights for Her Legacy as the French Revolution Erupts. Order here

 

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The port of La Maddalena 


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A cheery eatery near our Airbnb

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Can you read Jean-Marc’s T-shirt via the reflection in the window?

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

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

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


Vadrouiller: 7 updates while we roam around La Maddalena

beach cove sea fennel plant nature La Maddalena Italy
A serene island cove off the Mediterranean sea coast of Sardinia

Her Own Legacy Chateau de VerzatHer Own Legacy by Debra Borchert: A Woman Fights for Her Legacy as the French Revolution Erupts. Available in paperback or read it on Kindle

 

 TODAY’S WORD: vadrouiller 

: wander, meander, roam around 

 

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce vadrouiller and all the French words in this edition. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse 

Bonjour from Italy ou on vadrouille. My husband and I are roaming around une petite île off the NE coast of Sardinia. So, for this week’s nouvelle, instead of writing a story, which would require full concentration, let’s enjoy some bribes (breebs) or “brief updates”. I think this is win-win or gagnant-gagnant for us both because you will have some variety and I will get to wander around some topics—as well as some island topography. Allons-y

  • Chapeau! Congratulations to my dad for his recent efforts to acquire a second language (Spanish). He has studied 80 days straight, anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours per stint, in order to parler espagnol. Really proud of him. (Though I wish he’d parler français.)

  • On allume les bougies. September 23rd. Time to light some candles—76 to be exact. Today is Jules’ birthday. Joyeux anniversaire, Maman! You are a LIGHT in our lives and your wisdom makes us stop and think and be more loving. 

  • Les Cendres - Have you ever seen a loved one’s ashes? I hadn't, which is why it took 2 months to get up the courage to pry open Smokey’s urn. To my surprise my dog’s cendres weren’t scary, nor were they gray and black. They looked like sand on the beach. While beautiful isn’t the word to describe cremated remains, those ashes were peaceful and so was the burial, thanks to the help of my husband. Alongside the urn, the package I received contained a paper heart soaked in flower seeds, which we planted among the ashes. 

  • Les Noces de Nickel: As go wedding anniversaries, 28 years corresponds to “nickel” and signifies resistance, malleability and equilibrium…

  • Sardo-Corse : the language spoken by locals here on the island of La Maddalena, where we arrived Wednesday morning. C’est dépaysant, Jean-Marc said. Italy is exotic, compared to France and a nice place to celebrate our 28-year union.

  • Une greffe - Tuesday I will have eye surgery to remove a “pterygium.” It’s a condition people from the desert or the seaside or from ski areas sometimes get. The harsh conditions (sand and sun) cause the eye to grow a protective layer...and when it spreads as far as the iris it can obstruct vision. Because pterygiums can grow back after removal, a graft is recommended… Mama Mia! (I wonder if that means “ouch” in Italian—or Help me, Mom!)

  • If you don’t hear from me next week it’s because I’ll be strutting around my neighborhood showing off a cool new eye patch. But more likely I’ll be resting in bed watching YouTube with my free eye. Jean-Marc has recommended a classic called La Grande Vadrouille. It’s a comedy and you know what they say about humor, le rire c’est la meilleure médecine.

Bye for now and see you when I see you.

Kristi

P.S. After the vocabulary section, enjoy photos from Sardinia and La Maddalena

B7308FA1-E76C-428F-8167-07E12BA3317DLa grand-mère et la petite-fille. grandmother and granddaughter, Jules and Jackie. Photo taken Sunday, on Jackie’s own birthday—her 25th. 

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

ou on vadrouille = where we’re wandering around

une petite île = a little island

une nouvelle = story

allons-y = let’s go

gagnant-gagnant = win-win

Chapeau! = bravo!

parler espagnol = to speak Spanish

parler français = to speak French

on allume les bougies = we’re lighting some candles

Joyeux anniversaire, Maman! = Happy birthday, Mom

les cendres = ashes

les noces de nickel = nickel anniversary

c’est dépaysant = it’s a good change of scenery 

une greffe = a graft

La Grande Vadrouille = The Great Stroll

le rire c’est la meilleure médecine = laughter is the best medicine

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Sardinia Italy fisherman basket village steps

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

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

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


Redémarrer: Bonjour. An update from Kristi

Sunny English sheepdog
In Denver, I got to meet "Sunny", my sister's 5th chien de berger anglais ancestral, and enjoy a longawaited reunion with family. Read on and bienvenue to new subscribers. Delighted to have you with us! 

Today's Word: redémarrer

    : to restart, start again, to get moving

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click the following 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 for the audio file

The eightHave you read The Eight? It takes place in France, is loaded with history, and Mom loved it! Order it here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

Et hop-and just like that-summer is over. The French call this time of year la rentrée, "the start of the school year" or simply the return from vacation for those of us heading back to work. It is time to redémarrer or restart this blog with a quick update from our home in La Ciotat.

From the Rocky Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea...
It feels good to come home to France after a solo, three-week visit to Colorado. And like anyone returning from a getaway I have a lot to catch up on including, apparently les mites! Hungover from jetlag I stood in our kitchen pointing to le plafond as my husband balanced himself atop our wobbly dining table, a sharp wooden stick in his hand. You need such weapons to scratch the buggers loose from from their encrusted nests. Allez! Oust! Begone unwelcome weevils! Get out of my oatmeal, get out of my rice, get out of my life!

It is time to calm down and focus on writing and it doesn't come easy after a two-month pause. Writing for a living means the brain is constantly churning. Everything is grist for the mill! The mind chatters possible sentences, edits phrases, rearranges ideas and words only to scatter when facing a blank page. All that brain sweat for nothing. Two summers ago I decided to go on summer break "just like teachers do," and rest my head. I still don't know whether that's a good idea or not. I think this summer taught me that writing regularly is more than a healthy discipline--it is an anchor.

There, I've said everything but what I came here to tell you. Let those previous paragraphs be a warm up and now let's sprint to the finish with a recap of my time in Denver: After 3-and-a-half years apart from my family, I had the chance to see my sisters, Heidi and Kelley, and our Dad for a belated 80th birthday celebration. While this was the highlight of my trip, so were the many hugs from my niece and nephew, and seeing the two off to college at CU in Boulder. I also got to experience a “Tailgate party” before the CU football game, and, back in Denver, savored enough Mexican food and pastrami sandwiches and Triscuits to hold me over until the next time. Oh, and we discovered Elk burgers (thanks Rondo and Tom!) and Colorado corn so good it makes organic French maïs taste like cardboard. I will need to better explore the French farmers markets during corn season--and update you.

Kelley-heidi-Dad-Kristi
My sisters Kelley and Heidi, our Dad, and me in Boulder.

Other highlights included a special gift delivery from a reader (see painting below), keeping up with my sister on daily walks with sheepdog Sunny (Heidi is a jet plane while I'm a hangglider) and a sober dance in the rain at a biker bar! But I'll save that one for now. A writer must always have a story up her sleeve and the option to leave it there!

Now, back to those pesky pantry invaders and to other areas needing attention and care here at home. Tell me, how are you and how was your summer? I would love to hear about it in the comments. And thank you so very much for reading these French-infused updates, moths and all!

Amicalement,

Kristi

Edits to this post are welcome and appreciated. Merci beaucoup!



FRENCH VOCABULARY
Are any of the following words new to you? Which is your favorite term and which is hardest to pronounce? 

le chien de berger anglais ancestral = old English sheepdog
bienvenue = welcome
redémarrer = to restart
et hop! = and that's it! and just like that!
la mite = moth
le plafond = ceiling
allez! = go on!
oust! = get outta here!
le maïs = corn
amicalement = yours

 

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Thanks, artist Judy Feldman, for this precious rendition of our dearly departed dog. Those eyes! That tongue! That soft, silky, golden hair... That's our Smokey! Hard to believe he's been gone two months.  

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

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

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


Lunch in Arles, "Séjour" in Camargue, wild horses and a cool rancher's hut

Flamingo bird park in camargue
Les flamants roses--pink flamingos in the Camargue. More photos from our weekend in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on my Instagram (please follow for upcoming entries), and all our recommended addresses are at the end of this post.

Today's Word: un hébergement

    : accommodation, lodgings

French 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 to access the MP3 file



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

One perk of getting older and traveling sans les gosses is better accommodations! When I think back to some of the doozies my husband has rented--a flea-ridden room in Madrid, a stinky suite in Barcelonnette, or a bunk (yes, just a bunk--shared with strangers) in Queyras --I can't believe how far we've come. The key to this betterment (besides having more flouze than we did as newlyweds) is an agreement Jean-Marc and I came to years ago: he will do the trip planning as long as I do not complain about accommodations or scheduling.

Fair enough, wouldn't you say? Especially if you are like me: not a details person. I would rather do anything than work out so many particulars of a family vacation: what transportation we will take, where we will séjour and eat and sightsee. My husband enjoys organizing trips so why not let him handle our itinerary? I'll take care of the snacks (never travel without un en-cas, my sister Heidi taught me that), the cleaning, and how about the retelling? As Anaïs Nin said, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." So let us briefly relive the past weekend and thank you Jean-Marc for so many great picks...from restaurants to local attractions--tu as tellement bien choisi!

Our dépaysement began with a meal in Arles. A freezing Mistral wind accompanied us up and down the corridors of old Arles as we searched for the restaurant Jean-Marc had reserved, but I did not complain--and was rewarded by a gallant proposition: "Would you like my coat?" Jean-Marc offered. His gesture was enough to warm me through and through. No coat needed, and before long we were tucking into Le Gibolin, its warm and velvety vapors escaping the kitchen, thawing us instantly. 

After a lunch of roasted butternut squash stuffed with pasta and veggies (Jean-Marc loved his main dish), we were on our way to the flattest part of Provence, made up of pools of water: La Camargue! Pulling up to an iron gate behind which two independent cabins with their grass rooftops were set back from the waterfront, I looked over at my driver. Jean-Marc, you really outdid yourself when you found this authentic rancher's cabin! Newly renovated, the white-washed walls, the wooden touches throughout, the seafoam green tiles in the bathroom...this little abode was so thoughtfully decorated and it instantly transported us into its cozy luxury. 

Cabane de gardian
Ours was the hut on the right.... and this side of the water is another narrow strip of land where wildlife filed by....

From the one-room cabane de gardian with its mezzanine (and échelle leading up to the bed--this steep setup is not for everyone, but Jean-Marc insists my  80-year-old father could climb up and down that (unattached!) ladder during the night), we could look out a low-lying window with a panoramic view of the glorious marsh. Note: low-lying because of the low-lying roofline above the window, typical of these Camargue ranch cabins which sport a thatched rooftop measuring well over half of the building's height.

The view reflected in the window
A selfie from the yard looking into the hut. That's a fake heron on my right, but there were many real and exquisite birds--and more....

What a view! Our little cabin was 20 feet from the marsh, or étang (is there a difference?), where pink flamingos, an industrious and very cute castor, and--surprise surprise!--a local jument grazed. That docile horse, which graced our view of the horizon all weekend, was the icing on this Camargue cake. 

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La jument. The mare.

Our romantic weekend included two nights dining in (Jean-marc brought a selection of cheeses and a steak from his wineshop-épicerie, and we bought pastries from the local baker in Sainte-Maries-de-la-Mer where we strolled along the seafront each afternoon. 

"This is the best hébergement you have ever found!" I praised my husband, and praise, I am learning, goes a long way! I wish I knew this as a young bride, wish I'd counted the goods instead of the bads. Thankfully, we've made it this far along our marital journey and no looking back except to count our lucky stars!

"Could you live here?" I asked as Jean-Marc drove us the 1.5 hours home the last day, past fields of wheat-colored reeds and cattle feeding. "No, it's too flat for me," Jean-Marc admitted. He's headed back to the Alps this weekend, for his mountain fix and I (une casanière at heart) am happy to be home, though ready to follow my husband when wanderlust hits him next. Bye for now and please share your experiences/recommendations for the Camargue, as we will surely go back...with our grown kids, nos gosses--and Grandma Jules and dear sweet Smokey, too! Papa, get that flouze ready! 

***
Cabane de gardian camargues
The cabane next to ours (I believe the owner lives there, but she was away).


A FEW ADDRESSES FOR THOSE WANDERING  AROUND THE CAMARGUE

Le Gibolin restaurant in Arles--delicious!

Parc Ornithologique Pont de Gau--where you'll see more pink flamingos than you ever thought possible! (Do not miss my Instagram page, where you'll hear the unusual sounds they make)

La Cabane du Pêcheur--Jean-Marc absolutely loved this lively restaurant with three unique seating areas (we chose the indoor "antiques" tent, where statues and various treasures surrounded us). You could also eat at the lively bar: loud music and a saloon-type atmosphere or sit outside by the marsh where the bbq is full of fish: sole, loup, rouget...

Domaine de Méjanes--our last day we visited a park bought and created by Paul Ricard (of the famous pastis), where you can take a charming train around the property to see wild horses, more flamingos and the breathtaking landscape of la Camargue. Not to be missed.

And here's the AirBnB listing for the Cabane de Gardian where we stayed two nights.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
sans les gosses = without kids
le flouze = cash, dough
le séjour = stay
un en-cas = a snack
tu as tellement bien choisi = you did such a good job choosing
le dépaysement = change of scenery
le castor = beaver
un hébergement = accomodation
la cabane de gardian = rancher's hut
la mezzanine = wooden loft
une échelle = ladder 
une jument = mare (horse)
un étang = pond, pool of water
casanier, casanière = home-loving, homebody
Papa = Dad


LES ARCHIVES: Do you have time for another story?
The story Pêle-Mêle features a memorable hotel room in Barcelonnette where we lodged when our kids were little.

La jument the mare horse in Camargue
Do you see la jument

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

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

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


Demain il fera jour: A reminder not to take work (life, everything) too seriously + Escapade to Porquerolles Island

Bike rental on porquerolles island France
If today's word is too easy for you, détrompez-vous. Think again. This letter has a lot more to offer when you read to the end.

Today's Word: la plage
1. beach
2. track of music
3. time span, range

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following in French and English

Porquerolles, ses plages de sable fin, ses eaux turquoise et transparentes. C’est un véritable paradis à quelques minutes de la presqu’île de Giens en bateau. -Hyères Tourisme Porquerolles, its fine sandy beaches, its turquoise and transparent waters. It is a real paradise, a few minutes away from the Giens peninsula by boat.
 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Sand, Pétanque, Sea urchins and a "Be Here Now" mindset

Lundi dernier, on my husband’s 54th birthday, we boarded une navette and cruised over to the island of Porquerolles. It was the week before France's 3rd confinement and this 3-day getaway was like a large breath of liberté before lockdown.

The ferry was almost empty. We huddled at the back of the shuttle, enjoying the open-air seating with the other passengers, some dressed in shorts, some in sundresses, all of us wearing masks. Within 15 minutes we arrived in Paradise. Like the other two islands in the Îles d'Hyères, Porquerolles is known for its crystal clear, turquoise waters and fine sandy plages. There are few cars on the island (only those needed by the local businesses), bikes are the way to get around.

"I prefer to walk," I said to Jean-Marc, as we headed past some bike rental shops and made our way to La Plage d'Argent, a 25-minute marche from town. The scent of eucalyptus filled the salty air as we passed fields of wildflowers, a vineyard, and an impressive community garden full of potager beds! "Maybe we should move here?" I challenged Jean-Marc.
"Pourquoi pas!" said he, kiddingly. We would probably get island fever after the first month. Et puis tout se sait sur une petite île! On a little island, there are no secrets!

Donkeys on porquerolles island
The donkeys are slightly camouflaged. Can you see them, left of center?


"Regarde! Il y a des ânes." There were a trio of donkeys in the maquis. A sign posted nearby said that these animals help débroussailler, or clear away of the dry undergrowth which could lead to fires. "We could have used those!" I said to Jean-Marc, remembering the yearly visits by the police to our vineyard, threatening une amende if we didn't get our property cleared before the heat of summertime.

This reminded me: the last chapter of our vineyard memoir was due tomorrow! I also had a blog post to create and send out in 3 days... and a sinking feeling told me today was the deadline for my France Today article on Cairns (or rock stacking in France). I knew when Jean-Marc planned this escapade, that it would fall right in the middle of a week of deadlines--but this trip was his birthday present. I began to sweat over this decision to put everything off until our return, when a little voice within piped up....

Aujourd-hui, c'est aujourd'hui!  Today is today!

Everything in life needs a balance, especially for those who are self-employed and pressuring themselves to stay on top, to not slip or fall behind. If there is one life lesson that I cannot seem to learn it is this: Keep it in the day! A chaque jour suffit sa peine. Be here now! L'instant présent! Or, as Jean-Marc's Mom always said, Demain il fera jour.

Tomorrow is indeed another day! I reached into my bag, grabbed an apple and began eating. I never eat when walking. And I am never late with work. And I never play pétanque (but would, by the end of our périple). 

Ironically "nevers" don't exist on Never Never Island. Et heureusement! I took another bite of my apple and caught up to Jean-Marc, who was heading down to the beach. Aujourd'hui, c'est aujourd'hui! I said. Happy Birthday! Joyeux Anniversaire! Thank you for this getaway, ce dépaysement! With that, we set down our only beach towel (having forgotten to pack another), and kicked off our shoes. Feet in the sand, I unpacked our picnic: last night's omelet tasted delicious on the beach, along with bites of poutargue (a sliceable mound of dried fish eggs--we're addicted!), an avocado, cheese and the main course: les oursins! Jean-Marc put on his wetsuit and headed out to the rocky edge of the beach where he found the urchins among a lot of seaweed (an astuce learned from a friend. Normally they're found clinging to rocks). 

Our stomachs full we shared the beach towel for an afternoon nap. The next two days were rebelote--or much the same: long leisurely walks to the beach, a simple, delicious casse-croute (and more oursins) followed by un roupillon. It was a wonderful birthday celebration, and a good break all around. And when thoughts of work returned throughout our stay, so did my belle-mère's wise words about keeping it in the day:

Demain il fera jour.

 

Porquerolles
More photos on my Instagram

FRENCH VOCABULARY
détrompez-vous! = think again
lundi dernier
= last Monday
la navette = shuttle, ferry boat, water bus

le confinement = quarantine
la plage = beach
la liberté
= freedom
la marche = walk
pourquoi pas? = why  not
le potager = vegetable patch, kitchen garden
tout se sait = there are no secrets
regarde! = look
un âne = donkey
le maquis = scrubland, shrubland, brush
débroussailler = to clear (dry grasses)
une amende = ticket, fine
une escapade = getaway, break, trip, escape
A chaque jour suffit sa peine = Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
demain il fera jour = tomorrow is another day
le périple = journey, trek
et heureusement = and thank God for that!
le dépaysement = change of scenery
un oursin = sea urchin
une astuce = tip, trick, hack
rebelote = same thing again
le casse-croûte = snack
le roupillon = nap, siesta
la belle-mère = mother-in-law

 

IMG_0705
Domaine de l'ile - one of 3 vineyards on this island full of character. See more photos of this paradise:
https://www.french-word-a-day.com/2013/04/what-to-do-on-porquerolles-island-que-faire-sur-l%C3%AEle-de-porquerolles.html

IMG_0702
Jean-Marc and his urchins cutters or coupe-oursins, and on the right urchins on the half shell.

More stories: The last time we went to Porquerolles, our kids had a wild party at the house, click here

Read about the creative "mop spear" Jean-Marc invented while on the island: more here


IMG_0727


Kristi and Jean-Marc
Aujourd'hui, c'est aujourd'hui! Bye for now and remember to enjoy the day by living in l'instant présent.

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

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

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


Boui-boui: Jackie and I lick windows in Miami while Jean-Marc gets stuck in immigration

Signs in key west floridaKeeping this French language journal going is a joyous struggle: there is joy in writing it and there is a struggle in maintaining it. Your help is not only appreciated--it keeps me employed. One very helpful way to support this site is to buy a book for a friend, via this link. Or scroll to the end of this post for other options. Now on to today's story, packed with useful French vocabulary in context. Enjoy and bonne lecture! 

Today's French Word: un boui-boui 

   : a small, cheap restaurant, a greasy spoon

Audio File: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read in French:  

À Freeport, une île de l'archipel des Bahamas, je me suis arrêté pendant 10 minutes dans un petit boui-boui pour avaler des ailes de poulet. In Freeport, an island in the Bahamas archipelago, I stopped for 10 minutes in a small greasy spoon to woof down some chicken wings.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

A Quick Jaunt to the Bahamas from Miami? Quel Calvaire!

***
All the mask-toting travelers at the airports in Miami, Marseilles, and Munich, made me ill-at-ease, but, apart from the coronavirus scare, our trip to Florida to visit our 22-year-old daughter went relatively smoothly.

Now relaxing on South Miami Beach, my husband suggested a day trip to the island of Bimini--a 4-hour boat ride aller-retour--I knew right away I didn't want to go. The old Kristi would've tagged along (and moaned and groaned the whole intrepid way). But the new Kristi simply released her thrill-seeking husband to court the unknown all on his own. "I'll spend the day with Jackie," I asserted, and so followed my instincts this time around...

...and was spared The 20-hour épreuve my husband would soon suffer....

On Sunday morning Jean-Marc's alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m. causing Jackie (asleep on an air mattress on the floor of our studio rental) to stir and me to ask a few pertinent questions: sun hat? water? ESTA* papers (in addition to his passport, would he need some sort of Visa or waiver)?  

Jean-Marc threw on his yellow and green Brazil soccer jersey, his old swim trunks, and donned his purple Phoenix Suns casquette in time to catch a shuttle that would take him to the port in Fort Lauderdale. As he rushed out the door into the cold dark street, I stretched cozily across the bed, enjoying the extra space and une grasse matinée. 

By 9:45, Jean-Marc was four hours into his journey to the Bahamas (and still waiting for his boat in the Fort Lauderdale terminal...). Meantime, ma fille et moi were en route to a leisurely breakfast at The W Hotel on South Beach. And quelle chance! Jackie's manager treated us to a free buffet, in thanks for Jackie's excellent service as a waitress at their establishment. Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! As we enjoyed les gaufres with heaps of cream, strawberries, and syrup, Jackie mentioned that Papa needed help with his odds-n-ends (yellow, green and purple...) wardrobe. "Your Dad is into vistas and not vêtements... Seashores and summits, not style or trends," I laughed, trying to imagine just where he was now in his adventure: snorkeling beneath turquoise waters? Sunning on a pristine Bahamas beach? Kissing a mermaid? (as he threatened to do when I declined to go with him).

As we ate we were blissfully unaware of Jean-Marc's own petit déj : he had only managed to down a coffee, too seasick from being stuck on a ferry boat. Turns out after that 45-minute shuttle from hell (crazy driver!) and the 2-hour wait at the port terminal, our day-tripper finally made it onto the boat for the 2-hour crossing...only to be redirected away from Bimini owing to rough waters! It was too bumpy, too dangerous to let passengers disembark. So the ship set sail to another island. 

Jackie left a gigantic tip for our waitress and thanked her manager before we left the 5-star hotel and headed to Miami's Design district to faire du lèches vitrines (that's "window licking" in French, i.e. window shopping). A few hours later we had a delicious snack before Jackie needed to head to work for her 4 p.m. shift.

By this time, still on an empty stomach, JM had earned his second pair of sealegs, having finally made it off the rocking boat. He had traveled 10 hours only to get back on a little bus that would drive him 30 minutes across Freeport island in time for 15 minutes of tourism (if you included the greasy chicken wings and beer he wolfed down at a God-forsaken boui-boui).  

Back at our cozy studio, Jackie showered and left for work while I enjoyed a few quiet hours to organize our bags for the next day's journey to Key West. So good not to have to rush! At 6 pm I put on a pretty necklace, some lipstick, fluffed my hair and headed back to the W Hotel for a solo dinner and the chance to see my daughter in action. Her colleagues gave me a grand welcome and showered my daughter with affection, assuring me she was in good company. One of the waiters opened a bottle of champagne in my honor, delivering it to my table with a flourish. I was sorry to have to refuse it, and how ironic that this happened a very special date: This week I celebrate 17 years of sobriety.* 

As I sat sipping bubbly (l'eau gazeuse) and being treated to a four-course meal (including lobster!) I did not know my poor husband, nary a chicken wing in his tummy, was about to be stuck in some hangar in Fort Lauderdale, nor did I realize he did anything other than snorkel or kiss mermaids for the day in the Bahamas....

When Jackie returned to our rental after 11 pm, her Dad was nowhere in sight. By midnight we were sick with worry until a message came through: JM was stuck in immigration. "What if they keep him?" Jackie worried, having had a few of her French friends experience the horror. 

At 1:15 a.m. our intrepid traveler returned from his bumpy ride (still swaying back and forth as he walked) and gladly ate the 5-star take-out from the dinner Jackie had helped treat me to, via her employee discount. After a glass of rosé and a full tummy, our marooned (if only in buses, terminals, and boats) daytripper sank into bed and was out like a light. The old Kristi would have been furious he was kissing mermaids in his sleep. But the new Kristi said, Let him dream his dreams. He deserves it.

Post note: Jean-Marc says the immigration officers were watching the Super Bowl, which took place that day in Miami, and that this is the reason for the delay in passport check. 

EDIT ME: If you see une faute de frappe (a typo) in French or in English, I would greatly appreciate it if you would point it out in the comments or via email. Merci beaucoup!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

bonne lecture = happy reading
le calvaire
= cross, ordeal 
un aller-retour = round trip, return trip
une épreuve
= ordeal, trial
la casquette = baseball cap
faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in, to lie in
ma fille et moi = my daughter and I
quelle chance = what luck!
Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! = how proud we are of our daughter!
une gaufre = waffle
Papa = Dad
un vêtement = item of clothing
le petit déj(euner) = breakfast
faire du lèche-vitrine(s) = to go window shopping
l'eau gazeuse = bubbly, sparkling water
un boui-boui = low quality eatery

ESTA = Electronic Papers for Travel Authorization

Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West
Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West.
Jean-Marc in Key West

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

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

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


Dépaysement - one of Jean-Marc's favorite French words!

IMG_20171116_104503

After a recent dog-walking clash there was no time to linger in the comfort zone of home, dwelling on a negative experience. Une nouvelle expérience awaited just around the corner of North Africa.... 
  

LE DÉPAYSEMENT

    : change of scene

* dépaysement can also have a negative connotation, for it also means "culture shock" or  "disorientation" 

AUDIO FILE - hear Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French

Dépaysement sentence

J'enregistre ce message vocal à l'aéroport de Nador où nous avons passé trois jours de complet dépaysement dans ce pays le Maroc, en visite de differents lieux comme Saidia, Tibouda, et la Lagune de Nador. I am recording this message at the airport in Nador where we have spent three full days of a complete change of scenery in the country of Morocco, visiting different places like Saidia, Tibouda, and the Lagoon of Nador.

High quality vacation rental in the heart of Provence. Recommended by readers. Click here for photos


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Like a gourmand who is already devising his next meal while enjoying the present one, those who have been bitten by the travel bug are plotting the next destination even as their return flight is touching down in their hometown.

Our hometown was Marseilles when I moved to the Hexagone in 1992, and it was my future husband who had (still has) the travel bug. I am a true homebody, une casanière, or have become one after reaching my ultimate destination (La France). Even if I am thankful for a husband who regularly tugs me out of my comfort zone, I still cannot shake the resistance I feel when I hear his now familiar words: Et si on va à.... How about if we go to...

It was on the tail end of our September périple to France's Island of Beauty that Jean-Marc suggested we go to Rome "la prochaine fois." When you live near a major airport and have access to low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryan air--you can easily and cheaply voyage to a rainbow of Mediterranean destinations all for around 60 or 80 euros aller-retour. And, if you are my husband, you can find a good bargain hotel sur place!

So it was that on Tuesday we stood in line for our next adventure--et c'est le cas de le dire!  I had left it up to Jean-Marc to surprise me about the destination (this being a good exercise in going with the flow). But on the eve of our departure, I needed my husband to break his silence and let me know which city we were flying to--it would mean the difference between packing boots (for Rome?) or sandals (for Greece?) or a parka (for Russia? No! he was only teasing about ce dernier!). 

But it never occurred to me that I might need to pack a headscarf....

*    *    *
Nador Morocco
Coastline near the border of Algeria....

To be continued (click here for part two). Meantime, I would love it if you would share your own experiences traveling to a culture different than your own. Did you make any faux-pas? What surprised you about the country and its ways? Any negative experiences? Or mostly positive ones? 



FRENCH VOCABULARY

une périple = trek, journey
la prochaine fois = the next time
aller-retour = round trip
un casanier, une casanière = homebody, homebird
sur place = on site
c'est la cas de le dire! = you can say that again! 
ce dernier = the latter

Build your vocabulary by reading one more story from the archives. This one, in which my mother-in-law is about to reveal the names of all my husband's ex-girlfriends, is a fun way to boost your French! 

Max and jean-marc espinasse

Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max (all grown up now!) in Texas and in Portland. 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last US bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
seeing them.

Houston,  TX : December 13th at 7 PM
- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence13616 Memorial Drive. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 

Portland, OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird Wine Shop ~ Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM. 4323 NE Fremont Street
Portland OR  : December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM. 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM. 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
The Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed

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

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

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