No "tire-bouchon"? + How to open a bottle of wine with a BOOK! (video)

Iced tea

You don't have to drink wine to benefit from today's incredible tip! (I use the opened bottles for ice tea.) Don't miss today's lively, one minute demonstration on how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.


Style & comfort in the beauty of the Provencal countryside. 4 bedrooms & a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. Villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.


le tire-bouchon (teer-boo-shohn)

    : corkscrew

Un tire-bouchon est un ustensile utilisé pour tirer le bouchon en liège naturel ou reconstitué d'une bouteille.  A corkscrew is a utensil used for pulling out the natural or reconstituted cork from a bottle.

(Only, what do you do when you can't find your corkscrew?...)

or Comment ouvrir une bouteille de vin sans Tire-Bouchon

No corkscrew? No problem! Try Kristin's tip and learn how to open a bottle of wine with a paperback! Many people have tried the "no corkscrew" stunt with a shoe, but no one has attempted it with a handy-dandy book.

And not just any book....
To open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, you need two things:

Ready? Watch Kristi's one minute video demonstration (click right here). Using her latest book, she'll drive out that cork in under twenty whacks! You've got to see it to believe it!

Note: no trucages or special effects were used! This video records my very first attempt, no practice runs were used! Watch the bottle closely. With each slam of the book, the cork raises from the bottle. Tip: synthetic corks may be more difficult than liège, or natural cork oak.

You Can Do it! (Vas-Y! Tu Peux le Faire!)
My son snickered (that's Max you hear in the video background). My husband said it could not be done. Even I began to have doubts. But perseverance won out! Thanks for sharing this video with a friend who loves wine or books (or cool tricks). Meantime, never lose hope. If you think you can do something, try!

*    *    *

New rental in Provence: "La Baume des Pelerins". Located in the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

  Book delivery

 "Corkscrews." Who needs a tire-bouchon when a paperback will do? One of these newly-delivered books was sacrificed in today's video demonstration. Good news: it fared well! Only a dozen rainbow-shaped imprints across the cover, each with "lifted dots" from the bottles design. When I open the back cover of the book, and run my hand over the surface, it feels like reading braille. I wonder, just what are those imprints saying? I believe they're whispering bon courage!

Book Giveaway!
Win the copy of First French Essais used in today's video demonstration! Here's how:

Entries accepted until April 1st! Thank you for helping me get the word out about my First French Essais. And good luck--bonne chance!--winning this very original and sentimental copy. I hope to send it to you with pretty French stamps, directly from France!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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billingual video of Jean-Marc + un pointu

If you are not seeing the video, with Jean-Marc and the Provençal boats, then click here to enjoy the clip at the blog. Sign up to our YouTube channel to learn when new videos are uploaded. Click here

un pointu (pwan-too)

    : a little Provençal fishing boat

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

Last night I hurried around the house, turning on the electric wall heaters that were shut off on our departure.

C'était bien dépaysant, my husband remarked as he lit the fire, warming up the cozy foyer. He was right, our family's three day getaway had been a good opportunity to escape the daily grind. Just like the fire coming to life in our cheminée, I felt a spark of excitement as I moved through the house, preparing it for a quiet night. Rien de tel que son chez-soi!

We weren't the only ones to enjoy a change of scenery. While we were in Italy, our dogs sojourned in the village of Cuers, where Jean-Marc had found a private dog carer—for a fraction of the price we normally paid at the "dog hotels".

Arriving at the homey chenil, we were greeted by a petit French woman with a crown of black curls who resembled both Edith Piaf and Chrissie Hynde. We followed her around the little townhouse, to the back yard where the dogs would play, then into a spacious chambre, where they could rest. When Braise and Smokey became more interested their new enviroment than in us, we quietly snuck away.   

From Cuers, 17-year-old Max took the wheel, driving us towards the country border. We passed our old stomping grounds of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, with its tender memories, then Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Menton....

"I never dreamed I'd one day have a French son who would chauffeur me to Italy!" I chimed, taking a moment to acknowledge a future that had manifested beyond my dreams.

In Vintimille, the Italians were hidden at home, en famille, the day after Christmas.  Many of the shops were closed, so we engaged in an old French sport: faire du lèche-vitrine, or window licking (a less barbaric translation would be "window shopping").

We strolled the quiet streets arm in arm: first I clung to my daughter's arm, next,  to Max's--until both of us became aware of the awkwardness, at which point our arms quickly untangled and we coughed up a change of subject: "T'as vu les pères noëls? Did ya see all the Santa Clauses? Just like in France! "

I couldn't help but want to hang on to the kids, for who knew how many more family escapades the future held? Max could leave the nest in a little more than a year.... And Jackie has mentioned wanting to return to the school she attended last year, which means she would become a boarder--never mind we're not a boarding family! (Wasn't that for aristocrats?) 

Even if the kids don't move away in the next couple of years, who says they'll want to come along with us for another getaway? We were already very lucky to have them with us this time. They could have easily stayed home and enjoyed the company of friends versus this holiday with the old folks.

Keeping in mind the elusive future, this may have been our most relaxing holiday. Unlike family vacations of years past, the kids got along and even seemed to enjoy each other's company. It was as though they, too, sensed it was the end of an era. 


 To comment on this story, click here.

 P.S. we stayed the two nights in the wine-making mecca of Barolo. Jean-Marc found this sweet, reasonably-priced B&B, which included homemade pastries at breakfast and Illy coffee (JM's favorite). We are not affiliated with the B&B or with Illy, in case a suspicious thought crossed your innocent mind....


c'était bien dépaysant = it was a good change of scenery

rien de tel que son chez-soi = there's no place like home

 le foyer = entryway

une cheminée = fireplace

le chenil = kennel, dog carer's

Vintimille = Ventimiglia

en famille = with family

Metro cuffParis Metro Cuff! It also makes a wonderful conversational piece -- to wear on your wrist.  A wonderful "conversation piece" for your wardrobe. Order one here.


Mailboxes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mailboxes in Marseilles. All photos (c) Kristin Espinasse unless otherwise noted.

Did you enjoy this post? Thanks for sharing French Word-A-Day with a friend, classmate, teacher, family member or anyone who loves France!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.

Lèvre: lip in French, new video (recipe demo with Smokey)

green chandelier bookstore books shakespeare and co (c) Kristin Espinasse
No matter how hard I try, I can't make today's image match today's word. Picture taken at Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.

une lèvre (levr)

    : lip

du bout des lèvres = half-heartedly

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronouce today's word, the expression, and this sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Elle a des lèvres expressives. She has expressive lips.

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

On Thursday Smokey and I were feeling inspired to film another video. It would be a good way to take the mind off Friday's dermato appointment (bad news, the new year will begin with more stitches...), and so we threw our collective energies into demonstration—a cake demonstration!

I dusted off the dining room table before setting out all of the ingredients for the traditional French gâteau au yaourt. Jean-Marc happened to be passing by, and his unexpected appearance made me nervous.

a va la star?" As soon as he saw the video set up he couldn't help but poke fun at the self-styled présentatrice. And it didn't help things to be caught wrestling our handicapped dog up onto the dining chair.

"Oui, ça va," I said casually, grabbing Smokey's slippery legs and heaving my furry cohost up onto the seat only for him to come tumbling down on me once again. 

Jean-Marc shook his head.

Never mind what he thinks. I'm going ahead with my project! And so what if my husband's presence is unsettling, this is a good opportunity to learn to block out all outward distractions! ...But first, I might put the outward distraction to work.

And so I had Jean-Marc hit the "record" button for me, seeing as it was several feet away from where I was sitting (admittedly on top of my cohost, should he slide off the set once again).

Jean-Marc did as I asked, only he couldn't help but try to frazzle me on his way out the door (stopping to wave at the camera and, in so doing, dispelling my concentration).

Never mind - just get on with it, I told myself. With the camera rolling, I grabbed the bottle of vegetable oil—as one would grab a baton—and I ran with it!

So much goes through the mind while the body tries to remain poised before a camera. As I cracked the eggs, their shells as stiff as my own exterior, I realized that seconds were elapsing without words. Say something! You've got to say something! I panicked.

"In France we have these beautiful brown eggs...."

After a bit more stammering I caught sight of my cohost, who was having a sudden attack of stage fright. Pausing to mollycoddle Smokey almost cost me the rest of my concentration, but soon we were back on track.

The video was finished before we knew it and I decided to go ahead and upload it for our Youtube subscribers, a modest number of viewers who might, if we were lucky, have a thing or two to say about my and Smokey's latest vlog effort.

But before uploading the clip, I stopped to review the footage and that's when I noticed how parts of it were unflattering. Specifically, there were a few "middle-aged moments" that made me cringe. 

"There are some bad angles," I admitted to Jean-Marc. "I look a little old."

Jean-Marc smiled, "that's because you are old!"

His sourire broke the news to me softly, and though he was teasing I saw glimmers of truth and was surprised by the effect that truth had on me. I felt energized! No, I was not old, but I was no longer a young woman either. With this realization I could now begin to enjoy the freedom of not having to try to look like one

"I'm posting the video!" I smiled and hurried to my room to upload it.

Only, once the video was live, it wasn't thinning skin or a slackening jaw that drew my attention, it was a bizarre puckering reflex that caught my eye. On viewing the footage I noticed how, every minute or so, my mouth would suddenly contort. I watched, amazed, as my lips screwed up and over to the side. It looked as if I were trying to suck something out from between my front teeth, something like chewing tobacco!

The ungraceful gesture taught me a thing or two about myself. One, no matter how much control we impose on our bodies to remain poised, there will always be a little unruly part of ourselves hell-bent on breaking free, and two, no more excuses about my bad French--with pucker lips like these, pronunciation ought to be a cinch.

Enjoy the video and thanks for your tips on how to improve!

The recipe for the yogurt cake is found here.

French Vocabulary

le dermato (dermatologue) = dermatologist
le gâteau au yaourt = yogurt cake
Ça va la star? = how's the starlet
la présentatrice = the show host
oui, ça va = yes, everything's fine
le sourire = smile 


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
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♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.

New video + saupoudrer + "quitte à le faire"

Viewing this edition via email? You'll need to click over to the website, here, to see the video. In the clip, Smokey and I have just returned from a hike (at a nearby calanque) in time to share the French word for "to sprinkle" as well as the useful term "quitte à le faire". You'll hear Braise, Smokey's maman, complaining in the background (she's stuck, stage left... in the chenil). You'll also see some of the old trees in the oliveraie just below, where fèves once grew. Hidden on the left of the screen, there is the stone cabanon that you saw in the previous video. Translation note: in the short film, you'll hear me refer several times to baking "powder". I really mean to say "soda". (The French word for baking soda is "la poudre chimique".)


saupoudrer (soh-poo-dray)

    : to sprinkle something with (sugar, powder, kindness)

saupoudrer de la farine, de poivre, de panure = sprinkle with flour, pepper, breadcrumbs 
saupoudrer de chance = to sprinkle with luck
saupoudrer d'amour = to sprinkle with love

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and the terms, just above: Download MP3 or Wav file

You'll also hear the expression quitte à le faire. Can you guess what this term means, based on the context in which it is used in today's video? Share your translations in the comment box.


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

A lot of activity here at home today, beginning with the massive hole being dug up behind the mas. Along with many of our fellow country-dwellers, it is time to bring our fosse septique up to standard after the French government updated its rules and regulations concerning assainissement

Apart from the septic tank, we are kicking up dirt in other areas of our domaine. A huge machine, or excavatrice, rested in the olive orchard over the weekend, after it was used to blaze a trail from the oliveraie to the upper terraces, where Jean-Marc will plant his mourvedre vines.

Jean-Marc suggested this morning that, while we have access to the backhoe, or pelleteuse, we ought to use it to dig up the dirt we will need for our next vegetable plot. The idea is to build 4 buttes, or raised garden beds, through which we will run a drip system that will water our future potager.

"Want to have a look at the future garden?" Jean-Marc proposed.

Minding my steps across the muddy path with its deep, giant tractor-tire imprints, I gingerly followed my husband up to the terrace in question. Now was the chance to assess things. But once we reached the restful spot, all peace was lost.

I didn't point out the fact that the tractor had trail-blazed right over my experimental carrot patch! (how could the tractor operator have seen it, anyway, for the carrot tops hadn't yet appeared). Instead, I focused on my husband who was busy searching his coat pockets.

Jean-Marc produced a piece of paper on which he had sketched a diagram, based on my verbal description (and a few jottings) of our dream garden. But why, I wondered, were the beds square when they were supposed to be rectangular? And why were the four corners of the beds almost touching? There should be enough space between the beds for some sort of... ornamental object... maybe a circular bench or a tree. Yes! Wouldn't that be pretty!

As I proceeded to imagine, going as far as to raise my arms and spin, ornamentalement, Jean-Marc stomped his feet to the beat of reality. A bit dizzy, I stopped to listen to him.

"You need to get a tape measure and some markers!" he advised, unamused by my demonstration. 

"But I am ONLY brainstorming!" I informed Monsieur Spoilsport.

"Well we ONLY have the tractor till Thursday!" came his sporty reminder.

And on we went, spinning and stomping until the only ones with their feet on the ground were the four-footed creatures watching us. If only Braise and Smokey could go ahead with the renovations.... and save us all from the frustrations of home-improvement.


Follow Jean-Marc's journey as he plants a vineyard on the terraces surrounding this historic olive orchard. His new blog is called Mas des Brun.

French vocabulary:

le chenil = kennel (note: I'm looking for the word "dog run", which better describes the fenced area Jean-Marc created for our dogs to use during the daytime. Submit a term in the comments box. Thanks!

une oliveraie = olive grove

le cabanon = stone hut

la maman = mom

la fève = broad bean, fava bean plant

Vocabulary from today's story (please help by sharing translations in the comments box):


fosse septique









Our 15-year-old, Jackie, falling from the sky like an angel. Photo taken from beyond the trampolene, just beneath her... I love the peaceful feeling this image brings, and enjoy reminding our kids that, once upon a time, they fell from heaven, into our arms.

French christmas music
French Christmas Music: "Mon Beau Sapin", "Saint Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant". 
Order CD here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
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♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.

Video for Aunt Liddy!

Chère Aunt Liddy,

I saw your email this morning and was saddened to learn that you needed to sign off from French Word-A-Day, due to difficulty seeing the words. Smokey and I have made you this video, in hopes of being able to read you a story or two, so that you may continue to enjoy this column—even if you can no longer see it.

Update: Sadly, the story was cut off after the video recorder ran out of room! But you will still see the two minute introduction. (The story transcript is here)



P.S. For those who are unable to see the video (in your newsletter), click over to the website, here

To comment on the video, thanks for clicking here. Would you like to see more videos? Thanks for the encouragment and feedback on this project.

Regarding the video backdrop: The scene was filmed at home, with the cabanon in the background and the olive orchard just beyond. Enjoy. (language tip: at the end of the video, before it cuts off, I am telling Smokey to "Sit down!" (Assis!) and when that doesn't work, I insist he lie down (the command is Couché!). After that the video cuts off....


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.

reportage (video + interview)

"Preachy" in the town of Suzette. Enjoy a free subscription to French Word-A-Day via Email or RSS

un reportage (ruh por tazh) noun, masculine

French definition: Article, chronique réalisée par un journaliste qui recueille des informations sur le terrain. An article or chronicle, produced by a journalist, that gathers in-depth information.Internaute dictionnaire 

Audio File: Listen to the sentence (above): 
Download MP3 or Download Wav

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

"Célébrité Fugace"

I wonder whether the French have an equivalent expression to our "Fifteen minutes" of fame? Would they say "Elle a eu ses quinze minutes"? I can't say for sure, though it is a phrase I've never heard. 

My belle-mère would say (indeed she did!) "Tu étais une star!" The passé is key here: était. You were a star. For this is what is implied in "one's fifteen minutes": The glory is short-lived, passagère, making it impossible for any one of us to remain king of the hill. (So much for thrill.) After one's flirt with fiefdom, we go back to kicking up the dirt (or work) in time to re-enter into the obscurity of maturity. Striving after fame, after all, is for the unenlightened! 

(Enough philosophy. Truth be told, I enjoyed every single second of my "quinze minutes"! Obscurity may be a virtue—something for those mature, wise souls who understand the woes of the ego—but, as enlightenment goes, I'm slow.)

See a clip from France 3's program "Talents", in which my husband, Jean-Marc Espinasse, was the special guest. In the following segment, I talk about his struggles as a winemaker (although my own struggles—with French pronunciation—tend to steal the show...). Note: the video is available only in French. 

*If you are reading this edition via email, you will need to click over to the site to view the video clip.

Le Coin Commentaires
Comments, corrections, and feedback are welcome. Click here to comment 

Update: According to French Wikipedia, the term "fifteen minutes of fame" is translated to "quart d’heure de célébrité":

« 15 minutes de célébrité » ou « quart d’heure de célébrité » (« 15 minutes of fame » en anglais) est une expression inventée par l'artiste américain Andy Warhol. Cette expression se réfère à l'état de célébrité fugace qui accorde de l'importance à un objet d'attention des médias, puis qui passe à un autre objet aussitôt que l'attention du public s'affaiblit. Il est souvent employé dans l'industrie du spectacle et dans d'autres champs de la culture populaire.


Portrait de Jean-Marc Espinasse pour l'émission “Talents“ envoyé par BrokenArmsCompany.

To view the entire interview with Jean-Marc, visit and see the link in the left-hand column. Note: a certain plug-in is required for the full-length video. Jean-Marc is working on reformatting the video....

French Vocabulary

Elle a eu ses quinze minutes = she had her fifteen minutes

Tu étais une star! = You were a star!

passagère = fleeting, transitory, short-lived

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Would you enjoy an occasional "homelife" collage? Here are the three slices to begin with.

Get out and take some pictures today!

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.