Le Prénom + French Dog and Cat Names for your pet

la ciotat france beach surf fun dog sunset
In winter dogs are allowed on this sandy beach. Out strolling with Mom at sunset last night, we enjoyed seeing 5 cavorting canines--including Ruby the pit bull. She wanted to hop on that surfboard and glide up the coast with the help of a couple of giggling girls pulling the rope. Meet another local pooch in today’s story...

TODAY’S WORD: “le prénom”

    : first name

SOUND FILE: Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence and all French words in this post. Then scroll to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Choisir le prénom de son animal à quatre pattes n'est pas toujours une mission facile.
Choosing a name for your four-legged friend is not always an easy task.

Click here to listen to the French

by Kristi Espinasse

Lately, my husband and I have been enjoying morning walks together. Jean-Marc likes to stroll along the waterfront, whereas I prefer a brisk walk inland, away from la foule. So we take turns deciding, or as the French say, à chacun son tour.

Recently we were heading home along La Voie Douce, when an older gentleman and his dog entered the sentier, just ahead of us. Because our turn-off was only 30 meters away, it didn't seem polite to cut around the slow-paced duo only to hurry off the path. 

As Jean-Marc and I slowed our own pace, I studied the dog. His white whiskers contrasted against his black poils. He was as old in dog years as his master, and both had a big belly. The dog carried itself with ease and it was hard to miss the jolly bounce in his steps.

That lovely creature exuded joy from head to tail and sent its feel-goods reverberating back to us. When the duo turned off the path, we followed, this being our exit as well. Entering a field, the man unleashed his furry companion.

"That is one happy dog!" I said, striking up a conversation. 
"Un chien est comme son maître," the man smiled.
Wasn't that the truth? A dog is like his master. I remembered our sweet Smokey and liked to think he took after me...even if he really was a splendid composite of his three-generational family.

"What is your dog's name?"
"Cachou. Like the bonbons," the man said, referring to those popular black lozenges in the round yellow tin....

photo by Didier Descouens via Wikipedia

"Cachou, that's a clever name for a black dog!" I hunkered down to pet the labrador. 

"Where did you get Cachou?"
"From his mother, who we had before him."
"Oh, that's how we got our Smokey," I shared. "Our golden passed last summer at almost 13."

The stranger gazed at his dog. "Cachou is twelve-and-a-half."
"Well, he looks very strong and energetic. He is a happy dog!" 
"That he is!" the man smiled before we walked our separate ways.

It was another lovely rencontre with man's best friend. After losing Smokey, these encounters are helping to fill the in-between time, even if I still don't know when or if we will have another dog. I look forward to seeing Cachou again, and all the other toutous in our neighborhood--including Féli, Lilou, Zoe, Joie, Pharos, and more whose names escape me. I am going to do better at writing those names down for the day we have the pleasure of welcoming another dear furball, or petite boule de poils. For now I spend my time dreaming about who he or she will be.



Before we adopted our first family dog, Breizh (a golden retriever and Smokey's mother), Jackie composed a list of favorite dog and cat names in French, including Ombre (Shadow), Flocon (Snowflake), Fripouille (Rascal)... The right column lists some cat names in French, including Choupette (little tuft of hair), Réglisse (Licorice), and Chouchou (Darling)

Jackie and breizh
Breizh and Jackie in 2006

=>  Le Chiot: when we got our first puppy, Breizh in 2006
=> When Breizh had Smokey and his 5 sisters

le prénom = first name
la foule
= the crowd, mob
à chacun son tour = each person gets a turn
la voie douce = the gentle path
les poils = fur
la rencontre = meeting, encounter
le toutou = doggy
une petite boule de poils = a little fur ball 
Breizh = Breizh
Ombre = Shadow
Flocon = Snowflake
Fripouille = Rascal
Choupette (little tuft of hair)
Réglisse (Licorice), and Chouchou (Darling)

We also met “Saga”—the softest, sweetest Ridgeback Rhodésienne. Saga was visiting France from Sweden. Mom and I wanted to take her home with us! Tell me, what kind of dog do you have? And what’s le prénom?

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

ceder le passage

Bull dog by the sea (c) Kristin Espinasse
Name this photo! Click here to add a picture title or a thought bubble. (Photo taken near St Cyr-sur-Mer).

céder le passage à quelqu’un

: to yield (when driving)

A Day in a French Life… by Kristin Espinasse

I woke up this morning with the nagging doubt that the kids might not make it to school today—worse, that we might be stranded on the side of the road, our thumbs awkwardly stuck out as we begged an early morning ride.

I should have filled the tank yesterday! And now, our car was almost out of gas. The nearest station is in Camaret, but that would mean backtracking. I could drive to Tulette, but was the pump open this early?

Just as I began calculating the distance from Sainte Cecile to Pierrelatte, Max offered  a solution. “There’s one near my collège. I’ll drive us there.”

Well, why not ? He has completed his cours de conduite, and the drive would count towards the 1000 hours kilometers of road time he would need to accumulate in order to get his license (but not before the age of 18).

Max, Jackie, and I buckle up and are soon on our way to Bollène, driving past fields of grapevines and little yawning villages, window shutters opening as we speed by. The morning sun feels good on our faces and the drive is relaxing, after all. As passenger, I feel pretty secure driving with our 17-year-old, who has completed an excellent driver’s training and knows the rules of the road by heart. He is probably a better driver than I am, but experience has merits of its own, namely precaution, which in my book trumps skill.

As we drive, I offer an ongoing commentary. “Always anticipate an obstacle—a little kid that bolts from a side street… or a dog… or a grand-mère or…”

Max interrupts. ”Mom, je sais!”

“I’m sure you know, Max. In fact, I think you are a very good driver and I feel safe riding with you. But it isn’t you I am worried about so much as the other driver out there. You must be alert! Practice defensive driving!”

Here Max shares the story about his driving instructor who had an accident in the very spot over which we are now driving. It was a head-on collision. He was driving with a new student.

“Did she survive?”

“Yes, the car just spun off the road… ”

The next few kilometers are passed in thoughtful silence. When Max picks up speed, I perk up.

“You need to slow down!” I remind him again. Only, for each reminder, Max has an argument.

“But Mom, the car is registering kilometers-per-hour, not MPH.”

It is too early for me to calculate (or divide?) kilometers to miles and so know whether Max is going too fast or too slow for my comfort zone. I cut to the point. “Well, it feels fast to me—so slow down!”

Nearing the village of Rochegude I have to look over at the odometer again.

“Max, what is the speed limit here?” 


“Then why are you going 84?”

“Mom! Old cars show a higher speed. We are really only going 80.”

“This is not an old car. Slow down!”

As we approach the gas station, it occurs to me that I won’t have to do the messy chore this time!

“Your driving instructors have taught you to fill the tank, haven’t they?”

“Yes,  but I can’t do it this morning. It will make my hands reek and I’ve got to go to school afterwards!”

I shake my head. He sure has an excuse for everything from faulty odometers to smelly gas pumps—and it all seems to work in his favor!

After I fill the tank, Max fires up the engine attracting the attention of the student in the next car’s passenger seat. Subtle Max, you are subtle! Careful, now, not to kill the engine as you did on the way in! You won't look so cool putt-putting out of here, just as you putt-putted your way in!

At the industrial roundabout in Bollène Max slows, observing the yield sign.

I watch as cars speed around the busy circle, or camembert. Although a little nervous, I trust that Max will take his time. Only, when a lumber truck passes carrying a forest of giant logs, I notice Max does not stop!

I watch as the semi-truck’s wheels spin past our car, which is presently entering the roundabout , right on the heels of the giant truck!

Our car slips in so close behind the semi that I fear we will be sucked in beneath the truck’s back tires. Looking up from the passenger seat, I now see a tower of lumber above us. The ends of the neatly cut trunks are so near our faces I can count the many circles that represent the tree’s age. Will we live as long?


In the school parking lot I am lecturing Max, who, as expected, has an argument for every point I make. And when he doesn’t have a point, he simply replies, “Quit screaming!”

Finally, I make an ultimatum:

“Max, you are NOT going to explain things away and have the last word each time! Now, listen closely. I am going to say it one more time and this time you will not interrupt me—do so and you will lose driving rights for two weeks!"

I finally get the chance to make my point without being cut off. “What you did was dangerous and there is no justifying it!”

I wait, lest one more peep come out of the reckless driver. When not one peep is made, I am satisfied and have to turn my face away, lest the smirk upon it degrade its authority.

Despite the grave situation that was now past us, it feels so good to have the last word. Cathartic, even! I can now see the allure “le dernier mot” has for my ever righteous kids!

But that self-righteous feeling soon gives way to simple humility and gratitude. Thank God none of us had the very last word this time!

French Vocabulary

le collège = junior high school

le cours de conduite = driver education

la grand-mère = grandmother

je sais = I know

le camembert = the popular round cheese is also a synonym for roundabout

le dernier mot = the last word




Max likes to lift things, just look at those arms!


Smokey likes to eat things. Just look at that tongue!


No matter what you like to do, it's nice to stop to rest and to look in a new direction. To comment on a photo, click here.


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              Click to enlarge this photo, taken in Villedieu (near Nyons).

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