A Funny Nickname for “Dog” in French

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In French, the term "patate” is sometimes used to describe an animal that is very cute and has a very endearing character. Dogs and cats are known for their sweetness and affectionate side, and that is why they are often nicknamed "potato." (French translation below)

TODAY'S WORD: “la patate”

   : potato 

Enfin, le terme « patate » est parfois utilisé pour décrire un animal qui est très mignon et qui a un caractère très attachant. Les chiens et les chats sont connus pour leur douceur et leur côté affectueux, et c'est pourquoi ils sont souvent surnommés « patate » —Kingpet.fr


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

"Les Patates (The Potatoes)"

This month we are sharing our home with two little dogs, Izzy (pronounced "Easy") and Loca— otherwise known as “Les Patates.” The chiens belong to our son's girlfriend, Ana, who lives in Montpellier but braves many aller-retours to La Ciotat to be near Max. And because Max temporarily moved back in with us after renting out his snazzy apartment to tourists, we have le jeune couple here at home along with the dogs. 

Though I am a dog-lover, I didn't have an instant connection with these two toutous. I think any hesitation was more on the part of the dogs than on me. They only seemed interested in me when I was eating. Perhaps that is where they get their amusing surnom? (Ana calls them Les Patates which means “The Potatoes” in colloquial French.)

“Foodies” could just as easily be a surnom for these little sausages—given their ability to instantly manifest at the sound of a wrapper, or any ear-raising inking of food. 

As for me, I call them “Les Filles”, even if they are more like Les Mémés, or grandmas—hard of hearing and with cataracts. It took several visits before one of the girls eventually warmed to me. That is how Izzy (the 10-year-old pocket beagle) became my favorite, or le chouchou. I began to notice how sweet she is, how she'll eventually give you a kiss if you lean down and repeat "bisous" enough times, and how she wags her tail like a puppy when passing strangers on the street. 

After having two big dogs, I am seeing many advantages of small ones: they're easier to handle when out on a walk and they are moins encombrants (not that dogs could ever take up too much space in our lives, could they?). Compactness is a plus when it comes to hosting a couple of canines along with extra company (did I mention our daughter is home for vacation, too?).

As things get busier, messier, and louder around our household this summer, I have discovered an unexpected connection with the second dog, Loca, the French bulldog-Jack Russell mix. She too needs a room of her own, and blankets and snacks and YouTube when the world begins to hurl and whirl around her. Like that, one morning, the two of us found ourselves cuddled up in bed when a familiar feeling returned to me after a year sans chien: la paix.

There is something so calming about a dog snuggled by one’s side. Dogs are like comfort food, they nourish us in ways a healthy diet can’t. They fill and refuel us like a humble potato. Perhaps that is why the French call them “les patates”….

🐾   🐾   🐾   🐾   🐾

COMMENTS
Thanks in advance for your comments which are the icing on the cake of this edition! I love to read your words and learn so much from you (including spelling and grammar--so don't hesitate to send in a correction). Click here to leave a comment.

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A tomato on the left and a “potato” on the right. Loca, enjoying the front porch.

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English

la patate = potato
le chien = dog
l’aller-retour = round trip 
le jeune couple = the young couple
le toutou = dog
le surnom = nickname
les filles = the girls 
les mémés = the grandmas
le chouchou = the favorite
le bisous = kiss
moins encombrant = less in the way
sans chien = without dog
la paix = peace

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Max and Izzy

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Izzy, Loca, and me at the beach

REMERCIEMENTS

Un grand merci to the following readers who recently sent in a blog donation. Your contributions not only support this journal, but they also motivate me to keep on keeping on writing through summertime. Thank you! --Kristi

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“Just finished The Lost Gardens. I am so glad you and your husband wrote this book!” Nancy G.
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“I always enjoy your posts - the more French you include, the better.” Judy W.

Izzy loca Jules
Loca, Issy, and my Mom, cuddling

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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Doggone it! A Travel and Dog Lovers Edition

Corsica Ferries cruise liner French bulldog Toulon Menorca
Millow, an 8-year-old French bulldog, enjoying the salty air en route to Minorca, Spain

From Toulon to Minorca Jean-Marc and I sailed across the Mediterranean sea with dozens of wonderful dogs. Enjoy all the photos of these seasoned traveler-toutous in my column below. First, meet a cherished reader and dog lover...

OUR CHÈRE NATALIA
You may know Natalia from the cheering and affectionate comments she’s left here over the years. Natalia’s enthusiasm and support have touched me and other bloggers, including Lynn McBride of the delicious Southern Fried French journal. Lynn recently asked Natalia to share about her French connection. Read Natalia’s thoughtful reply here and see her two adorable chiens

TODAY’S WORD: LE CHIEN

: dog, hound, mutt

FRENCH EXPRESSION
avoir un mal de chien à faire = to have a heck of a time doing something
avoir un mal de chien = to be as sick as a dog
les chiens ne font pas des chats
= the apple doesn't fall far from the tree 

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Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.


REMERCIEMENTS

You may not be aware, but each time I write a new edition for this blog, a few to several donations come in. This truly is a reader-supported journal. For the week of May 1st, special thanks to readers Mel L. and Karen L. for your donations, and to reader Carolyn, who advertised her Women in Burgundy Tour. Many of you have asked to advertise in this newsletter and, until recently, I have declined ads. For now, if you have a France or French-related announcement and would like to sponsor this journal, please contact me at [email protected] Thank you!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
Things don’t always go as planned when traveling overseas, but some things soften the blow of such travel woes: dogs, for example… 

When we learned our overnight ferry from Toulon to Minorca would be delayed 8 hours (therefore losing us one full day on the island), my husband and I were sorely disappointed. If Jean-Marc’s frustration was summed up in one word—merde!—my reaction might've been an old-fashioned “doggone it!” (Only because it fits the theme of this story…and you’ll soon understand why…)

OUR DOGGONE DELAY
Not only would we be staying all those extra hours on the boat, but we were told to pack up and leave our cabine earlier than expected. So much for an afternoon sieste to break up the boring wait. While Jean-Marc argued with the manager at the onboard receptionist desk, I waited awkwardly by the luggage room. Another passenger sat with her fox terrier. We soon struck up a conversation about traveling with pets: “Corsica Ferries is one of the only ferries--if not the only--that allow dogs onboard, with access to all the public areas.” Madame explained. “The other navires require you to stow your dog in the boat’s underbelly, in a cage.

That’s how I learned that Corsica Ferries was known for its dog-friendly policy.

Suddenly, I began to notice all the dogs on board, and for the duration of our trip (and on the return voyage) I didn't see the hours go by... so busy was I checking out all the seaworthy chiens and talking to a lot of lovely passengers and pet owners…

Here are some of the traveling toutous I had the pleasure of meeting... 

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Zoe, 9 year old. Bull terrier from Italy.

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Lotte (lot-a), a 2-year-old “dual-line” Labrador from Germany

Corsica Ferries travel with Fox Terrier France Menorca
Merlan, 9-year-old tricolor Fox Terrier from France 

dog on board Corsica Ferries
Anonymous: this beautiful Weimaraner was spotted in the lounge, sleeping beside its maître who himself forewent a cabin and opted to sleep rough. Ruff ruff! 

travel with dog Corsican Ferries Toulon Menorca
No grass to pee on in the dog park, which led to confusion for certain dogs. "There was a large crate with some rocks in it," one woman explained, but her dog (Sammy, pictured below) held it until they reached the shore.

Sammy
Here is dear Sammy who really needed to tinkle as he waited patiently to "debark" at the port in Toulon. Sammy's mother was found pregnant and abandoned until this lady's mom found her. The mom kept the mother dog and the daughter took Sammy. Another sister took one of Sammy's siblings. What a happy ending!

Griffon dog on Corsica Ferries Toulon to Menorca
Jack, 9-year-old wirehaired Griffon from Nimes. He was adopted after braving the SPA, or animal shelter, for 3 full years. He lost all his hair but it has grown back and he is absolutely dashing! 

What I thought would be a boring wait on our delayed ship turned into a chance to spend time with a number of soft, affectionate, and intelligent dogs. After losing my own last summer, dearest Smokey, this was the chance to make up for so many dogless months. It was also an opportunity to discover other breeds and crossbreeds and to begin to dream about our next fidèle companion (hint: I would like a smaller dog, for ease of travel and handling, but I'll take whatever chance or destiny brings my way).

If this particular ferry ride wasn't already a dog lover's dream, nothing could have prepared me for the surprise on our overnight trip home. As usual, hundreds of passengers boarded the ship along with their dogs. I now had a second chance to take more pictures and chat with the pet owners and this was bliss. But that night, everything culminated into one giant dog extravaganza!

It all happened so unexpectedly when Jean-Marc and I sat down for dinner in the ship's dining room. We were seated right next to the revolving kitchen door and after it slammed one too many times my husband asked if we could be moved. "I'm sorry, sir, but the only other table available is next to a dog."

A dog? "That's no problem!" I informed the waiter. We grabbed our drinks, got up, and walked to the other side of the dining room where, low and behold, there wasn't just one dog... This was the designated section for dog owners

In case I never have the privilege to dine among a pack of dogs ever again, Jean-Marc captured the ecstatic moment on film. I leave you with that clip (also viewable here). Tell me, how many chiens can you see? (Note: one or two are hiding beneath the ship's starched tablecloths). 

Amicalement,
Kristi
P.S. Thank you for sharing this post with a dog lover. More dog photos below...

IN THE COMMENTS
I would love it if you would share your experiences traveling with dogs. Do you have tips? Any unusual stories? Have you taken the bus or a boat or flown with your dog? Tell me about it here in the comments.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

Don't miss the vocabulary sound file--click here

le chien = dog
le toutou = doggy 
merde! = sh#!, crap!
la cabine
= room on a boat
la sieste
= nap
le navire
= ship, ferry, car ferry
la SPA = animal refuge, shelter

Rocky  labradoodle from Germany
We sat beside 8-year-old Rocky, a labradoodle, and his family from Germany. They had taken their motorhome from there to Toulon, and cruised over to Minorca. Rocky loves to travel on land and at sea, and he's a real teddy bear isn't he?

Vizsla dog in the sun
I'm not sure what kind of dog this is on the sundeck (a Vizsla hunting dog, like another one I saw earlier?), but I was anxious to know how he would step off that net when he woke up...). I love how he or she is just chillin' with the owner. 

Kristi sailing with dogs
Me, enjoying some dog time with 2-year-old Anton, a Bearded Collie, and 8 -year-old Scooby, a Jack Russell.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
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....

Cachou-lajaunie-Didier-Descouens
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.

***   
***  

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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

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

FRENCH VOCABULARY
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)

30AABA0D-BC0A-453A-BF7B-244D009C9B66
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 KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
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?” 

“80.”

“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

 

REGARDEZ! LOOK!

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

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

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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.

 

Click Millionaires
Very excited to be featured in Scott Fox's "Click Millionaires"! I'd do well to read the book to find out how to become one!  Meantime, I will continue to thank those lucky stars for allowing this creative freedom to work from home -- or from anywhere in the world. How many millionaires can boast such a quirk--or, rather, perk? ...So much for creative freedom!

Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love Check out Scott's book!

 

 

DSC_0099
              Click to enlarge this photo, taken in Villedieu (near Nyons).

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety