This time of year while scaredy-cats are talking about hobgoblins, Jean-Marc introduces us to houblons...or Humulus Lupulus. On Tuesday he saw them with his very eyes in the historic quarter of Nice, France! Read on about this bois du diable and its relation to beer, in today's column. (Thank you, Eileen deCamp, for this beautiful photo!) un... Read more →


"Languages ​​are not neutral tools: they influence how we talk, think, and represent ourselves...." façon de parler : manner of speaking, way of speaking : so to speak Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the opening sentence, in French: Facon de parler manner of speaking Façon de parler. Les langues ne sont pas des outils neutres : elles... Read more →


Harvesters sorting grapes at Château La Mascaronne. Though everyday life goes on, today's post being no exception, we pause to remember those who have suffered in the recent catastrophes. Jean-Marc and I join all vineyard owners in France, all who are in the wine business, all who are French, and all who are human, in extending our... Read more →


Yesterday, we visited Chateau La Mascaronne. The estate, acquired by an American, Tom Bove, in 1999, extends over 100 hectares at the exit of the village of Luc, of which 45 hectares of vines are planted in hills and classified in the appellation Côtes de Provence. Careful to respect the typicity of the terroir, the estate offers... Read more →


One of my favorite French expressions? It's mettre toutes les chances de son côte. (photo: "We are what we are taught," taken when Smokey was a babe). Mettre toutes les chances de son côte : to put all chances on one's side, to stack all the odds in your favor Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the... Read more →


I am busy looking up the term bénéfice du doute--all the while doubting this is the way to begin today's letter. I am numbed, saddened, and shaken by the carnage in Las Vegas, as well as by the hurricaines and earthquakes, and by more local terrorism. Two girls, cousins my daughter's age, were stabbed to death Sunday--at... Read more →


In the novel DRAWING LESSONS, set in Arles, Arianna will learn to embrace life. Hear the previous sentence in French and discover Patricia Sand's novel set also in the breathtaking Camargue! apprendre à profiter de la vie : learn to embrace life Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, profiter de la vie Dans le roman Drawing... Read more →


Along with most of the rest of France, j'ai chopé la crève. I wonder how? Did I catch a cold while crammed into a stairwell with other ferry passengers on our way home from The Island of Beauty? Or, as my dentist suggested during a three-part "crowning" series (ma première couronne! I've got one more appointment to... Read more →


For our 23rd wedding anniversary we went to Corsica--to a hotel that looked very tempting as it was recently renovated... Unfortunately, it was not ready to welcome us in the best conditions. At the end of our stay, we can truly say we "wiped the plaster" with our very own clothes! Find out the meaning of today's... Read more →


Our son, Max, and my Mom are safe in Mexico after yesterday's earthquake. We are saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Mexico. Before hearing the news, I had planned on sharing the story of my 90-year-old reader from Florida who is traveling solo in France...looking to start a new chapter in... Read more →