Soignez-vous up high on a hilltop. Photo of my daughter, Jackie, wishing she could fly. Taken at the top of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Sea salt

Fleur de Sel (French Sea Salt): Gathered from the salt beds of Camargue by a Master Salter (Maitre Salier), this subtly flavored salt will add burst of flavor to your food. Fleur de Sel is truly an addictive taste!

(swan-yay) verb
  to treat, to nurse
  to look after, to take care of

Les maladies que l'on cache sont les plus difficiles à soigner.
The illnesses that we hide are the most difficult to treat.

                                                    --Chinese proverb

Several weeks ago Jean-Marc, Max, Jackie, and I spent winter break in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just a short drive from Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes. Our cécilienne farmhouse being in escrow at the time, Aunt Marie-Françoise offered us a room in her holiday gîte*--affectionately known as "la Cigale".* Though it
was too early to hear the trill and drum of the cicada, the cypress trees--which the winged ones set abuzz in summertime--were in full bloom out in the countryside and the powdery pollen sent me sneezing, sniffing, and shuttering up the windows.

While the children and Jean-Marc headed over to uncle Jean-Claude's for dinner one evening, I stayed behind, closing doors, fenêtres,* and painted shutters to block out the allergens which, in turn, were blocking my lungs. As I headed up the creaky wooden stairs to the mezzanine, where a dog-eared book and a box of Kleenex decorated the nightstand beside the guest bed, I was startled by an insistent knocking at the door.

"Qui est là?" Who is there? I barked, in defense.
A soft voice answered, "C'est Marie-Françoise."

The front door was bolted shut in such a way that I found myself locked in the cottage. Not wanting to make Jean-Marc's aunt wait, I hurried over to the window and unlatched the wooden shutters, pushing them open before the twilight.

Aunt Marie-Françoise appeared in a frame of white petals. The almond tree behind her was in bloom and the periwinkle sky beyond seemed to push forth the snow-white flowers. Below, purple irises polka dotted the driveway, announcing that spring had sprung in the land of the papes.*

Jean-Marc's aunt lifted her trusty wicker tote, setting it on the stone windowsill. She is always pulling things "Ta-da!"--or rather Voilà!--from that bottomless basket; from coffee pots to confectioner's sugar there is always some sweet sundry rising to its surface.

This time, Aunt Marie-Françoise produced a dark blue bottle marked "Aroma Force" which, according to the label, promised to "aide l'organisme à se défendre."* I turned the bottle around, noting the ingredients which included peppermint, lavandin,* clove and eucalyptus--essential oils used in aroma therapy.

Suddenly, the bottomless basket hiccupped and out came a piece of cardboard. My savior-soignante* offered her excuses for the haphazard cut-out, which she had quickly designed to help trap the steam in the aroma therapy "nose bath" or "sinus steam" that she was prescribing me. I watched my aunt's impromptu demonstration in which she fit the curved end of the cardboard cut-out to the bridge of her nose and, with a dramatic intake of pretend steam, she relaxed her facial muscles, offering a look of supreme soulagement.* Ahhh!

The last item to pop out of the basket was a jar of tomato soup. "You lose a lot of liquid..." Aunt Marie-Françoise explained, "...when you have allergies: tears, sure to drink a little of this soup," she prescribed.

Before I had the chance to ask how she had found the time to confect the care package (having just finished a full day's work as a speech therapist), Aunt Marie-Françoise was off--but not before offering up an appreciative nod to the flowering almond tree whose delicate white blossoms seemed to soothe her own silent sufferings.

Comments, corrections--or stories of your own--always welcome and appreciated! See the Comments box at the end of this post.

........................French Vocabulary..............................

le gîte (m) = lodging; la cigale (f) = cicada; la fenêtre (f) = window; le pape (m) = pope; aide l'organisme à se défendre = helps the organism to defend itself; le lavandin = (type of) lavender; soignant(e) = one who nurses; le soulagement (m) = relief
:: Audio File ::
Hear Jean-Marc recite today's proverb in French: Download soigner.wav
Les maladies que l'on cache sont les plus difficiles à soigner.

Essential Oil Sampler with Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Sweet Orange
Rosetta Stone French (CD-ROM) -- "an award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps"
A money belt for traveling. Perfect size for your passport and currency.

Terms & Expressions:
  soigner une maladie = to treat an illness
  se soigner = to take care of, look after, oneself
  soigner sa ligne = to watch one's figure
  soigner sa clientèle = to take care of one's clients
  soigner son image = to look after one's image
  soigner les blessés = to nurse the wounded

Verb conjugation:
je soigne, tu soignes, il/elle soigne, nous soignons, vous soignez, ils/elles soignent
past participle = soigné
Check out the Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs by Bescherelle

In other French towns... Villedieu. For a cozy halt, stop into the Café du Centre, order a chocolat chaud.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jon North

Bonne récupération. x Jon

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)