The book fair in Roussillon. All photos taken by mom (a.k.a. "Jules"). See her, and her gallery of photos, in today's edition.

attrape-tout (ah-trap-too) adjective
    : catch-all

The French word "attrape-tout" refers to a vague political plan destined to seduce the greatest number of voters. In today's story, it refers to a bookseller's plan to seduce the greatest number of potential buyers... Read on.

Audio File
: listen to today's word Download attrape-tout.wav - Download attrape-tout.mp3

At the book fair in Roussillon, it took me almost half the day to figure out how to get the French to notice my author's stand. Some sort of "attrape-tout," or prop, would be needed...

My current plan was bombing and, though the French allowed themselves to be lured over by an American-voiced command ("Pardon me! What is Your Favorite French Word?"), it was painful to watch as the Francophones struggled with their own language.

"Difficult, isn't it?" I sympathized, slyly handing over my card, which read "French Word-A-Day".

"There are just so many wonderful words in the French language to choose from, n'est-ce pas?!" With that, I talked a little about my "mot du jour" blog and, when lucky, sold a book, based on the former.

By noon, I tired of pitching the unpopular "Favorite French Word" question out to the book-fair traffic as it flowed past my stand. Then, just as enthusiasm began to wane, I had a stroke of good luck... one that coincided with lunchtime. As I sat at my display table, eating three-cheese quiche, I began to notice something unusual: traffic began to slow--and sometimes stop--right before my very eyes!

"Bon appétit!" a French couple said.
"Oh... merci," I thanked them, covering my mouth, embarrassed.

Seconds later... it happened again:
"Bon appétit!" offered the man with a salt-n-pepper ponytail.
"Merci beaucoup!" I answered, in a muffled voice.

On and on the gastronomic wishes continued...
"Bon appétit!" chirped a woman in motorcycle jacket, and I quit chewing in time to give an enthusiastic nod of thanks...

"GOOD APPETITE!" a distinguished-looking Frenchman said, with cheer.

No matter the age or the outward appearance, the French were now noticing me! For as long as that plate of food remained intact, each and every Francophone that passed my table paused in time to wish me a "Happy Meal!"

So, that's that: at the next book fair I am ditching the "Favorite French Words" ploy... and getting smart--by bringing plenty of tarts!

P.S.: Is it any wonder that the most popular "Favorite French Words" included "vin", "soleil", "amour", and "pastis"? What are your favorite French words?

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.

Lee Isbell

Words I learned in France that I never heard in a French class in the U.S.:
- bricolage (do-it-yourself)
- canicule (heatwave)
I think they are marvelous.


Your Mom is a very striking woman. Love the hat, she wears it with panache. Love the column, too.


I have two favorite French words....Quelque chose and coquelicot. I think I like them because the have such great 'q' sounds in them. We don't have a lot of good 'q' words in English! And how could you not like a word like coquelicot that evokes an instant image of a field of lovely red poppies swaying in the breeze under a brilliant blue Provencal sky?


C'est Magnigique, again! a flash program installation interupted my last post. Oui! Bon appetite are without a doubt two of the worlds favourite french words. My suggestion is that you bake small plain cookies, and place them in little bags with a french word and meaning inside. On the back of the french word and meaning paper have you book's title, your name, website and the words Help Keep French a living language! post comments at and that's where you write your blog address. And Kristine, I lost your email off my email program as I had to rebuild my whole computer please feel free to ping me an email. I have been learning french over the last year or so and it is a great language. I am a big fan of your book. Sorry this post is not in french but it's 7 a.m. here in Canada and I'm just waking up.


J'aime l'expression, "C'est dommage." It rolls off the toungue quite nicely and is a great response to so many situations. C'est dommage that the french book fair folk ignored your table. I think that the academy should give you an award for bringing the french language to others in such a fun and positive way.


Your mother's smile is just amazing! How lucky that she gave it to you! It looks like she had quite a following at the book fair. You go, Jules!


Hi Kristin--what great memories of Roussillon this brings back. I have some photos of some of the same spots which I have taken there thru the years--I think I shall do a little pen and ink of one or two--if so I shall send to you. I can see why Jules is such a hit--she is gorgeous and exuding friendliness. I am a one-time French teacher, lifetime Francophile and enjoy your book and column. I have gotten your book for some of my adult private students who are just beginning and they have loved it. Please continue your joyous and adventurous life and the rest of us can ennjoy hearing about it. We will hope to see the vineyard on our next trip to France.

Mary Hall

Je suis etudiare du francais. Jaime votre website. Merci.


Melange, j'aime beaucoup le mot, "melange!" What a good suggesting, packaging little cookies with words, sort of like a "fortune" cookie...a bon mot cookie! I wish I'd been there to help you vend your wonderful books. bisous,


Moi, j'adore "dis-donc." It reminds me of an old song, "The Donkey Serenade."


Dear Kristin,
Hello from Roslyn, Long Island- again.
I love reading your posts.. Your photos of the book fair along with your mother Jules are beautiful.
How talented you are .I wish I could switch places with you for even a week.
Some of my favorite French words are lune de miel - honeymoon, Grace aux ciels -
and Belle-mere etc. What lovely and gracious nuances the French language has-
A tres bientot-
Madelyn E.

Jo Ella

One of my favorite French words is poubelle. Can there be a better word for a trashcan? I never use trashcan anymore.

Jo Ella

One of my favorite French words is poubelle. Can there be a better word for a trashcan? I never use trashcan anymore.


Hi Kristin, I just LOVE the photos.
Jules is so stunning, that I had to look at her pictures again. I want to look like her!! Just beautiful! It goes without saying that you are absolutely beautiful yourself, and that you have wonderful genes. I just find her beauty quite exotic in the setting and also for us women "of a certain age" it is all the more impressive. Merci


My favorite french word is the one that introduced me to the french language and got me hooked on all things French, when I was pretty young: haricot vert. I just love the way it sounds. Makes them taste better if you say it in French I say.


I love the word etoile. It just sounds so beautiful and is used quite a bit when discussing Paris streets :)


I have a favorite phrase my french teacher posted each week, it read, "Dieu merci, c'est Vendredi."


I have a favorite phrase my french teacher posted each week, it read, "Dieu merci, c'est Vendredi."


One of my favorite french words is bisous (what's not to love?)
How about favorite expressions? I love "Je gèle!" (I freeze/I'm freezing). You can say it with such panache!


A toute! (de suite)
Tant pis!
Wonderful expressions

Devra Long

Pour moi, le mot "cauchemar'! This was the first word I learned watching French news.
Bonne anniversaire to la belle Jules!


Hi Kristin!

Many thanks to your wonderful Mum for the lovely photos, her smile and "joie de vivre"!

My favourite words? LIBELLULE (dragon fly)
-> to hear the perfect prononciation of this word is a real pleasure to my ears. It's light and bouncy; it gently "flies". The soft lengthening of the "lu" (airy "l" + proper French "u")is delightful....

Another one is CAPUCINE (nasturtium). I love the climbing ones, in a multitude of rich yellow / burnt orange / spicy colours. Their name in French, when well pronounced (nice vowels "a", "u", "i") gives a very light and cheerful sound.


My favorite word is pampelmoose!
Or is it Pamplemoose? means grapefruit.

Jan Hersh

Tous les mots
en francais
me plaisent!


I love the word Maquillage, which means makeup.

My Mom's boyfriend, who passed away last year, (and originally a Parisian) would always tell her how beautiful she is and how perfect her maquillage!


This reminds me of recent hiking in the French Alps, where EVERY person we passed said "Bonjour", and I mean hundreds of people! The only time they didn't say "Bonjour" was when we stopped to eat our sandwiches, and then all that passed said "bon appetit"! :-)

Kerry Ann

Pamplemouse est mon mot favorite! Le seconde est lapin et le troisieme est la campagne!

Lawrence J. Krakauer

One of my favorite French words is from Alsace: un vasistas. It refers to a small transom window common in that region. It arose because when you knock on the door, often the occupant looks out through the window, and says in German, "Was ist das?"


This "what's your favorite French word game" is a favorite between my friends and I who study French! I'm so excited to answer! My favorite French noun is déambulatoire (in the sense of a walkway behind the choeur in a cathedrale and not a "walker"). My favorite verb is klaxonner (to honk one's horn). And my new favorite adjective is accro (hooked/addicted...familiar). I just moved to France and it seems like everyday I learn so many new and interesting words...I'm sure these will all change by dinnertime!

ann scott

My favorite Fench word is "un chouia," a tiny bit. (No diaeresis on keypad.) It can be used with so many inflections. My favorite English word s "lovely." "Lovely" is such a lovely word.

Susan Gish

Favorite French phrase:

Oooh, la vache!


good is my pleasure to comment on this page is not as much wine and I like to learn more them the opportunity thank you very much


I am a great taster of juice I like to learn the latest in natural beverages and wines that I think is good infornacion offered thanks poe me participate on your page

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.)