I wanted to move right in, on seeing this little gem (and writer's den?)--yesterday morning in the town of Rochegude. More photos after the story column, below. photo © Kristin Espinasse

saisir (say-zeer) verb

  : to capture, to seize

Audio File: Listen to the correct pronunciation of the French word "saisir", and hear the conjugated verb. Mille mercis to my brother-in-law, Jacques, for lending his vocal chords!: Download Saisir Download Saisir

Verb conjugation: SAISIR

je saisis, tu saisis, il saisit, nous saisissons, vous saisissez, ils saisissent => past participle: saisi

Today, we are sharing idioms, expressions, and sayings related to the French word "saisir". Thank you for opening up your dictionary (hardbound or online) and contributing something here*, in the comments box.

In the town of Rochegude, I snake silently along narrow ruelles* flanked by towering French façades. The villagers are waking up, now if only the sun's rays would appear--and just where my camera lens might command them to. I stare at the chipped and broken façades, as one might a newborn: with eternal love and a fierce sense of duty: how much time remains in which to capture their still-charming faces before another bulldozer or careless commerçant* captures them first? I watch helplessly each time a glaring metal poster board is drilled into the side of yet another creaking, cracking cabanon,* covering up an old painted-onto-the-stones sign, one that apparently no longer earns its keep according to the gods of advertising. "Au diable!"* I curse them. Haven't you the heart for these endangered works of art?


I will the sun to come out from behind the clouds, in time to liven the blues and greens in the painted shutters and the reds on the window sills that surround me. As it is, the colors are fade,* perhaps like the early-morning risers beyond the window panes, who'll soon powder their faces bronze--eternal summer in their hearts, though winter camps out on the window sill, weathering the tiles and whittling away at old, charming France.

Comments, corrections--or stories of your own!--always welcome, in the comments box, for all to enjoy:

More topics for discussion: Renovate... or rip down?: where does a culture conscious community draw the line? Share with us some laws that exist to protect France's architectural patrimony. What is most endangered across France's architectural skyline?

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la ruelle
(f) = lane, alley; le/la commerçant(e) = retailer; le cabanon (m) = stone shed, cottage; au diable! = to hell (with them !) ; fade = washed-out (also, tasteless)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Today's Quote~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      L'occasion. Notre seule pouvoir est de la saisir.
     The occasion. Our only power is in seizing it.
--Jean Grenier


I loved the book "French Dirt", and for those who love to write, check out Richard Goodman's new book "The Soul of Creative Writing". See them both, here.

Savon de Marseille/Marseille Soap with Pure Crushed Local Flowers

Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook

The castle at the top of the village of Rochegude.
Ze little would-be writer's den: colorful even sans soleil.

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Anne - Music and Markets

What a beautiful picture you paint today! After our month in Aix, we are back in the US, where all is new, compared to the history we walked by each day - medieval towers, ancient fountains, fading painted advertisements on the walls...I wish I were still there!

catharine ewart-touzot

I regret the same for America...listen well France, for what attacks us, does the same, in time to you...we don't have metal signs any longer to regret loosing...even paper ones are all but gone, now they are soulless plastic...I hope every regulation possible is passed to save your heritage before it is lost.. look on line to kitchens and baths they all must look alike stainless and granite...with no sign of humanity living within


I agree with you...why put advertising on a historic building? It looks tacky. Cool looking photos. I wish I could describe things like you!


What an interesting question, Kristin, in your Word of Today! Every time I am gnashing my teeth at some new monstrosity destroying picturesque French countryside or view I must remind myself that the atrocities other countries (in my case my home country Germany) afford without any problems - while we simply expect the others to stay the same forever - bucolic, picturesque, quaint and impermeable to rapid changes. An example in kind is the lovely town of St. Felix Lauragais, a medieval bastide town in the Pays de Cocagne (land of plenty), now its lovely old, now sailless windmill is overlooking a plateau with 11 gigantic ones (Roumens), blinking and flashing day and night. We all know it is necessary to find new sources for energy. But these modern mills remain an eyesore, a danger to birds, an endlessly flashing reminder of the need for new sources of energy, even if those mills must, at this point, always be backed up by at least one nuclear power plant.

So if my neighbor tears down that lovely century-old brick hangar (barn) with old tiles and replaces it with a modern sheet panel barn monstrosity with a toit tôle ondulée (corrugated sheet roof)- if I walked in his shoes I probably would do the same. Sad, but true.
It also makes one think why we so much love those unspoiled landscapes, buildings and woods and allow them to be destroyed by our greed.
Enjoy what you have now and try to preserve it as best you can


Carpe Diem, Kristin! Saisissez le jour! We must hold on to the "Day" jealously, for all our days meld with all our yesterdays to make our tomorrows!


Quelles superbes photos ma chère voisine, quel plaisir de pouvoir écrire des commentaires. Hugs...


Mille mercis pour votre pensees et les photos.


Dear Kristin,
Is it my imagination, or does the village of Rochegude -- that is nowhere to be seen behind the building/signboard in your first picture -- suddenly appear from thin ether when the sun emerges in your second picture??? Or is the village large enough to have a second building/signboard as can be seen in the lower right-hand corner?

Allen Patterson

I appreciate having the verb conjugated and pronouncrd. I am just beginning to learn French and find it difficult to properly pronounce the French verbs and other words.

Merci beaucoup



Oh, Kristen....that last paragraph in today's journal was truly beautifully written. Thank you.


Mille mercis for your comments!

Diane: You have great eyes! Yes, that is the upper corner of the first photo (in the story column). I pulled over to the side of the road , twice, to snap the images.

Jules Greer

Hi Laura,

Thank you for calling my attention back to Kristi's last paragraph - yes, you are right and I second your praise to Kristi for a lovely description of the moment. Kristi you are still stretching and growing and blooming all over the pages of FWAD.
I love you --- MOM


I think it would make a perfect watercolor painting hideout!


I fear that this kind of uglification (Is that a real word in any language?) may be inevitable. Yes, it is a shame, but the owner of the cabanon has to do something to pay his taxes, and I doubt that passing tourists would be willing to make a financial contribution to the cause in the name of preserving the picturesque.

Saisir is a great word. In addition to all the literal and legal "grasp" or "seize" meanings, it also means "to sear" in the culinary sense (as in "saisir un bifteck"). And in the computer world, it means "to input"; "la saisie des données" is "data input."

Valencia Siff

N'oublions pas "Saisissez le jour" ou bien "Saisissez le mot du jour". I took the original expression and made up a game to review your Mots du Jour before our weekly quiz. The students literally have to "saisir" the appropriate vocabulary card off the wall after hearing my description en français. The first team to grab the right word wins the point. Merci de m'avoir inspirée.


IL FAU que le commercant saissit l'opportunite d'advertissement! Quell domage por le vue verite. Donc, on peu faux que mettez l'attention au realite. Cest dommage de notre espiritu; l'advertissements comme ca, mais, tout le monde essayons de vue la verite. C'est espiritu dans tout la monde et tout let mots du jours; d'accord? Mais gui, mon amies! patty

Bill Lloyd en Libye

Alors, ma primiere poste depuis 3+ ans de lire cette site merveilleuse. Mille mercis a Kristin for a beautiful place on the web and to Valencia Siff for the inspiration to use this in the classroom. Je suis aussi professeur de World Languages and will use this idea in my Spanish classes here in Tripoli, Libya. There are simply not enough superlatives to tell how much I have enjoyed this blog over the years. Vive la langue francais!

Pat Cargill

Nous avons saisi l'occasion de lire Kristin's lovely descriptions of la vie francaise, learning the words, using them here in the conversation; and another plus I realized ce matin: I am now part of a community from all over the world who meet here to share a part of our lives with each other. Such a pleasure. Merci, again, Kristin et famille for opening the circle wider and wider. La vie est bonne.


I know advertising signs are a curse of our modern society.... but perhaps if it is a temporary way of being able to put our old buildings to some sort of use it will protect them for our future generations who may be able to recycle them into a more sympathetic, creative and pleasing use and knit them back into our social and historic fabric as part of living least the building has been kept...gone is gone!


I know that advertising signs are a curse of modern times... but perhaps by giving an historical building some sort of use it will protect it for a future generation who could then recycle it with a more sympathetic, creative and pleasing use...allowng the building to knit in with its social and historic fabric...a part of our living history has been saved...gone is gone!


PS Love the "writers den" and the wonderful little secret garden off to the side...

Ann Diaz

Wonderful post with lovely pictures. The audio parts are very helpful. Thank you

saisir- from Barron's "French Idioms" "saisir la balle au bond; to grab an opportunity Voyant le moment venu, il a saisi la balle au bond. Seeing the right time had come, he grabbed the opportunity."

Susan Walter

I was rather disheartened by the 'tiede' responses to the question of retaining and maintaining heritage. Vernacular architecture like this is always at risk, all over the world. I see it every day in the Loire with the slow disintegration of the 'cabanes de vignes', theoretically protected by law, but in reality simply allowed to crumble through neglect. One wouldn't mind quite so much if what replaced them was beautiful and built to last, but it almost never is. There is no reason for this except the received wisdom that this is how modern buildings are because of costs and efficiencies and a load of other lazy, unquestioned thinking.

If there is a threatened vernacular building in your area in France that you love, try to get the Maisons Paysannes de France interested ( or your local Société Archaeologique. A vernacular building is any building constructed in a traditional local style, but not grand enough to have had an architect. They contribute hugely to the appearance of an area, but are often very difficult to find appropriate and sensitive modern uses for. Even when they are put to a new use, façadism can be a problem (when the exterior appearance is maintained for appearances sake, but the interior is gutted and all sense of the original purpose of the building destroyed).

Eve Robillard

Kristin--I, too, appreciated the conjugation of the verb. And I'll be right there to occupy that little hideaway. merci, eve
PS I've just finished "I'll Never Be French." Je l'aime bien. eve

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