Courtyard in Rochegude (c) Kristin Espinasse
In the moss-covered village of Rochegude... a courtyard, above, located beside the writer's den that I mentioned in a recent post.. 


parole (pah-rol) noun, feminine


   : lyrics; word (spoken)


Audio File: Hear Aunt Marie-Françoise pronounce the French word "parole":Download Parole   Download Parole

À la parole on connaît l'homme.  --PA Manzoli


Help translate today's quote? ...or share one of the dozens of French idioms and expressions that go with the word "parole" ("avoir la parole facile", "perdre la parole" "tenir sa parole"...). Thank you for using the comments box.


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
A Photographic Interlude in the town of Rochegude 

Of the many ruelles that wind through the picturesque French town of Rochegude, at least one is carpeted green. "If red stands for royalty," I reflect, snapping a photo of the floor beneath me, "then green must stand for "grace"--and if I were a queen I'd walk on green!"




Stepping down some softly sovereign stairs made of stone and thick with moss, I spot a modern day carriage at the end of the path: it is, in fact, a classic car by today's standards. Admiring the shiny new paint on the Renault Quatrelle, I wonder: will the old bagnole be a good subject and, if so, how to best capture it?

"Make room for the lantern," I begin coaching myself, looking through the camera lens to the street light above. "And don't leave out the Town Hall... Oh--and it would be good to include these!" I think, looking down to the path before me, where a line of smooth, round rocks fills in what may have once been an eye-sore of a gutter. I notice how the stones add style to an otherwise ordinary cement landing, one which follows those velvety stairs.

Renault 4 or "4L" or "Quatrelle" (c) Kristin Espinasse


Approaching the old Quatrelle, I notice there is writing on the back, just beneath the window, and soon find myself singing the old tune that those words represent....


"Baby you can drive my car.... "


All but leaning onto the hatchback, I am now chuckling at some Frenchman's tongue-in-cheek finishing touch over that new cherry red paint: "Beep Beep, Yeh!"  Back in the States, it is common to see stickers on the backs of cars (wisdom in under a dozen words) but, here in France, such free philosophy is reserved for friends--and, occasionally, for enemies (during a traffic altercation or, in retail, when a sales clerk smarts back... or even when she doesn't).

I begin snapping several photos of the car when a woman with a stoller passes, only to stop in her tracks. I lower my camera in time to smile at the baby and to answer the woman's inquisitive stare. "C'est rigolo... cette voiture, n'est-ce pas?" I offer.

Like that, Stroller Woman and I strike up a conversation ranging from old cars and collectibles... to joblessness and even weight loss! I learn that Stroller Woman suffers from phlebite and has just returned from Bollène, on foot, as part of her new exercise regime.
"Walking is the best sport!" I offer, cheering her on, happy to think up something to say.

When we have exhausted our repertoire of "Small Talk for Complete Strangers," conversation comes to an abrupt and embarrassing halt.

"Do you have internet?" I ask, the thought crossing my mind to post the photos that I have taken, along with a story, and thereby recruit a new reader--never mind that she can't read English.

"No," Stroller Woman says. "But I will give you my phone number!" I am caught off guard by the stranger's offer and, after an initial hesitation, I search for a pen.

"By the way, what does it say?" she asks.

I follow her gaze, over to the English lyrics on the old Quatrelle.

"Oh, that's a song from the 60s," I answer, taking a clue from the "Sixties" signature on the car.

Stroller Woman looks at me, expectantly, and I so I prepare to translate the song lyrics:

"Chérie, tu peux conduire ma voiture.... Non...  c'est pas ça.... euh..."*

I give it another go:

"BEBE, tu peux conduire ma voiture..."

Just then, another villager--and friend of Stroller Woman--appears, greets my one-woman audience, and ignores me. I nod, clear my throat and decide I'm performing for two. Best to start fresh with the lyrics:


"Bébé, tu peux conduire ma voiture!" My eyes are now bright and I think I've got the swing of it.


"Oui! Je vais être une star!I enthuse, now wiping my lashes, which are soaked with tears due to the cold morning air.

"....ET bébe JE T'AIME!" (This part automatically escapes my mouth and when I look over to the words on the car, I notice these particular lyrics are missing! In my embarrasement I skip quickly to the end):



By now I have to dry my eyes with a mouchoir, the wind having picked up and, with it, the rate with which my tear ducts pour out their watery, cold air barrier. When next I look up I notice my new friend, Stroller Woman, has disappeared! This, before I have even had the chance to give her my phone number.


I see her now, a little further up the street, making what looks to be a getaway--beneath the protective arm of a friend.

The two walk away slowly, cautiously--as one walks away from Insanity, or Madness... or simply a tone-deaf damsel in distress.

Le Coin Commentaires

Feedback, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome in the comments box. Merci beaucoup!

Quatrelle (c) Kristin Espinasse



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Renault Quatrelle (Renault 4) = kind of economy car with a hatchback, see it here; la bagnole (f) = slang for "car"; la phlébite (f) = phlebitis; C'est rigolo... cette voiture, n'est-ce pas? = It’s amusing, this car, isn’t it ?; Oui! Je vais être un star! = Yes, I’m gonna be a star!; le mouchoir (m) = handkerchief



Books & More....

Young Adult reading: Vidalia in Paris  


Paris inspired art work sign:  Wall Clock - Café Du Parc

Lavender : all natural Provence Imported *Lavandin*


Film feature: The French Revolution (History Channel)

 On July 14, 1789, a mob of angry Parisians stormed the Bastille and seized the King's military stores. A decade of idealism, war, murder, and carnage followed, bringing about the end of feudalism and the rise of equality and a new world order. The French Revolution is a definitive feature-length documentary that encapsulates this heady (and often headless) period in Western civilization.




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.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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By his words, one knows the man.

Robyn France

You might enjoy the expression "tenir sa parole" which means to keep one's word.


Well Paul, maybe if you had had John backing you up, your "beep, beep" wouldn't have been so "blah, blah." Kristin, that story was HILARIOUS! And your writing style has matured so beautifully, along with your deliciously self-deprecating sense of humor. I will be giggling all day! Please, keep writing for us all, all the time.


Great story - had me laughing out loud!

Jules Greer

Kristi Honey, I am so happy you are letting your readers see the real you. You have always been so naturally funny - that's why we laugh until our sides hurt when we are together. I loved this story, it was just like we were together for a stroll in a little French village. Keep opening up - you have never realized how entertaining you are - I love you - XOXO MOM

Debbie Chavers

Kristin, thank you for the giggle. I love the way you express yourself. The run away had no idea the blessing she was missing by not leaving her number with you!



that is so funny! the french can be so whimsical.


Hey K!
Rather than hearing Aunt Marie-Françoise pronounce "parole", you should have treated us to your rendition of the song...Common bébe, don't be shy! ;)
Jeanne LaCasse

L'Tanya Robinson


Your stories brighten my day. You always make me smile and think - what a delightful combination! Keep writing and sharing.



I agree with Jeanne...I'd love to hear you sing that old Beatles song! We could all sing along out here in cyber-land.


Here's a link to The Beatles singing 'Baby You Can Drive my Car,' from Rubber Soul, 1965:


If you read the lyrics, it really has a different meaning - I though the guy was saying she could drive his car, but it's just the opposite! And I grew up with the Beatles!!
Yes, English is my first language!!

The Beatles Songs and Albums

Asked a girl what she wanted to be
She said baby can`t you see
I wanna be famous, a star of the screen
But you can do something in between
Baby you can drive my car
Yes I`m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I`ll love you
I told that girl that my prospects were good
And she said baby, it`s understood
Working for peanuts is all very fine
But I can show you a better time
Baby you can drive my car
Yes I`m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I`ll love you
Beep beep beep beep yeh
I told that girl I could start right away
And she said listen baby I`ve got something to say
Got no car and it`s breaking my heart
But I`ve found a driver, that`s a start


Great story. We felt like we were there. These photos are really nice too. The explanation of the display on the car of the red letter A for Apprenti for new drivers might be of interest to your readers too. Is it one year, two years? that it has to be displayed by a new driver? I never can remember.


Thank you for the encouragement, for the video, for the lyrics and, I should say, for the request.... Just even the thought of singing that song to you in French makes me embarrassed. (Though I did practice again, on the way home from picking up the kids at school. They asked if I wouldn't rather put my energy into another Gâteau Marbré.* Which I did. Better run now, before I burn another cake....)

*In case you missed this recipe (for a marbled cake, just add two teaspoons of cocoa powder to the mix after halving it; pour into cake pan, one half then the other):

PS: how's that for diverting the topic?


Loved the piece... but on a serious note: my great grandmother left France in the late 1800's with a "peg leg" and 4 children. I assumed she had had phlebitis. I recently reread her history and I remarked on the present day miracle of anticoagulants. Is walking after childbirth general advice given to all new mothers in France? I love to know cross cultural medical advice.


I think parole is the same word in one of my favorite songs. You can see it here:

Paroles Paroles by Dalida and Alain Delon

Jan Marquardt

The Renault 4 was the first car I ever rented in France--in 1972--and I still think the way the gear shift was in the dash was brilliant and should have been done again. After growing up in the States, the sound of those little tinny doors closing caused me to write home to my parents about how solid our (massive) American cars seemed in comparison. Little did we think about fuel consumption! I'd love to get behind the wheel of one of these marvelous little numbers again. In fact, I still have the marketing flyer for them I was given at the dealership where I went for the rental. Too cute.

Dianne Hales

Dear Kristin, Your delightful blog inspired me to start a similar one for Italian lovers: Becoming Italian Word by Word. And so I was especially delighted to see the thoroughly Italian word "parole" (words) starring in today's post. Since Italian and French are linguistic cousins, it shouldn't be a surprise. Italian has dozens of expressions about "parole." The pompous big words of politicans are "paroloni"; words of wisdom are "parole d'oro" (golden); angry words are "parole di fuoco" (of fire). If you or your readers would like to try a taste of Italian, come visit me at

A bientot, Dianne Hales

John P Senetto

Kristin, Great stuff. Loved it,wish I could have seen that!

Tina Marshall

Greetings! Peterman's Eye Travel is hosting a travel photo contest and J. Peterman will be judging the entries! Thought I'd share...



Kristin...this story is hilarious!!! I really enjoyed your modern day twist of a fairytale complete with stage sets! Could there be a princess( who also happens to be a writer) locked in a tower behind the bricked up door edging the hankerchief garden?!
Now tell me...did you close your eyes while you were singing ( and that's how the french ladies managed to escape.....)


What a great story!

Possibly because of the relationship with "une étoile" and/or "une vedette," I think that "star" in this sense is always feminine in French, so it would be, "Je vais être une star."


Nifty photos. I like moss-strewn pathways, although I suppose they're dangerous when wet.

I like the looks of that Renault, and the Beatles snippet on it makes it just about perfect. Your story of translating and singing the lyrics on the fly was funny. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks to Carol who explained the "A." I was going to ask about that. (I knew the "F" on the car was for France, country of origin.) I'm trying to decide if something like that would be a good idea here. Would other drivers cut some slack for a newbie? I'm not sure.

Andie Triolo

Hi Kristin,
Haven't written to you before, but enjoy your postings very much! You're living the life that another version of me might, but one which I will not get to this time around.
Your recent posts from Rochegude have reminded me of the couple of days I spent there a few years back, staying in the chateau and telling time, like the medievals, by the church bell just outside our bedroom window. Have you taken the (dirt) road which leads up the hill behind the chateau? There is a surprise up there, maybe 1/2 mile or so - what looks to be a temple of some kind in ruins. When I inquired about it at the chateau they told me it had been constructed by a bygone owner (perhaps 18th c.)as a trysting place for his paramours. One can just see them up there, dejeuner sur l'herbe surrounded by the columns and cavorting statues. Perhaps he cast a spell over the place? I'd take my picnic there, any day!

Robyn Daniels

Thanks for the word 'bagnole' Kristin - I have one of my own, albeit a slightly battered English one (Suzuki Wagon R+)- which has been through the wars a bit - damaged by bandits and wind during my travels in Spain . The word 'rigolo' ('amusing') in your piece reminded me of a phrase 'ne rigolez pas de moi!' (translation: don't laugh at/make fun of me' which I wanted to share (may be of some use in everyday conversation?) .. and reminds me of another song. Another lovely French word I discovered today - 'la cassonade' which I thought just meant the word for a carton pourer but when I looked up in my trusty dictionary I found it actually means 'brown sugar' - only the French would creats such a romantic-sounding word for an everyday item rather than the more pedestian 'le sucre brun'.


Kristin-The word parole is also a cognate for for being let out of jail guaranteed by your promise to be good or giving your word.
OK this isn't my first thought. My first thought is paroles by Joe Dassin. Pick a song of his: I Love them all. At our Gym we do exercise to "Champes" and it indicates that we do slow exercise.Think American Tai Chi-I can't explain. I looked all over the internet for his lyrics and after finding all about Joe I came away very sad, having learned he died in the 80's. Kristin,Thanks for "Un bout du ceil" in FWAD. June


Nice !

May i add that "Quatrelle" is a phonetic way of writing this, but that is not the name. We, french, nicknamed this car "QUATRE AILES" because it had 4 "wings" above the wheels.
Sometimes, you can read "4L" for the R4, which i know may be a bit confusing !


That was hilarious! I read through silently until I was giggling, which brought my husband from the other room and it was even better when I read your post aloud to him. I'm definitely tone deaf, but that didn't stop me from really getting into the lyrics, oh no, it just gave me more to laugh about! Thank you I needed to exercise my cheeks!

Bill Lloyd en Libye

Merci autre fois pour cette site si rigolo!
I am an incorrigible motorhead and love old cars, so the R4 was a treat. I especially love the Beatles paroles on the back and got a great laugh from Emmanuelle's comment about the 4 wings! As if this underpowered bagnole could ever fly!
Bravo for being brave enough to sing to a stranger.
I am also reminded by the "F" designation, that in Kazakhstan, where I was before Libya, they also have stickers on cars driven by learners, as well as a sticker of a stiletto high heel shoe in the warning triangle to advise of women drivers!C'est curieux, n'est-ce pas?
I also look forward each day to Jules commentaire--you are truly blessed!


lol No, we didn't meant the car could fly !
"Ailes" is just the regular name of some shapes above the wheels. A design term.


Toute ma jeunesse cette voiture avec la 2 cv, bises...


lol! Great way to start the day! Thanks for sharing this....will be singing this all day!

Emily M

Dear Kristi,

I've been reading your thrice weekly for about a month now; this has been the most "rigolo" thus far; I'm a bit biased I'm sure as a lifelong Beatles devotee. I'm trying to pick up French through osmosis before a fantasy trip there materializes and I adore your humor, joy, wisdom, and levity.

Merci beaucoup!


To answer to your question: "A" at the rear of the car stands for "Apprenti". It's more or less equivalent to the brit "L" ("learner", i guess), except that here it's mandatory for those who had their driving licence for less than 2 years (or 1?).
If i remember well, in the UK it's for those who are learning with an adult in the passager seat -more or less the "conduite accompagnée".

Valentina Vassallo


This is my favorite entry yet! I love your writing and this entry is particulary clever! Thank you for providing some much needed distraction during the work day!

Pat Cargill

this song is stuck in my head, LOL!

Kristin Elise


I picked up your book about a year and a half ago after a trip to France and have been reading your blog ever since! All of your photos, especially ones of just ordinary every-day things, are breath taking. Today's (yesterday's avec la déclage horaire?) post was absolutely priceless and even though I'm not familiar with that particular Beatle's song, it's been stuck in my head ever since!

~Kristin~(yes, we really have the same name! Lol, you should have seen how excited I was when I found your book at Borders - I almost broke out into song I was so happy! =)


Merci, Karin, pour le site: "savvy thinker." J'ai ecoute la chanson, "Paroler, Paroler" - There are 3 versions of the song. Great fun!


Very funny story, keep them coming!


Dear Lord, this story was so entertaining and hilarious. Love the Beatles, love your blog, I thought the comment by B.L. pertaining to the stiletto in the warning triangle, was a scream. That is until, women rise up and protest, someone might just get a whack on the head with a justly placed stiletto one day. Merci, Kristin.


I simply had to add to my comment about the stiletto in the triangle, that frankly, as a woman, i wouldn't even want to attempt driving in Kazakhstan. I've heard it is absolutely frightening to drive there, virtually white-knuckle driving most of the time.


Loved this post! I could see myself doing the same thing, when probably singing the English version would have sufficed. Have you met her again?

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