gens du voyage


"Zig" and "Zag" a couple of gypsy chicks (...or "pintades") that live up the street. I mentioned them in Saturday's Cinéma Vérité, and showed a few other "characters" from my neighborhood including one Don Juan of a swan.

(boo-zhowt) noun, feminine

    wanderlust; itchy feet 

avoir la bougeotte = to have ants in one's pants, to be always on the move

French definition : envie de voir le monde - a desire to see the world

Example sentence from French news*:
Aujourd'hui, Robert Piché a toujours la bougeotte mais il voyage en sage aventurier. Today Robert Piché still has wanderlust, but he travels as a wise adventurer.

*"Le tour du monde - Commandant Piché : les racines du ciel," Le Devoir

Audio File: hear the French word "bougeotte" and the example sentence: Download Bougeotte Wave . Download Bougeotte MP3

My French Coach by Nintendo: Learn French through mini-games and competition
Speaking Better French: The Key Words and Expressions that You'll Need Every Day

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

The enigma surrounding my mother is beginning to dissipate. It began with her response to a question I posed in a recent post: "Tell us your goals". Mom's were to:

Hit the road, whether in a Porche or on a donkey, find out what lies around that next mountain!

There could not have been a truer statement and, in a nutshell, that is my Mom: 99 percent wanderlust, one percent rooted to the ground. As I read my own mother's comment among a dozen others, I think about Mom's husbands.

All four of them, if they read Mom's answer, would surely be shaking their heads at the day a young bride ran away: whether on foot, by car, by plane... or by Mexican ponga. She hasn't stopped "running" since, and she's never caught up with "that next mountain."  My mom, I am beginning to realize, is a gypsy at heart... which might explain why my childhood home came with wheels.

There in our single-wide trailer, I observed my mom and her "enigmaties" (so as not to say "eccentricities"); beyond the exotic exterior, deep inside her beautiful heart, basking in the twilight of mystery, was the golden seed. A French gypsy had unwittingly sowed it there, on fertile ten-year-old "soul", setting my Mom and, by design, me on a wayward and wonderful journey.

Today I invite you to enjoy part two of Mom's story. (Read part one here.)

Mom writes:

53 years later; as I recline around a lovely French table in the heart of Provence, memories of my first encounter with the French color my thoughts as I inhale the aroma of spring deep in the Rhone Valley. 

(note: Jules is missing from this picture... busy taking the photo from afar!)

I am seated with a bunch of Kristi's French relatives by marriage - my mind fading in and out of the scene - unable to follow their lively conversation. I reminisce once again of my first encounter with JOSEPHINE - the first and only Frenchwoman who took up her brush and painted my future on the rainbows of dreams.  Of course she was a GYPSY!!!
Josie's first words to me were "Bonjour, Cherie, comment vas-tu?"

My ears perked up and they were filled with this strange and melodious sing-song chatter....what on earth was this? At ten years old and in 1956 (pre-t.v. and coming from the mountains of northern Utah) I was ignorant of France and the most beautiful language in the world.
Josie's voice floated down the stairs enhancing this already enchanting memory.  Her slippers were a metallic gold, like the sparks of light bouncing off of her hair this late afternoon.  I didn't know which end of her to focus on first -- it was all so magnifique.  After her shoes my eyes caught the repeated glimmer of gold woven throughout the hemline of her dress.  In and out, the strands of gold swam through the heavier layers of thin taupe-colored yarn that constituted the knitted entirety of her dress. So many firsts for me in that treasured moment of time... a foreign language... metallic gold shoes... colored hair... a dress made of  strands of gold... BIG DIAMONDS on graceful fingers... and of course the finale: a glass of rose-colored liquid in a beautiful cup, fused on a stick of glass with a tiny upside-down saucer attached. How great it was to be ten years old, to have your body and soul quake with expectation and wonder of what is around the next corner!  At this moment I was seduced into the wandering, dreamy life I would continue to pursue with joy every day of my life.
I was invited through the gate into this magical garden of delights in the fall of 1956 -- a door I stumbled upon that opened up door after door... each doorway introducing me to the magic and wonder of life.  Josie and her adorable husband, Jimmy, lit the fires of language, history, archeology, cuisine, cocktail-hour, style & elegance, the art of sharing (with a ten-year-old)... mentoring to all of the little sprouts of my senses and soul.
There was so much to discover about Josie and Jimmy; of course I had to share this find with my 13-year-old brother, Rusty.  And so our adventure began.  When Josie and Jimmy met Rusty, I was kind of pushed into the background, understandably so, because Rusty was a star -- a STAR whose brightness couldn't be denied.  I was fine with this, mostly because he was my star too. Underneath my skin resided a solitary soul who could turn on and off her brightness when need be. 

*     *     *

I hope you have enjoyed my Mom's stories.  If you would like to respond to them, please do so here, in the comments box. Merci d'avance!


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.

Debbie Chavers

Wow! I love it, words that paint a picture!
From one kindred heart to another. The last sentence spoke to me personally. I miss you guys and your encouragement.


Thank you, Debbie. We're not going anywhere, so please stick around and we will too!

Cynthia in Missouri, USA

What a wonderful memory that was shared with us today. Merci


Magical story. Merci, Jules.


Hi Kristin,
Zig and Zag!... Perfect names for this couple of guinea fowls you first showed us on your latest "Cinéma Vérité". In addition to your lovely video, I was very pleased to meet the local "characters", including Jules's sweetheart donkey! As for your Don Juan of a swan, could he be called (...)? The name starts with "V" (no, not Victor). Go and have a look at the suggestion mentioned this morning in "Cinéma Vérité".

Hi Jules,
The story of "the golden seed", sowed unwittingly in that vulnerable little girl's soul, makes me wonder how you would have led your life if you hadn't met Joséphine and her most attractive gypsy trailer. Has the golden seed made you discover and develop your true (hidden) personality? Most probably so.
Looking back, 53 years later, the fantastic and colourful encounter seems to be the powerful cornerstone of your life.

I loved your description of the glass of wine! Did you learn more about Jose & Jimmy at the time? What was Rusty's version of the encounter?

I seem to remember one of your comments in a newsletter mentioning your dream of "une roulotte" (a gypsy trailer)... in France ... and you drinking wine... I don't think I am just dreaming about it...

A beautifully told story of vibrant and colourful memories that could be translated into painting, and music... Thank you so much, Jules!


I didn't drink any Domaine Rouge Bleu wine at lunchtime... so, no need to add a third "s" to the wine glaSS. Sorry! I'm sure Kristin could delete it.
Trying to find this dream about a gypsy trailer mentioned above. I haven't given up yet!

Have a lovely day!

KT Curran

All the gypsies out here are smiling at your words this morning. Tres magnifique, ma belle amie.


Rosalinda B. Roll

Your mom has a wonderful feel for words. The story is full of stardust, fairy dust and reminds me of when I was also filled with wonder. One of my teachers told us, "Never lose your sense of wonder." That seems to be the secret of eternal youth.

Joyce Hoover

Your wonderful free spirit is magical. Being born a Quaker, in which I am prowd of too, but oh my,I am so inhibited. I am always out there looking for magic and my spirit. I love your stories and you make my everyday brighter. Joyce Hoover

Natalie Branchini

Love it Jules. Love you, love Kristin, love it all. I picture the first scene of Wizard of Oz where Dorothy stumbles upon the carnival fortune teller who turns out to be the Wizard. Only French, beautiful, beautiful, beautifully French! I bet you even have the ruby slippers!

I am anxious to hear more...more about the mysterious, magnificent Rusty too!


Dear Jules,
Your story has left me breathless with delight. What magic spell she cast over you that fateful day I can only imagine! Or, did the three Princes of Serendip guide two kindrid spirits to a "chance" encounter in a most unlikely palce?

Fred Caswell

Cheres Kristi and "Jewels",

"Jewels",I am a bit awed by the depth of your spirit &/or soul combined with the power and beauty of your writings. Tu es un poete extraordinaire et un bijou, sans doute! I hope you are pleased by the name, "jewels", that seems to me so appropriate for you.

Kristi, your mom gave you so much -- beauty of body, soul, character, and charming literary skills which are ever developing. You have such a great husband it is unimaginable to me that you could ever, like Jewels, have more than one. All of us who know you and your family are blessed.


Dear Jules,

More, more...tell us more. How long did you know Jimmy and Josephine? What next?

By the way, I am so happy to learn our new word. Je suis sure que j'ai la bougeotte. When I got married my sweet husband told me, I need to tell you something, I am not like you, I am earthbound and don't move around. He was not lying either. But I have you guys here now and the beautiful storied.

I love zig and zag, living in a big city I am not sure if I even know what they are entirely, I assume related to turkeys.

Happy Wednesday to you and yours.


Susan W

Marvellous story Jules, beautifully expressed.

Patty B

Oh Jules, Do I have a gypsy for you! In 2001 I was walking above the town of Oppede, (12 KM East of Cavaillon in the Luberon) with a friend ,and we came upon an adorable red gypsy wagon with lace curtains and a cat in the window. There were flowers everywhere. We approached and were welcomed by the most amazing little woman dressed like a gypsy with long frizzy gray hair and lots of jewelry. Her name was Lizzie Napoli. She invited us into her amazing,fantastically decorated, comfortable trailer. We found out she is an author and watercolorist. You would love her and her books. A few of her books are: EN PROVENCE, GORDES ET L'ABBAYE DE SENANQUE, PROVENCE, and SI J'AVAIS UN MAS EN PROVENCE. She illustrates all her books with fabulous watercolors. She gave me 3 books and autographed them. One said "Pour Patricia Un autre soleil Celui qui sent le thyme et la lavande Avec toute ma sympathie, Lizzie Napoli, ete 2001. The other "Pour Patricia et Pierre Encore quelques villages a connaitrre". I later found 2 more of her books in Gordes which I drove back to her to be autographed.

She lives in Paris in the winter and summers in Oppede. A couple of years later I returned to Oppede to find her. I found the trailer, but she wasn't there. Dommage! She is a wonderful character whom you would love. You might go to Oppede and ask the villagers if she still summers there. It is worth the trip and the village is fantastic with a wonderful church.

The books are in hardback and paperback and published by EQUINOX.

I am returning to the area this August and will try to find her again.

Patty B


Chere Jules, in 1956 I also was 10 years old. Alas there was no encounter with a Josie and Jimmy in my young life, but oh what wonders can be wrought from an active imagination. My grandfather used to tease me about being part "gypsy" and I always fancied that there was a lovely Bohemian tucked somewhere in my grandparents' lineage.
Merci for sharing with us. J'adore votre esprit d'aventure.

Patty B

Jules, Here I am again. Google Lizzie and find the entry of her life (MA Vie) She writes it in French but Jean Marc can translate for you. She is quite the poet. Patty B


Dear Kristi:
Now I see where your story-telling gift comes from. Your mother is a great story-teller! I felt I was with her meeting that great gypsy lady and her magical garden.
Thank you for a great trip.

Lynette Simser

Jules - its a lovely story. I can close my eyes and see it myself! You must have many more to tell with all of your wondering and wandering. Keep sharing - especially for those of us wonderers and wanderers who have paused in one place - temporarily.

Kristin - thank you for sharing your mom with us!


Kristin and Jules,
The enigma of life will always be with us, n'est pas? Otherwise where would the wonder be? Thank you for a beautiful picture of a little girl wandering into a strange alluring place, and meeting beauty, not fear. I imagined gold like in the paintings by Gustav Klimt.


Jules, you have a gift for writing - go find out what is around the next mountain and then write a book! Would be a great excuse to keep finding out what IS around the next mountain... enjoyed it!


I think you've described a 'perfect moment' Jules. I once spent 5 months in Reno, Nevada, so the American West background is quite vivid for me. I had a girlfriend there, but let's not talk about that.
Perhaps my wanderlust also came from the 'perfect moment' I had at 10: On TV, I saw Francis Chichester returning to England after sailing around the world. In a flash, I realized that the world was HUGE! I remember saying to myself, 'It's THAT big?'

Evelyn Jackson

Hi Jules! Don't you just love being a person with 'bougeotte?' I was thrilled when I read Krisi's word...finally one that describes ME!
I remember being 10 in 1956 as well. My dad was the one in our family with 'bourgeotte.' We used to read our 'wish book' (the road atlas!) from cover to cover saying 'I wish we could go there' at every turn of the page. We wandered mostly around California and then across the southern US to Georgia where my mom was from...camping all the way!

winn gregory

this is the most wonderful writing you have done, don't stop


Bougeotte... I like this word and it's connotations and sound! Also love your *gypsy story* Jules...full of colour, fire and future premonitions...thank you!

Are they windchimes hanging from your tree? If so they make a good background noise for your story telling :-)

Jennifer in OR

So glad to read the rest of the story! I named one of my daughters Josephine--such a perfectly lovely name!! The words about Josephine "...the first and only Frenchwoman who took up her brush and painted my future on the rainbows of dreams" were so beautifully written.


Gretel : yes, those are windchimes--made by my Uncle Tucker from his garage in San Francisco. The Mistral wind gives them plenty of exercise and I have to untangle them all the time.

Mille mercis to all of you for your encouraging feedback. I hope Mom will continue to tell her story. Your notes are motivating her to do so.

Diane Stanley

Dear Kristin and Jules,
Hi again from Oak Ridge, New Jersey!
I have had wonderlust(la bougeotte)all my life. As a result, I and my husband have done lots of traveling. My husband describes himself as "inertia;" He only needs a push, and then he keeps going. I have been that "push" which has kept him traveling to many places all these years.
The place we have visited the most is France. We have seen many French regions, but still not enough for me. If time, circumstance and good health permit, I would love to see even more of France.
I was 10 in 1955. Around that time I was greatly influenced by my step-grandmother, Simone. She had lived from birth to eighteen in Brussels, Belgium. After which she lived in Brazil, Argentina and Cuba. She met my American Grandfather, Frank, in Cuba; they then settled in Coral Gables, Florida.
Simone spoke French to me when I asked her to and Spanish to her maids. I sparkled inside when I heard these "exotic" languages. I later became a French teacher and also studied Spanish for quite some time.
I'm not sure whether I ever told Simone how much she influenced my life. I do know that she cared very much about me and I truly loved her very much. I never knew my real grandmother, who had died before I was born,but Simone did a great job taking her place.


Wow. Beautiful writing. Your mum's stories are so wonderful.

And interesting birds, I've never seen them before. Will have to look them up.


I loved the story too, delightfully written...but I have questions. Where and how to you meet Josephine? Did you stumble into her yard, meet her in town?

C Medrano

Again, with much excitement your story touches me. Merci beaucoup!


Do you know the song Bohémienne from the musical Notre Dame de Paris? It would be the perfect background for Jules writiing, I think.


Carol: thanks for the info on the song. I've just added the clip to the post, above. Glad you mentionned it (and great to discover the song!).

Diane: Thanks for sharing Simone. She sounds like she was a lovely belle grand-mère :-)


Jules, please tell us more. You also paint lovely word pictures and weave a wonderful story.


I understand where Kristi got her writing skills--listening to Jules as she was growing up.


There we are............. I did find Jules' dream about a gypsy trailer. It was in the 2nd January Newsletter (the one with a goose at the window). At that time, of course, we didn't know anything about the story of the 10 years old girl's encounter with Josephine and her gypsy trailer. Now, it all makes perfect sense!

(EXTRACT from 2nd January Newsletter)
I have begged Kristi and Jean-Marc for a Gypsy Caravan to live in down by the creek at the vineyard. I have sent them numerous photos and also a photo of the perfect black and white Gypsy horse to pull the caravan around. If they gave me one for my 63rd birthday I could attach a trailer to the back of the caravan with unique artistic cage built out of the bamboo down by the creek. What a great way to spend these later years of my life...I'll bet I could get that rig over to the village for my afternoon aperitif.
... I'm trying to visualise the creek and the vineyard... a caravan + trailer containing a bamboo cage...

Lots of love, Jules, and have a very sunny day!

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.)