gens du voyage

Photo taken in the nearby town of Suze-la-Rousse
That's my mom, center stage, ever curious about what lies just around the corner. She's a gypsy at heart. Read on, in today's story column.

gens du voyage (zhan-doo-voy-ahzh) noun, masculine, plural

    : people of the voyage, gypsies

French synonyms:  Romas, Gitans, Tsiganes, Manouches, Romanichels, Bohémiens, Sintis

1. Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced French Grammar
2. Learn French in your car : comprehensive grammar and vocabulary for beginners and advanced students
3. Bilingual storybook (Little Red Riding Hood) with  side-by-side text  in French and English. the accompanying CD helps with French pronunciation

A Day in a French Life...
Kristin Espinasse

Mom's gypsy blood is boiling this morning. It all began with that donkey (our neighbor's) that she threatened to swipe... and saunter off with. We talked her out of it. For now, she is bartering, poking, nudging--trying to get me to take her to the art-supplies store. So I said, "Mom, I'll take you anywhere you want to go... if you'll write today's post. This conversation began at 7:58 this morning and, at 8:29, the following missive arrived in my inbox. Enjoy it!

(Mom would like to add one disclaimer: "Please forgive all spelling and punctuation errors and keep in mind that I consumed copious amounts of Jean-Claude's Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Domaine Rouge-Bleu around the picnic table yesterday.

*   *   *

My Darling Kristi, I just realized this morning that I have never told you about my first mentor, the exciting French Circus Madam...


I met her when I was at the most impressionable age of ten.  One day as I wandered up and down the manicured banks of the lower Colorado River in Southern Arizona (our family was wintering in a beautiful resort (trailer-park) located below Lake Havasu), I noticed a garden of enchantment at the end of the path I was following.  The closer I approached, the more I felt the intensity of great expectation pounding in the center of my chest, as I focused in on what filled my entire vision. 
Nestled at the very end of the path, surrounded by a real picket fence (this is 1956!) was the first glimpse of what would shape my future -- color all of my dreams -- and ultimately lead to yesterday's lunch with my true French family here in Provence in 2009.
Tango 62' : a close-up of my Mom's painting of her 62nd birthday dance. The setting was a scene in a children's fairy tale. Little mining carts pilfered from historic Arizona copper mines of the past were placed behind the fence, each one filed to the brim with happy, riotous flowers which shouted in all of their glory and FREEDOM the joy of living the life of a gypsy.  In the center of this happiness lie the first Gypsy trailer I had ever seen -- little wooden steps snugly placed between the boarder of plants that surrounded the little wooden trailer. To me it seemed as though the house floated upon a giant green cloud speckled with flowers. The trim around the door and the entire rooftop seemed to be wooden shingles of some interesting type of carving, each shingle a piece of art. I seem to remember bells hanging from the door and a smokestack coming from the rooftop.  The coup de grâce of course was the faded WWII grayish-green jeep parked beside this masterpiece.
I imagine, the little girl I was, that I approached this gate skipping to the sound of the birds singing in the giant trees that lined the glorious Colorado River, knowing deep in my heart I had discovered a gift that would change my life.  As I peered over the magic gate, the door to the trailer opened, and down the stairs floated the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  She was tall and statuesque, copper hair her crown, skin bronzed by the Arizona sun.  This was the first time I recognized elegance -- God gave me the perfect initiation into the wonder of style and carriage as my eyes devoured every little detail of this wondrous creation of His. be continued on Wednesday....


*   *   *
DSC_0069 If you enjoyed Jules's story, thank you for letting her know! Leave my Mom a note in the comments box. While you're there, tell us whether or not you, too, are a gypsy at heart. Ever wanted to "plant" a gypsy caravan in your own back yard? Or saunter off with the Sintis? Let's be nomads today, and note down more of our "travelling fancies" in the comments box, for all to see, enjoy--and be inspired by!

PS: Regarding Mom's painting, in today's story, don't forget to read the story of her Tango with Jean-Marc.

Related books:
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
The Gypsies: In a rare publishing event, Jan Yoors' The Gypsies became an instant classic upon its original publication.


A vélo in Orange (a nearby town). Missing a little French in your weekend? Become a contributing member of French Word-A-Day... and receive the weekend photo (and sometime film...) edition, Cinéma Vérité, as a gift.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety