Rasteau old French vine trunk feuilles vignes vineyard
No, these are not nids-de-poules, just overgrown pebbles. Given the choice between featuring an unsightly pothole... and a scenic paysage,  well -- the latter won out!

What do you call a French linguist get-together in which idioms and & expressions flow like beer... and take on a bit of farmyard flair?

Answer (hint: say it with a French accent):  l'Animal House  (lah-nee-mal hoos)

OK, so much for a corny joke and a bad rhyme) but, you know what they say: it is good to go out on a limb once in a while, shake things up, watch feathers fly!

Speaking of limbs, or branches--those popular hangout hubs for our feathered friends--enjoy today's bird-themed expression: le nid-de-poule.  And, for those of you who enjoy the educational comments that come in, following these posts, you'll appreciate "Newforest's" latest offering: "Petite Parenthèse (Digression) sur les Cris des Animaux en Français" (don't miss this list of French animal sounds.)

And, regarding comments... earlier I hinted that when language-lovers get together they really know how to party! Here's a case in point: after the most recent post, in which we learned about those rowdy, often raunchy chansons paillardes... many of us hung around--virtually, in the comments box--singing beer songs into the wee hours of the morning. Come to think of it... maybe that was a one-woman party after all? Anyway, I did enjoy singing this French favorite, no matter how off-key:

Lève ton verre
Et surtout ne le renverse pas

Et porte le
Au frontibus
Au nasibus
Au mentibus
Au ventribus
Au sexibus
Et glou, et glou, et glou...

Il (elle) est des nôtres
Il (elle) a bu son verre comme les autres
C'est un (une) ivrogne,
Ça se voit rien qu'à sa trogne.


And now, after what may be the longest digression in the editorial history of French Word-A-Day, I present today's word and story, by my soon-to-be 14-year-old son, Max:

nid-de-poule (nee-deuh-pool) noun, masculine
    : pothole
    : kind of dessert

nid (nest) de (of) poule (chicken)

French definition
: un trou dans une chaussée défoncée
(a hole in a  worn, damaged road).

Audio file: (some rug rat stole my microphone so there'll be no sound clip today...)

Les Nids-de-poule
par Maxime Espinasse

Dans mon allée pour aller jusqu'à chez moi, il y a plein de nids de poule. Un jour j'ai eu l'idée de les boucher. Figurez-vous que le 3ème nid de poule était occupé justement par une poule. BIZARRE!

J'ai essayé de faire partir la poule. Impossible. Alors je l'ai enlevé et il y avait des œufs en dessous d'elle! Je les ai deplacés mais, tout à coup, le coq arriva! Et c'est à cause de ça que j'ai laissé tomber le projet.


English translation:
In my driveway, on the way to my house, there are lots of potholes [or, what we call in French, "chickens' nests"]. One day, I had the idea of patching them up. And wouldn't you know that the 3rd "chicken's nest" was occupied, accordingly, by a chicken! BIZARRE!

I tried to make the chicken leave. Impossible. And so I took it out ... and saw that there were eggs beneath her! I moved them but, all of a sudden, the rooster arrived! And this is why I gave up on the project.

I hope you enjoyed my son's fictional, somewhat surreal, story! If so, why not let him know in the comments box? To read his last story, about the toads that live--once lived--in our pool... click here.

One more thing... What does a nid-de-poule ("chicken's nest") have in common with a dos d'âne ("donkey's back")? Aha! Give us your answer in today's comments box (and thanks, Jed, for the term dos-d'âne!)


French vineyard horse cheval  tatted handmade fly mask
Sneak peek at Saturday's photo bouquet, coming soon

Three Random Words:
le mal du pays = homesickness
le juron (m) = swearword => dire des jurons = to swear
le taulard, la taularde = convict, con

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They are both a pain for the car and the persons in it!!!


Merci, Max pour un autre l'histoire. When the tough-guy "cock of the walk" comes in, everything stops...

I wonder: what could you do to distract the rooster and relocate the eggs to a "safe" nest nearby?? Perhaps a mirror! Messieur Rooster sees himself in a mirror and so enamoured of his elegance, he follows as you deftly walk backwards, luring him away. Placing the mirror against a nearby tree, he just stands there admiring his beau visage, strutting and preening at his magnificence. Et voila! Max to the rescue, the eggs are tucked away, out of the road, where Maman Poule nestles down on her eggs. All is well - unless of course, another adventure is in store for Mr. Rooster et famille!


Kristin, I am intrigued by the crocheted adornment on the horse! On the way to the county fair?! Very interesting.

William Morrow

I did so thourghly enjoy your posting today Max it brought back some very fond memory's of when my kids were young and we lived on a small farm. Not much bigger than a house and a barn. We also had some chickens and a very mean rooster who would attack them when they'd go and gather eggs.


Dear Max,
What a great story! I wish we had a chicken in a hole in our driveway (what I really want is a chicken in a coop in our backyard, but we have too many foxes). Anyway, the best we can boast regarding the local "fauna" is a racoon in a whole in our tree! She peeks out at us and likes to eat pears. I think we might have "kits" in a few weeks.


Hello Kristin,
“Des nids de poule”? Not very aesthetic, and I prefer the display of “le lit de cailloux” you chose for us on the first photo. What about some illustrations of "nids de poule" and articles in French, coming from ... Canada?


To fill up the potholes along a path at the end of my road, we could do with the “cailloux & galets” (pebbles) you seem to have in abundance in the Provençal fields!

What an exciting little story! Thanks for the translation. Here is “le bruitage, en français” (sound effects, in French) to accompany the scene:
→ Cot cot codec / cot cot codac / cot cot cot cot.......... (yes, the hen)
→ Cocoricoooooo! Cocoricoooooo! … (the boss!)
→ Piou-piou-piou-piou-piou-piou … pioupioupiou....

To complete my posts (see Comments -6th May Newsletter) I'll add details concerning “le poussin” (chick):
Le poussin piaille, piaule. Verbes piailler, piauler.
Le poussin fait piou-piou.

Kristin, I guess your Cinéma Vérité on Saturday will be very exciting! Like Pat, I am puzzled by the horse's handmade (crochet? Macramé?) browband + blinkers 'all in one'!


Great story Max! :)


Hi Max,

I really liked both of your stories, but I especially liked the pothole story. As a former teacher of middle school kids I would encourage you to take that story to the next level and tell us what happens next. I will be waiting to see what you do next.



Thanks for the feedback. I'll let Max know he has messages waiting for him here!

Just one thing... when I said "fictional" and "surreal" -- I was referring to those chickens... qui n'existe pas (if only the potholes didn't exist either)! In his story, Max was playing with the word images. This was easy for me to understand (as I know we don't, hélas, have chickens), but it led to a little bit of confusion, I think!

Sharon: what a thoughtful challenge. Thanks. I'll see if Max is up for it! I'm beginning to wonder what happens next now, too!


Pat: isn't that a fancy adornment?... and the horse wasn't even on its way to a show, but wears this lovely lacey (lens protector?...) while labouring the earth over at Domaine du Trapadis. See another photo, from one year ago, in this archive post:


Well, if nids des poule are pot holes, then I vote for dos d'ane being speed bumps! :)

Cheryl Matzker

Max, merci bien pour ta petite histoire et pour la traduction! Ça fait plaisir de te lire!



Hi Kristin:

That song brought back memories from my time in highschool. Our teacher taught us the song about the ivrogne. I had forgotten all about it, till I saw it just now. We went to St. Etienne as a class trip, and boy did that song ever become our theme song :).

Marianne Rankin

Cher Max,

Merci de votre nouvelle histoire - elle etait bien distrayante!

Je voudrais suggerer que vous ecriviez d'autres histoires, et ensuite, les mettre ensemble dans une collection. Un petit livre de vos histoires pourrait etre sur une table a la maison, ou les amis et voisins pourraient les lire - et probablement aussi rire!

Merci encore.


Merci Max pour cette histoire tres interessante. Un jour j'aimerais bien voir un vrai poulet assis sur des oeux dans un nid de poule. Alas, que j'habite dans une grande ville, et je vois beaucoup d'animaux, des squirrels, des coyotes, des raccoons mais pas de poulets. Mes chats aiment s'asseoir dans nids de poulets qu'is creusent dans le jardin quand ils ont chaud.

Bon Mercredi!

I hope you understand my french! : )


~~~ About a certain nest ~~~
The little scene I've been watching for a while on my laptop gives a lot of joy to hundreds and hundreds of viewers who love 'our feathered friends', the goshawks.
-> a hawk = un faucon
-> a goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) → en français: “L'autour des palombes”
I found this lovely photo of a couple:

Back to the nest scene in a little corner of the New Forest (South of England) http://www.newforestgateway.org/Wildcam/LiveCameras/tabid/117/Default.aspx
Mrs Goshawk may let you have a peep at her two chicks hatched this very morning. She is very busy with the 2 hawklets + 2 unhatched eggs. Dad G. is coping very well with his search / hunt for food and taking over when Mum has a bite & a little rest.
If you're watching the live video, you may hear other birds in the distance. You'll easily recognise the song of the cuckoo in the forest - which reminds me of "la chanson enfantine française" about "le coucou" (cuckoo) & "le hibou" (owl). Lovely to sing "en canon" (in a round).

Dans la forêt lointaine – In the far away forest
On entend le coucou. – You can hear the cuckoo.

Du haut de son grand chêne, – From the top of the big oak,
Il répond au hibou: – He says to the owl:

Cou-cou, hibou, Cou-cou, hibou, Cou-cou, hibou, Cou-cou. BIS
(Peek-a-boo, owl, peek-a-boo …........)
Cou-cou, cou-cou. On entend le coucou. BIS
Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo. You can hear the cuckoo.

Just been reading the report sent 20 minutes ago by “Coco” (my friend, 3 doors away). The goshawk family is eating very well!


Thank you Kristin for checking my blog. What a tremendous pleasure entierement POUR MOI!
You have a lovely family- just adorable.



A fantastic post, as always.
Love the photo of the tree too, funky shape!


Hi Max....did you know that there is a breakfast called "toad in a hole" ( ummm.."crapaud dans un trou"?)...perhaps you could make this with all your eggs you have collected from the "nids-de-poule"... that is after you have distracted the rooster using Pat's mirror!

PS Glad to hear toads don't live in your pool anymore! :-)


Very apt for Max's story!

Les poussins du mois d'avril, sur la gerbe font leur nid.


Bonne idée, Gretel, mais, la poule couvait les oeufs, donc, Max ne pourra pas les ramasser et les manger! Je pense que le truc du miroir de Pat sera bien utile à Max, s'il veut déplacer le nid sans alarmer le coq.
Max, à toi de t'arranger pour trouver une bonne cachette dans laquelle tu pourras y ajuster le 'nid', avec la complicité de la mère poule!
On attend l'éclosion des poussins avec impatience...


Hi Newforest... just watched the live clip for the baby Goshawks...they seem to be all tucked away in bed at the moment! Forgot it was night so must pay another trip back to the nest a little later!! Shhhhhhh.....


Gretel, I hope you'll manage to see them. How many hours ahead of us are you?
I watched the 8pm first 'evening meal'. The hawlets (not even 1 day old) ate bits of meat Mum pushed in their beaks. Cheerful vocalizations. What a fascinating scene! They are adorable. The cuckoo was heard in the distance. Mum Goshawk left the nest at 20:07, finished the carcasse, then flew back 2 minutes later to her little ones. All of them happily asleep now.
Light and noise will start again between 4 and 5 am here (and the cuckoo will start his calls). Will it be lunchtime/early afternoon for you?


Ouais. Speed bump.


Newforest: Cou-cou, cou-cou... Thanks for the song "enfantine" and the links. I didn't see much last night, but was rewarded this morning, with a glimpse of those hawklets! On my way to see what la famille Goshawk is up to now...


I am 8 hours ahead of you ( and expecting my son home from school any second!) I have been enjoying listening to the musical wake-up calls from the early-birds on a cool New Forest morning as I have been working at my desk this afternoon....beautiful!! The babies, even though I havn't been able to see them yet as it is still too dark, have certainly woken from their slumber and demanding breakfast!!! A big thank you to both Max and Newforest for their stories of "nests"...I would have never have been able to witness the second day in the life of a baby goshawk in the southern part of England otherwise...wonderful!!


Good afternoon, Gretel. I saw the breakfast segment in the "day in the life of baby goshawk." A lot of excitement!... until the screen froze. For the next 5 minutes all I could see was Mama's leg. And, what a leg! Mama has style like a Frenchwoman. Did you see her stripey pants? Just peeking out of that gray wing-cape. So mode! Pair those with the golden escarpins and she is ready for the catwalk. Thankfully for us she's got her priorities straight, and those adorable white fluffballs (currently calling for her for comfort) are much more meaningful than the jet-set life.


I have to go to London today and will miss watching the nest. Gretel, I hope you'll be able to catch a feeding session and will enjoy the excitement...
Kristin, I hope you meet wonderful Daddy G... Mum G. has been busy preening for the last 10 minutes.
2nd day for the babies.... Must go now


I justed watched a few minutes of the live cam. Maman Goshawk was nestled down, headed tucked, so will try to see the babies later. THANK YOU, Newforest, for this marvelous site. It is remarkable to be able to see something like this. Mille mercis.

Kristin, I just looked up the recette for nid-de-poule...oh my. My kind of dessert! I thought I remembered a similar recipe in the Joy of Cooking. When I checked this morning it was "Oeufs a la Neige" or floating islands--way off, as these are "islands" of meringue floating in custard. Still sounds delicious. Custard, like chocolate, always appropriate!

I loved the receipe site and am working out translation, butit's fairly straightforward. When I was growing up (North Carolina), we always had desserts at lunch and dinner. It was considered an integral part of the meal. My Mom used to cook a custard pie with fresh peach halves in it. I remember walking into the kitchen as the late afternoon sun was shining in and there my favorite pie sat, cooling on the washing machine (yes, it was in the kitchen...the dryer, of course, being in the backyard between two uprights) the golden peaches glowing in the yellow custard...oh my. Our memories of food are quite potent! Vive les desserts!

Bruce T. Paddock

I'm guessing the crocheted thingie is to keep the flies out of the horse's eyes. Here in New England, such accoutrements are much more prosaic.


Thank you Pat for bringing up the "nid de poule" for dessert! Never saw and never ate any. This is what I found on the internet -> recipe and 4 yummy pictures!
I also learned the culinary meaning of "une ganache" -> "Crème à base de chocolat fondu et de crème fraîche".

It was too late last night when I came back from London so I missed the evening meal session on the 'live video from the goshawk nest'.
Very windy at the moment, but Maman Goshawk is there, motionless, keeping the nest nice and warm.

Here is an extract of the hatching of the 2nd chick, on 13th May -- first chick already hatched a few hours before.


Just seen Maman G. rolling the remaining 2 eggs and then rocking several times left-right-left-right-left...
All quiet and peaceful now.

The live video will go on for weeks and I hope you'll have a chance to see the 4 hawklets growing up - fledging expected around the end of June.


(so far all I have seen with my binoculars over the last day or two is Maman G sittting very attentively on her nest along with the chatter of her little ones...my timing must be all upside down here so I seem to miss out on seeing the little ones...never mind enjoying the comments from those watching and will continue to have a peek as I am sure I will spy a hawlet yet!) Thanks Kristin et al...I know a new post is due shortly but I must say I have really enjoyed Max's "chicken nests"...a world a million miles away from my own! I promise I will be a little quieter next post :-).....


Great story, Max! ANOTHER super writer in the family, I see! I love the literal translation of words and expressions. When I told some French friends the explanation for our "Heintz 57" expression meaning a dog of "mixed breed", they countered with one of my new favorites, translated meaning, "Accident at the crossroads"..You can do the French!


Hi Max!

Great story...keep up the wonderful writing!


Nice pic by J-M of the working horse with crocheted thingie...what is the French name for this? Provides protection against the elements, I suppose. "reche" good word - I just wish I had a enuf brain cells left to memorize all the words/phrases I am so generously being given. I love this site.

Many thanks again to Newforest for the words/phrases en francais. I continue watching the Maman Goshawk et bebes. Ah, the world is so great big and so small, all at the same time.


G'day there...
i was wondering if anyone could explain the l'animal house pun to me... i realize it has something to do with nids

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