Que Faire a Aix-en-Provence? / What to do in Aix-en-Provence?


Meet Madame Alberte. It's cold out, but inside Madame's nest there's enough warmth for new friends: feathered, furry, and foreign, like me. Come along and see...

mamie (mah-me) noun, feminine

    : granny

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

I was hoping she would talk to me. Chances were, she would, for as I advanced along one of the many ruelles that make up the village of Roquemaure... yes, as I drew closer, so did she.

From her little, lace-lined first-floor window, she caught my eye. The closer I came, the more she leaned out of her fenêtre... until we might have brushed shoulders with each other, as two pedestrians crossing on a cobbled street.

"Bonjour, Madame."
"Bonjour," said she. "What a beautiful day it is!" She declared, and I knew right then and there she was a Glass Half Full type. In fact, it was very cold outside, and my hands took turns warming themselves first in one coat pocket, then in the other. How else could I keep a hand free to photograph the village surrounding me?

I paused to take a picture of the window next to Madame's and watched, surreptitiously, as Mamie studied me.

 Rustic Window

"May I take your photo?" I asked, transferring my gaze from the somber shutters... to the window with the bright stickers and colorful mamie leaning out.

"Bien sûr! Mais..." (and here, Madame reacted as any modest mamie might) "je ne suis pas très présentable."
"You look lovely," I assured her, while admiring the auburn color of her hair and the little heart pendant hanging on a chain. Madame smiled softly, revealing a single "pearl" just beyond her lips... With only one left, it was indeed precious. Next, she closed her mouth for the photo.


When I showed her her portrait she agreed, "Ce n'est pas mal du tout!" said she, as in is that really me?
"May I post your photo? I have a blog..."
"Un grog? You would like a grog?"
"No. A blog... I have an on-line journal and would like to post your photo."
"Ah, bien sûr! Please mention my son, who has a vegetable stand just outside of town... le jardin "Île de Miémar" à Roquemaure!" She added, with a chuckle, "the publicité won't hurt him!"

With that she told me stories of her heroic and helpful son, as any mother might. As she spoke I stole glances inside of her home-sweet-home. There was a chatty parrot, "Paco," to her left  and a floppy-eared rabbit to her right. I longed to see what other furry and feathered friends she had tucked away inside.

Perhaps it wasn't too late to change my story... from a blog... back to "I'd like a grog!"? Mamie could have the warmed rum all for herself and I would sit beside the rabbit and listen, cozily, to Mamie's 73-year history.

Comments are appreciated. Thanks for responding to this story--or sharing it with a friend.

French Vocabulary & Audio File:
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the following French words Download Wav or MP3

Ma grand-mère française préfère que je l'appelle "Granny" au lieu de "Mamie". Et ma grand-mère américaine préfère que je l'appelle "Grand-mère, au lieu de "Grandma." Elles sont compliquées, les "grandmothers," n'est-ce pas? My French grandmother prefers that I call her "Granny" instead of "Mamie".  And my American grandmother prefers that I call her "Grand-mère" instead of "Grandma". They are complicated, grandmothers, aren't they?

une ruelle (f) = alley(way), lane
la fenêtre (f) = window
la mamie (f) = granny
bien sûr, mais je ne suis pas très présentable = of course, but I am not very presentable
ce n'est pas mal du tout = it's not bad at all
la publicité (f) = advertising


Emile Henry 

A French standby. Strong, durable, all Emile Henry cookware can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven, can go under a broiler and in the microwave; freezer and dishwasher safe. The natural clay is unsurpassed for conducting and retaining heat.

Lavender sachetsFleurs de Lavande: A petite version of our fragrant Provencal sachets. Filled with tiny lavender flowers, these sachets add a lovely fragrance to any drawer.

Nutella Nutella® spread, in its earliest form, was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy... to extend the chocolate supply. Order. (from NutellaUSA.com)

Pronounce it Perfectly in French

Pronounce it Perfectly in French with Audio CD: this program emphasizes speaking, sound discrimination, and standard intonation patterns that are typical of native French speakers. Words and sounds are put into a variety of conversational contexts for students of French to practice and perfect.

A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey Dokey

Smokey says: Sometimes we get a bad picture. We mustn't get discouraged. Instead, remember: we all look better in person, especially when we smile!

By the way, these flowers are for you as a reminder: Never mind the bad "posies"—and don't forget to smell the rosies.


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