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


Walk or drive or bus or bike... but go somewhere new & inspiring this week.

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mi-vitesse (me-vee-tess) adverb

    : half-speed

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

I drove to Roquemaure for my mom. I did it because I got tired, fed up with feeling guilty. You need to get out, Mom had said. Park your car by the river and write in a different environment. Go and interview the up the cheese-maker. Drive somewhere new each day....

As I said, I drove to Roquemaure because my conscience told me to. I pepped myself up for the journey using a little altruistic philosophy, "What good are we as homebodies, self-conserving casanières?" I thought about the Monsieur and Madame* back in Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues... I would never have met them had I stayed at home, and they might never have smiled that way, the way they did at that certain hour, on that certain day.

And so I pulled on my boots, packed a pomme and some pain ... and headed out, direction Orange, to the Gard, au lointain.

I had driven through Roquemaure once before, last spring, with Mom—on the way to Max's basketball game. It shouldn't be that hard to retrace my "steps," I reasoned. By my calculations, Roquemaure was a 30-minute drive from our farm....

On the outskirts of Orange I passed a bustling marché paysan—red cabbage, carrots, and lettuce coloring up the stands beneath the gray of an ordinary winter day. Farther outside of town, I recognized the apricot trees! They were missing their delicate pink buds (how I had wanted to photograph them last time! but we were running late for basketball). Soon, I reached the Rhône river and stared at the massive metal bridge that would soon close the gap between an ordinary life—and the novelty awaiting me on the other side.

Driving cautiously over the pont, I sensed a tickle of excitement and noticed how the car picked up horsepower, as certain animals do. The next moments were lived at full speed, instead of the usual mi-vitesse.

I smiled knowing Mom would be proud of me, not to mention a few other adventurous ones—now looking down on this late bloomer, smiling at what they see.

 Stolen Kiss (c) Kristin Espinasse
Postnote: I soon made it to my destination in time to witness this stolen kiss... and to meet a few new friends. Perhaps I'll share them with you sometime. Yes?

Comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day!
Question: if you were to steal a moment out of your busy week: where would you spend it? And with whom?

French Vocabulary and Audio File: Download Wav or MP3
A l'approche de la ville, le train avance à mi-vitesse. Approaching town, the train advanced at half-speed.

le casanier, la casanière
= stay-at-home, homebody
une pomme (f) = apple
le pain (m) = bread
au lointain = in the distance
le marché paysan (m) = the farmers' market
le pont (m) = bridge
mi-vitesse = half-speed

Words in a French Life Blogger Espinasse has taken a step backward in the evolution of media by converting selected contents of her Web log into a book. Beginning students of conversational French will profit from many of these brief entries, and supplemental tables of expressions go far to demystify French idioms for anyone wishing to speak and write more fluent French. —Booklist

 Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

Got Nintendo? Playing My French Coach for 15 to 20 minutes a day is all you need to become fluent in French

Wireless Reading Device.
Readers LOVE it. Kindle

At Vincent's market in Phoenix, with Michael, from California.

A few recent interviews that you may enjoy (I know Mom will...):

A Taste of Garlic "Kristin Espinasse Interview" by Keith Eckstein

Blurb Blog: "From Blog to Book to Sales" by Eileen Hansen

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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cynthia in the french alps

Thanks for the reminder. Since I work at home like you and live in a small city in the French Alps that doesnt have much to do, I tend to stay at home all day too. It's not good for the emotional or physical health, I think. But like you, I have to commute an hour to get somewhere with like-minded people or interesting things to do so it is a challenge. I look forward to reading about your new friends. Cynthia

Sheila Campbell

You've made me think about all the little adventures that are right outside my door -- I just have to walk outside a few blocks and discover what's new in my neighborhood...a new store that sells caramels. a new Indian restaurant. I'll go out and visit one today.


Get out for sure but don't lose your way, Kristen. My mother would say "Keep your eye on the indicator" as a general admonition. Is there anyone who remembers that auto dashboard gauges were called indicators?

50 degree temps in GUSTY Marietta, Pa,


How about The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes?

It's currently 28 degrees in Woodstock, IL
Current: Cloudy
Wind: SW at 10 mph
Humidity: 84%

Bill in St. Paul

Kristin, maybe you and Jules have hit on why I'm feeling a little "punk"! I haven't gotten out as much as I should. I love to explore new and old places (old as in age and also having been there before). I love getting lost in rural France because you can always find your way out. However, driving in a lot of European cities can be very frustrating because they aren't laid out in a nice, boring grid like we're used to in most of the US. When we were in Brugge years ago, I had to make three passes on the ring road to find the street to our hotel - the "street" looked more like someone's private driveway than a city street!


Your Mom gives the best advice and I am listening too here in sunny Denver.

Rebecca Mummert

Wonderful post Kristin! You are a storyteller extraodinaire!
Living in NYC, there are new adventures on my doorstep everyday. Even still, this weekend I realized I had never set foot inside the Irish pub that's maybe 40 steps from my apartment builiding! - and I've lived here almost two years! I pushed through the pub's weathered, green, wooded front doors and was transported to Ireland! The irish bartenders, the music, the Guiness - it was a whole fun new world that I've breezed right by for so long!
Your post has inspired me yet again - thank you!
Rebecca from rainy NYC

Franklin Levin

One of the most joy-filled parts of driving around France is the fact that each intersection has a sign telling what lies in each direction and how far it is away. You just can't get lost and each intesection reminds you that there is something and someone down each road. The direction you take matters not since you can find your way to anywhere from anywhere else. France inspires us to just see what is around the next bend or over the next hill.

Christine Jackson

Is it "lointoin" ior "lointain"? One is in the body of the post and the other in the vocabulary section?

Great suggestion Kristin and Jules - Thanks!


One of the dogs really needs more training on walks. Maybe this afternoon we'll have to take a new route and he can get more "stop pulling/ignore that other dog and don't drag alpha into a phone pole" training.
46 degrees, not raining in Seattle.


Martina, thanks for the giggle, and Christine, for the "lointoin" (I've just corrected it to "lointain".

Many thanks. I am enjoying everyone's words.

Claudia - Bridgehampton, NY

I, like you, enjoy photography and find that my camera gets me up and out more than anything. When I leave I expect to photograph one thing, the beach for example and I always return with photographs of things I didn't even know I'd see like a large clam shell filled with frozen sea water or a beautiful dandelion seed head wearing early morning dew. It's always a revelation.

No photographing today! Hunkered down on this rainy, windy day in Bridgehampton, NY enjoying the aroma of simmering chicken stock wafting from the kitchen.

Jacqui McCargar

I love driving in France and as Franklin said you have to try to get lost! My dogs and I have become la casanière due to the wet weather in Northern California lately. Forecast today for more flooding..I know I've said it before but I wish I was in Provence!!
47 degrees, windy and pouring rain in Santa Rosa, Ca.

Barbara Hall

I echo the words of Claudia from Bridgehampton about photography. I recently have caught the photography bug and am now out and about so much more because of my camera being always at my side. Kristin, I enjoy your photographs so very much and am wondering what type of lens you use. From cold and rainy Sonoma, CA.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love being adventurous and I miss living in Europe where almost every day was an adventure. It was kind of exciting and scary at the same time as I would venture out to the grocery, flea market or just driving to a new town to see the sights. I never knew what language problems I would run into and I can laugh about them now. I enjoyed clicking over to your interview with Keith Eckstein and learning about Soeur Emmanuelle.
Thanks for a great post!
Have a great day!

Claudia - Montecito, Ca

Hi Kristin,
You really made the most of your moms great advice.
Since there is a respite from the much needed and welcomed rain here in Montecito/ Santa Barbara Ca. I'll apply that advice to myself too today what fun!
For the last week we've been drenched and more on the way they say. The big creek by my house is flowing and Mr & Mrs? duck are back hopefully they will choose this spot agian to have their ducklings (so sweet).
As always MERCI for the wonderful words and masterful photographs.
Best wishes to you and all your family.


Barbara, I have a Nikon D60 and the lens is 18-200 making it easier to reach those little birds up in the 4th story window and more.

These comments are so warm and cheery. Claudia, enjoy your travels today. And to Claudia in Bridgehampton--that chicken stock smells lovely!

Jacqui, Bon courage to you and your dogs.

Merci à tous.

Robert Haine

I understand the need to "get out of the house". I retired in June after 33 years of teaching French, and so, life no longer demands that I be "out of the house" from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. I have more time (which is very good) but less to do (which can be good or bad).
Winter also means we spend more time at home (even in southern California). The solution is to concentrate on living in the present, and doing whatever you're doing, wherever you are, as well as you can.

joie  carmel,ca

Merci! I think I will get my camera and get out of the house between the raindrops and go photograph some windows in the village and neighborhood. I love windows, doors and gates and do live in the perfect place other than Europe for them.

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

I have been feeling a little cabin feverish as here in almost always sunny Phoenix we had terrible rains, flooding and trees down. I have been staying in much more than usual. Today nice and sunny and 64 for a beautiful day to wonder around town.

Christine Dashper

Hi Kristin,

What a good idea, Jules is wise, but we know that!

'Cabin Fever' can sneak up on you, I think, we often need a 'push' to get out and look around in the Winter. Or the Summer, we do get so set in our ways.

I have lived with a National Park at my door step for twenty years and only three weeks ago visited one of the walks within it for the first time. Go figure! Since then I have been back four times.

Keep exploring and yes, please share the stories you discover.

Happy days.

Candy in SW KS

Franklin's post brought back great memories of my dad and our camping adventures when I was little. Daddy never liked camping in regular campgrounds so he had national forest maps that he would use to plot out a new place to visit. It became a running joke in our family (it was just my mom, dad, me and our poodle) that whenever my dad had miscalculated how far the campground was or where the path started, it was "just around the next bend!" I love that that phrase now means so much more to me. It speaks to me of adventure - that the "not knowing" is something to be valued, treasured. Because the discovery is then so sweet. And sometimes it has nothing to do with the discovery of the "place", but the discovery of something about myself. Your photos do that for all of us, dear Kristin. Thank you for bring us all to "what's around the next bend." :)

Hilda Brooks

Pls. do not discontinue the photos of the dogs, particularly Smokey. I hope he is doing well.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Thank you, Jules! Beautifully written, Kristi! So true, at times just the half hour drive to Jacksonville for a latte and an antique hunt, to get out amongst people, shifts my energy if I’m feeling blue. Deep in January's stillness, I needed this encouraging reminder.

Today, it is sunny and calm here. The birds are singing, the horses and lambs nap in the warmth and the air has a hint of spring! I'm off to visit a friend...over the river and through the forest I go. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries on your adventure! Thank you for sharing the inspiration!

~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

I recently joined your French-word-a-day and love getting your stories and pictures. I always listen via Wave to the french so that I can improve my dismal spoken word. I have a suggestion that may be helpful to others learning this new language. When you record each word or phrase would it be possible to pause between them so that I can repeat after you and not miss the next phrase. I play it over and over till I've got it. Any tips for getting it to stick in my mind?

Thanks for being so generous in your sharing.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~


Ahrisha, Thanks for the sound file suggestion. I took your suggestion and had my daughter include a slight pause between the words of today's audio file (for "mamie").

Stacy: I hope you had fun "over the river and through the woods". Re the hint of spring -- I could have sworn that was a butterfly that I saw just yesterday...



I too have been telling myself I need to get out and enjoy the adventures around me, other than just getting out for errands and the gym. I went Swing dancing at the Spanish Ballroom last weekend for the first time in years. There is something special about dancing in a place where Glen Miller once played. Plus, jazz is wonderful uplifting music.
I watched your video of cooking lentils...I too love to find things around the kitchen and come up with new dishes. I used to be a French Chef in another decade. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures outside. Oh, I I love the pics you send, esp. the one of the bird last week.

Good night

Kristin Espinasse

Buffy, Swing dancing in a Spanish ballroom -- that definitely counts as getting out. And how many of us are now putting this item on our List of Things to do One Day!

Thanks, too, for your words about the bird photo.


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Sometimes I like to do these spiritual trips through my neighborhood, It fills me of a strange sensation of joy.

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