How to say "to miss a class" in French
What is the French verb for "tease" + bullying and being bullied

secours + how to say "first aid" in French?

My 10-year-old style-conscious daughter. More in today's story... photo taken two years ago, when this edition was first published.

le secours (suh-koor) noun, masculine

 : help, aid, assistance, relief

                                    *     *     *
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même.
(He) will come to the aid of the suffering other, he who suffers himself.

                        --Faramarz (12th century Persian author)

In French music: "Avec le Temps" by Leo Ferre

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

Living out here in the vine boondocks, where high traffic means encountering one lazy tractor on my morning school run, I care less and less about presentation. Having all but worn my bathrobe while chauffeuring the kids into town, I wonder sometimes about risk-taking and ridicule.

Heading out the door to pick up the kids from school, I hesitate before the shoe pile. Forget it! I am not changing out of my slippers this time. The car is right outside the door. I only need to hop from doormat to car mat, risking but a trail of dust in between. As for hopping, that might be hard given the size of these slippers, which gets me thinking...

What IF I have an accident on the way to school? My daughter would kill me for getting caught in cotton "clogs". I look down at the un-dainty slippers, each one the size of a boat and with enough insulation to temper arctic waters.

Silly thought, that of getting caught. The odds of that happening! I shake my head and grab the car keys before stepping into car, lifting one giant slipper after the other, and pulling out of the driveway.

At a country crossroad where one, two, three, four paths meet—two of which are dirt roads—I slow down. With the help of peripheral vision I sense an object speeding forward to my right. I am amazed to encounter another car!

Right, priorité à droite! I remind myself, giddy at the chance to give another driver the right-of-way. Only, given the hairpin turn awaiting the other driver, I have to put the car in reverse in order to make room.

As the car passes, and with a great beaming smile on my face, I am the picture of good manners as I offer to willingly retreat for the hurried French driver. Backing up, it is only when I feel myself sliding to the right, that I realize I've nearly ended up in a ditch!

Back to that unglamorous glitch. I look down to the floorboard, toward the foot pedals hidden behind those gigantic slippers. Time to act quickly before secours arrives! I push in the clutch, put it in first, and all but pole-vault the front end of my car into the ditch. Whereas the back end had only flirted with the fall, it is in forgetting to straighten out the wheel that I dig my own descent.

I quickly put the car into reverse and listen as the engine replies in rip-roarious ridicule. A cloud of dust appears beyond the back window. Each clumsy kick of the clutch sends my slipper-boats sinking into the floorboard until a chilly arctic awareness sets in. I am not going anywhere. I will have to get out of the car and walk to town with those ridiculous "rafts" on my feet.

I look up, as one does for mercy, and notice something in the rearview mirror: two strangers slowly appearing amidst the dust cloud. One man is smoking a pipe, the other has car keys in his hand. I recognize The Right-of-Way driver and co-pilot. I see them jump into the ditch, walk over to the dangling front tire and lift it up—along with the car!

"Avancez," they say, holding the car in the palms of their hands.

The situation is surreal and there, behind the wheel, I feel uplifted by the strangers' secours. I AM uplifted, as is my car! My eyes do a double-take and I see the pipe in one man's mouth, a smile on the other's. Sweat begins to appear on their collective brows.

"Vous voulez que j'avance?" I say, afraid to run them both back into the ditch.
"Oui, Madame," they answer, politely, painfully, sweat now pouring down.

Right. This is no time to second guess. I tried that with the slippers and who knows if that played a part in this mess? Grinding the gearshift into first, I literally peel out of those men's palms.

 *     *     *

Looking back I saw the men waving, unharmed. I had thought it was I the Good Samaritan. Slippers tucked safely now beneath a spared ego, I think again.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

This forum is open to your comments about today's word or story. You may also pose questions about France, the French language, and similar topics. By helping each other, we enrich this community, educate, and inspire one another in all things French. Click here to comment.

Have a minute to read another story? Here's one I wrote four years ago... about coloring Easter eggs with the kids. Thanks for checking it out and sharing it with a friend. Click here to read "Tremper". 

French Vocabulary
priorité à droite = priority (goes to the driver) to the right
avancez (avancer) = go forward, advance
le secours (m) = aid
Vous voulez que j'avance = Do you want me to advance?


:: Audio File ::
Listen to these French words: Secours.
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même. Download secours.mp3 or Download secours.wav


French Words & Expressions:
  Au secours! = Help!
  appeler au secours = to call/cry for help
  la caisse de secours = relief / charity fund
  les fonds de secours = emergency fund
  porter secours à quelqu'un = to give assistance to someone
  sortie de secours = emergency exit
  le secours moral, mutuel = moral / mutual support
  les premiers secours = first aid

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Loveley to read this again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Slippery Welshman

Will be home in Brouilla for a couple of months in the summer-can't wait!


I have also worn a robe and slippers when I have thought I would not get caught. Merci for sharing with us. One does get caught!

Christine Dashper

Hi Kristin

I love this story (as with all your stories). I have been through the same thought processes myself when driving the kids to school, when they were small. Never did the pj's but risked the slippers a few times. It always made nervous!

Happy Spring!

Ophelia Paine

What a great story! George jumped in our car in his robe and slippers about 6 a.m. just last week as he tried to chase down a thief he saw rummaging parked cars in our neighborhood.

Heureusement, I think at least, he didn't catch the thief and no one "caught" him.

Pat Cargill

Living on the edge--driving on the edge. Driving off the edge. Lucky you! I keep telling myself I will stop going out looking--well, looking like I ought to stay IN!

Ophelia, love your story about George - funny stuff.


Well done Kristin, I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing it ...again, as I'd never read it and found your circumstances familiar and your description delightful.

It's a beautiful sunny spring day here in the Hamptons.


I am just goes to show the embarrassment of kids and teenagers knows no geographic boundaries! They all sport the same exact embarassment about their parents doing "stupid things", French, American or whatever. I cannot tell you how many times I have taken the kids, when they were younger, to school in PJs AND slippers. They finally gave up when they finall came to the conclusion and realized that I didn't care if I was caught. On another subject -- I'm so glad I saw a picture of your daughter, even if it was 2 years old. We hear and see so much about Max. How about a current one with your daughter? Bisous, rk


What a great story and such good Samaritans you encounted. A friend of mine was caught speeding taking her kids to school in her robe and slippers and policeman made her step out of the car, for all the other hurried parents driving by to see!! Better get a better pair of driving shoes!

Pamela pamela

you are so perfectly funny...Man I have worn slippers and PJ's often on those runs..a good reason to always buys PJ's with good graphics..One spring many many years ago I decided to drive to the nearby beach to get a coouple of large stones to put in my garden.. I left the children (very young) with a visiting young teenager and headed out a 5am ..thinking I could beat traffic,time and the tides..
Once I had loaded the rocks in the trunk the car woouldn't move.I had driven into a sand ditch and all I was able to muster was a deeper hole for my back tire to sink into..After about 3o minutes a young eccentric man arrived with his little car determined to rescue me..but only ended up in the same predicament..The troops were there we were: both stuck ,,I spoke very little french at the time..He noticed a caravan up the beach so he hiked up there and came back with its driver, a hefty guy with visible brawn..The 2 of them spent the next hour discussing and argueing over the best method to dislodge us..After several attempts a 3rd guy arrived with his 4x4 and pulls us out.. The 3 now were egaged in heavy conversation laced with jokes about the crazy American girl. I rushed home in great relief just as my houehold was geently waking, rocks in trunk with no apparent damage to the car...Whew.. Severall hours later I drove our houseguest to the we drove past the "spot"..I continued and passed a small beach snack stand.and there THEY were all 3 of them.. drinking and talking...I have often wondered if 2 stones started a life long friendship..It is this endearing quality I LOVE about the French..: the elegant opportunity .......Kristen.. I think it would be a hard task to pass you by in any situation...keep wearing slippers.. they keep our feet and our hearts warm..........What a lovely daughter you have....Ours ,now 27 weasr her own slippers in and out....and our son brushes his teeth at the kitchen sink..(it dawned on me one day that's where I am why not? bathroom competition either) Hope you had a nice Easter

Candy in SW KS

Such great stories, Kristin, Ophelia and Pamela! Thanks for sharing. Did anyone else have a Mom who told you to be sure to wear new and clean underwear when you went out in case you ended up in the hospital? You wouldn't want the emergency personel to find you in less than your best :) This from the woman who, at almost 87, goes nowhere without her make-up, earrings, and beautifully coordinated outfits. Narry a slipper in site. And she's as beautiful inside as out!

Mike Hardcastle

I don't think priorité à droite has been law in France for many years, but remembering back to the early 1960s when I was first told about this rule I asked what would happen if four cars arrived at a crossroads (with no priority) it the same time.
I was told that the car with the lowest registration number would have priority.
C'est logique.



Tout d'abord, j'aimerais bien vous dire que j'adore votre blog. Je le lis quasi tous les (deux, trois) jours.

Apres avoir vecu a l'etranger pendant deux ans, j'ai commence a faire des petites fautes de traduction en anglais. Ma preferee c'etait..." Je ne supporte pas ca!" que je traduisais, "I don't support that!" Friends looked at me like I had six heads...b/c in fact, as you know, I should have said, "I don't agree with that!" or " I won't tolerate that!" depending on the context.

So what's my point? Vous vous que j'avance...on dirait plutot en anglais (aux E.U.) Do you want me to move forward or specifically in this siutation...give it gas? The literal translation makes sense, but it's not really s.t. we would say.

Bonne Continuation!

PS Je suis sure et certaine que j'ai fais des fautes de grammaire et d'orthographe en francais...vous m'excusez tous s.v.p.


Ah, that sort of thing happened to me many years ago, and I DID have to get out of the car! And the slippers were pink and fuzzy and huge -- and I had kids in the car who were mortified. :-)

Ángela from Colombia

I absolutely love your stories. I am a native speaker of Spanish and teach English in Colombia, and work on translation. Could I make a humble suggestion? Could we have these stories written entirely in French from time to time, it would also be a really good way of practicing this French language I love...and... I have to say, I really love your countryside French life, would love to get me a life like that one day and get away from the city! Thanks for a French Word a Day

Remi Enobakhare

I remember!! This has got to be one of your best stories. If it were mine, I'd tell it all the time. :)
Bonne Paques, Kristin.


Lovely photo of your daughter Kristin! them and my son cringes when I wear them. So know what you mean

Martha Sutherland

On another subject, does anyone know the status of the Champs Elysees Audio Magazine? I have not received a tape for many months and when I call Customer Service I get a rote reply of "it's gone to the printer." I hope it is a temporary glitch because I have loved the tapes.

Mike Haardcastle

I sincerely hope that Champs Elysees is not in trouble but if it is there is an alternative,
'La Vie Outre Manche'is a similar magazine with audio tapes.
Just put the title in Google.



My first thought was safe driving practices may also require the use of proper foot wear. Not to mention the thought of having to walk a long distance in public view. I also agree a lovely photo of your daughter.

Marilina Santoro

What an adventure! You were a true heroine with pantougles!

Marilina Santoro

I meant pantoufles (sorry).


I have taken the kids to school in PJ pants, and bare feet, with shoes close by, so I know how you felt. I was never looking my best on those mornings.

Have a wonderful vacation!!! This sick, aching body is going back to bed.



I take my 10th grader to the bus stop every morning at 6:30am, and can't seem to get out of bed before 6:10am. Needless to say I look horendous, but for all your reasons I can't wear pj's. I wear one of 2 velour warm-up suits over a pj top, and sneakers, and hope no one is awake enough to notice this at the bus stop. I kind of prefer the dark winter mornings. My daughteer has given up commenting on my attire, thank goodness!!


I've often risked such a trip myself. Thank goodness I never got caught. What a colorful and well-told story today.

And I did click on your Easter egg story. I'd like to make two observations. First, we can see how much your writing has changed. You have such a distinctive voice now. And second, you used my favorite French word - "doucement."

St. Louis weather can't decide if it is late summer or early spring. It changes it's mind by the hour and day.

Carmen Clarke

Great story!
PS Your daughter is so pretty. Hope she knows that.

Merrie Dail, Annapolis, MD

Yes, yes - a wonderful story. Years ago when our children were small, my neighbor ALWAYS drove her boys to school in gown and slippers, covered by whatever jacket she could find; suburban Washington, DC. We had great laughs. On another note, a couple years ago just east of Cavaillon I pulled into a parking lot to check some directions; late in afternoon, beginning to rain, rental car, stick shift. Forgot to check reverse before leaving rental agency (ugh) Parked facing stand of cedars; ready to leave, couldn't get in reverse gear and had to walk to secure help nearby from young man on his way out to dinner with family. Yep, he smiled grandly as he rescued me...

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

I loved the photos of Rousillon in Cinema Verite this past weekend. It is such a lovely village and the surrounding colors are spectacular. When we visited last September, Margaret took a wonderful photo of our mother, Portia, in front of the trompe l'oeil that you also shot. Thank you for bringing that day back so vividly.


I sometimes go out in my slippers, and I have the same thought: what if something happens and I have to walk ten miles, or worse? So, I usually grab an extra pair of "presentable" shoes and thrown them in behind the seat... just in case.

Anna Greene

I really want to learn french now but I don't know whether I should get an expensive tutor or simple misunderstanding software. Do you have any suggestions?

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