haut les coeurs!


Mamy In The Window (c) Kristin Espinasse

Smiles and good wishes for all today. Isn't that what's needed? The following French poem was spotted in the neighboring village of Rasteau. Some "happy nester" had taped it to their front porch window.... Thank you, Newforest, for translating the text. (When you have read the poem, you might come back and visit the Mamie in the window above: click here...) 


"Le sourire" (smile)... we have visited this attractive word before (here and here)... so I searched for a synonym (in English we have "a grin" (a big smile that shows your teeth) and "a beam" (a wide, happy smile)... but all I could find in French was "une grimace" (which didn't seem like a match to me!) So sourire it is and sourire it will be! Enjoy the following poem and remember to put on a smile ce weekend.

"Un Sourire"
"A Smile"

(Note: listen to the Jean-Marc read this text: mp3 or wave

Un sourire ne coûte rien et produit beaucoup,
A smile does not cost anything but produces so much*,

Il enrichit ceux qui* le reçoivent,
It enriches the person who receives it

Sans appauvrir ceux qui le donnent.
without impoverishing the one who gives it.

Il ne dure qu'un instant,
It lasts only a few moments,

Mais son souvenir* est parfois éternel.
But its memory may sometimes last for ever.

Personne n'est assez pauvre pour ne pas le mériter.
Nobody is poor enough not to deserve it.

Il crée le bonheur au foyer, soutient les affaires,
It creates happiness at home and sustains businesses,

Il est le signe sensible de l'amitié.
It is the visible sign of friendship.

Un sourire donne du repos à l'être* fatigué.
A smile brings rest to the weary soul.

Il ne peut ni s'acheter, ni se prêter, ni se voler,
It cannot be bought, nor can it be loaned or even stolen,

Car c'est une chose qui n'a de valeur
For it is something which has value

Qu'à partir du moment où il se donne.
Only from the very moment it is given.

Et si quelquefois vous rencontrez une personne
And if sometimes you meet someone

Qui ne sait plus avoir le sourire...
Who no longer knows how to smile...

                         (Left: Smokey's Dad, "Sam", sans sourire...)

Soyez généreux, donnez-lui le vôtre!
Be generous, give him yours!

Car nul n'a autant besoin d'un sourire...
As no one is more desperate for a smile...

Que celui qui ne peut en donner aux autres. 
Than the one who is unable to give a smile to others.

 *poem by Raoul Follereau (1902-1977), who established World Leprosy day and who, throughout his life, shared his compassion for victims of leprosy--as well as for victims of poverty, indifference, and injustice.

Le Coin Commentaires
Join us now, in the community corner. Respond to today's message, offer a correction, or ask each other questions about French or France--this is your chance! Click here to leave a note

 And don't miss this lovely poem, by William Weber. You might offer your translation in French...

Newforest notes:

* (but produces) so much* - or: 'but produces a great deal'

* “ceux qui” = 'the people who', but I left it singular: the one who)

* "l'être" = the human being – here, I translated by -> 'the soul'

* "son souvenir est parfois éternel". I could have said: 'its memory may be eternal' but I decided to repeat the verb to last, so here is my choice: its presence may sometimes last for ever.

Merci encore, Newforest, for translating Raoul Follereau's "Sourire" poem.


Thank you for sending your in your wishes, in response to the "seisme" post (here). Here is a "word cloud"... made entirely from your messages of support (to view messages, or to add your own, click here) : 


Capture plein écran 18032011 065107

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Bill in St. Paul

Madame Alberte has a Mona Lisa "smile". We have encountered these mamies as we wander the small towns in France and they always seem to have a smile for everybody. I think I would have translated "ceux qui le reçoivent" et al. in the plural since these mamies smile for (nearly) everybody.

Sam looks like he belongs in the Mafia.


Question: in "Personne n'est assez pauvre pour ne pas le mériter," why is there no "pas" after "n'est"? Does it have something to do with avoiding a double negative?

Ophelia in Nashville

Wonderful photos (Both made me smile.) and great poem, too. Am going to pass it along to French teacher friends.

Bonne journée!

Richard (le skeptique)

Interesting subject, as les Francais typically reserve their smiles for old friends. It was (I believe) in Polly Platt's French or Foe that she quoted a French TV personality taking a semester sabatical at the University of Virginia, when asked his dominant impression of Americans, said something to the effect that "it was so weird. Total strangers kept smiling at me."

Or is this perhaps a Parisian thing?

Over the years French acquaintances have periodically remarked "oh, Americans are (fill in the blanks)" and I often need correct them to say "New Yorkers, perhaps" or "Angeleos," but not les paysans.

Candy in SW KS

Here are lovely "smile" lyrics from a song that Judy Garland made famous. "There are smiles that make us happy, there are smiles that make us blue. There are smiles that steal away the teardrops, like the sunbeams steal away the dew." Smiles are pretty powerful, n'est-ce pas? You can change a person's day with just one smile. My grand-pere used to say, "Just a smile and a kind word is all I need today." I love the chere madame. She is perfect! Thanks for sharing her again with us, Kristi!

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

C'est le temps pour les sourires! Le printemps is just around the corner! Apologies in advance for incorrect French construction. Corrections welcomed.


Now is truly the time for smiles. Smiles for those in Japan trying desperately to cope, for the citizens of Libya terrified in their own land and for all of us who watch and wonder what exactly has happened to our world??

Kristin, re: an earlier FWAD, I, too, have that telltale ticking in the eyelid, which only appears when my stress level becomes too high for mind and body. Today, I will go out to my garden to take care of my bearded irises. They have begun to bloom here in the desert. In taking care of them,I will nurture me. Their "beards" fluttering in the light Spring breeze will brighten my spirits. Nothing lifts the soul, for me at least, more than to dig in the dirt and think only about what I am doing at that moment.

To NewForest re: "ceux qui" I agree with your use of the singular in translation, even though "ceux qui" in most cases demands the plural. Lovely job on "la traduction," merci mille fois.

jeannie herrick

I just signed up for this blog and am finding it so helpful to remind me that I still do remember some French from my college days (in the late 60's) I will go to France in May so it is indeed timely

Joan Linneman

from "Annie": You're never fully dressed without a smile!
Bon weekend a tous! Joan L. :)

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Thank you, Kristi,

This is beautiful, the photos, the poem, the chance to revisit Madame Alberte --- simply perfect for today. I’ve shared this with friends and family, hoping to brighten their day as you have so graciously brightened mine.

Isn’t it marvelous, the healing power of a smile? It seems one of the kindest gifts we can so easily give to another. Thanks for the reminder. I’m off to town for a latte break…and I’ve got a few smiles to give away. Blessings!


Une histoire charmante, comme toujours!

When I was about to become a grandmother 3 years ago, I puzzled over what to call myself. First it was Nana, after the great-grandmother I was named for, then it was the Italian Nonna, which I decided sounded potentially too "negative." I finally chose Grammy, a modified version of what my mother and grandmother used.

But I rather like the sound of Mamie. Too late now, I guess!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I enjoyed reading about Madame Alberte again. She has a lovely smile. I enjoyed the poem also.
Bon Weekend!


Merci bien pour ça! Alors, j’ai commencé le jour ici à Brisbane, Australie, avec un sourire.

Rod Crislip

Nous avons souri à Jean-Marc aujourd'hui la dégustation de vins à Portland.

John Tabbernal

Sourire le verbe.
La fortune sourit aux audacieux.(favoriser)
Cet homme austere sourit rarement.
La proposition sourit a toute la famille.
(plaire a,enchanter)
Avoir le sourire-etre content de quelquechose.
"Laousse dictionnaire de francais compact"
Souriez souvent!!!

Jean-Marc Espinasse

Je souris aussi car je vais bientôt revoir ma magnifique famille

Janis Pierce

I love this poem about smiles. What's amazing is that I could read it quite well without the English translation. However, my pronunciation could use some work. I will be staying in France for a week in May. I'd love to find a FREE web site that would help me with speaking French. Does anyone know of one they could recommend?? I'd be grateful for the information. Thank you in advance.

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Bon voyage, Jean-Marc

Pat Cargill

J-M's post gave me a smile...safe and swift travels a ton famille. Bon weekend, everyone.



"Quand Jean-Marc sera de retour au bercail", ...
I'm sure there will be a beaming smile on your face,
and on your children's face too...
"Le sourire rayonnera sur le visage de chacun de vous".

- "le bercail" = enclosure for sheep
"la bergerie" = sheepfold, barn for sheep
"le berger" = shepherd
- "chacun de vous" = each of you

After a long journey, a long time away from home,
-> "retourner au bercail" = to return home
-> "être de retour au bercail" = to be back home

-> "un sourire radieux", / "resplendissant" is a beaming smile.

Effect of such a smile on your face can be expressed by the verb "rayonner"
-> "rayonner sur le visage" (as used above)

"Bon dimanche",
"joie en famille"
and very best wishes to all of you!

Nur Bahar

i am very much fond of languages. for the first time i have listened a french poem with English translation.the poem is also very beautiful and inspiring.


Am I correct that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown?

Kristin almost always puts a smile on our faces with her blog, unless there is something stressful going on. Thank you Kristin.


Firstly, to answer Cyndy's question about why there is no "pas" after
"n'est" : > is itself a negative, and in fact, all negative statements in French must be double.

Secondly, thank you so much for this lovely poem. The last two lines are powerfully, poignantly true.

Gary N Rodan

Re CREUX expressions -here is one
from the song by Soeur Sourire: "Mets ton jolie jupon, mon ame"

Gary N Rodan

Re "Creux" phrases - from a song by Soeur Sourire ' "Mets Ton Joli Jupon ";-

"AU creux du petit jour..."
In the wee hours of early morning

Gary N Rodan

And RE= " Sourire " ; From "L'important C'est D'aimer" by Pascal Obispo: sung beautifully as a duet by Natasha StClair and Alizee:

"N'importe ce qu'on donne//
It's not important what is given

Un SOURIRE ou un Couronne...
here = Just a SMILE or the crown (to a kingdom) //

A quelqu'un ou a personne"
To somebody (special) or to No-One (in particular)

A song about how to love.

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