On the way to meet Malou and Doreen ("The Dirt Divas"), Jules and I ventured through the town of Valréas. That's Mom... Her smile has returned.

bestiole (bes tee ohl) 

    : little creature; insect, bug

Example sentence:
Elles ne savaient pas quel genre de bestiole c'était. They did not know what type of insect it was


I just ordered this book for my mom, Jules. It's in rupture de stock, here in France, so we're waiting patiently for its arrival!:

The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris

The Greater Journey is the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work. Order The Greater Journey here.

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

Smashing Bugs!

If you were that collared dove cooing from the giant plane tree above, the view from the sky might provide curious sight...

There, on a South of France garden patio, among great clay pots filled with lilies à gogo, two women are dancing a kind of "gardener's twist".

"It's called 'The Lily Bug'!", Doreen explains, out of breath as she lifts her foot for another leg-twisting "Diva drill"--designed to literally squash out the competition! I follow her example and dance over to another of Malou's towering lilies, where I select a red-jacketed "dance partner" (the shy, would-be suitors are hiding among the lily leaves... and each time we reach for one, off it slides, via its elude-the-gardener defensive strategy). 

"They're sly devils!" Doreen warns, lifting her foot and slamming it to the ground. Without missing a beat our Dirt Diva selects another red-winged bestiole, one that will soon become "patio paste" (I wince as the little scarlet-backed bugs meet their fate via a tap-tap-twistaroo of our shoes).

Doreen is teaching me bug control. After the "wringing of the worms" (a horrifying fate in which invasive, hard-shelled worms meet their death by a swift thumb-to-forefinger twist), I am learning the lily-bug-squash technique.

It seems to be the most efficient means for eliminating the lys plants pire ennemi: the sometimes gooey lily beetle!
"Take that" (step-step-step... squash!) and that (twist-twist-wipe!

The turtledoves in the tree above look on, awestruck. Their featherless friends, below, are putting on quite a show!


Post note: Meantime, beneath the old plane tree, or platane, my mom, who came with me to Malou's home (where Doreen joined us), sat at a garden table, poring over Malou's knitting magazines. Every once in a while, Jules looked up, delighted by the table's spread: there were Moroccan cookies on a painted earthenware tray, and a selection of colorful sirops (banana-kiwi, lemon, lavender, mint), a large painted pitcher filled with fresh water and ice cubes decorated the cloth-covered table which overlooked Malou's magic garden.

"That Malou is smooth," Mom nodded her head, impressed. "She makes it look so easy." From my spot, over there on the bug-speckled patio, I had to agree. One day I would learn the art of hostessing. Meantime, I'm in bug boot camp being trained in the swift-kick-removal of unwanted guests: those lilioceris lilii, or lily snatchers!

Le Coin Commentaires
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An announcement from Chief Grape:

We are happy to let you know that Rouge-Bleu wines got some very nice scores on the lastest Wine Spectator issue : 90 points for Mistral red 09 and 87 points for Dentelle red 09. This link will help you locate them.


Just a few of Malou's lilies. There are many, many more! Thanks, Mom, for taking these photos, here and below.

French Vocabulary

à gogo = galore

la bestiole = bug

le lis (lys) = lily

le pire ennemi = worst enemy

le sirop = fruit drink made of one part fruit syrup, ten parts water (more or less...)

Reverse Dictionary

collared dove = la tourterelle turque

   Dancing among the lys, or lilies. Read about how I met the Dirt Divas. Click here.

Sirop Amazon has a big selection of refreshing drink syrops: add a swirl of grenadine to a glass of water, top with ice, and voilà - refreshing summertime! Check out all the sirop flavors and order one, here.

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Stephanie van Reigersberg

ElleS ne savaIENT pas quwl gwnre de bestiole...!!! Yikes!!!


Glad to hear Jules is feeling better.

I caught a typo: Your mother was poring over the knitting magazines ... unless she was pouring the water and syrups over them!

Kristin Espinasse

Yikes is right! Thanks Stephanie. Off to fix this mistake.

And thanks, Passante, for the other fix :-)

Bill in St. Paul

Great picture of Jules!! She's looking great! What a garden Malou has, but I'm wondering how you get all the squashed remains of the bugs off the patio.


the view from the sky might be provide (ding, dang dong, sings the bell) curious sight...
'ding' will do! What do you think?


the 'picher' lost its "t", hasn't it? ... but I know you've got that special glue to fix it.


There is a sort of link between the adj smooth and the verb to soothe (which might explain your additional "e" to the adj?} - unless there is another explanation...


"En général, j'aime les p'tites bestioles" that don't bite (!) - and I secretly love garden spiders (and their amazing web) ... What about these gorgeous LILY BEETLES?
Yes, they do look gorgeous and they don't do you any harm - but Arrggh! they are such a pest!...
If you don't remove them radically - a pair of them at a time (oh yes! 'the other one' always hides behind!) - the poor lilies will become a nasty battlefield where a multitude of orange larvae will soon invade and devour leaves and flowers in an alarming way, keeping their slimy black excrements covering their bodies. What a yucky way to hide themselves! Catching them? too late and your beautiful lilies, all in tatters, ask you to end their miserable life with the click of your "sécateur"!
So, Kristin, I would fully support Doreen's 'twist-wipe-squash' method. Very wise indeed ... and delighted you helped her to save Malou's beautiful lilies!
A 'dance' that saved flowers!

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Bill, thank you for your compliment to Mom! She took several photos of Malou's garden, but the one's I chose do not do it justice. I took the "safe" route and left Malou and Joe's (her husband)garden/home private. We'll see if it shows up in a future post!

Newforest, I'm a little thick in the head today (and on other days, I might as well admit!) so could you tell me if your "ding" is a correction? Meantime, I'll get the other fixes in - thanks! (I'd meant to get Passante's in too... but when to read my headachey head on the pillow a few moments.) P.S.: Thanks for the additional info on the lily beattle. It was fascinating to see its quick protective reflex (of instantly dropping off the leaf as our giant hands reached forth)

Dan McLaughlin

We live near the Canadian border, and it's black fly season. You wouldn't want to trade pests. They bite, and there are millions.

Herm in Phoenix

Salut Kristin,

Just a thought. . . . If you added some lively music to the next bad bug beat along with some choreography and costumes by Jules, you might just have something there. How about calling them the “Dirt Divas’ Can-Can Beatles”?

Kudos to Jean Marc for the super wine ratings

Dot, in Rhode Island USA

In my region we've been warned for years that "the lily beetles are coming." Finally, last year, I saw them in my garden for the first time. I will be trying to get rid of them using your method, as it is just too drastic to think of not having lilies.

anne wirth

You have the most beautiful mother I have ever seen and the most interesting. Just seeing her swishing down the lane put a smile on my face and a thought in mind about where she was going. Too bad she isn't with you all the time.
Dirt Diva's have a beautiful garden.



Kristin, You typed 'might be provide'. I thought you meant -> the view from the sky might be proviDING curious sight(s),
To replace 'de' in 'provide', I suggested "ding" (as the "ding" in "ding-dang-dong")
Does it 'sound' ok to you? or is my 'ding' out of tune?

Dear Kristin, I honestly think you need to reSt your 'headachey head' on a nice pillow ( no 'read'ing for a few moments)...

As for the 'Lily Beatle' mentioned in your post (... quickly dropping off), it knows -and you know- it might be its last 'bAttle'!
~> only four 'Beatles' -> John, George, Paul and Ringo.
~> there are millions of "bestioles" that come into the category of 'beetles' (the charming ladybird being one of them.)
Oh, quite a while ago, there was a Volkswagen 'Beetle'!


Bill's question
-> My interpretation:
A 'swift thumb-to-forefinger twist' knocks them down - then, to make sure they're dead, it's squashing time. Much easier to squash them on a hard surface, so, the paved/slabbed patio seems to be their perfect destination at the end of 'the dance'!
Bye, 'sly devils' Lily Beetles!
Hello-Lilies! They've gone! Keep smiling!


Thinking about that 'patio paste'...
I'd like to believe the lily beetles got squashed -but not too much- and whatever remained on the patio was 'pasty' enough to tempt the robin that lives in and around Malou's garden. Well, I assume Malou's beautiful garden is a perfect 'territory' for a friendly "rouge-gorge".
I know robins highly appreciate 'mealworms', therefore, the pasty/meaty remains of lily beetles on the patio may provide an exotic addition to their ordinary ***"vers de terre" diet.

***"un ver de terre" / "un lombric"
= earthworm

Frank Levin

Wow! garden envy is starting already and I won't be in France for another week. Aieee! The lilies are wonderful. I am frantically working on my automatic irrigation system so things will be alive when we return home at the end of June. With the almost constant wet weather here in Oregon it is hard to imagine that it will ever dry out. France looks dry and warm in the long range forecast. Yes!

Candy in SW KS

Oh, can I come live in Malou's garden? Please?! So glad your maman is feeling better and has her beautiful smile back. Hugs to both of you! Spring is my favorite time of year - not the windy part of it, however - just the "growing color" part of it!
And, as always, I so love reading everyone's comments. Bonjour to all!


Re: bestioles
Two days ago, I discovered loads of unwanted "bestioles" messing about with my 6 yr old crab apple tree : tips of stems and new leaves were covered with an army of tiny "pucerons verts" (= 'greenflies')!
I brushed them off, squeezing them between thumb and index and got very sticky yellowy-green fingers!

I'm wondering whether the remaining ones will have attracted black ants by now, and a few ladybirds... Must go and check.


Hi Jules,
Just want to let you know I think about you each time I pick up my latest knitting project. The colours and shape of the shrug I'm knitting seem to have a little something to do with you!
I still have the right and left front borders to knit, which means picking up, from each side of the shrug, 301 stiches on my circular needles, then, knitting 9 rows before casting off. Quite an adventurous - and enjoyable - project!

~~~ So wonderful to see your smile in the streets of Valreas! ~~~

Kristin, is this photo an introduction to tomorrows's Cinéma Vérité?

Dear Jules and Kristin,
Enjoy your (second) "Fête des Mères" on the 29th!

and, on that day, dear Fred,
"je te souhaite un heureux anniversaire"!

Suzanne Dunaway

I love tomaotes. I've grown them for years, even if at the end of one season, I screeched as I discovered my FIRST tomato hornworm---beautiful creatures if you like what looks like scarlet eyes and horn and bright green segments and little teeth that munch your tomato plants to filigreed lace!
I hope you can handle this: FISKAR scissors--snip, snip, cut the little devils in two (there are always two on a plant-romantic, no?) and they become compost. It's not easy but someone has to do it......and I would faint if I had to squish it under my feet or WITH MY HANDS!!!!!!!


Love to see that Jules is feeling better - and those lilies! Ours are still coming up here - considering we still get snow flurries in May I know they'll be back 'in full glory' next month. Will seek out some Domaine Rouge Bleu when I'm in CA in August! Congrats to Chief Grape!

Joan Linneman

Tomato worms are truly disgusting...
pitcher/ pichet? One of my favorite French experiences is having lunch in cafe in Nice, a great salade nicoise with a pichet de vin avec.
Today is my last day of school (except for exams next week). Vive l'ete!
Joan L.

joie in Carmel,CA

Maybe you could try ducks to eat all the little bestoiles. We had three once that we turned out every few days into the vegie garden to eat snails and whatever else they found tasty. I am sure Braise and Smokey would love that....hmmm.


Eek! J'ai horreur des bestioles. C'est pour ça que le jardinage n'est pas pour moi. Et pourtant, j'adore regarder les jardins de fleurs des autres, comme par exemple ici, celui de Doreen.

Happy to see Jules smile again. She looks delightful. Was that early morning there, how could le marchand de fromages make a living in that deserted petite allée?


just wondering if the Chief Grape has tried this

Cynthia Lewis

Jules, you are in for a real treat when David McCullough's new book (The Greater Journey-Americans In Paris} arrives on your doorstep. I ordered my copy through Kristin's site and I am finding it fascinating. Also, I am glad to see your smiling lovely face in the last two posts...proof that you are feeling well again!

Marianne Rankin

Thus far, I've not noticed bugs, etc. on my lilies, but haven't looked closely. I'll be on the lookout from now on. I've heard that for some plants (sorry, don't know which), one can make a mixture of water and a few drops of dish detergent, and it will kill critters. This might work with "display" plants; I don't recommend it for food plants, such as tomatoes.

I've read that larger critters - deer, rabbits, and so on - don't like marigolds, so I've planted those near my lettuce. We'll see if it works.

I think I'll do some reading on ecological ways to control bestioles. I certainly don't want to squash them with either my feet or my hands. Maybe they could be dropped in a bucket of water or some other liquid?

Judy Feldman

My husband & I will be traveling to Paris in Sept. Does anyone know of a nice hotel - mid-price range - in the Marais or Left Bank? Thanks for your help!!!


I just found my first 4 lily beetles yesterday - each had one on top. I guess that they were mating and soon I would have many more. Last year was the first year that I saw them and my lilies were destroyed!
And as for tomato worms or caterpillars - they blend right in with the plant and you have to search for them. From where do they all come? They just seem to materialize over night.
Jules looks great and what a striking figure she makes as she walks down the street.
Enjoy her visit and make the most of it.

Eileen deCamp

Nice photos of Jules and the Lilies. I haven't begun The Greater Journey but I have it on my Kindle and can't wait to start reading.
Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Such a beautiful smile it is Jules. You bring joy to FWAD.



@ Judy: check this out:

You can click on left bank and right bank buttons. Hope it helps.


Speaking of dirt dirt div(a)ing dog has just returned with a snoutful of mud after being cooped up inside for a few rainy days and finally let loose to bury her chop bone...sigh...time to wash the "White Fluffy"... your coat (matches the lilies!)


Robyn Daniels

I must admit I find the wanton bug-destruction repulsive. What about karma?!! I know they eat the plants which we raise to eat ourselves or to beautify our surroundings but they are just trying to survive like all of us and there are more natural means of 'pest control' if indeed your regard them as 'pests'. Surely there is room in our world for all and it is the natural order of things for each living creature to seek to eat and live. RIP bugs! I am a 'natural' gardener - I interfere with my landscape as little as possible and what doesn't survive just doesn't make it. Live and let live!


Hi Kristin,

'might be providing', yes, but here, removing "be" was the best solution -> "might provide" is absolutely fine!

Ref to your 01:48pm post sent yesterday
(ee / ea and 't' / 'tt')
-> beetles (insects)
-> The Beatles (rock band)
-> only one 't' for a beetle and The Beatles.

Hope you managed to give a very good rest to your 'headachey head'.

Hello Robyn,
I do understand your concern.
Lots of little creatures live happily in my garden. Birds, butterflies, bees, beetles and bugs are welcome. There are plenty of earthworms in the soil and in the compost area, a few 'grass snakes' hide in my compost heaps, a little family of frogs have become permanent residents... Some piles of dead wood shelter spiders, woodlice and millipedes... (not just pretty ladybirds). I let our frogs deal with slugs and snails as they please. I expect the 'local' robin to come and investigate a freshly dug area and eat the earthworms he can find.
Through the years, I realised for ex that a multitude of tiny aphyds can do a lot of harm to young shoots. I never felt I was wrong to stop them (ants can get very attracted by them but never manage to get rid of them all)
I really don't mind a few holes in leaves and petals, or plants with nibbled edges, or a few curled leaves here and there, hiding growing caterpillars.
I do respect wildlife, so, what about the lily beetles then? I know it may sound like a contradiction, but I have to admit here I understand Doreen and Malou. You may look at the "dance" described by Kristin as being "la danse macabre"... (but to me, this poetic and witty way is a typical "Kristin's signature")

Do you love lilies?
Have you ever seen the sheer devastation caused by lily beetles and their army of ever growing larvae? At least, the so-called 'paste on the patio' as described by Kristin, can provide instant food for the 'local' robin.

Having said all that, I also understand 'the principles' of your point of view.

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

What a glorious smile on your mother - worth getting back at any price!

"Bestiole" has another use besides insects en Provence...

My charming, ever laughing, octogenarian neighbor, Charles, in our Cannes villa, was un vrai francais in all respects (save food!).

He had three 'epouses', all of whom knew about one another; but they were not epoused.

Then there was the feisty one, about whom I also heard, way off in the hinterlands of Provence - la France profonde.

Charles would spend certain months with "Mon epouse de Cannes, mon epouse de Paris, and finally, mon epouse de l'Australie.

He managed to find time with the one he called, with such fondness, La Bestiole.

For this convent-raised Midwesterner, Charles' sagas were most unexpected. He also rode a red Peugeot 'moto', wearing a shiny black 'casque' and a long white scarf, a la Lindbergh, "pour epater mes amis."

Charles could easily epater moi, but his main teaching was vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary, and LIFE!

Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Who always wonders why
she ever left Provence

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