"Rooster Thief" (c) Kristin Espinasse

"The Rooster Thief". The French sure have a way with window drama, as seen here (see the full photo, below). Today, read about an American chick in a French autoparts store... or try your luck... with the anecdote on offer in the following story column!

Please forward today's post to a dog lover or a wine lover or a France lover! Thanks!

Yabla French Video Immersion.
The fun way to learn French

châtier (sha-tee-yay)

    : to punish, chastise

châtié = polished (verse, style)
le châtiment corporel = corporal punishment 

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these words: Download MP3 or Wav file

Qui aime bien châtie bien.
Spare the rod and spoil the child.

Books, books, books! There are 12 or 13 rotating "book shelves" at the French Word-A-Day blog. Check out the current selection of French-themed reading, in the side-columns of the blog, here.

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

Ain't Misbehavin!

Since the harvesters returned home, Jean-Marc has worked long days in the cellar, all on his own, but by the way he argues with the barrels and the vats and the wine--you'd think he was in good company!

I sometimes hear him, through the thick, 300-year-old walls that separate our home from the cave, as he hollers after those grapes! And I have to laugh, thinking of that favorite proverb of his: Qui aime bien châtie bien, or "Who loves well punishes well". Ouch, that does not sound like a good translation: how about this one: "Spare the rod, spoil the child"?

While Chief Grape has been busy disciplining his wine (and, by the way, did you notice that the last three letters in "misbehaVIN'" = "wine" in French? Enough said)... Yes, while Chief Grape is keeping his wine in line, Smokey is discovering what the harvesters have left behind. In addition to gâteaux and vêtements and chausseurs (we'll add them to The Glad Rags Bag!), there was this chapeau!...  


Smokey says: Thank you, Caroline, for this hammy-down! (Caroline was this year's harvest queen. See her photo, below). By the way, Smokey would like to add, "Did you see my mom in the background? Elle s'ennuie! = She's bored!"


Tattered chairs and tattered tongues. 


Chut! Shhh! Don't tell Chief Grape where I am... Discipline is for grapes, not Goldens!


Smokey says: "Even dogs have scars!" Most of you have read about Smokey's accident in 2009, when, as a two-month-old he was attacked by two big dogs.... Don't want to read about that? Then read about my parents "Great Escape": the story of Sailor Sam and Braise's honeymoon.

Le Coin Commentaires

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.


French Vocabulary

la cave = wine cellar

qui aime bien châtie bien = spare the rod and spoil the child

le gâteau = cake

le vêtement (les vêtements) = garment (clothing) 

la chaussure = shoe

elle s'ennuie = she's bored

chut! = shhh!

*Zee End: Au Revoir just now...* 

End Note: When you buy any item at Amazon, using the following links to enter the store, your purchase helps support this free French word journal. Thanks for keeping this in mind!

French Christmas
French-themed pin cushion...with wonderful typography on the back! A perfect gift at under $20! Click here to order this or another item via this link.



Une dragée = sugared almond. At every celebration (weddings, baptisms... ) these traditional French Almond Dragées are gobbled down by even the slenderest femme fatale (by the way, did you read my femme fatale story... about the ex-girlfriend that showed up at my wedding? Don't miss that one, click here! Even better when read while munching these dragées. Order the almond dragées or any other item, via this link

  Capture plein écran 28022011 085453Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France (My book! Dreams do come true!) "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." -- Mark Knoblauch Tip: read the 10-page intro to this book... and learn about why Jean-Marc bought me a one-way ticket-along the lines of It's over, Baby!--back to the States!


Window Whimsy (c) Kristin Espinasse

Photo taken last August, in Serre Chevalier, in Monêtier-les-Bains... (near Briançon)


Every year, Chief Grape takes time out from the busy harvest to make these leafy crowns for his harvest "hot shots" (those vendangeurs and vendangeuses who really shine among the vines!). He also makes the diplomas, like the one Caroline is holding. He really is proud of his entire team and it is never easy for him to have to choose a harvest king or queen. Félicitations, Caroline, for earning this year's leafy trophy! (To see our harvest king, click here and scroll to the end of the page.)


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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Love the pics of Smokey and the chapeau!

Bill in St. Paul

Thta Smokey, such a handsome dude! That looks like a very inviting hotel, even if it is only a one star - the owners must have a great sense of humor.


That Smokey is a cool character! It makes me feel happy to know that he and his mama are living "the good life" with you and Chief Grape.

elizabeth barnhill

Hi Kristin,

Have been an avid reader of your blog for months now, and have become a fan, although French may never be my forte.

I am older and uglier and far less accomplished than you, and yet, still with that writing "thing" in me - a need, a skill, ....although not a voracious and timeless greed, like Leonard Cohen typing in the bath, or Janet Frame holed up for months in a one roomed home, just writing and writing ..........I need an income, I lack skills, and I am fifty years old !! Do you think it is too late for me to go and study a Bachelor or Writing and Editing (AUstralia) or a Bachelor of Communication, by which to utilize the few skills I appear to have been born with .........My body is getting older, and I am going to need to be able to support it's care, and (hopefully) allow for some travel in that time also ......Do I chase a dream in this competitive world, where the young people seem far more attuned and evolved in the acquisition of self survival modes .......Could you advise me ?

With kind regards,


joyce Hoover

you are so filled with love, you start my day three days a week and never fail to make my sparkles, Love

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut Kristin,

Smokey, the “Ham’s that am”, seems to be enjoying every minute of the attention. He apparently has learned what tweaks the knob of the humans in his world and has mastered the art of supplying that need.

Eliza: ------ Being in my early 80’s, I can assure you that age is not even a factor. Go for it! Start a blog. People will find you and soon you’ll have an audience. You’ll enjoy both the creative challenge and, hopefully, the favorable reader responses.

À bientôt

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Oops! That should read "Ham that am"

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Eliza,

Im with Herm: start a blog already! Just go to or or Blogger or... and sign up now. Next, once you have written your first post, include your blog address in your emails signature line... and begin to build an audience. You CAN teach yourself to write, even better, and you will discover what *you* love to write about--or what you are good at writing about (based on the feedback of your readers. And it is readers who are the most helpful, the most supportive, the best critics/writing helpers).

When youve published your blog (dont worry, most all blog providers will help you through the simple process!), then you will want to include your blog address in the comments section of the blogs you visit. This will alert people to your website/blog.

My best tip: start now and blog regularly! It is the best writing practice you can get! Best wishes to you and hope to see your update, here, very soon!

William Mears (and Lee)

Thank you for the new pictures of Smoky. He and Braise have so many fans maybe they should start their own webpage. If I lived near you I would make a pest of myself and visit them daily, just to play. With Affection, Lee Mears


Good advice from Kristin and Herm! Just get out there and do it! My concern for you, Eliza, is that you think you are old at 50! As an educator of adults, I recommend that you stop associating with older adults and go back to school! You will associate with younger people there and that will revitalize your brain. "Returning students", as mature students are called here, typically have the highest grades in class. I recommend that instead of majoring in writing, you should focus on a discipline that will give you a topic on which you are an expert and about which you can write, such as some field of science or business or some other area of expertise. Learning more about writing won't make the public flock to you nor will it make publishers want to publish a book that you might write. Being knowledgeable about a particular topic will do that. As you write, you will become a better writer. Practice, practice, and more practice does that! Go for it!

Blessings, Mary

Kristin Espinasse

Excellent thoughts, Mary! So true. Go for it Eliza!

Kitty Wilson

Oh what a grand feast of photos of Le Grand Smoke today!! LOVE to see him, and his placid Maman too.

Eliza, I can only say, follow the two paths suggested by Kristi, Mary and Herm! Study something that enthralls you WHILST also developing the blogging habit... turn a wistful wish into a daily practice and voila: you're a Writer. As a prize-winning novelist I know and love often points out to students of all ages, a Writer IS "someone who writes."
In short, just DO it -- you will blossom into this longed-for role as it becomes your reality!!


Our dear Kristin,
Wow! Another wonderful story to start the morning with smiles(and continue them through the day!)(Love the Smokey pictures!)
Eliza,start your blog!A fellow writer once suggested that if you're searching for inspiration,in your mind revisit a favorite place and put down your thoughts about it.
Will start you off,at least. Good luck!

edith schmidt

Bonjour Kristin:

I hope you are healing well. Thanks for being so brave to share that experience with your readers.
Here's to a bon harvest!
Loved the Smokey's chapeau, so raffish! Have you read "the Sweet Life in Paris" by David Lebovitz? One of my sisters who visited France, when our son got married, wanted to know if that was an accurate picture of les francais? I think it's probably like comparing New Yorkers to the rest of the US. Right now I'm reading "Sarah"s Key" which is a very sad story indeed,but so absorbing.I was wondering how that book was received in France? I understand that there's a film version of the book in theatres now.

Edie from Savannah

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Just love, love the pictures of Smokey. I want to reach out and kiss him!

Eliza I agree with all the suggestions. A book that has helped me with the writing thing is Julia Cameron - The Sound of Paper - check it out.
All the best.


Dear Kristin,
I have followed your "adventure" with sun damage somewhat erratically as I have been away and out of touch. I hope you are doing VERY well, now, and will soon feel quite recovered.
I do want to caution I am sure you hear from an Arizona girl, you likely have acquired very big doses of sun even before residing in France. You is cumulative, and as I once had a very bad sunburn while quite young, I have been told to be VERY careful. I put on sunblock every morning under my makeup, and at other times if I am working in the garden. And like Smokey..I wear a deep brimmed hat when in the garden. I have a dermatologist friend who NEVER goes out without wearing a hat. Besides..they can be very chic, n'est pas?
Best wishes and big hugs,
Cerelle in Phoenix


Greetings from Aptos, California (Santa Cruz)! October in this area is like a beautiful summer month and today at Seacliff State Beach we have warm, sunny weather in the upper 70's. I have been enjoying french-word-a-day for a few years now. I lived in Paris and Luxembourg from 1977-1979, and have traveled to France since; I appreciate most everything French! Thank You for your photos and stories! ;>)

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Best wishes, Chief Grape for this year’s harvest…I hope the grapes graciously cooperate.

Handsome Smokey in-the-hat and congrats to Caroline for her harvest stats!

Yea for me for it's Monday and I've read today’s post!!! xoxo

Susan Carter

Loved the pictures of Smokey. I tried writing a blog for my friends during our 3 weeks in Paris and found it was fun. I have no idea how many people read it but it was a good way to keep a journal which I've always done when traveling.

Marianne Rankin

Elizabeth, in addition to writing and exploring an interest about which you can write, I (older than you) encourage you to learn a new skill, partly to keep your brain active, and maybe to increase your employability. Writing is a good skill to have, but rarely will "just" writing get you a job. Maybe learn a new computer program, or a little accounting. Figure out where you might be able to work, and bone up on what might be relevant and useful in that environment. Admittedly the job market isn't very good, and it's more competitive than in the past. Try to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Blogging experience could be useful, but in itself might not be enough to get you hired. The best of luck to you.

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

Eliza, you are never too old to try something new.......when you come to a fork in the road take it.

Matthew Mastandrea

Bonjour Kristen!
Its Matthew again, thanks for putting dog pictures up, i loved them! Hope all is going well!

Sara Larsen

Hi Kristen,
I love Smokey so much. Watch out, because he steals the show.
Just and Chief Grape and the family are so real and dear. Don't change; or at least, not too much. Hug Smokey and Mama Braise for me.

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