My Journey from Arizona to France
le soleil liquide


Autumn in Les Baux de Provence (c) Kristin Espinasse
Picture taken at the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence.

fluvial(e) adjective (flew-vee-al)

    : river, riverine; flowing

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence and the list of French terms:  Download MP3 or Wav file

Kristi et sa meilleure amie, Susan, sont parties pour une croisière fluviale sur le Rhône
Kristi and her best friend, Susan, went on a Rhône river cruise. 

la voie fluviale = waterway
les ports fluviaux = river ports
la circulation fluviale = inland waterway traffic
les eaux fluviales = river water
la navigation fluviale = inland navigation  

A Day in a French Kristin Espinasse

Choosing the river cruise over the day-long olive harvest turned out to be the right decision... seeing that extra help here at home was not needed after all. Jean-Marc tells me the olive-picking chore soon turned into a pétanque/pastis fest after our volunteers showed up at lunchtime (a little late to begin picking) and therefore needed time to digest (via the pétanque) before gaining courage (via the pastis) to face those giant century-old trees.

Returning home from the cruise, I noticed the abandoned ladders that flanked the olive trees, and the fruit-catching filets that were still on the ground. Chairs scattered here and there hinted at a relaxed gathering, where the women sat tchatching and the men explored the caveau in which Jean-Marc had set up his wine cellar.

The bright blue ping-pong table had moved to the driveway and the leather director's chair (a gift from Mom) now towered over the boules court. As I tried to picture the players, I could almost hear cheering in the distance of time: Allez, Jean-Marc! Vas-y Thomas! C'est à Pierre. Allez, on joue!

Lugging the chair back to the house to protect it from the elements, I ignored the holes in the lettuce leaves (caterpillars? grasshoppers?) and tried not to think about all the catching up to do post vacation. Everything would get done. Rest assured, tout rentrera dans l'ordre. Thankfully, Jean-Marc had cleaned the house and kept up with the laundry, which was now drying crookedly on the line. I was impressed with the effort and touched by the thoughtful welcome home: seeing me drive up, Jean-Marc disappeared behind the front door to witness the expression on my face on seeing the crackling fire in the cheminée. Talk about a warm welcome! 

Hungry, I opened the frigo and saw desserts left over from Sunday (would the lemon tart still be good today, Thursday?). I tried to imagine all the good food the guests brought to the olive-tree harvest/potluck, which Jean-Marc tells me was très bien passé, despite the mostly unpicked trees. It turns out the olives were just an excuse to invite his old chums around.

And this past week's cruise was a wonderful excuse for a couple of other old chums to meet up and to celebrate 30 years of friendship. 


Post note: This restful time away was also an opportunity to write down a goal's list--something I have not done in years. One of the top items on that list is to go on another French river cruise (or maybe even cruise the Danube!). My best friend Susan organized our AMA Waterways cruise (she is a travel expert) and believes AMA Rhône cruises are among the best. Feel free to contact her at or call her at 480-831-9076 for pricing and more details about this particular cruise, or any other. Note: to reserve your cabin for the  2013 cruise, the time to book is now.

French Vocabulary

pétanque = a form of boules
le pastis = an anis-flavored liqueur
le filet = net 
tchaching (frenglish, from tchatcher = to chat) 
le caveau = wine cellar
tout rentrera dans l'ordre = everything would get put back in place
Allez, Jean-Marc! = come on, Jean-Marc!
Vas-y Thomas! =  Go, Thomas
C'est à Pierre = It's Pierre's turn
Allez, on joue! = Come on. Let's play! 
le frigo = fridge
très bien passé = (everything) went well 


feuilles (c) Kristin Espinasse
The fall is a colorful time to cruise. 

room with a view (c) Kristin Espinasse
Waking up in Arles... 

the locals (c) Kristin Espinasse
Colorful locals in Les Baux de Provence

Kristi Espinasse (c) Susan Boehnstedt
In my hand I am holding a chuchoteur or "whisperer". We carried the audio units to each destination in order to learn all about the history and more, thanks to the knowledge of the AMA tour guides. (Photo by Susan Boehnstedt.)

Susan Boehnstedt (c) Kristin Espinasse
A perfect travel companion -- and wonderful travel organizer! Contact my dear friend, Susan, for more info on the AMA Waterways cruise we just took. Her email is or call her at 480-831-9076.

Susan writes:

In the past years, river cruising has become a lot more popular and there are many reasons why, but let me just highlight a few for you (not in any particular order):

1. Unpack only once into your spacious cabin (ranging from 170 sq. feet to larger categories up to 255 sq feet).

2. Complimentary free flowing local wines, beer or soda included at every dinner. Unlimited champagne with every onboard breakfast. Complimentary gourmet coffees and teas (lattes, cappuccino, etc.). Complimentary bottled water provided and replenished as needed.

3. Gourmet meals with fresh fish, not frozen.

4. Complimentary city tours with personal audio headsets. Tours range from slow, regular and faster paced tours.

5. Complimentary bicycles on each ship (25-40 depending on ship), including helmet and bike lock for your riding pleasure.

5. Complimentary local and cultural specialty entertainment on ships at night.

6. Complimentary FREE internet and Infotainment system with free Hollywood movies in every stateroom.

7. Luxury accommodations with 82% French balconies on all ships. Some of the newer ships even have a full outside balcony. High quality lines and duvets in each cabin.

8. One of the newest fleets on the rivers. Oldest ship dating back to 2006 and several new ships coming in 2013.

AMA Waterways offers many different river cruising options such as: Africa, Europe, Thailand & Cambodia and Russia venues. To obtain the best cabins, it is wisest to book your AMA cruise 12-15 months in advance of sailing. We have all kinds of specials and promotions running right now.

Please email or call 480-831-9076 for pricing and more details.

  Chapeau! (c) Kristin Espinasse
Hats in the town of Les Baux de Provence.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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