Join Kristin & Jean-Marc on a Seine/Normandy River Cruise!
How to say "party animal" in French?

video of our home + "mas"

An old photo of "Mas des Brun"
Click to enlarge the picture, and many thanks to Maggie and Michael Moss, and to Maggie's brother Ian, for providing this photo of their second home that is now our own.

We moved here, to Mas des Brun (Brown's house), in September. See what it looked like then, in the latest video at the end of this post. Sign up to  our channel. We welcome your ideas and thank you for joining us throughout this renovation series. For the moment, we are brainstorming. (We hope to begin improvements in September 2013....) Please share this post with anyone who loves architecture or decoration!

mas (mahs) noun, masculine

    : une ferme provençale, or Provencal farmhouse

 Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: 
Un mas désigne une grande ferme en Provence.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

My first thought, on seeing the mas that would become our home, was c'est dommage! Funny words to utter on seeing the house of one's dreams!

"But what is wrong?" The realtor asked. 

"The place charming—it is just what we are looking for," I explained, "but I wouldn't want to spend the night here alone! It's too secluded."

"Not at all!" Christine assured me. Come have a look!"

I followed our realtor as she ascended the stone steps beside the garage. As she walked, she chatted about the property. "My parents live on the other side of the forêt," Christine said, pointing to the trees at the head of the stairs. "I grew up here and know the neighbors, who are just around the corner. You'll see...."

We waded past some overgrown buissons, and minded our hides while passing some prickly pear cacti. Just above, a great boulder marked the edge of a glorious field carpeted in wild flowers. Beyond, we caught sight of an historic borie!

une borie (c) Kristin Espinasse
    The view from the end of that field, where there is another well (inside this rock borie). You can just spy the boulder to the left of the photo, behind the chair. Below the boulder is the farmhouse.

Jean-Marc, the realtor and I stood at the edge of the clearing, two of us amazed to learn that part of the land belonged to the house we were visiting.

"Did you see the borie?! I elbowed my husband, who had already turned to the realtor.

"Is that part of the property?" Jean-Marc asked. How many times had my husband pointed out the stone structures, during a hike in the fields of Provence. More rare than the beloved stone cabanons, were the historic stone bories with their unmistakeable spheric shape. This one seemed to have a unique purpose as une couverture de puits. It covered yet another well that belonged to the ferme.

Christine confirmed that it was part of the property, along with all of the terrasses above it. We would visit those next, and admire the stone restanques that held the terrasses in place.

"Your neighbors!" Christine declared, and Jean-Marc and I brought our focus back to the field, in the middle of which a horse grazed peacefully. Just beyond, we saw the château.

I was delighted to discover the neighbor's potager and to see how the property was teeming with activity.... beginning with a couple of geese that rushed up complainingly. 

So the place wasn't isolated afterall! It was alive and soulful. Geese! Chickens! A horse and dogs! 

"Do you like sheep and goats? There are a few of those too..." the realtor smiled.

I couldn't wait to meet the neighbors, even if their châtelaine status was a bit intimidating. Then again, anyone with a yard full of chatty animals had to be down-to-earth kind of people.

Returning to the house, below, I gazed at its façade. The pictures we had seen didn't do it justice. It was a sweet and original farmhouse that had somehow escaped the horrors of modern renovation. The question now was, could we be as delicate and discerning in carrying on with the home improvements that were begun in the 70s? I would not want to gild the lys, as my grandmother used to say. And what a precious lily this was! 



le mas = Provençal farmhouse

c'est dommage = that's too bad

la forêt = forest

le buisson = bush

la borie = spherical stone structure, like a hut, found in the countryside of Provence where agricultural workers built them.

une couverture de puits = a cover for a well

la ferme = farm

la restanque = hand built stone wall terrasse

le château = castle

le jardin potager = vegetable garden

le châtelain, la châtelaine = a woman who owns a large house, a female château owner

le lys = lily


Lost in Cheeseland & an Interview!
I recently had the chance to be interviewed by Lindsey over at Lost in Cheeseland


VIDEO: If cannot see the following video of our home or mas, please click over to the French Word-A-Day blog, or to our YouTube channel (where you can sign up to be alerted to the latest videos that we upload). Having trouble hearing the video or viewing the full size? Click over to the channel to view. 


hitchhikers (c) Kristin Espinasse
Enjoy a funny thought bubble? Name this photo in the comments box. (Smokey left. His mama, Braise, is on the right)

Thanks for telling friends, classmates, teachers and family members about these words and stories from France.

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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.

gail bingenheimer

Il nous a demandé de quoi nous aurions besoin.
He asked us what we would be needing.

Françoise Pierron-Mathevet

Careful: stereo dogs on board!

Thanks a lot for your kind mail: I'm still following you, as you can see.

Wish you nice holidays, and a Merry Christmas.

Michele Dujardin - Perth W Australia

Yes Son, I know, she's got a cute little tail on her, but those Poodles are bad news!


Oh, I loved this video -- the house has so much charm and hearing Jean-Marc's voice made me miss you guys!!!

Kristin Espinasse

LOL, Michele. I hope people are reading to the end of the post, otherwise the photo captions might throw some people off, especially following the renovation story! :-)

Jan McKinney

Give us more of the inside of the house. Thanks. Off the subject, love your dog, LOVE pug dogs , I have a small black girl pug. Anyone around you have pugs?

David Simmons

Your house looks wonderful.
We've have a wooden house here in New England that was built in 1691, which is old by American standards.
That single photo of your "mas" suggests it might be older than 1875.
Do you know the history of your great old treasure?

Kristin Espinasse

Francoise - good to see youre reading

Ann, we miss you too!

Jan, the tour will continue... and, yes, I think I have seen pug dogs. 

David - good to read about your 1691 wooden house, and thanks for your thoughts about Mas des Bun being even older. Ill have to check back with Maggie and Mike, who have shared so much of the history via email. 

suzanne dunaway

Dog photo caption"

"Ok, Smokey, looks like a cinch. You grab the guard's pantsleg, and I'll run in and bark at the teller: when she drops the bag, I'll grab it and then we run!"


Your place looks lovely Kristin, what a beautiful place to live. I'd love to see more of the inside & I think you're so right to avoid modern 'improvements.' I've seen so many old places ruined by replacing wobbly old plaster with new.
I give my name as spabbygirl because I help the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings so we call anything old and proud of it as spabby! Is there a similar organisation in France?

Take care and have a lovely Christmas, Lynne

Sue J.

"That's two cheeseburgers, no fries, Smokey."
ps Love the new house and look forward to many reno stories.

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)

Hi Kristin & J.M.

Thanks for sharing the photo and video. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress of the renovation and to hearing all of the stories that I'm sure will entertain us as much as your last home purchase (and subsequent renovations) did. And, it will also be so much fun to experience every season of this new area of France with you!

It was good to see Braise and also some of Kristin's chair collection outside! The terrace, I recognized from other pictures will certainly be the new gathering place for many celebrations with family and friends - much like the shade of the big tree at your last home.

Thanks for all the new words today!!

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)


Smokey: "Attends. Is that her?"
Braise: "No. She doesn't have a camera around her neck."

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)

OOPS - That should be "Attendez", right?

Kristin Espinasse

LOL. Thanks, Karen. And I think youre right with *attends* as Smokey is speaking to his mama -- and as theyre not aristochiens.


The neighbors property was "teeming" with activity, not "teaming".

"after all", not "afterall"

I am very envious of your new property!


Cassie Alexandrou in Dallas, TX

Possible Caption: Oh, mon Dieu! I told you we should have left earlier. Look at all this traffic!

Kristin Espinasse

Allen, thanks for the correction. I make the same mistake each time!

Loving the photo captions!

Kathleen from Connecticut

"Are we there yet?"

What a great house and property. You'll be friends with your neighbors in no time, and they might even convince you to get some more animals...chickens (for eggs)' maybe a cow or 2 ( for milk)... Well maybe not a cow, but chickens might be good.

I agree that you should keep the renovations simple to keep the ambience of the farm in tack and quaint.


Kathy Horn

I love to decorate, I'll be following for sure. Also I visited your old home back in 09 and purchased some of your wine. Once back to the states, the bottle was turned into a lamp that I still use. Recently I used that same wine bottle as the subject of a painting. I get lots of compliments on both and love to look at both of them because they bring back such fond memories of France!

julie camp

Why do I love receiving your news? Each edition is a personal gift package, an invitation, not an "internetted ego trip." Yes, you invite me in and,I cherish each versatile visit, and now to your new spaces, places. Whether with book suggestions, stories or photos and videos, you enrich my life and I feel like family. Thank you. I look forward to finding out ways you add to an already rich history of your home and property. What will be your alterations, adventures, friendships, and holiday celebrations/relaxations?

Georgia Schall

Really! We posed for the picture, now get us out of here!

edith schmidt


Enjoyed Jean Marc's tour of votre maison. Our Victorian house in Savannah dates from about 1880 and needed much work which we did
with help over the years. It's now shabby chic. I struggle to speak French in a weekly conversation group and have decided I speak "hillbilly" French so at least I can attempt to communicate with our son's French inlaws. Our 3 and a half year old granddaughter is bilingual so I'm making the effort.
Votre maison est tres charmante!
Edie from Savannah

Bill Facker

Your new home is overflowing with charm and elegance, but the most striking feature I noticed during J-M's video was the silence, peace, and serenity around him...a priceless gift in todays noise filled world! Congratulations you two!

Bill Facker

re: Smokey & Braise ... "I mean, really, Mom ... they're a great family, but getting the door opened is a genuine pain in the ass when she starts taking pictures, and I've got to take a major whiz!"


Thank you JM for the partial description of your new home. It looks nice and so spacious. Shh Kristin, maybe your fans have caught your fautes de frappe. Je suis pressée à cause les fêtes et n'ai pas lu les commentaires de tes lecteurs et lectrices.
Châtelain (châtelaine) s'épèle avec un accent circonflexe sur le premier A.
Puits pour "well" a un S à la fin. And I think you meant "intimidating" instead of indimidating to have a châtelains as neighbors?
J'aurais tant aimé faire la croisière avec vous tous, mais en Novembre c'est difficile.


The rock above the house captivated me. I thought it would be a great idea to have some art (stone mural?) done (some day) on that rock. Art that creates the mood for anyone entering or leaving the house. (Joy, Love, Unity?) I got an impression that the stone is visible from any spot around the house entrance. Something inspirational could be depicted there. Of course it would be up to the owners to decide upon the mural theme.

Helpful "art on stone" links:


J'ai fait une faute de frappe aussi, car je suis pressée. à cause des fêtes...


The videos are a great visual treat, and it's so good to hear your voices! I'm looking forward to seeing how you transform your new house into a home. What a beautiful location.


Art on stone: something like this, perhaps, simple yet meaningful:

I come from a vision of Harmony in and around the living place.


Our dear Kristi and Jean-Marc,
Today's video is wonderful!
Your home already is beautiful, but you two have the gift of making any place you live
even more warm and inviting.
I always love your written words,Kristi,but these videos are really special. We feel like we're right there with you,sharing every moment. What a privilege for all of us!
Love, Natalia XO

Lee Isbell

For your jardin potager, you probably mean "vegetable" garden, rather than "vetegable," although I rather like the latter. ;-)

Diane Young

Der Kristi,
How brave you are to subject yourself to all our corrections and suggestions! Smokey is probably saying, "Hey, I called shotgnn, how come I'm stuck back here with you?" I think the rock is too pretty au naturel to change.
The opening tour was so exciting. We can't wait for the next one. Merci, Jean-Marc.


I know you can renovate without compromising the integrity of the mas. My little cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea is 108 years old which in California to still be standing is somewhat novel. Over the last few years I have finally done some renovations to kitchen, bathroom, living room and exterior while managing to maintain the quaint and cosy feeling while also being more functional. It sounds like what you need first is heat! I don't quite know how you tackle a heating system in a place that old with the walls as thick as they are. Baseboard heaters? I will ask a couple of engineering the meantime it is snuggling with JM and down comforters. hugs....joie

The Travel Insurance Lady

"To the dog park.....and hurry!

Zoe Willet

"I hope they'll bring us some bones!"

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

Thank you for bringing us to your home through this video. And Jean-Marc's pleasant voice was just the icing on the cake! Can't wait to see it all, the before and after videos. The field with wild flowers is a delight!


Oh Kristi,
Did your see the 'face' in the rock above your house? It is right in the centre and of a young girl. Not sure if I'm imagining things, but it seemed quite clear to me. What a beautiful place! Are you inland - behind Bandol? We passed through on the train in September.

Kristin Espinasse

Jan, I think I see it! Is it in the upper right quater of the rock, and it is highlighting one side of her face? She reminds me of George Sand... anyone else see the visage in the boulder?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Joie. Our plan is to live here a while before renovating. I hope we will not rush. But the cold is getting to us! And this might force us to make a quick decision (one that might cut into the walls!) Also, we recently invited three interior architects over, to have a look. Now I feel guilty about taking up their time, and the pressure is on to begin making decisions!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Julie! Your comment is the best gift! 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Millie and Lee, for the helpful edits. :-)

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Kathy, Just read Jean-Marc your note about the lamp. Love it! 


I see a face in the boulder.. (of course I do! :-) I was captivated by that rock in the first place!) I also see a bunch of animals -- a lion in the center, the body and the head of it.. and some sheep (!) around.. a few.. What an unbelievable combination of otherwise clashing animals! There is even a horse head above the lion! I could probably outline all those in Photoshop. The rock is awesome! Done or au naturel.

Irene Tanedo

Hi Kristin, thanks for the video of your lovely house and mas..JM speaks very good english..may I suggest that you do the annotating next time in french..i'm sure everybody will love this. Merci :)

Jenny Sanderson

Kristin, I have not written before but have been following your blog for what seems like forever, at least a couple of years. I was sure I remembered a recent mention of a cook book that French women use today...working mothers preparing family meals. I thought it was Bonne Maman, but the recipes there, using compotes et conserves, don't match up with what I thought I remembered seeing in the blog. I wonder if it was in a link I found through your pages! Please let me know if this sparks anything in your memory! Merci!


Hi have dropped off my email so have to try to find a way to reinstate FWAD!! Love the video of your home and this architect is certainly excited to see what you may have in store!! ;-) x

Kristin Espinasse

Jenny, I think you are looking for this book:

Dave Kapsiak

Do you really think we can drive this thing?

Dave Kapsiak

Cheryl in STL

I love the video and the commentary! What a beautiful place to settle into! It's all so lovely---thanks for sharing with us!

Sue Farrowe

Dear Kristin, I loved your video making the gateau yaourt. You are too hard on yourself. I thought you looked beautiful and relaxed.

Best wishes to you for the new year and your new house.

Thanks for French-Word-A-Day and now your new videos.

A bientot

Hoedspruit self catering accommodation

I love the video and the commentary! What a beautiful place to settle into! It's all so lovely---thanks for sharing with us!

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