Sacoche - how to say satchel or briefcase (or "man purse") in French
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How to say snack in French?

Visan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
The faded painted sign above reads "Cafe de la Mairie". (photo taken in Visan) I am pairing today's story--which takes place at fashion school--with window fashion. Enjoy the colorful scenes that decorate this edition and please consider forwarding it to a friend.

un en-cas (or encas, pronounced "on-kah")

    : snack

French definition: 
Repas léger en cas de besoin. Light meal in case of need.

Other ways to say snack in French: un goûter, un casse-croûte, une collation, and "quatre-heures" (for the four o'clock snack kids eat, often after school)

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

Jackie and I arrived half an hour early for her second stage of the year, in the town of Six-Fours-les-Plages. Her first internship (in St Cyr, last fall) was at an optical shop, but this second experience is more in line with her career goals: she hopes to work in the fashion industry. Specifically, she dreams of being a styliste personnelle for the stars. 

Standing in the hall at the lycée professionnel, I keep my 15-year-old company as we wait for class to begin. To pass the time we study our surroundings. Near the entrance there is a bald mannequin dressed in a red and black flamenco skirt. On the walls pictures of runway shows feature futuristic outfits the students have created. In another frame, outside the secretaries' office, there is a delicately beaded handkerchief, something my grandmother might have made.

Like fallen beads, a nostalgic instant is dispersed when a teacher in horn-rimmed glasses bustles by us. Her arms are hugging a collection of dummy heads. It is amusing to watch as the collective heads of hair are further dishevelled by the purposeful gait of the hurried teacher, who disappears into a room full of hairdryers and sinks.

Returning my gaze to our immediate surroundings, I wonder if one of those wild-haired wigs is destined for the flamenco dancer? Qui sait? My attention turns now to all the French teenagers huddled in groups, waiting for the class bell to ring. They are wearing tight or flouncy skirts, leggings or baggy pants, inch-thick eyeliner or none at all, leaving me as much in the fashion dust today as I was at their age.

Curious, I look to see what Jackie is wearing. She has on her favorite T-shirt: all white with a large impression of the rapper Eminem. Over this, she's wearing a classic button-down jean shirt she's swiped from my closet. Wrapped around her neck there is a thick crocheted scarf in army green. She's got on her low-riding jeans and red Keds (or the French equivalent of red Keds, whatever that is). Overall, Jackie's outfit is a study in contrasts and it would take confidence to mix so many different styles.

Speaking of self-assurance, how would my daughter do during lunch hour? I remember how uncomfortable I felt as the new kid at school during lunchtime, when I would buy a sandwich in the cafeteria only to steal outside to hide on the outer limits of the dining hall, opposite the parking lot, where all the freaks hung out (the jocks were congregating with the cheerleaders at the picnic tables, and the artsy types seemed to go home for lunch to restyle themselves). 

In case Jackie couldn't find a friend to eat with, I packed her a trusty en-cas, something she could quickly consume in between classes. By the way, I hoped she would last until lunch... and not get hungry during the long morning session.... I remember suffering humiliation when my stomach cried out during quiz time. At a time when only scratching pencils could be heard, there would be those condemning gargouillements coming from beneath my desk!

In a room full of French language majors this was embarrassing enough, but for my daughter, who would spend the morning in a room full of fashionistas, a squawking stomach could really cramp her style!


Comments or corrections welcome here

French Vocabulary

styliste personnelle = fashion consultant

un stage
= internship, training program

lycée professionnel = vocational school, trade school

qui sait? = Who knows 

Gigondas window (c) Kristin Espinasse
Window in Gigondas 


Blue shutter clay maisonnette (c) Kristin Espinasse
Beaded curtains and a little house on the sill.

Easter window (c) Kristin Espinasse
 In theme with Easter... a beloved window in Gigondas

In window accoutrements we have this stylish "echo window" with a rooster.

A favorite window in Caromb. To comment on any item in this edition, click here.

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Sue at Naperville Now

good morning from snowy Chicago --
question: the rooster, I assume, is sitting in a niche that would have been home to a religious statue of some sort?
Best of luck to Jackie as she prepares to weave and follow her fashion dreams .

Bill in St. Paul

Good luck to Jackie on fulfilling her dream. It sounds like she is practising her fashion sense, something I don't have (as my wife would say "You're not wearing THAT again, are you?"). I was amazed the other day when I was at the mall and walked by a shoe store to see tennis shoes in all the colors of the rainbow and beyond. (We had a great dinner with M. Sac aka J-M on Friday night at 128 Cafe. Hi to Linda and Jean-Luc, Sandy and her friend, and Glen in St.Paul.)

Jane Thomson

" discheveled " - it's spelled "disheveled"

Deb Locke

I have a wonderful photo of that same window and fountain in Caromb which I selected for enlarging and printing just last night! We return to Provence a week from tomorrow, so this seemed like a little message of "Welcome back." Thanks to you for recording this shared memory of a lovely spot. And best of luck to Jackie as she follows her dream!


Darling Kristi,

I like to think that Jackie wore her red tennis shoes in honor of me. If I remember correctly Heidi gave me my red hi-tops about 10 years ago, I still wear them when I travel, they match my red "Freda" cape. The magic outfit that seems to get me bumped up to first class when I visit France. What a lucky girl Jackie is to have you in her corner for life. I love you Honey - thanks for always keeping me in the loop of your life.



Lee Mears

Love, love the windows! They are so creative. Wish I had windowsills with enough space for pots and plants. Jackie's ambition to work in fashion was my childhood dream too. I wanted to design costumes for Hollywood movies. I attended Parsons School of Design in NYC, but after one year of classes I realized I was not cut out for that competitive life. Life has a way of steering you in the right direction, as I worked more on my joy of drawing and painting and achieved a comfortable degree of success. Much good wishes for success to Jackie. You go, girl!! Lee Mears


What great photos always. now you can tell that jackie has picked up some of her style from the ever fab Jules.
Since the internet is everywhere there is Project Runway on Lifetime tv hosted by Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia of Marie-Claire. Students creating new looks weekly. And on Bravo tv there is The Rachel Zoe project. She is the most famous of all the stylist and now designs her own clothing line. The Paris shows.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Those windows have such personality! Do you ever see anyone peeping out from behind the lace curtains? Thanks for taking us along for a morning at Jackie's fashion school. The very best of luck to you, Jackie!!

Sue jean

I'm not much into fashion, but all the best to Jackie.

I love window pictures, paintings and photos, and the ones you've shown are lovely, so inviting.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Kristen, Love the window photos! I am always intrigued by photos of windows, doors and pathways ... entrances to new possibilities. All the best to Jackie on imagining and pursuing her dream! As always, thanks for sharing.

Audrey Wilson

I love the fact that the French seem to always have a phrase for our one word comments !
I ,too, love the window photos (a good lesson in always look up when on a photographing mission !).
All the best to Jackie on her future dreams


Creativity can be expressed in many ways. You do yours with words & photos; j-m with terroir, vines & fermentation; your Mom with fashion & paints. Jackie will find her medium because of the open encouraging atmosphere that has reared her.

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
I always loved the European windows with their wide sills, little lacy curtains and flowers!
Good luck to Jackie! Does she ever see any of the stylist to the star shows that are shown here in the U.S.? I think they are shown on the Bravo channel. There is one called Rachel Zoe Project.

I love to think of your Mom with her red shoes and cape! I wanted to let her know that I am seeing a Frida & Diego exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta when I visit my Mom in April! I will think of Jules!

Glenn from St. Paul

My younger daughter is like Jackie. I don't have a clue how they are able to assemble an attractive ensemble from such disparate elements--scarves, belts, shoes, etc. Then again, I'm a clueless Dad. On a different subject, a shout-out back to Bill in St. Paul, whom I met in person for the first time at the wine dinner last Friday. The internet is a strange and wonderful place, the geography of which providing a meeting ground that on occasion can instigate an actual person-to-person encounter. And with fine wine to boot.

Georgia Schall

Bonjour Kristin!

I so enjoy the everyday stories you write as well the delightful pics you share! Best wishes to Jackie as she persues her dreams!
We look forward to dinner tomorrow night at Ammo with Jean-Marc!

Julie Farrar

Bonjour from snowy St. Louis. I just finished clearing a foot of snow off my car (and I mean that literally) and brushing snow off trees and bushes so they don't break under the weight. Happy Spring!

Bonne chance to Jackie. It's great that French students get these opportunities while still in high school. My son was not the sort who wanted a four year college, but in the US today they rarely prepare students for any options but to go to college and get an office job. We've tried to help him find an option after he finished high school, but it's difficult. He's working and supporting himself, but in a job with no future. He sort of lost momentum, but we have faith he'll find his way.

And as for your doubt about your own fashion sense, it must be better than you think if you fashionista daughter is raiding your closet.

Mara in Wisconsin

I, too, noted the misspelling "discheveled" instead of "disheveled". I grabbed my dictionary to check before sending the correction, and was delighted to see the etymology of the word. It actually is from messy hair! Perfect!

Gwyn Ganjeau

It's so great to see that Jackie has people all over the world cheering her on. There is such a wave of good will. I hope that gives her a little secret smile from time to time.

the 'windows' metaphor was a great one for today! looking inward, looking outward. and there's a whole lot of personal style in each of those windows! 'window dressing' indeed.

I'm looking forward to seeing j-m in Seattle on Friday!


Surely Jackie is not "testy", which means "easily irritable, impatient and somewhat bad-tempered"!

outer limits, not outter limits

Kristin Espinasse

Back now, with Jackie, who is reconsidering a future in fashion... if it means having to take a sewing class! The girls at school welcomed her, but a few of them said they wanted out and that fashion school was not what they imagined it to be. This got Jackie doubting... Which led to another pep talk on the way home.

Allen, you are right, I do not mean testy. I thought I meant strongwilled, but now that I have looked up that one, it does not suit Jackie either. She is stubborn, and I am hoping this will work for her... to test herself and prove to herself she can set her mind to something and accomplish her goals.

I really appreciate your comments. Thank you! So good to read about the wine meet-up and new friends, too!

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

Love this mornings post because a parent supporting her child's dream is not always the case. Congratulations to you both - the courage to dream and explore the dream. Loved all the windows, shutters, etc. Very charming. Thank you.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

It's always a rude awakening to realize that you have to learn the basics in order to reach you goals. Hopefully Jackie will persist if this is what she really wants.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Jackie will find her way in the world. she has great role models in both you and Jules. I wish her luck with whatever she chooses. The art world is not an easy place to break.
Love the photos and I also love the wide window sills where one can place flower pots, figurines or whatever you heart desires.


Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Hi Kristin,

I love the photos of the windows ---I think they are so creative and beautiful.

Good luck to Jackie ------she seems to be smart, and from her photos, she's lovely. I think she just needs confidence ---- like all of us!

Thanks for sharing your interesting day with us. I always look forward to your photos & stories.

Stay well!


How about the word "feisty" for Jackie?


Hi Honey,

Your comment about Jackie worrying about sewing brought back many happy memories of making little dresses for you and Heidi, plus all of my mini-skirts back in the 70's. I used to hang out in the fabric store weekly, loving the idea of upholstry fabric for my micro-mini's...I also used drapery fabric for my designs. At that time I worked for a Dr. so of course I made all of my uniforms...I upgraded the drab two-piece white uniforms into great one-piece jumpsuits with epolets (sp??) and beautiful pearl buttons etc. Anything to add a little flash. I've been dying to buy a sewing machine, let's get one when I get to France. I'll show Jackie how much fun sewing can be...also I've been thinking about making hats. You can be our maniquin --- jeez, more mis-spelled words! What ever happened to spellcheck on this D#$! computer.



Kristin Espinasse

Claudette, fiesty is just the word!

Mom, great idea about the sewing machine....

Edie Schmidt


Loved the faded "cafe de Marie" photo. I too love to take photos of windows(also doors!). Hope your daughter's intership goes well. Keep us posted. Sounds like she's got a flair for fashion. There's a big art school here with a fashion design department and it's fun to see what
les etudiantes are wearing these days. Back in the day when I was a art student it was mainly jeans or all black attire tho'one avant garde girl painter always wore her father's striped pajama pants to class.

Edie from Savannah


Hi dear Kristi,
Your post today just wrapped my heart in smiles--- for the loving bond you and dear Jackie share,for learning more about you at her age(!), and especially,too, the wonderful post from Jules,and the life she shared with you and Heidi.
Three generations of strong women here, supporting each other through the long and short of daily (and beyond) adventures in life.THIS is what it's all about,real blessings from God.
What an inspiration!
LOve, Natalia XO

joie blair

Love, love the collection on window photos. I have one also, but not as quaint. A bit harder to find good windows here.
Something has happened to you in the last couple of months. There is a freedom in your writing. A dance in your step. It was always good, but it has taken leaps and bounds. Wonderful descriptions, lightness and reads like prose. The paragraph "Like fallen beads..." gives such a visual one feels like they are in the room with you.

Bobbi Hagen

Love the windows. Best wishes to Jackie as she begins to work toward her desired career. No doubt, she is a determined and creative girl and is destined to be successful.


Best of luck to Jackie... it is an exciting time working out what to be in life! Just starting somewhere is half the battle! ;-)
One of my daughter's friends started off in fashion school thinking she was going to be a worldfamous designer and has instead become a buyer for fashion and loving every minute!

Diane Young

Loved the windows. The French make so much beauty with so little materials. While Jules may have trouble with spelling (epaulettes or epaulets), I can't sew a stitch in spite of many lessons. I made a skirt once from a pattern and sewed the hem together. My mother was a wonderful seamstress and made most of our clothes until I reached the adolescent years and wanted the popular store varieties. You, Jackie and Jules are three very talented ladies, each in her own milieu. Bonne chance, Jackie.

Bill Facker

If Jackie's stomach "growls" she can simply tell the instructor she is without doubt the "hungriest" in her class for a shot at being a true Fashionista. Lemons to Lemonade :-) Aloha!

Mark Hanson

I took French only until first-year university. My French prof there said that once you have mastered 'y', 'en' and 'de' in French, you have broken the back of the language. Que pensez-vous?
Connaissez-vous les Canadiens de Montreal?
Merci! MH

Pat Cargill

Good luck, Jackie! You will do well. Work hard and keep your eyes - and heart - on your dream.

Kristi, love the windows, so beautiful, interesting, charming!

Gordon R. Vaughan

"Bonne chance" to your daughter, there are certainly plenty of stars (and other folks) who need help with that!

Christine Broussard

J'aime beaucoup les photos des fenetres du petit village. Puis-je utiliser quelques modeles pour les peindre?
J'ai transmis votre page web a plusieurs amies americaines qui apprennent le francais et vont coyage a Paris ce printemps et cet ete. Moi aussi, j'apprecie les informations que vous offrez, les expressions, etc.. A bientot de faire votre connaissance a Paris un jour! Christine Broussard

Leisa Smith

Bonne chance dear Jackie! And she is lucky to have a momma like you Kristi! xx

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Ah, but the fashion consultant, at leaast as the stars and other famous folks are setting out for their big moments require people who can sew! Understand the structure of the clothes as well as what is fashionable and suits that person.

Through my relatives I learned a teeny bit about this from the one who now has a business that does serve a few stars, with the great name of House of Execution -- because she executes designs drawn by others, and helps fit a gown exactly to the star on the big day. Not sure how long it took to reach this level of success, but she started with fashion design school here in the US.

I hope your daughter finds what suits her, and persists until she succeeds.

Hope she know how lucky she is to have you supporting her at the crucial moments, the mom who is there. And lets her borrow things from your closet.

Sue Lennox

Kristi...just love your photographic "eye", especially the charming windows!

Ruth in Carlsbad, CA

I was moved to post a comment by Joie's keen observation about the new freedom in your writing, Kristen; I think she is absolutely right, but I don't think I could have articulated it as she did. Thanks, Joie, for your eloquent clarity. Kristen, you are inspiring all of us with your writing as we all witness it going from a very good place to an amazing new level.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA


Love this story and the rapport you share with Jackie. She definitely is lucky to have you, JM and Jules as her support system. I hope she figures out what she wants to do and sticks with it. It's not easy. I'm also just learning to sew and looking forward to fun projects. I think it will be great to have Jules show her the ropes!

The windows are so charming. Thanks for sharing these and your wonderful story.

Shirley Babineaux

The windows are SO very French! You just do not see windows like this in The States. That's why we crave your pictures. XO

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