quatre quatre (4X4) + photos of French landrover
The French word for "good"... and an amusing French idiosyncrasy!

What is the French word for peel or bark or rind?

Flower shop in Camaret (c) Kristin Espinasse
Houp-là! (Whoops-a-daisy!) Today's story was supposed to be about kumquats but I got completely off track. I should change the word of the day from écorce to hotte (see the missive, below...) but no turning back now! We'll get to the "peel" story later! (photo taken in Camaret-sur-Argens. The sign reads: Send flowers to those  you love. 9 euros for delivery all over France, in less than four hours.)

une écorce (ay-korce)

    : peel, rind; bark

une écorce d'orange
= orange rind or peel
écorce terrestre = the earth's crust
écorce de saule = willow bark
écorce cérébrale = the cerebral cortex

Audio File and French ExpressionDownload MP3 or Wav file

Entre l'arbre et l'écorce il ne faut pas mettre le doigt.
One should not put one's finger between the tree and the bark.
(Don't get involved in another's family's quarrel!) 

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

We enjoyed another break from renovation, yesterday, when friends from Nice came to spend the the day with us. After visiting the nearby vineyard Domaine Tempier, and lunch along the seashore in a favorite calanque, we headed back home for coffee.

When friends come to visit I can't help but seek their reassurance that the home "improvements" we are doing are truly améliorations--and not threats to the character of this endearing mas.

My friend Gilda is an artist who also has deep sensitivities regarding the preservation of le patrimoine (in addition to being president of Association pour la Protection du Dolmen de Clamarquier, she has a weakness for historical objects and is known to rescue outcasts including chairs (I can relate...), which she lovingly recanes, offering the rejects a second or third life). It was refreshing to see our home through an artist's and preservationist's eyes and to witness my friend appreciating its character.

In the kitchen, Gilda and I studied the large iron and glass enclosure over the stove. Visitors sometimes comment on it: "And you are going to get rid of that, aren't you?" they say, innocently enough. But Gilda saw the glass-and-iron hotte through the eyes of time, and was amused by its originality.

Fueled by Gilda's enthusiasm, I pointed out all the bells and whistles of the sometimes-rejected piece:

"Look," I said, pulling out the glass vasista-like window. "This opens up!"

"Isn't that interesting!" Gilda smiled.

"Yes, it is!" I agreed.

Turning the latches, which double as wonderful hooks for nets of onions and garlic and wild herbs one so often uses when cooking, I looked at the hotte with renewed appreciation. Never mind the naysayers, I decided. As for range hoods they just don't make 'em like this anymore!

la hotte or how to say range hood in French (c) Kristin Espinasse
A very efficient range hood -- though not everyone appreciates the style....

Should I stay or should I go now? (What old French hottes ask themselves during renovation.)

 Comments, corrections, and complaints (well, maybe not complaints!) welcome here. 

Enjoy archaeology? Read Gilda's article, Monument to Mankind, about the threat to the dolmen France:

Approximately 5,000 years ago man traveled all regions of France, including the Alpes Maritimes, and left vestiges of his presence which we can still find today in the forms of dolmens, menhirs, and tumuli. (continued here)
P.S. I didn't get a picture of Gilda and husband, Robert, but I did post one here a few years ago.  Robert is the author of Jean-Marc's favorite wine reads, the books Corkscrewed and Palmento

 By marcia fyfe

Photo by Marcia Fyfe

By the way, here's a picture of our old hotte--or the stove or range hood we had in our previous house. That's Jean-Marc, looking for a bottle of wine as we were setting up for another tasting. Those were the days! We will figure out where to do more wine meetups, once renovation is past.  

pool in sainte cecile-les-vignes
Speaking of our previous home, good news: it will soon be opened up as a Bed and Breakfast! Thomas and Caroline (don't miss the story about Caroline and pictures) purchased the vineyard last summer and have been busy with the harvest and renovations there.

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


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Chère Kristin, j'aime beaucoup cette hotte elle a beaucoup de charme! :) pour infos j'ai transféré votre newsletter à deux de mes amis (well 1 + 2) ils habitent à NY et visitent souvent la région! trés bonne journée à vous et merci encore j'aime beaucoup lire votre newsletter :) Jos à Sablet

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

Your patience with renovation is to be congratulated - keep those positive thought coming. Only thought on the retro hood - a lot of trouble to clean. Happy weekend!

Julie Farrar

There is no way that I would alter that range hood. From the materials used, it might be from the 30sor 40s. I'm a huge fan of preservation, and when I finish the renovations for my house no one should be able to tell what was original to the house and what is new (although I'm 100% in favor of new kitchen appliances. No refurbished stoves for me.) I can live without walk-in closets and jacuzzi tubs.

carole Hayden

No wonder you are slim, you walked a mile in the previous kitchen to prepare a meal. Hope the present one is more compact. The hotte, I would tear down and replace with a hood that is meant to also be a pot holder. Yours does not look stable enough for what you are using and don't you want your herbs, etc. to be noticed? Also, they need moving air around them in order to not mildew. Carole Hayden

Kathleen from Connecticut


What a great range hood, but I agree that it might be very hard to clean. Make sure that the grease does not build up in there and cause a fire. Maybe you can unhinge the doors to clean them.
I love hanging pots and feel of an open kitchen. Ours has cabinets which we installed when we renovated the kitchen but we did keep a metal rack with seven shelves on which sit all of our pots and pans and microwave. I wish that we would have been able to make a bigger kitchen but we just didn't have to space.
Renovations can me a bit nerve racking, but in the end it is all worth it. I think that it is great you have been able to create new environments every several years. You get to use your creativity you won't get tired of your surroundings. I don't know if you see it that way, but hopefully you enjoy your moves and you seem to make the most of them. Bonne chance.


Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA


Best of luck with your continued renovations. We only did a bit in our first house and now we're renting again so I haven't experienced what you are at the present moment. I'm sure everything will look beautiful and I hope to see it all someday! Can't wait to hear about your new vineyard and tastings in the future.

Jules and Kristin-when you have 45 or so minutes to spare, you should go to you tube and watch Rosemary and Thyme, Season 1, episode 2 "Arabica and the Early Spider" to see Rosemary's trusted Land Rover. A great chase scene at the end with the trusty vehicle. These ladies are so spunky and imagine you two to be just as spunky together (although hopefully not getting in a car chase or solving any murder mysteries!). :)

Have a great weekend and I can't wait to share this week's posts with Paul.

Much love to you,

Leslie NYC

If I were looking for a house and it had that hotte, I would want to throw money down right then for a down-payment. A builder friend of mine advises, "Buy something sound. The charm will come later." I would counter that the thing about old things is that they often have reasons for their construction as well as charm. Maybe glass is easier to clean, or was, than other surfaces. I am a windex queen, but switched to vinegar and water(with a drop of blue coloring for sentimental reasons) to be more ecologically sound. The hotte adds amazing warmth to the feel of the room.


I like the hotte, I'd save it if possible and practical. Also, like it when you entitle your story with an English word. I'm better at knowing the meaning of the French word than at coming up with the French word for the English, so it's good practice. I would have understood écorce right away, but had to think to come up with the French word for bark, peel, or rind.

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
Good luck with the renovations and I think that range hood needs to go. Isn't it hard to clean?
I was admiring the handwriting on the chalk board of the flower shop.
Will you install a pool at your new home?
Have a nice weekend!

joie in Carmel, Ca.

First, did you notice the little Santas in the window in the photo?
You must keep the hotte. It has so much character. If it doesn't draw well, then it certainly looks as if you could put a new small one up in there and no one would be the wiser. But by all means retain it. I had an old (1951) O'Keefe and Merrit gas stove that I wanted to keep, but it was going to cost me more to fix it than to get a new one.
I have read both of Robert's book and found both very interesting. Last year I met someone at a garage sale who was packing up his family and moving to Sicily to make wine after reading Palmeto. He did have an in....his wife's family had a place on the island to live.

Leslie NYC

If worse comes to worst, you could save the glass panels for another use: coldframes(although maybe not necessary in Provence), room dividers, bathroom windows, end table tops. They are the kind of treasure I would buy or glean.


Our dear Kristi,
WoW!! That hotte is wonderful! Just looking at it tempts my imagination to wander back and see/hear/taste all that's gone on in your kitchen before you moved in!Sometimes something like your hotte is exactly what you need when renovating--one piece that is a bit retro and adds special charm to new updates.
Your post today once again started the weeekend off in the happiest way!
LOve, Natalia XO


I can't imagine why someone would want to take out that wonderful "hotte". I would love to have it in my kitchen. However, I am confused as to why the panes pull open. Is that necessary for it to function?

Bill Facker

Love the glass! Old glass is always interesting, with its imperfections and completely individual character. Aloha, Bill


What would Julia (The French Chef) do? I would keep the "hotte" as it lends to the original character of the house but hang the pans on another wall as Julia did. Anything directly over the stove becomes grease laden. Hope you are better in making those big remodeling decisions than I.

Marianne Rankin

The hotte is interesting and more decorative than a regular range hood - and it's probably no more difficult to clean. (I don't know why such things are designed with corners, but that's a separate issue.) However, I didn't see the range - did I miss something? Below the pots and pans are a container with utensils and a stack of books on top of something; don't see how that could be a stove, because it's not only small, it doesn't appear to have any burners.

By the way, when I was in France years ago, I saw that the stove in the home where I stayed had a way to turn the pilot lights off. The family had a gadget, sort of a flint, to use to turn the pilots back on when needed. This would be a great way to save lots of energy in the USA, but I've never seen either feature here.

Chris Allin


Keep the hotte!!! I usually read your posts as soon as they come in, at 5:21 in the morning. My husband's alarm wakes me, as he rises early for his exercise routine. I languish in bed, eager for your your stories on the days they come in. I wondered this morning what amazing pictures and words you would send our way and pow...
the hotte! A new word for me but a very old passion. When we lived in France during my teenage years, my very favorite house had a hotte much like yours. I loved that house, that kitchen and that hotte. I have forever tried to figure out how to put one in my kitchen today.(I have a vision of apple green walls, black iron frame and the glass...along side stainless steel appliances. My french dream brought forward to today.) Alas, a hotte would probably need to be custom made. The first challenge would be finding someone to interpret the design..then the cost.

All you need to keep that "full of character" piece of your kitchen clean is a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Cleans like a wonder...so easy to use. (If you can't buy them in France perhaps someone could send you some. I would!)
And so to the hotte I would say...stay. Bring character to the kitchen...the center of beauty of the "unfitted" kitchen.
Thanks once again for bringing forth the most amazing memories....

Christine Allin

Sorry Kristin..I did it again..don't mean to spell your name incorrectly...

Diane Young

Love the hotte but would move the pots and pans as they seem to be hanging over you and that would be very distracting to me.
Keep on keeping on, though - you're going to be so happy when all is done.


It seems more practical and convenient to have the pots and pans hanging up like that. In my small home I keep them in a large container and then have to go hunting to find out where they are.




OOPS!posted in the wrong place


Cooee, here's spellchecker from Down Under...:)
It's "le" patrimoine.

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