To spring for the bill (or how to say "it's on me" in French)
What is a "nappe" in French?

sejour + how to say "a nice change of scenery" in French

Vespa (c) Kristin Espinasse
My family and I stole away for a two-day séjour in Italy. C'était dépaysant, as the French say--or a nice "change of scenery".

un séjour (say-joor)

    1. stay
    2. living room, family room

bon séjour = have a nice stay
une carte de séjour = a residence permit
le titre de séjour = green card
le séjour linguistic = language study vacation
la salle de séjour = the living room 

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

My dad and my belle-mère love the area where we live, here near Bandol. They'd be happy swimming in the sea and working in the garden for the duration of their trip. But it seemed to me that they should take advantage of their séjour by seeing one of our favorite, not-so-far-away places....

"Why don't you two take our car and visit Ventimilli?" I suggested. Only, almost as soon as I said it, I realized that I had the urge to visit Italy, too! "Better yet, why don't we go together?" 

So on Friday we left our teenagers to dog sit, and we drove three hours east to Italy, where the Friday farmers' market was underway.

Jean-Marc and Mr Sacks (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks (lower right corner) came with us, too! And that's Jean-Marc about to buy the pair of olive green moccasins. We tried talking Dad into a pair, but he clung to his well-worn sandals, which he duct-taped back together before this trip.
Kristi and Marsha
Me and my belle-mère, Marsha, split with the men and wandered through the crowds, ending up at a peaceful park. I'm wearing the hat Dad bought me, and Marsha is wearing my mom's chapeau. Mom is tickled to share her things with Marsha, and asked me to tell my belle-mère to use her easel (both women paint) and her kayak, too. Quelle chance that my moms like each other so much.

Chit-chatting (c) Kristin Espinasse
The slow life in Italy. In the park we enjoyed these circular benches which surrounded all the palm trees. Just as charming were the Italian ladies who chatted about tout et rien

  seaside eatery - Kristin Espinasse
We stopped at a seaside eatery for pasta and when it was time to pay the waiter pointed to the bill and said "This (here) is tax and not the service (or built-in tip). You can leave the tip on the table." It was just an old trick to extract extra cash, Jean-Marc warned my dad. When confronted, the waiter changed his story, indicating that if we wished to leave extra (for the tip is indeed already included in the total price, as a service charge) then we could leave it on the table.... 

Italian woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
If the woman with a T-shirt on her head finds out I took her photo she might clobber me. But what she doesn't know is that she is a work of art. This is one of my favorite images from our trip--it re-ignites a passion for portrait-taking (only boldness is lacking, and to ask a stranger permission is to destroy the photoworthy moment).

The sea, beyond, was rough and when Jean-Marc and Dad went out for a swim they were carried down the coast by a rip tide! They easily reached the shore (near the little cove you see just beyond).  

antiques shop in St Remo, Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
The next day we visited St. Remo, where another busy market was underway--and there were several antiques shops like this one....

Brocante or antiques shop in St Remo Italy
And this vintage boutique with the hand-painted shop sign.
Ring the buzzer (c) Kristin Espinasse
 I hope Dad doesn't mind all the photos I snap of him. So sometimes I'm sneaky... and pretend to focus on something else, like a set of door buzzers....

"For my door buzzer collection," I answer, when Dad looks curious about where I'm pointing my lens.

Dad and Marsha in St Remo (c) Kristin Espinasse
 "Dad and Marsha"--whoops, I mean, "a colorful Italian walkway" -- yes, that's what I'm focused on here, and not these sweethearts. 

supermoon 2013
We were looking at the night sky when Dad mentioned something about the supermoon--apparently this was the night to see one! This snapshot won't win the "supermoon" photo contests, but this is how the lune appeared on June 23rd in the town of St Remo, Italy.  

Forward this edition to a friend, and help spread the French word. Thanks! For more words, buy the book.

French Vocabulary: la belle-mère = step-mother (also mother-in-law); le séjour = stay, vacation; quelle chance = how lucky; tout et rien = everything and nothing; la lune = moon 

Mailboxes in Europe "the hedgehog" (c) Kristin Espinasse
"The inchworm and the hedgehog" - Another whimsical mailbox to add to the collection

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


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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love the change of scenery! The photo of the lady with her little Yorkie is wonderful! Did Jean-Marc like the chartreuse flip-flops? They matched his t-shirt! Don't you love finding little surprises as you are out and about? I love the little mailbox with the hedgehog and inchworm. Is that a dragon fly too at the top? We didn't get a chance to see the supermoon because of all the clouds! Looks like you all are having a wonderful time!


Quelle chance to be so close to another charming place. I don't blame you for wanting to get away along with them. Glad you enjoyed; thanks for sharing.

Heather in Arles

I can't believe that I missed the supermoon! Sigh. But at least I showed up here to soak in all of the wonderfulness of your getaway.

You looking absolutely stunning in your hat--it suits you far more than a t-shirt on the head, even if that is a wonderful portrait. Oh, to truly not care what anyone thinks!

Have a wonderful week, Kristin. Scratchies to Smokey please...


Your photos and stories are wonderful! The super moon looked much the same here in Oklahoma. Gorgeous actually. Isn't it wonderful to have such nice visits with your mother, then your father and Marsha! They all seem so fun to be with.

Kathleen from Connecticut


What a great get away. St Remo is one place that my husband went before I met him, but I have not been there. Markets are such wonderful places to visit and enviably you can always find something which must positively have.
I love the pics and I love how everyone gets Marsha borrowing Jules hat.
Enjoy the rest of the time with your Dad and Marsha.


Jenny Nash

Lovely post -- and marvelous hat!!! I'm green with envy! :)

Julie Farrar

Thank you for sharing your family with us. I didn't get to see the supermoon because I wasn't feeling well and even walking down a couple of flights of stairs to the street seemed like too much.

I need a hat like that. I can't wear straw because of my allergies to grass and straw. I've been looking in the U.S. and Burgundy but haven't found the one that speaks to me yet.

I'll get to Italy one day.

Leslie Schultz

Hi Kristin,

I always enjoy your photography, but you are right: the photo of the woman on the beach is a true portrait. (As I am from Minnesota, I was also glad to see a Minnesota t-shirt so far afield in another photo!)

And I enjoyed the word...I will look it up later, but I do wonder if it is related to the English word "sojourn."

Best, Leslie Schultz


I live in Minnesota. I was surprised and delighted to see Jean-Marc in a 'State of Minnesota T-shirt'! Small world<

Edie Schmidt


Lovely village and nice photos. Makes me want to visit. I also like your hat!

Edie from Savannah


Major envy! Let's drive three hours and be in Italy! Sigh....

Bill in St. Paul

Beautiful photos especially of the two sweethearts. I love that Jean-Marc is wearing his Minnesota tee shirt!

Susan Dautel

Mr. Sacks is so well travelled! Must admit I find myself looking for him and found him in the photo corner before you mentioned him. Better than Where's Waldo! Thanks for sharing the Italy visit. Susan

winn gregory

Quelle chance my niece told me of your website years ago. Very nice photos and let me say lucky Jean Marc and you will never age Kristin just become more elegant or elegante. Merci, you work and we enjoy. BTW have on my own Minnesota shirt and am working in the Iron Range in Hibbing, Bill of St. Paul. ha!

Karen  W   -    Towson, Md. USA

I'm loving these recent postcard photo posts but I have to agree.... that almost impressionistic portrait of the lady on the beach is fantastic and well worth forgoing her consent!!

Leslie NYC

I suddenly wondered what is in Mr. Sacks. I didn't after your great profile of the bag. Maybe that's too personal, and maybe Mr. Sacks has the right to privacy(not to mention Jean-Marc!), but I am curious.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Love the photos and stroll through Italy. Something I miss while living in FL and appreciated when living in NY - the ability to visit another terrain or another unique city so quickly and conveniently. Thanks, as always, for providing us the ability to travel vicariously through your blog.

Barbara LeMaster

Hi Kristin,
I loved seeing you in the hat. I'm an artist and I just finished painting a woman in a hat like the one you were wearing, only in white. I love hats and you look terrific in that one!
Your Mom looks great in her hat too!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the very kind comments!

Leslie, Mr. Sacks often holds a bottle or two of wine. When travelling to a new city, Jean-Marc enjoys visiting th local wine store... and exchanging bottles of wine! I wish I could tell you what he got in St Remo, but I am not a wine passionate like he is.

Pat Cargill

The photo of the sunbathing woman with her dog is superb, one of your best. It reminds me to "get over myself" and enjoy the beach or a swimming pool and let go of what I think I look like in a swimsuit at 66 years which has led me to abandon this fun! Crazeeee! We are all beautiful in our myriad shapes and sizes and must remember to judge our self worth NOT by images from 6th Avenue, but by the way we live and love. Amen, sisters and brothers.

Your hat is D I V I N E! So nice you four had a getaway to Italy. What lovely memories you all are storing up. Now, let's hear some tales from the homefront of the dogsitters' "free" time!

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Love every “inch” of this post from the top photo to the last (what a whimsical discovery, hooray for you with the attentive eye)! Kristi, your comment regarding dad’s duct-taped sandals had me giggling, as this is so like my dad! You look gorgeous in your new hat! Speaking of hats, the photo of the lady with the tee on her head --- WOW! What a story it tells! So glad you followed your instinct and did not let this one get away.

Thanks for sharing your weekend get-away with us. There is so much to love about home and, as this story so beautifully confirms, a change of scenery offers inspiration and revitalizes. I’d love to go antiquing with you in these picturesque towns; now how would I get all my loot back home?



This is a post that I will treasure always...thank you for sharing all of the love you carry with you each day. I am so happy that we have each other, and what a beautiful belle-mere our Marsha is.



Thomas  Lewin

Dear Kristin,

I love the photos and the serenity they convey.
You are so right about the lady on the beach and the Kodak moment you did not miss out on.

It is a pleassure to see so many beautiful people'



Our dear Kristi,
What absolutely glorious pictures(!) and what a loving,warm, and wonderful post!
Your words just reached out today (as always!)(again!) and wrapped themselves around our hearts! I am particularly touched by your beautiful family now because today would've been my dear mom in law's 95th birthday. Like the lady sitting on the bench under the tree in Italy, there's nothing she loved more than for us girls to go for a walk, rest on a bench, chat and watch the Danube roll by.
how fast the time passes and how I wish that I treasured those moments more at the time!
St Remo used to be a favorite destination.
Really a charming place,filled with all sorts of neat stuff.... but also nice people. We had colds at the time and stopped at the pharamcy to get something for them.The druggist didn't speak Englsih, and I didn't speak Italian,so luckily we were able to communicate in French. He went out of his way to help us toursists, people he'd never see again!
THANK YOU for the privilege of sharing in your lives,dear Kristi, and remembering our own.
Love, Natalia XO

charming destination





suzanne dunaway

My stepmother and I, not Me and my stepmother, and I hope you catch MY typos, too.
There are certainly a lot of them on Loulou.

Bill Facker

Kristin, what a wonderful excursion you had. What stuck with me from this post is the waiter trying to extract a bit of extra coinage. JM obviously appeared to be a tourist, or the waiter would never have tried that old ploy! Maybe Mr. Espinasse has absorbed a bit of Mrs. Espinasse over the years and a bit of American has slipped into his aura. Aha! :-) Just kidding Jean-Marc, but ..... Aloha, Bill


i just wanted to say i only have time to keep up with one blog...and it's yours! i love your stories:)
p.s. on the above comment: the English Linguists have now accepted "Me and ______" as correct English usage, yay!

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Thank you so much for taking us along with you on your visit to Italy with your Dad and belle-mère! I was charmed with your photos and writings which made me feel the warm sun and the cool water on my feet---if I had on jeans I probably couldn't resist floating along with the tide to be deposited in the distant cove seen in your "stolen" photo of the lady sunbathing with her little dog. My thanks, again; you are a treasure.


Wonderful beach photo...the kind I like to 'sneak,' (even when my daughter disaproves.) Also liked the Minnesota T-shirt, having grown up in that great state.
The super moon was VERY bright here in L.A. Forgot to take a picture of it. Never miss your blog, though.

Leslie in Portland, Oregon

What a delightful weekend--thank you for sharing it with us! Incidentally, you and that hat were made for each other...beautiful!

Is the Mediterranean Sea between Bandol and Italy cleaner than it was in the 70s? It looks so pure in all your photographs.

Best, Leslie

Jill in Sydney, Australia

Every picture tells a story today - beautiful photographs - can't decide between the sunbather and the moon.


Dear Kristi,
Such a lovely post, and what splendid photos! Thank you for making my day, and enjoy the precious time with your Dad. xx

Jennifer in OR

Love this all, and you were born for that hat! :)

Diane Young

The hat is you - tres belle. If I could paint , I would make a painting from the scene of the moon. How magnificent the surroundings and the Lune peeking over the top. San Remo looks like great place to visit. Milles remerciements for the armchair trip.


What a fun trip! love all the pictures, especially the woman on the beach and the one with the moon which both remind me of scenes the Impressionists would have painted! I am among the fans of Jean Marc's Minnesota T-shirt since I lived there the first 21 years of my life. Milles mercis

Gordon R. Vaughan

Never ceases to amaze me how you can take pictures of the most mundane scenes in France, Italy, or wherever and have them look so lovely… even the scooter! And the scenes are so relaxing to contemplate.

You are collecting a wonderful set of photos of France that is sure to appreciate in value as you continue to add to it. There was someone a few years ago working on a system to display Flickr sets on HDTVs, if that ever works out I'm sure your photos would make fantastic sets for that.

Terry Miller


Not only do you have a way with words, but you are also such a gifted photographer! All of your pictures are just so charming and the one of the Supermoon almost looks like a painting! Thank you for sharing.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Loved your comment about the "extra tip" the waiter tried to extract in Italy. On one trip there, the first waiter tried to charge extra for the bread sticks (if eaten), the second waiter tried to charge for the napkin (if used). By the third restaurant, I asked about extra charges before sitting or ordering, but sure enough-something was added at the end. We finished our meal, but left only the correct amount of money to pay for the food, and didn't wait for the change! It is so much more refreshing to eat in France where the restaurant payment system is the most civilized! Loved the photos, and the mini trip...

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