Photos of Roquemaure + souvenir: remembering September 11th, 2001
Pictures from Grignan + an emergency visit to the vet--and the French word "epillet"

What does the French word "micmac" mean?

The village of le Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
At play in the perched village of Le Vieux Cannet. Mom and I strolled through this town and took these pictures in 2006. Le Vieux Cannet is close Les Arcs-sur-Argens--where we lived for a time. More photos at the end of this post. 

Paris Monaco Rentals

France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France. Click here for pictures.


un micmac (mik-mak)

    : an intrigue, a scheme, or a secret practice with a guilty--or seemingly guilty--aim. 

Audio file: Listen to Jean-Marc read the French definition to today's word, micmac: Download MP3 or Wav file

un micmac: c'est une intrigue, manigance, pratique secrète dont le but est blâmable ou semble tel. (

To comment on today's word and/or add an insight to it, click here

 Bescherelle conjugation guideCapture plein écran 16052011 092531"This is without a doubt the definitive guide to conjugation of French verbs... an indispensible reference and not overwhelming for beginning students." Order it here.--M. Savoir (Amazon reviewer)



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

It began with the sweater I found in my husband's car. That was strange... it didn't belong to our son or daughter. Maybe Jean-Marc had bought himself a new pull-over? No, it was too small.... 

Just whose was it then? Examining the neat gray cardigan tossed over the back seat, I wondered if it belonged to a woman? But then, it could very well be a men's sweater. Forget about it.

A few days later I happened upon a veste--a black linen blazer resting casually across the cozy armchair in our living room. The veste didn't belong to us either. And this time there was no doubt it belonged to a woman. I examined the feminine tie around the waist and tried to picture the elegant wearer....

Once upon a time it would be common to find articles of clothing strewn around the house and yard, and in our cars. When we lived on the vineyard and had a lot of helping hands at harvest time, we amassed a colorful collection of objets trouvés, or found items. When they'd gone unclaimed, it was my pleasure to offer the gladrags to the next year's unsuspecting volunteers (the ones who'd shown up in their pressed polos and new socks, naively dressed for the grueling, messy chore of grape picking.)

But we left the vineyard a year ago. I gazed at the black linen veste. What flair!--such a contrast to my well-worn top, with its pit marks beneath the sleeves--hallmarks of a woman who'd let herself go? 

Vain imaginings! Vain imaginings! Just where did they lead--except to the garbage heap, where all fruitless pursuits eventually end up! I'd do better to put my colorful imagination to work in words (finally writing that memoir), rather than waste any more brain fuel on jumping to conclusions. 

Determined, I marched to the kitchen for a cup of tea when--crash!--I ran right into another misplaced object. Une casserole.....

But this isn't my sauce pan! my thoughts protested. I reached down to the ground where the little casserole had been left behind, like lover's underwear.

I grabbed the handle of the little casserole and, pulling it close, examined every nook and cranny. Well isn't it cheap! A tacky casserole at that! Flustered, I shoved it under the sink, where it settled with a clamor, beside a stack of cans for recycling.

My mind began to reel. Just where had my husband been all week? I tried to think back on his comings and goings... but my thoughts were suspended when the phone rang.

It was my mother-in-law, calling to let me know she was making progress on her moving cartons. I had offered to come and help her unpack, but she insisted she was content to go at her own pace.

"Well, let me know if you need anything--or would simply like to go for a stroll. It would be a pleasure!" I assured her.

"I'd love to go for a walk--another day. And when you come, could you please bring back my little casserole?"

"Your casserole?"

"Yes," my mother-in-law explained. "I use that one to boil eggs. Jean-Marc borrowed it last week, after I dropped the bottle of honey Cécile gave me. Wanting to salvage his sister's honey, he collected it in the pan...."

As my belle-mère spoke, I remembered back to the scene... of Jean-Marc filtering the honey in our kitchen. I was very nervous about his plan to separate the honey from the broken glass (!!), but found it so thoughtful of him to go to great lengths to rescue his sister's miel. (I did make him label the jar. If, after all my protestations--he insisted on salvaging the "broken-glass-honey", then he could be the guinea pig--not my belle-mère or the kids!) 

That's when it dawned on me--the sweater, the linen veste, the comings and goings of my husband. Mais bien sûr! Jean-Marc has spent the week helping his mom settle in, and chauffering her back and forth to our house for meals during the tumultuous time.

Almost on cue, my belle-mère continued: "and if you happen to find a black veste... I left it behind..."

"So the veste belongs to you--and the casserole too--and not some other woman!!" I chuckled, hinting at my confusion and le micmac following all the saucy discoveries this week. "Well, it wasn't a culotte, still, it was a casserole!"

My mother-in-law was a little confused, but I kept on joking until she, too, was laughing at my active imagination.

"No, it wasn't a culotte. Still it was a casserole! Une casserole!"

*    *    *

Post note: Funny how an innocent item can seem so threatening. Meantime, considering all the dents in my belle-mère's "tacky" (oh, for shame! to have said such a thing!) little sauce pan, I think it's time she enjoyed a new one. Then again, chances are she's very happy with her trusty egg pan. Best not to keep jumping to conclusions!

 To comment or to read the comments click here.

French Vocab

un pull (pull-over) = sweater
une veste = jacket
un objet trouvé = found item
une casserole = sauce pan
la belle-mère = mother-in-law
le miel = honey
une culotte = underwear

Door and oleanders in Le Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Lacey curtains and oleanders in Le Vieux Cannet.

Valley below Le Vieux Cannet (c) Kristin Espinasse
The valley below Le Vieux Cannet. 

Map of vieux cannet and surroundings (c) Kristin Espinasse
I've been calling it Le Vieux Cannet... but it's full name is Le Vieux Cannet des Maures...

Hollyhocks and dog in Le Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Coucou!" Hi there! (to the right of the hollyhocks)

Row of homes in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Row of village homes and the church campanile

Beneath the campanile in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Beneath the campanile, or bell tower

La Placette in Le Cannet Des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Shutters with heart there in "La Placette" square.

Front porch in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Missing column and cobbled path.

Door and pot in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Draped in green leaves and topped with pottery... a cozy village entrance.

Spaniel and hibiscus flowers in Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

A guard dog and hibiscus flank this quiet entrance.

Les escaliers in Le Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Les escaliers, or stairs leading to a private address. To comment on any of these photos, click here.

More photos on the way. If  you are reading by email check back to the blog, here, where I am uploading the rest of this collection from the quiet village of Le Vieux Cannet, near Vidauban, France.

Best Tips For Learning French - check out this free resource made up of our readers best tips on how to speak and understand French: click here. 

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Olive andBranch

Mic Mac in the US, is a name of a northeast Native American tribe, the Maine area. I wonder if they were a scheming lot?


When I first lived in France, back in 1978, I lived with a family in Le Cannet! The dad worked at L'Hôtel Martinez in Cannes on La Croisette. I attended classes at a little international school. Thanks for the memories, Kristen!


As a "McClelland" I am sometimes called "Mac" (pronounced 'mak') so I love learning about 'micmac.'

Eileen deCamp

Cute story Kristin! I love the photo of the stairs up to the private entrance! Have a great week!

Nan Morrissette

The Aroostoock Band of Micmacs live in northern Maine, Canada and other parts of the US. On a trip to see my daughter in the Blue Hill, Maine area, we visited the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor which houses information, displays, artifacts and artwork of the Micmac, as well as other Maine tribes. A wonderful museum!
Here is a link to the official Micmac website:
Here is a link to the Abbe Museum:

Lucky you and Jean-Marc... Charles and Martha live close to you now! We miss them!! See you in just a few weeks!!!


If I remember well "micmac" (not originally a french word but it became "familiar - or slang -french") comes from German - or Dutch - but surely from Northern Europe and means something bizarre, or "quelque chose de pas très net".
"Quel micmac !" often means "quelle complication !" or sth similar.
My explanations could have been clearer (made a mistake here ??) if written in... french !


Hey Kristin, if you left Les Arcs around 2006, it's just the year we settled - my husband and me - in Salernes !


Please don't get your mother-in-law a new pan without talking with her first. As an old timer who has pans from forty years ago, I only replace what I need to replace and hold on to what I use faithfully. After many years I know how they cook and what I can use them for and what I can not use them for. No need to go learn something new, I would forget it by the next day anyway, so just give us our trusty reliable pans, they can be better than family. Okay, maybe not, but they are still reliable.


Kristi Darling,

VAIN IMAGININGS !!! Oh my precious Kristi, I am so happy to see you come to the table with one of your deepest confessions. A wicked sister she is, the offspring of an overused imagination that we must constantly kick out the door each day. I have been learning a lot lately about this monster chick...she loves to visit little old ladies when they wonder into what the future has in store as each grey hair falls to the floor day after day as we run our fingers through our aching head.

Oh the freedom of locking the door on this sneaky girl, cloaked in her sweet voice of concern...depart I say...and don´t come back on another day...I have your number now and our false friendship has faded away!

I could go on and on about that little 6i&$%# - but I have better things to occupy my mind, and thanks to you Kristi today I had a nice stroll down memory lane when we visited Le Cannet so many years ago...I´m off to paint your wonderful photo of the two boys spinning the soccer ball behind the archway leading to the compass tiles. What a wonderful day - please take me there again.





AH! Jules, you're back! I'm so happy! And I can certainly see where Kristi gets her grand imagination and creativity! To have our own private place to escape is the greatest of life's luxuries and blessings. ENJOY your particolored world of paints-- as we all continue to enjoy Kristi's words of wit, wonder and wisdom! ;)


Hi Alisa,

I have missed you too! You are a treasure that I found through Kristi´s blog many years ago...I adore you and thank you for keeping me in your thoughts each day as I do you.



Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


I love your blog partly for your photos; I travel vicariously through you.

I love that you are so in love.

I love that you write the details of how life is not always so perfect, but can be worked through with those who care enough to journey with us.

I love that we both adore our mothers and have wonderful relationships with them. So, of course, I love reading every word Jules has to add.

As always, thanks to both of you for sharing,

Marcia Douglas

I opened your blog after first reading another French blog I receive in my email - "Oour House in Provence" - he had a very similar photo of a church tower located in Faucon, France. It's amazing how similar they are! I thought I was seeing double, lol.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Great story & I love the photos. Thank you!

Glad to see that Jules is back!

Stay well!


Our dear Kristi,
First of all, welcome back,dear Jules! Have missed reading your comments,hearing about your life, and especially,how much you love our wonderful Kristi and her family!
Kristi, these pictures are beautiful but your post today is gorgeous and eloquently written.
Once again you have shown us another important lesson: don't jump to conclusions and make judgements! So easy to say,so hard to do!
Will try to remember this! (again!)
Love, Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much for the mic mac / Micmac information!

Mom, YOU ARE BACK!!! People are going to think we are speaking our own language, re the vain imaginings--in reality Mom and I are enjoying the same book, by Thomas Y Kempis: But I love how you bring it to life, Mom! 

Sharon, Good point. We do have our favorite pans :-) I meant to add, at the end of my story, that I no longer found that little casserole tacky, but endearing

Trina and Natalia, and Faye--your warmth and encouragements are so touching. Thank you!

Marcia, great photos of the campanile and the village.

Just back from the veterinarians. We had an emergency with Braise -- but all is well. Signing off now... see you later and many thanks for taking the time to read and to comment. Your words are much appreciated! Special thoughts go out to our Colorado readers....



Is Le Vieux Cannet near Le Cannet? I Google-mapped both and I can't tell. The painter Pierre Bonnard lived and worked in Le Cannet and made lush, beautiful landscapes there.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Thank you for this story, for I too have been visited by vain imaginings! They come when I am feeling insecure; as was the case last week. No good do they bring me, or my loved ones, when my suspicions taint my thinking. Or wait, you have made good use of their visit, transforming them through your writing into a story for all to enjoy and learn from! Much better than sweeping them under the rug or throwing them out with une casserole! So cherish your sense of humor, Kristi!

Hello Jules, glad you are back! I love what you had to add about this wicked sister who preys on our fears and high jacks our imagination.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

The "micmac' woven into your writing today was great. Next thing we know you will be writing "cliffhangers"! Does Jackie know this American expression? I know she is enjoying her fashion school classes;she can someday design and model what she designs!

Jules, so happy to "hear your voice" today and know that you are busy painting and feeling well.

Kristin, your photographs are always engaging but today they were especially lovely. You have me looking for windows with lace curtains. Last week I visited my brother who lives in the panhandle of Florida ( town of Monticello) where we lived during WWII. I walked down memory lane looking at the very small house where we lived and saw that the even smaller house next door had a fresh coat of white paint and was trimmed in blue. Every window had lace curtains and under the two front windows dainty red blossoms overflowing their boxes. It was charming: I thought of you.

Comme toujours, mille mercis.

Jennifer in OR

Well done ~ and I love the short description you give each photo at the end, that is an art in itself.

Christine Allin


If one waits long enough after reading what you have written, all the thoughts and emotions that come to mind are already a very eloquent other readers. Such is the universal appeal of your

My first thought today was...Yay.. Jules is back!!! And Alisa said it so beautifully.

Chris in Kansas

Christine Allin

Hoping that Braise will continue to be okay.....

Diane Young

Nous sommes tres heureuse (?sp?) to have our beloved Jules back. Kristi, your pictures are so beautiful and bring much joy to all of us.Now we've heard about micmac, where did mishmash originate? Fascinating to learn about tribes of people unknown before to most of us. Glad the mysterious pieces of the puzzle were solved by your belle-mere.

Bo Brown

I don't see this anywhere here, recently I rented a lovely, funny movies called Micmacs directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. We enjoyed it very much. Loved your story. Don't know if this link will work:


Hahaha, your suspense story today is well written and funny. We are the same, ... with fertile imagination, like my friend has once told me.
J'ai lu ton histoire tout lentement, car ma vision ne progresse pas bien. :-(

Pat Cargill

Beautiful pics and I love that this is a walk down memory lane with dear Jules: hello, welcome back Jules. My version of micmac would be on a trip to Pawleys Island, SC, years ago when Sam was just a baby. My sister came with us, as well as a blender! In the not-so-late evening, Josye and I would want to mix a frozen cocktail, but Randy was already in bed and waking him would bring on the wrath of Zeus! Desperados, we resorted to covering the blender in pillows, both of us hanging on to the blender to muffle the sound AND terrified it would still be too loud and wake up the sleeping ogre. I stress he was only an ogre if ever awakened by noises after going to asleep!

We were happy little beach campers as we sat on the porch that night, sipping our summer drinks and awfully tickled to have gotten away with it! This escapade was at nine o'clock at night, btw, not the hour when one should have to be so careful. He goes to bed with the chickens!

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA


As usual, love the photos. I would love to walk through each and every one of those doors if I could. How magical they are! Thanks for sharing this beautiful place with us.

Jules--so happy you're back!

I hope Braise is okay, please keep us posted.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Loved the sweet story as well! Your MIL is a treasure!

Donna Huisinga

Found you while looking up meaning of “Micmac.” Fun story and look forward to more. My dream would be a life in France but should have had it long ago. Love your photos and just hope to I can visit there again some day.

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