A crush on architecture: le linteau
Buyer's remorse in French: le syndrome du remords de l'acheteur

Doux: mild, temperate, sweet in French

Tomato vine, cherry tomatoes, golden retriever, hide-n-seek, France, gardening www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jouer à cache-cache means to play hide-n-seek. This was a favorite game of Smokey's when he was one-years-old (pictured), though his hiding places were a bit obvious. Now, at 4, he likes the classics: a good ol' game of catch is fine by him. 

doux (do)

    : mild, temperate; sweet, pleasant; soft; lenient

Doux also refers to a gentle person--or how about a gentle soul, like the one hiding behind the tomatoes? Speaking of tomatoes, we're busy harvesting them--along with grapes--during this exceptionally mild weather. 

Terms & Expressions

un billet doux = a love letter
le vin doux
= sweet wine
dire des mots doux à quelqu'un = to whisper sweet nothings
faire les yeux doux à qqn = to make eyes at someone (to look at someone with puppy-dog eyes) 
Share more terms and expressions here, in the comments

Example Sentence:
Une période de temps doux et sec au début d'octobre fait en sorte que les apiculteurs ont amplement le temps de préparer leurs ruches en vue de l'hiver qui approche... A run of warm dry weather in early October is providing beekeepers with ample opportunity to prepare their hives for the coming winter.... (from FAC express and Linguee dictionnaire)

 Bescherelle conjugation guide.     Capture 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 looks like we will have tomatoes up into November!" I tell Jean-Marc, pour la troisième fois. I am excited by the findings in our garden, and motivated to do better next time. (Next time I will stake those tomatoes, which have spread like a riot across the garden beds. Though unruly tomatoes taste just as good, they are harder to find than "ruly" tomatoes--which don't hide behind the parsley or get tangled in with the cucumbers (will need to tie those up next time, too).

Here in the South of France, the weather on this 22nd of October is si doux! si doux! It's so mild outside. I watch the locals swim in the sea and the farmers collecting grapes this late in the season. (As I type this, Jean-Marc and the kids are high on the hill behind our house, working on a morning-long vendange. And when they are done, I know one of them will return to the beach, to wash all the grape juice off with the help of a salt-water bath!)

But back to fall weather... I love to see the autumn wildflowers pop up and to discover which plants are flowering. The roadsides are flanked with yellow beauties called millepertuis, or "a thousand holes"--for the tiny perforated leaves they sport. (In English we call them St John's wort). Some use the flowers to treat depression. My husband uses them to organically care for his vines (do vines get the blues?)

Also flowering here in our garden are the verbena plants—in French la verveine. Their blossoms are like lacy spears and, though silver-tinted, they are pretty in the golden vase Mom brought me years ago from Mexico.

I'm on my way outside now, to collect another bunch of verveine—for the lemony aroma, which freshens the house (and, some say, wards off les moustiques... But my experience is that it attracts the very same! Just last night I stood there with une poignée of leaves (to sweeten my tea) when--zap!--I was bitten by a flimsy passer-by! I watched as the drunk pest staggered off through the air, leaving its victim seething with vexation. How a weightless bully can displace a giant ever amazes me. 

No use letting a wobbly mosquito ruin one's mood. An extra drop of honey in one's tea is sometimes enough to restore sanity. (And a dab of miel on one's mosquito bite couldn't hurt either). When it comes to lotions and potions, Mother Nature's pharmacy is full of possibilities.

*    *    *

  Melissa and cabanon

Pictured above: In other "flowering plants of October," here are some melisse, or lemon balm (I think...). A friend thought it was de la menthe, or mint--and though it tastes a little minty, it is not mint. What would you call a plant whose leaves looked like mint and whose flowers looked like this, pinkish-red?

French Vocabulary
pour la troisième fois = for the third time
si doux = so mild
la vendange = grape harvest
le millepertuis = St John's wort
la verveine = verbena
le moustique = mosquito
une poignée = a handful
le miel = honey
    =>expression, être tout sucre, tout miel 


Hibiscus and smokey
Bill Facker, are you reading? Here is the hibiscus plant you bought us in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. We dragged it south, when we moved. One year later--it's bloomed! (pictured: Smokey, in a rare holding-that-tongue-in moment).

Rosemary and smokey
Like the verbena plant in our yard, this rosemary is very old. But oh the blossoms it produces! What do you use rosemary or verbena for? Share some ideas, here, in the comments box.

Lemon verbena in the house. Did you read the previous post, about our current remodel project? Click here to see it. The work has not advanced since then.... 

Plastic protection sheet
Mom's painting matches the construction tape that holds up these plastic walls. The idea is to keep out dust....

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


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Love your site and very helpful.... thanks.

Heather in Arles

Photos of Smokey or Braise make my day every single time, it is without fail! And this makes twice in a row that there are some similarity in our posts (I had a few emails from our shared readers to point it out!). :)
Ben no longer plays cache-cache save for when he wants me to feed him. Then he will do the "one eye peeking around the corner" which he knows will make me cave in from cuteness every time.
Perhaps I would be more content with the weather if I had a fine swimming hole to dive into but 75°?!? I am OVER it!!! I want to start wearing sweaters and eating choucroute...


Fabulous photos today ...chapeau!

Geraldine Ventura

I use rosemary a lot when cooking lamb dishes. I also have it in my garden but have never seen flowers on the plants. You are so blessed to live in the South of France!

G. Brown

In addition to using rosemary in both savory and sweet recipes, the dried needles make perfect pin cushion fillings to keep our needles sharp.
Lemon verbena leaves when dried hold their fragrance, perfect to use when crumbled into shortbread dough


Lemon balm is in the mint family. Check its stem. I was told years ago that you can tell if something is in the mint family by its square stem.

Mariel Bossert

J'utilise rosemary pour les pommes de terre rotis..Delicieuse!


Kristin Espinasse

Enjoying these useful and interesting tips--thanks!

Emma and AixCentric -- many thanks for your positive words. 

Passante, I will go and see if the stems are square.

G., love the pincushion tip. Makes me want to take up sewing! And re shortbread, I wonder if the same is true for yogurt cakes? (Have never made shortbread...)

Mariel, mmm, pommes de terre -- that I can do! I need to use up a drawerful in the fridge... Maybe Geraldine will share some of her lamb to go with them?

Heather, those are heavenly pictures of your dogs. 

Blossoming in Provence:


Suzanne Codi

Sooo jealous that you have Lemon Verbena growing in your garden, and enough to pick and bring indoors...It's my scent of choice for eau de toilettes, so clean and refreshing...and reminiscent of Provence!

On the other hand, I pull Oregano and Lemon Balm out by the bushel , they grow like weeds!
Rosemary is great on chicken, baked with olive oil. And on toasted herb/garlic bread too. Bon apetit!


We have a big pot of rosemary growing on our lanai in Florida. I love it when the wind ruffles its feathers and the aroma wafts over us.

I make a marinade in the bender of rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper, sometimes some thyme, and olive oil. I use this to marinate lamb chops overnight, which we grill the next day after scraping them off.

Love, love, love the golden pictures. Our guy "hides" by turning his head. If he can't see you, he thinks you can't see him! As we speak, he is moping in the backseat of the car as we make the three-day drive from Michigan to Florida, just in time to escape the cold and reunite with the rosemary bush.

Jane Thomson

"Steak" those tomatoes? I'm sure you meant "stake" them! :-)

Sandy Zeoli

Makes me wish I were there. However, I would prefer to "stake" my tomatoes and leave the "steak" to those who are hungry.

Judy Smith

Rosemary symbolises remembrance but we use it with roast lamb in U.K.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and besutiful pictures(as
always!)Your descriptions are magic!How privileged we are to be part of your life!
Thank you!
Natalia XO

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

I use rosemary inside a whole chicken when I am roasting it in the oven. Just wash a couple of sprigs and in they go with a quartered lemon. Hope they get the window seat in before the weather turns cold and rainy. Have they figured out the flooding issue? Love the pictures of Smokey and your plants. Thanks, Nancy

Young Paciello

My favorite recipe for lamb chops uses rosemary: Make a paste of 3 T of Dijon mustard à l'ancienne (the granular mustard like Maille), 2 T of honey and 2 tsp of chopped fine rosemary. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper and spread paste on one side of lamb. When first side is done on grill, turn over and slather 2nd side. Voilà! Make roasted potatoes to go with. Enjoy!


I mince some verbena leaves and put them in coconut palm sugar and use for baking. I just adore your site. Cheri

julie camp

Maybe your tomatoes proliferated because they were born and raised free. Your gentle humor delights the day. Thanks, always, for the joy you deliver. -julie-

Chris Allin

Smokey just melts my heart...

Perhaps your mystery plant is salvia mycrophylla? It is in
the mint family. While trying to figure out if it grows in France,
I found this website: http://ironwoodgardens.wordpress.com/page/12/

Chris in Kansas


Thanks Kristin,
Another good morning drinking coffee and "smelling" your herbs in your garden.
Do you ever make tisane?

Leslie Schultz

Hi Kristin,

This from Minnesota where the golden leaves are falling after last evening's frost...I love your mother's painting; the flower you wonder about might be in the mint family if it has a square stem; and on "doux" I have a question:

The post reminds me that I learned this summer, teaching a week on "Hamlet", that the English expression "Sweets to the sweet" (always printed on those little candy hearts at Valentine's Day) actually comes from Ophelia's funeral, the scene where Gertrude tosses flowers (sweets) into Ophelia's grave as a testament to her sweet spirit (that couldn't handle the viciousness of the Danish court, I guess.) And that made me wonder if there is anything like the expression in French. Thank you for these wonderful posts.

Leslie Schultz

Leslie NYC

Lemon balm, catnip, and basil--all in the mint family. I like to put rosemary in scones, yeasted bread, and shortbread. It is also great as a pesto, but you use much less than in a basil pesto. Use parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and then enough minced rosemary to make it taste good, but not piney. Maybe 1 tablespoon per cup of pesto.

Marshall Brass

Suggestion.....when using a relatively advanced construction like "faire en sorte que", please translate in a more formal or complete manner for our edification.


Karen from Phoenix

So happy to see those dogs! I still struggle here to have a little garden. In the fall/winter I grow my herbs I love to use in cooking and then dry them for the summer when it is too hot to grow any.


re 'other flowering plants of October' - the photo looks to me like it is a Salvia, in the mint family, also square stem.
Beverley in Sechelt, B.C.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Just love the photo of young Smokey playing hide and seek. Your beautiful photos and interesting, eloquent posts provide a moment of relaxing relief while I care for my mother at her home with the help of Hospice care. By the way, how did Smokey get his name? He isn't gray as is the case with most fluffy kittens I know named Smokey. I must have missed that story. And, does Jules sell her paintings online anywhere? I tried a search and discovered her name in a few spots, but none attached to any of the artist sales websites or her own.

Diane Young

I remember An Agatha Christie novel which used the phrase "rosemary is for remembrance". I can't imagine pork chops or roast without rosemary. Wonder where one gets coconut palm sugar? Sounds tres doux (douce?).Your pictures are so expressive of the area and its charm. I thought at first that the white sheet with the red marks was an early Halloween ghost but saw in the next picture it was plastic sheeting. Love seeing all the plants and flowers. Maybe you thought you would "steak" the tomatoes because of there being a variety called beefsteak tomatoes.
Your miniature ones look so good. Bon appetit!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Great post today --- and I love the "puppy" photos.

Thanks for sharing a part of your life Kristin! I also have my cup of coffee while I read about your adventures. Love it!

I have a huge rosemary plant that is blooming. I will look at it more closely and appreciate it more.

Stay well!

Bill in St. Paul

Well, you may be harvesting into November but in St. Paul and most of Minnesota we got a good frost last night. It was below 30 degrees when I left for my French lesson this morning.

Dave Navarrre

When searching for sal de baine in Saint-Remy in early September, Melissa had hoped to find lavande, mais, bien sur, no! So, her mother graciously accepted verveine instead.


Don't you just love flowers/leaves/branches in the house?! So wonderful.
Perhaps those mint smelling tall plants w/ the rose/red flowers in the picture are beebalm (bergamotte. They attract hummingbirds & papillons which is why we always have them in our garden...they spread similarly to mint...w/ runners...take shade & sun.
Love the photos...& your posts!

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

We’ve been blessed with warm days and a brilliant display of leaves this fall in southern Oregon. I put my garden to bed last week as the night temps here in the mountains were dropping below freezing. I’ve got a sink full of veggies, including green tomatoes which are now ripening.

Rosemary I use in containers and flowerbeds as it does well in our hot, dry climate. Mine are covered with precious bluish blossoms and the bees are glad for that. I love the scent of lemon verbena; such a pretty bouquet it makes. Enjoyed your story and your sweet Smokey pictures!

Bronwyn Jones

It looks like salvia gregii (Autumn sage) to me. It blooms for months, the hummingbirds love it, and it returns every year in my 6,000' Southern California garden.

"Officially named Lamiaceae, the Mint Family includes some of the most important and popular plants for gardens – and kitchens!
A few familial characteristics shared among most Mint Family relatives are square stems, opposite leaves, tiny flowers, and volatile oils in their leaves and stems, which gives them their entrancing fragrances and flavors (and usually makes them deer resistant as well).

As far as taste, where would we be without basil for pesto, mint for juleps, or oregano for spaghetti sauce? And herbal teas would surely go wanting without bee balm (also called Oswego tea) as a key ingredient. Other culinary Mint Family stars are rosemary, savory, marjoram, sage, lemon balm, and thyme." Bon appétit!


Greetings from Oregon! I love your postings, and treasure memories of time spent visiting Provence. Rosemary & basil (both together, along with diced onion) are lovely seasonings for julienned green beans. Moi, j'aime les chats, mais Smokey pourrait me conquerir!

Kristin Espinasse

These comments rock! All the information is the perfect compliment to this post. Extra thanks for making this edition educational. I am hungry for these suggested meals, too, and left with extra appreciation of these herbs. Merci encore.


A friend uses my rosemary as a mop for basting his favorite barbeque lamb. Enjoy!

Patricia Cowan

I make a wonderful lemon verbena pound cake and rosemary, aside from obvious cooking use, makes a fragrant hair rinse that helps keep the gray away...

Barbara Penn - Palmdale, California

Rosemary thrives here in the high desert of southern California . It loves heat and sun, so I have enough rosemary to feed an entire town. The bees love it when its tiny lavender-blue flowers bloom. I wash and chop rosemary (minus the stems) and put it into any tomato sauce for Italian food.

The picture of Smokey playing à cache-cache made my heart happy. Il est très doux, ne -c'est- pas?

Rick Spring

Some varieties of tomato are indeterminate in growth pattern (more vine like than bush like), so do better if not "steaked?". The determinate varieties, however, do tend to produce better when staked.

I am really enjoying your posts about your new place. Just as I enjoyed the ones from the Domaine Rouge-Bleu.

Virginia Ward

Greetings Kristin
We use lemon verbena to make a verbena sorbet every time we have guests in France and everyone raves about it. It is such a treat since I cannot find this plant in the US. Let me know if you would like this very simple, yet impressive recipe. Greetings to all and
les grandes bisous xoxox

Virginia Ward

P.S. Kristin
I've seen a few posts from Trina in St. Petersburg, FL, my other home town. Do you know her? A francofile? Perhaps we should meet. Any thoughts on that?


Our white dog likes to play fetch too, when she isn't hiding in plain sight. Rosemary..I just like to pick some branches and use as room scent. Also cook chicken dishes with it.


The cutest picture of the cutest dog!! :-) (Smoky in tomato plant).. My Precious/Spoiled/Dearly/Loved/ One would have been jealous if she could read what I am typing now. :-) ...but I lllove them All! :-)

Betty Doolittle Tuininga

Love this blog entry as I am very much an herbalist. But I have to admit I am unsure about the plant with the red blossoms unless it is bee balm which is in the mint family as well.

Rosemary can be used as a tea for digestion, but too much can be toxic. The oils are very strong. It is nice in a hot bath along with lavender and rose... put it in a muslin bag so it doesn't litter your tub.

As a vegetarian, I don't cook with Rosemary all that much but I do make soaps with rosemary and lavender blossoms for gifts and personal use.

Your photographs are so beautiful...But I think it helps that you have a wonderful backdrop with which to work along with your great eye for photography.

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