alerte meteo

relancer + pomegranates and grandmothers c'est sympa!

pomegranate, grenadier, basket, cabanon, rush-bottom chair, and olive trees in France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.french-word-a-day.comMiam-miam is French for yum. Recently, Jean-Marc bought some used wine-making equipment. The farmer's wife who sold it to him threw in a couple of  antique wine-presses, some old  wine barrels, and even a bucket of pomegranates! (Have you ever eaten one? Inside, there's a bunch of ruby red fruit, the size of a tooth. The French use it to make the famous grenadine syrup--but the "teeth" are fun to eat, too--just watch out for all the seeds. Do you spit them out or swallow them?)

rental in Provence

Rental in Provence Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa can comfortably sleep 7-9 adults. Inquire here.

relancer (reuh-lahn-say)

    : to bug somebody about (to remind him or her)
    : to reboot (computer)
    : to revive, or boot (economy, project)

relancer un client = to make a follow-up call to a client
se faire relancer = to receive a reminder

Thrilled to learn that a high school class has signed on to receive French Word-A-Day via email (thanks professor Engelkemeir!), I am now going to relancer my call to teachers: please keep this French language blog in mind as a learning resource for students. I've beefed up the vocab section for you today, in thanks for your consideration. (And I'll get my kids to help with the sound files, after falling behind this week!)

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

My mother-in-law called yesterday, and I had a hard time hearing her. She is no longer using a land-line, but keeps her cell phone for communication. 

"I'm sorry, could you please say that again?" I'd asked the question twice already, and didn't want to scare her away--or, worse, la vexer--by asking once again. 


"Ah! Max came by and you ate together. C'est sympa!" I was delighted to learn our 18-year-old had stopped by his grandmother's on the way home from school. This was definitely one of the perks of her recent déménagement from Marseilles. Seeing each other is a joy that is réciproque for both grand-mère and petit-fils.

grandson and grandmother, petit-fils, grand-mère (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.french-word-a-day.com
    Ten years ago, when Max was 8. He was devoted to his grand-mère even then.

"I made him a gratin dauphinois," Michele-France said and, I admit, I felt a tinge of envie that only grew with the next tidbit. "I told him to bring home les restes, but he insisted I keep it for my dinner tonight."

What a turkey! He's got his grandma wrapped around his petit doigt. Last time she made him a quiche that would have put Alsace to shame!

Michèle-France went on to say that, while Max was visiting, he took the liberty of hanging her laundry out on the line. "La corde est trop haute," the line is too high for me, she lamented. "I'd need to be three eskimos tall to reach it!"

I'm not sure whether my mother-in-law's language is politically correct, but her sentences never fail to paint a vivid scene in my mind, which is now entertained with the picture of three strained inuits totem-poled in front of the clothesline

After hanging dry her laundry, Max took his grandma grocery shopping, driving her to the market to buy "deux ou trois bricoles. And I needed to go to the pharmacy, too..." Michèle-France, pointed out, "but I couldn't make it that far. I wasn't feeling well." She didn't want Max to know she suffered from certain ailments, and so preferred to cut-short her errands rather than let on to her souffrance

"I want them to see me strong," Michèle-France always says, of her grandchildren.

I can just picture her standing tall inspite of her weakness. Straightening up her back in time to link arms with her larger than life grandson, as the two went up and down the grocery store aisles, a frilly basket in the crook of the taller one's arm. 

My mother-in-law ended our conversation on a humorous note, telling me about the bisous Max planted on her forehead, just after he finished putting all her groceries away (and setting the table for their déjeuner à deux). "He's so tall I can't reach him anymore," she sighed. "And now it is he who has to bend down to kiss me!"

Later, when Max returns home he doesn't mention that he's been hanging laundry and helping his grand-mère with her errands. "Oh, yah--I saw granny," he says casually.

As he turned to leave, I saw the smear of lipstick on his jaw line....  

I could just see her now, my mother-in-law, standing strong, standing tall--pushing past the pain to reach up high for that kiss. Wobbling there on her tippy-toes she defied gravity--stronger... taller... now the sky was her limit.
                                                                    *    *    * 

Max baseball cap

Max was a lifeguard here in France last summer. Most of his interventions involved resuscitation, mostly girls who had passed out from too much heat.

To comment, click here.


French Vocabulary

vexer = to hurt somebody's feelings
le déménagement = moving, moving house
c'est sympa = that's so nice 
réciproque = reciprical
la grand-mère = grandmother
le petit-fils = grandson
le gratin dauphinois = French potatoes and cream casserole dish
les restes = leftovers 
le petit doigt = little finger
la corde est trop haute = the line is too high
l'envie = want, wish
deux = two
trois = three
une bricole = trifle, thing 
la souffrance = suffering
le bisous = kiss
déjeuner à deux = lunch for two

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Bicycles shopper back

Max and Jules, Mont Ventoux, Vaucluse (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.French-Word-A-Day.com
Max (two years ago, at 16) with his other favorite grand-mère, Jules. I can just hear her now. "Now, Max. Repeat after me. 'You are ze most beautiful grand-mère in ze world!' " 

rue pourquoi-pas, whynot street in Toulon, yellow home with green shutters (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.French-Word-A-Day.com
Rue Pourquoi-Pas (Why Not Street) in Toulon. To comment on this edition, click here.

Pronounce it perfectly, book, French learning, tool, www.french-word-a-day.comPronounce it Perfectly in French. 

* extensive pronunciation exercises including supplementary help based on poetry, proverbs, familiar sayings, historical quotations and humor

* A guide to French pronunciation expressed in the phonetic symbols of the International Phonetic Association (IPA) 


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


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Grace McKee

Kristin, what a beautiful photo of pomegranates! May I have your permission to paint it please? I am a full-time painter (second career) and now live in France, having moved here from AZ like you - but only 5 months ago!


That is such a sweet simple story of the love of family and the binds that sustains us! Love it Kristi ...

Kristin Espinasse

Grace, yes, of course. Happy painting! I hope to photograph the inside next. One of my favorite paintings, a still life, features pomegranats.

Robin, merci beaucoup!

Patty Gibian

How very special. I am living in a wonderful, Quaker retirement community called Foulkeways, in Gwynedd, Pennsylvania
We have a weekly French Conversation group. Another subscriber to your blog told me about you and I am a new subscriber. I can hardly wait for next Tuesday when we will introduce you to the group.
It is such fun and will enliven our class immensely.
Thank you so much
Thank you so much,
Patty Gibian and Luisa Raijman

Pat Cargill

Sweet. Your dear Max has a heart of gold and is such a blessing to his grand-mere. "Il a un coeur d'or..." - is this how to say it? Bonjour to the new students. How I remember this direction in high school french: "écoutez et répétez!" Eons ago - and I should have done more of both!

Jens from Copenhagen

In the winter time I use pomegranate seeds to add to fresh fruit salads with oranges, pineapple cubes, pear and apple cubes, kiwi slices etc. They give a nice red contrast and a delicious crunch (and a lot of stains when you cut the pomegranate in two!).



I just love this mornings post - I am sure all of the new high school girls that are studying French are now experiencing a major crush on our precious MAX. Even I have a big crush on MAX. I remember when I first met Jean-Marc, I thought now here is every woman's dream of exactly how a Frenchman should look. And then when the two of them open their mouths and start speaking the most beautiful language in the world, well - what more needs to be said. I laugh right now when I think of how I have said to MAX, ¨Speak French to me Darling, tell me I am the most beautiful grand-mere in ze world.´I remember he was about 8 when I started this campaign.

I am looking forward to more stories about Michael-France and her new life in her new apartment just one block from the beach. What a great background for stories about her, please encourage her to keep calling with these wonderful stories. Also, you know you can run this story through the translate appt. and have MAX drop off a copy with all of the comments for her to enjoy as she relax´s in a cafe by the beach each afternoon...Oh my, I think I now want to come and stay with Michael-France for a few days to live her life on my next visit. I remember when she insisted that I come directly to her apartment in Marseille after my first cancer surgery so she could care for me. Viva la Michael France - she is truly my sister.

Also, your first photo has inspired me to the easel for todays painting session....thanks Honey for always inspiring me and filling my mind and soul with your beautiful stories...you are my STAR!!!!



Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,

I love the story today and the photos of Max with his grandmothers! I think it is so important for children to have a close relationship with their grandparents.

The photo of the pomegranates is beautiful! I love the light and the background with the little stone shed and chair.


Pomegranates are back in our supermarkets. I've already eaten my first one. I eat the tiny seeds since it would be too complicated for me to spit them out. Wonderful narrative today. Grandmothers are wonderful and your son is very handsome!

catharine ewart-touzot

How nice it is that your children can see their grandmothers frequently..and that Max is so willing to help out..it binds them to the older generation in thoughts and needs..I have tried to do what your mother does and visit often. He makes me think of my cousin who would visit my grandmonter daily and do small chores for her and later when she was ill wash and pin her hair up.

Cheryl in STL

What a sweet story! I have 2 sons and love to watch how they love their grandparents. Those relationships are so very special.

Brenda Prowse

Kristin, thank you so much for your wonderful posts. I often forward them to my French tutor and friends in the US who have visited us in Paris. Today because you mentioned that a high school class had subscribed it occurred to me that my favorite travel store on Bainbridge Island in Washingron State, The Traveler (http://www.thetraveler.com/) would love to have your informtion to pass along to clients who are planning to visit France. The Traveler offers language classes and the owner was most helpful to me when i was planning to move to Paris 8 months ago. So I have sent them your link and hope that other travelers and dreamers will get to read your lovely stories. By the way, We eat the pomegranate seeds and have our own blog at http://muchadoaboutparis.com.


Love hearing about a Grandson being so kind to his Grandmother. We just returned from the Luberon and wistfully hope for another visit. So many happy memories. On pomegranates- we LOVE them and are so happy they are back in season. We eat the pith figuring it is good fiber. I wish I had discovered your blog earlier. It would have helped my pathetic French while we were there. I brought "Words in a French Life" with me and enjoying reading it while visiting the area. I will be ready next time.

Here is a link to an easy way to get at those wondrous seeds: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-seed-a-pomegranate-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-182342


Dear Kristin,

You must be so proud of Max. It will be a lucky girl who one day wins his heart. The story of his impromptu visit to his grandmother was very touching. In addition to being so handsome, Max obviously has a tender and giving soul.



Hi K,
Are you kidding me?!?! Those girls didn't pass out from the heat. No doubt,they were faking it to be resuscitated by Max :)
He's so handsome.

Kathleen from Connecticut

I love the picture of the pomergranates. The lighting is perfect .

We too love pomergranates and I use them in a salad with other fruit ( oranges or clementines, star fruit, asian pears, grapes, melon, golden raisins, pineapple, mango, dried currants, and kiwi or any other fruit you can think of that would give color, and then I put a spice mixture of star anise, cinnamon, red chili powder, ground cumin, ground cloves, sea salt, lime juice, honey and oil ( olive, nut or seed). It it a great compliment to fall meals.

What a handsome son. I am sure a lot of the high school girls will willingly read your blog, just to see Max. What a great son you and Jean Marc have brought up.




I now have your painting of your top photo all blocked out - WOW!!! - you are going to beg me for this one. The secret to a great painting is the subject and you have truly given this to me today. I will trade this painting for 12 ft. of deck in the forest above your garden to build my little cabanon behind....I will be happy with just the deck for the next couple of yeas....!!!!



Christine Webb-Curtis


Lovely tale of your son and his grandmother. I have three sons (no daughters) all of whom love sitting at their mother's table for a meal, thank goodness. And one granddaughter (probably the only one) who has just started college in our city and who has already called (or texted, naturally) to see if she could come for the evening. Awww. It tickles me.

As for the pomegranates, I like them a lot. When we were in France last fall, they were served in a salad and were actually tender. I've not been able to replicate that and am hoping your readers will come up with something.

Merci en avance.


Joan Clark

What a gorgeous picture. Heavenly Father has blessed you with so many talents, not the least is your beautiful son. It would seem he is as beautiful inside as out. My granddaughters would call him "drop dead gorgeous". He delfinately will be a blessing to his "future" wife. And what a blessing to his grandmothers. I too am blessed with beautiful grandsons and granddaughters that bring incredible joy to my life and certainly a sense of pride bescause of who they are. They love serving others and doing all that The Lord expects of them. Blessings!!!!
p.s. Love hearing about your mother. She is probably my age and she has a certain spice about her that is wonderful. Love of life is a gift.

avril rustage-johnston

First of all... WOW! Max is so handsome! I'd call him a babe, were I not writing to his mama.
Next, have you sprinkled pomegranite bits over salads? They are very good, and very easy to sprinkle: cut the fruit in half around the equator then holding each half firmly over the salad, bash it with a wooden spoon or other implement. The bits will fall out easily.


You are a master at pulling the heart strings. I love this one and it is sure to be well received by high school students!
Bon Weekend!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the wonderful pomegranate tips! I cannot wait to sprinkle them over salads. So happy to hear of your painting, Mom, and to all the painters out there I hope you will paint the *pomme grenade*. You have inspired me to take more pictures!

Battening down the hatches, over here. A storm is coming. Wishing everyone a restful weekend. 

Bill Crow

Kristi, I have been reading your posts (and books) since we had a wine tasting in Sainte-Cécile about 18 months ago. You may not remember…my wife Carol and I were living in Aix at the time. I'm enjoying your writing. I thought the joke about Max performing mouth-to-mouth today was funny. I'm still working on my book, possibly titled Saved By Provence.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Bill, good to hear from you and best wishes on your book!


I love this story! It makes me smile to think of Michele-France cooking for her handsome grandson. Please tell her we send our love. xoxo

Jacqueline Fullen

I love this story! Max is now a handsome young man. I hope my adorable five -year-old grandson will stay as devoted to me in years to come.
Kristin, I am leaving for Provence next week! I am so excited! It is a dream come true.
Jackie(formerly Gill) Fullen

Lynn at Southern Fried French

Great post and Max is a sweetheart but my favorite part was the girls passing out from 'the heat'. I guess so, after seeing that photo! That and the rue Pourquoi Pas, a classic!

N, San Antonio, Texas

I also love this story. A boy and his grand mere!! So sweet and caring. It must warm your heart to know you have a son on the verge of becoming a man who is so tender and caring. So glad she moved closer to you and, as always, thank you for sharing. Does she share her recipes?

Kristin Espinasse

N, I believe she would gladly share them. I need to take the time to write them down. She is a gifted cook, who does things *au pif*, that is, by guesswork.

N, San Antonio, Texas

Kristin, Love that term "au pif" . French has a way of describing what ever it is perfectly. "au pif"!!! That is the way I paint. Has JM checked the drainage ditch? Hope the storm passes without incident.

Kristin Espinasse

N, JM did fix the ditch but that did not stop last nights inundation! Jackie and I were up at midnight with buckets and lots of towel-wringing.... (the guys were away)

N, San Antonio, Texas

Oh - I am so sorry!! Sounds like a big "honey do" job. Are they back? Hope you are not handling that alone tonight. Enjoy your weekend, Nancy

Vera Marie Badertscher

Smart move to feature a picture of that handsome Max in your issue that is going to a high school class! You've got the girls attention for sure! (But maybe not entirely on Francaise.)


Our dear Kristi,
What (another!) beautiful and touching post!
One which has wrapped itself around our hearts.
How gifted you are!
You have reminded us of one of God's dearest blessings: the bond between precious grandmere and sweet grandfils.
Keeping all of you in our prayers that all has gone well (uneventfully,at least) with the storm.
Natalia XO

Bette Goode

Hi Kristi,

Do you think that you could convince your belle mere to let you publish her recipe for le gratin dauphinois? My daughter's French mother in law makes this but I forgot to ask for the recipe when we visited her.




Catching up on too many missed and WONDER-filled blogs. What a sweet, dear son you two have.... I see I am going to have to resharpen my cooking skills for my grandchildren.

Happy 19th Anniversary, too. I like the expression "tenir la route." Jackie sounds very wise.

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