Our former vineyard now also a B&B
cafe litteraire

bibliotheque + American Library in Paris & Ann Mah and Patricia Wells!

Authors and journalists Patricia Wells and Ann Mah are as down-to-earth as dandelions--something these culinary divas could appreciate--sauteed with lardons fumés (and a glass of Mas des Brun rosé bien sûr!) 

la bibliothèque (bih-blee-oh-tek)

    : library

Confession: I still mix up the terms bibliothèque and librairie, but une librairie--no matter how misleading name--is still a book store as we noted here.

Audio File & Example Sentence: Will try to update--as soon as Jean-Marc finished his vineyard chores!

Paris Monaco Rentals

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


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

When I realized my train arrived in Paris's Gare de Lyon at 5pm--not long before the exciting book event--I doubted there would be time to do more than drop off my bag at my hosts' apartment on Rue du Cherche-Midi. I had hoped to arrive early to the American Library and score good seats at the author talk featuring Patricia Wells and Ann Mah!

"Don't worry, we have plenty of time," Robin said, showing me to her guest room. Take off those heels and come have a little snack. Did I prefer salé or sucré? my hostess quizzed, and when I saw the plate of artfully arranged fruit--framboises, clementines, and myrtilles--the choice was fastoche!  

"Have you met John before?" Robin asked, as I stood in the hallway studying a charming and familiar face.

Had we met? Or was the internet playing tricks on me again? Had I seen so many pictures of Robin's cheri--on Facebook and through photo-sharing--that I couldn't distinguish between the real and a virtual meeting? 

Heureusement, the same doubts seemed to be plaguing my host--who quickly broke the embarrassing spell by sharing kisses on both cheeks (i.e. on a fait la bise). 

After the raspberries and blueberries and kisses we were now one hour away from the big event! Were we sure to make it on time? 

"Will we take the metro?" I hinted, as Robin dressed for the event (putting on her belt with the gold panther buckle). Quelle question. Of course my hostess would get us there. In leopard time! If God created a guardian angel to help travelers navigate Paris in all her complexity, that ange (with panther accents) would be Robin. She knows all the shortcuts, whether it's getting from point A to point B--or getting a good bite to eat!

As we sped towards the 7th arrondissment, Robin lavished compliments on our driver. UBER is the best company and the drivers are as charming and helpful as this young man. Our cabbie lit up, delighted by the attention, and he laughed as Robin shared disaster stories regarding the competition (like the time one Parisian cabbie refused to clear his lunch off the passenger seat, preferring to keep his sandwich and coffee intact and turn away passengers who needed a lift!). 

Arriving smack in front of the American Library, the historic bibliothèque was deceivingly silent. Little did we know that behind the front door the place was buzzing with excitement and the seats were already being snapped up.

It seemed we were early so Robin suggested we get a more substantial bite to eat. Just around the corner from the library a bistro happened to have the most delicious and fluffy croque-monsieurs we'd ever tasted!

Still unaware of the crowds that were forming inside the library, we took a leisurely moment to compliment our waiter on the food we'd just eaten. But what was the French word for "fluffy". Légère? aéré? I suggested, deciding to inform him of the cozy English word instead: Fluffy! We say fluffy!

By the time we entered the library I was feeling like a fluff-brain, duped by the silence that had fooled us a half-hour before. But Robin didn't waste time with regrets--she beelined it to the seating area and charmed someone into switching places--so as to free up two side-by-side seats. Robin then gave those seats to her husband and me, and grabbed a stepping stool for herself.

Audience at American Library
Where's Waldo? I took off my glasses as soon as the speakers finished. Dumb idea, for then I couldn't recognize the other local personalities!

In addition to the fascinating speakers, there was a host of interesting characters in the audience! I recognized Karen Fawcett from Bonjour Paris and Ann and Kirk of Music and Markets and Lisa Taylor Huff of The Bold Soul and photographer Meredith Mullins. And, studying this picture (swiped from Ann Mah's Facebook page) I wonder was that Lindsey Tramuta sitting only a row behind me? Zut, I didn't see her at the time!

But, as you can see, if many of the local personalities blended in incognito, it's because all eyes were on the speakers who mesmerized the room!

I put on my glasses and listened as Charles Truehart, the American Library's director, honored the speakers in a warm introduction, and he also took the time to encourage readers to support this beloved library!    

And without delay, Mr Trueheart turned the spotlight over to the writers of Mastering the Art of French Eating and The French Kitchen Cookbook--who would now be interviewing each other.

We were in for a treat as Patricia Wells began, using every bit of her journalism know-how to familiarize us with Ann Mah. We learned about Ann's first book, Kitchen Chinese, and about her go-to comfort meal: toast! (A confession that caused the guy behind me to "Huh?" aloud. I guessed he needed to read Ann's book. Then he'd be chuckling like me :-)

When it was Ann's turn to interview Patricia, Ann admitted to using a bit of crowdsourcing to come up with some good questions. Ann's avowal was so heartening! It was good to know that even seasoned journalists, like Ann, are stumped for words when facing their heros.

And by the time Ann finished her interview, Patricia Wells--lover of slow food and clearly someone with a warm and welcoming joie de vivre--had become my hero too! 

To respond to this post, click here. Did you locate me in the picture above? Were you by chance at this event? Or are you familiar with these authors? Which books are your favorites? Add to today's post by sharing feedback here.

P.S. Among the local personalities in the audience, was Marjorie Williams, author of Markets of Paris. She wrote a wonderful write up of Ann and Patricia's talk, here. And we'll see her again soon... when I tell you about the Champagne Book Signing at Robin's--where I had the honor of joining Ann Mah to talk about writing and France! 

French Vocabulary

salé = salty
sucré = sugary
une framboise = raspberry
une myrtille = blueberry
clementine = little orange
fastoche = easy, easy-peasy
heureusement = happily
on a fait la bise = we kissed-greeted

Two places to stay in postcard pretty France:

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in this beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. 

New rental in Provence! La Baume des Pelerins, in Sablet--spacious, comfortable the perfect place to return to after a busy day’s sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.

Good to have a guardian angel who knows the Paris transit system (thanks, Robin!)--or I'd panick, taking any apparent option. Scoot over, leafy commuters, make room for me! Now, how to say "Hit it!" in French? 

To comment on today's post, click here and many thanks for reading!

Has a friend forwarded you this letter? Sign up here for your own free French Word-A-Day! 

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


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Ronni Ebbers

Delightful. With about 200 cookbooks, Patricia Wells and Ann Mah's latest, which I adored, have a place of honor. Yes, Ann's I keep with my cookbooks.

You reported the story so beautifully that I was green with envy. You should have joined them onstage. And on Cherche-Midi is one of our favorite boulangeries, Poîlane's original shop.

Thank you for dynamic writing.


Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Hummm, lucky you ! I wish I was there too ! When I was a student (some 30 years ago ;-) ) the American Library and the British Insitute, which is in the 7th arrondissement too, were my favourite places to learn,read, speak and improve my English. I met and listened to so many fantastic people there.... your post brings back some very nice memories, thanks a lot !


A delightful read! Thank you

Edward Palumbo

I would have liked to hear some of what was said by the speakers instead of all that name dropping and news about who was there!

Ann Mah

Kristi! It was so wonderful to have you there -- thank you for coming. You seemed so serene when I saw you, I had no idea about your exciting trajet!


Today's story caused the "green-eyed monster" to raise its ugly head.
From the train ride from Provence all the way through the evening at the American Library, I was transported ~ just not enough NOT to be envious.

Nancy in Fort Worth, TX

We have a framed print of the Cherche Midi restaurant. I was so intrigued to read that you are staying with a friend on the same street...could you post a picture????


Merci for the delicious post! Can you tell us the name of the bistro where you had the "fluffy" croque-monsieur?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks Ronnie, and to those who wrote in with positive feedback. I dont write many reviews of events, so this was a good challenge--even, as Edward pointed out--if I did not write as much as I could have about the event.

Edward, it was not my intention to name drop. I only wished to draw attention to other bloggers and writers--something I would to well to do more often. It is often appreciated by writers--and many readers--when the light is shined on others who do a good job of sharing their experiences in France. As for learning more about the talk, I pointed readers toward Marjorie's blog post--as she did such a good review of the talk.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Today's blog provided much entertainment and had me online for quite some time. Your link to Lindsey Tramuta's site had me viewing her links to her Flickr page (a option for your full-resolution photo storage dilemma?) and then on to the interesting Artifact Uprising site as well as Katie Parma's Italy. Thanks for the lovely diversion. I generally don't follow the link trail as I often find it a distraction from your wonderful reads, but today, I am glad I did. Thanks again.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Loved the post --- even the name dropping-Ha! Thanks for including us in your adventures! Also, thanks for the great photos!

Stay well!

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

As always, you are so generous to share your adventures and excitement with us, your readers. You "take us along with you" and for that I can't thank you enough! My very best wishes, Cynthia

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

thanks for sharing your wonderful evening! I have 3 Patricia Wells cook books - Bistro, Tratoria and Vegetable Harvest.
Wonderful things in each. Ms Mah is new to me so will do some research on her and thank you for all the other delightful links. HOpe you had a great trip.

Drina Nadler

I have three of Patricia Well's books and just read Ann Mah's from the library. ( her new one) I love country French cooking, but
it is easier in summer. I live in Chicago.
Yes, I can make vegetables, braises, and
soups and do ! I am also a Julia Child cook. I enjoy the sights of Paris and I am
taking French. A challenge.
Thanks, Drina

susan klee,

Thank you for this delightful report of a delightful event! I must add that the co-author of "Markets of Paris" (and the one you'll need to find it in a bibliography, I believe)is Dixon Long. Dixon has also written several novels -- an excellent writer (and a friend of mine for the past . . . 60! years.)

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Susan. So good to have this note about Dixon Long. Will check out Dixons novels, too.

Andrea Hughes

Kristin, I too would love to have the name of the nearby bistro where you had the "fluffy" croque-monsieur! It's one of my favorite lunch items when in Paris! Of course food in general always is a favorite focus, especially when I'm traveling!
Merci d'avance!


What a special day for you !! And,yes... I spotted you there, center front and the row behind (mid)I'm sure was Lisa Taylor Huff and her husband...hope you got more photos later.

Muriel Teusink

Enjoyed your post so much I have printed it off for my second-year of French students.

Being both a librarian and a teacher of French (and an admirer of Julia Child), this was a wonderful blog post.

Bon courage!

Georgia from Northern CA

Hi Kristin,

What a joy to see you out and about and sharing it with all of us! Would have loved to be sitting next to you in the location, as described by Anne, where I saw you sitting in the picture as well.

Hope to hear of more adventures in the future!


I would like to say this post was delightful and that I enjoyed it so much. I believe you communicate and truly capture the feelings of the moment as it made me feel as if I were there. I'm sure Monsieur Palumbo must be a new reader of your blog because if he had been a long time reader he would know for a fact that you don't "name drop" - that would never be your intention! Regardless, as a long time reader of a blog that is FREE, I so appreciate the time, effort and work that goes into creating these posts on a regular, consistent basis that you do for all of us loyal readers. So THANK YOU chére Kristin - and keep them coming.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Roberta. I appreciate your thoughtful response. Have a lovely weekend!

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Loved the post Kristin. It provided much entertainment as I followed your link to Lindsey Tramuta and then her links to her Flickr page (an option for your full-resolution photo storage dilemma?), Artifact Uprising and on to Katie Parma's Italy. Usually I find following links a distraction (much like someone playing with the television remote control), but today I found it an interesting journey. Thanks for the lovely writing and for the pleasant "sight-seeing" elsewhere.

Muriel Teusink

Since my earlier post at 05h23 this morning, I have purchased Mah's book, Mastering the art of French eating. I have just finished reading it and it was a delightful read. I must be a francophile! Thanks for the great post. Will get to the Wells book (also purchased through your Amazon link) later this week!
Enjoy the week and Courage for The Journey.

Suzanne Codi

What a good report Kristi! It must have been so fun! I love Patricia Wells and have several of her cookbooks we have used in our 20 year old cookbook club. As for Ann, I was fortunate to meet her at dinner here in DC, thanks to Jean-Marc, and I'm really enjoying her book, I've purchased several copies as gifts, ( and will do so with your latest one too) Wish I could have been there! Bises, Suzanne

Judi Miller

I very much enjoyed your post, as always! Thank you for the 'trip to Paris' - what a great opportunity to hear some talented women. I'm getting excited about our May trip, meanwhile, living vicariously through your wonderful stories and adventures. I, too would not mind a reference to the croque-monsieur restaurant! "Fluffy' is good!

I forwarded your post to a French woman who is going to be hosting us at her B&B in Chenonceaux. We are doing a bit of writing back & forth, me practicing my very limited French ; and she, her excellent English! I will be looking forward to your next vignette!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Muriel and Suzanne for purchasing those books. That is wonderfully supportive!

Judi, will have to check out the BB as I will be back in Paris in April!

Diane Young

Si seulement je pourrais voir et audire les femmes literary. Thanks for sharing a wonderful experience with all of us who may never get there. I read Patricia Wells' articles in FRANCE magazine. She is a true cuisine celeb. Glad you went and shared.


Now, how to say "Hit it!" in French? Depending on the context, it could be "Casse toi!" ou bien "degage!" :-)

Chef Alain

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