No "tire-bouchon"? + How to open a bottle of wine with a BOOK! (video)
How "to pamper" in French & some intruders...

Flic: A near-collision with the cops!

1-Eileen DeCamp
Thank you, Eileen DeCamp, for your photo vignette of Jean-Marc's wine & my First French Essais! Eileen titled her picture, "Two of my favorite things!!!" With any chance, Eileen's photo, taken on Seabrook Island, SC, will work better than my publicity stunt, filmed here near Bandol!

le flic (fleek)


Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and example sentence
Download Flic or Wav

A Toulon, j'ai été poursuivie par un flic.
In Toulon, I was pursued by a cop.

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

Now that my daughter is in drivers' school, we, the chauffeurs and members of her family, are under constant surveillance.

"T'as pas le droit de doubler," Jackie points out, as I speed around the tiny car that was ahead of me. It's one of those voitures sans permis, or "no permit needed" cars--owing to an engine so small it couldn't hurt a fly, or a flying saucer (i.e. faster-moving vehicles that usually require permits). 

Voiture sans permis

Normally my kids get a kick when Mom overtakes one of these "washing-machines," as they are the only other cars that travel as slowly as Mom does.

But back to Mom's misdemeanor... My daughter is right, that was a continuous white line (signaling "no passing!") and not a broken white line that allows drivers to "pass with care."

Yikes! What was I thinking? I must not have been thinking.

Gosh! I've really got to put on my thinking cap, especially now as we are entering the city of Toulon. Suddenly the autoroute forks--and forks again--until we find ourselves about to be swallowed up by an underground passage!

Mon Dieu! They've finally opened the tunnel! After more than a decade in the planning and a false start (the tunnel opened a few years ago, but quickly shut down because of a fault in engineering...). Since, it has become a favorite target for my husband's sarcasm. Each time we pass by the barricaded, would-be shortcut my husband snickers:

"Fine undergrounds we pay for in France! Maybe one day we can actually use them!"

Apparently this was the day. Only, crossing Toulon sous terre was not on our itinerary (the mid-town mall was)!

Seeing the signs to centre ville, I edged two lanes over, trying to avoid the city's underbelly. No sooner had I changed lanes, than a loud grumbling startled me. A glance in my foggy rear-view mirror revealed another car, inches away! 

As the driver blared his horn, the hairs on the back of my neck shot up and my heart raced. But the beads of sweat that had appeared on my brow were instantly dried as my arm flew up and began waving excitedly, along with my tongue, en franglais:

"Mais ça va pas? Gosh! Haven't you ever gotten lost, Mister!"

On second thought, that probably wasn't even a mister, but some just-got-his-license whippersnapper--one who was bent on correcting MOM!

This realization sent my arm waving wildly again. Road rage is a bad thing, but a wee waving of the finger (or arm) at the little big shot ought to teach him a lesson!

Only, a second glance in my rear-view mirror revealed a surprising detail. This was no little big shot. This was a cop!


"What's the matter, Mom?" my daughter's words were warm with concern.

"That's a flic! I just went ballistic on a flic!"


"Jackie! I can't translate right now. That's a policeman behind me!" 

Our voices grew silent as I studied the rear-view mirror. "Please God, please. Please. Please God..." I did a quick mental inventory of my purse, realizing both my driver's license and certificat d'immatriculation were back at home!

"Mom, there's nothing to worry about."

"Please God, no. Please no."

"Mom, that policeman is not going to pull you over!"

The quiet assurance in my daughter's voice caught my attention. I quit babbling in time to listen to Jackie, who enlightened me:

"He is the one that's breaking the law, not you!"

"Ah bon?"

"Blaring your horn at another driver can cause a serious accident," Jackie explained. "It stresses the driver, who might then panic, or even pass out!"

"You did nothing wrong," Jackie continued, confident in what she had just learned in drivers school. "You were only changing lanes!"

As my daughter spoke, I glanced into the rear-view mirror and saw the cop turn onto another road, and disappear.... My 16-year-old was right! Well that ought to teach the flic, the whippersnapper, not to give Mom a heart-attack next time she lawfully changes lanes!

To leave a comment or to read one, click here.

French Vocabulary

T'as pas le droit de doubler = you don't have the right to pass
la voiture sans permis = no-license car, license-free automobile
une autoroute = motorway, highway, freeway (US)
sous terre = under ground
centre ville = town center
mais ça va pas?! = What's the matter with you?!
mon Dieu = my God
certificat d'immatriculation = formerly "la carte grise" or car registration document
ah, bon? = oh, really?


Photos from a French Life... The red iron bed once held my daughter, then my Mom as she recovered from her first mastectomy. Then my brother-in-law slept there, months and months, healing from a broken heart. After, the bed moved poolside, but any lounging there was shortlived when my husband decided to set his 500 liter wine barrels there to rest on the springs (a good night's sleep for his wine?). 

A little bent out of shape now, here is the iron bed's current life--in the permaculture garden behind the house. That peeping Tom, in the right-hand corner, is really a flowering fava bean. Spend more time in a garden. There's so much going on in a veggie patch! 

Book Update for First French 'Essais'!
The first week of publication book sales were nearing 800 copies! A promising start for a self-publisher... But things quickly slowed down by day 5. Maybe a publicity stunt was needed afterall? 

On day 8 (Thursday) I posted a video of a first attempt to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew! Plenty have tried this feat with a shoe, but with a paperback?...

Using my new book, I drove out that cork in under 20 whacks! Alot of people shared the video... but did book sales go up with viewcounts?

Hard to say, because something very strange happened instead... Readers began receiving notes from Amazon: shipping for First French Essais would be delayed one week. That was odd, given the book is printed on demand!

Next, I received a note from Amazon's publishing company. Here is what the senior publishing consultant said:

I've been aware of the success you've experienced with your title and I wanted to reach out to you personally to say, congratulations! We are thrilled for you and want you to know that we are here to support you in any way we can.

It is exciting to receive this kind of offer, and my mind is reeling with possibilities. Meantime, can a publishing company help me sell more books? Stay tuned.... 

Enter The Battered Book Giveaway! Winner gets the book used in the video! Find out why this battered book is meaningful to me: listen to my message near end of the video!

To Enter:

  1. Share the video
  2. Tell me (here, in this box) where you've shared it (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, with a French class, or via email).

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Sandy Vann

Of the many adjustments necessary to life in la belle France getting used to driving here is for me the most profound! Especially just coming back this year from the enormously wide roads in Phoenix. Oh la la....well so glad you were in the right cherie.
Jackie sounds so level headed for her age. Hope I can muster her calm demeanor on the roads.:)

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I'm glad Jackie was there to calm you down. I always stress out when a cop is behind me even when I haven't done anything wrong. I just assume I did. I'm so happy your book is doing well and thank you so much for using my photo! I was so surprised when I opened FWAD this morning! :-) They are truly two of my favorite things! Have a nice start to your week!!

Erin Dininny Harris

How do you say ballistic in French? So glad everyone was safe.

Kristin Espinasse

Sandra, Having driven in Phoenix I can sympathize!

Eileen, thank you again!

Erin, to go ballistic is so peter les plombs (peh-tay-lay-plohm)



Once again you have captured me within your precious wanderings - just as you always did as a child. Oh how I long for you to return to me at 8, 9, or 10 years of age once again so I could savor all the joy you brought to me at that time of our lives.

Eileen has grown into one of your dearest friends, I was stunned by the beauty and thoughtfulness of her portrait of your book and also honoring JM´s delightful ¨Lunatique´- which he labored on as deeply as you do your words. I am just filled with joy this morning - I was sidetracked by clicking on your video and then took the ride through all of your old videos as the screen suggested ¨Play All¨…. what a wonderful way to spend my morning watching you grow on video.

I love you Honey - you give me more and more satisfaction with my place in time as each day passes.



Vance Anderson-Inks

I agree with your Mom's sentiments, not only because I know her, but also because I have two daughters of my own. You should be very proud of yourself, and your accomplishments.
Love your opening picture today as well. It ties your life with Jean-Marc together in such a lovely way.

Diane Young

Chere Kristi,
I was pulled over on the expressway a few weeks ago as I was rushing to church on a Sunday morning. Since I was the slowest car on the road, I couldn't imagine why I was being pulled over. It turns out that there is a law now that if \you pass A DISABLED CAR in the emergency lane, you must either change to the middle lane or slow down 20mph to 45 mph. I told the state trooper that I wasn't aware of this law and I only received a warning. And was about 25 minutes late for church. People I told about were split between those who did and didn't know that law. Apparently it's ok to be going 85 mph, just don't forget to look out for cars in the emergency lane. oi vey! It's always quelque chose, n'est-ce pas? I've been wondering why I had received my book so I guess it's Amazon's problem. Bietot, j'espere.

Diane Young

I meant to type "hadn't: received my book. I apologize for my misspelling, I'm sure, of the Yiddish comment.

cynthia lewis


Driving in heavy traffic on somewhat unfamiliar roads is nerve-wrack-ing enough without adding a police car to the mix. Jackie's words were very calming and correct. She will be a good driver.

I have finished reading your new book and enjoyed it very,very much!

My brother found your video unique; he had never heard of or seen a wine bottle opened by your method. He did observe that if the cork had suddenly popped out completely, Jean-Marc would have had a shower of very nice wine! So you see: your video has been enjoyed by someone who lives in Monticello, Florida. Thanks so much, Cynthia


Our dear Kristi,
A wonderful post and beautiful picture to fill overcast sky with sun!(wish we would get some rain;we're in a severe drought!)
I so admire you and gorgeous Jackie for not only driving,but finding your way and not freaking out in heavy traffic!
You girls are awesome!
Natalia XO


Driving in France can be incredibly stressful! Your Jackie is a very wise girl. You really did such a great job raising your two beautiful, smart kids!

rick chinn

Ahhh... the joys of Driver's Ed.
You'll survive, although I'll point out that in my case, in the end it was my mother who taught me how to drive. My father wasn't up to the task. My mom's approach was to shut-up and let me drive. She would comment if I was going to do something stupid that might get us injured or worse.
My bit of colloquial english: having a cop follow you is like towing a time bomb. You never know when it'll go off.


You didn't mention whether you signaled before changing lanes, because that would be grounds for pulling you over. Especially since you didn't look in yr. mirror first and nearly collided. Sounds like you were lucky.

And, seriously, you gesticulate at other drivers? That's just asking for trouble, not to mention setting the wrong example for yr. children.

Chris Allin

Uh oh!!!

cynthia lewis

Eileen, your photo at the beginning of today's blog is beautiful! (I forgot to mention this in my earlier comment.)

Marianne Rankin

When I was last in France in 1979, I drove a rented car over 800 miles on French roads. The biggest challenge was getting through some small towns where the streets were barely wide enough for the car. I made it to Paris without incident, navigating the "Etoile" where 12 streets come together. I was glad that at that point, I could turn the car into the rental agency and ride the metro!

So there is driver ed in France. It has been largely phased out in the USA, at least in the D.C. area, for lack of school-budget money, probably. In Maryland, people with learner's permits must accumulate 60 hours of practice driving (recorded in a log that is eventually given to the Motor Vehicle Administration), plus 30 hours of mostly classroom instruction. This is vastly different from when I was a teenager in Virginia, with almost no requirements. You took the behind-the-wheel test whenever your parents thought you were ready.

I still wonder why you, Kristin, have had to drive Max and Jackie to school. Aren't there school buses?

Glad you survived this experience with no injuries or damage to the car.


Congratulations on the success of your book. I hope that the shipping issues are resolved quickly and that your sales continue to grow.

I'm glad to hear that you got out of the drive unscathed. You're certainly brave. I was too overwhelmed by the cacophony to drive last time I was in France.


Brilliant, I LOVE the bottle opening video! But, I do consider it a "first take". I encourage you to re-shoot it so Jean-Marc can give a more ringing endorsement of your book. It seems that turning the camera on him made Jean-Marc a bit tongue-tied.

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Love the photo and the story. Congrats on the special note about your book. I hope a publisher picks it up soon. Bisous from Marseille.

Susan an Oregonian in Paris

That no honking law that Jackie mentioned is never enforced in Paris !!!!


Today is Tues. /8/04. I woke up exhausted from yesterday "lundi avec grandmere". My adorable 18 month old grandson keeps me very busy from 7 am to 6 pm. I was planing to work out today, but could barley lift my head off the pillow.Got up and made frenh-press coffee (mais bien sur) Planning to study my French on line program, I opted instead to start reading "First French Essais". You had me at "Poursuivre" I was roaring laughing while envisioning Braise chasing the children with a bisto chair attached to his leash. Your writing is so fun, funny and heart felt .We are going to France end of September for 2 weeks and that is why I am madly trying to "refresh" my French.However,it depletes my brain some days. So thank you Kristen for a lovely respite.

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