bluffer + mother-daughter trip
logé, nourri, blanchi & Max is coming to Portland!

faire du leche-vitrines


Lots of new vocabulary today, and part two of our story from the fashion capital of the world!


faire du lèche-vitrines

    : to go window shopping

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence
Download MP3 or Wav file

Dans la luxueuse Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Jackie et Kristi ont fait du lèche-vitrines.
In the luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Jackie and Kristi window-shopped.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

For part one of this story, click here

Though a direct train from Toulon to Milan now exists, Jackie and I took the trusty SNCF. Jean-Marc did not want us to miss our connection in Ventimille, so he drove us over the border to catch our Italian train. Three hours later (including a visual feast of the sea and countryside outside the train window) and my daughter and I were in the capital of Lombardy--home of the Milan Cathedral and the world's fashion capital!

As we rolled our bags out of the station, I opened my Uber phone app--the ride-sharing icon I'd downloaded earlier--to hail a car. Only we were out of luck. It turns out the low-priced service is as unwelcome by Italian cabbies as it is here in France.

Noticing a line up of travelers on the curb-side, we easily hailed a cab the old-fashioned way. Fourteen euros later and we were delivered to our rental apartment.

Andrea, the man who owned the one-bedroom flat, was standing in front of the three-story building, welcoming us with a warm smile and open arms which reached for our bags. But Jackie and I insisted on carrying our own, and we rolled our valises beyond the iron gate, across the cobbled stones, and into one of the stairwells issuing from the courtyard we'd just rumbled over.


 The apartment was nickel--clean as a whistle. There was a kitchenette with brightly painted tiles in apple green, and the walls above the sink were decorated with still life paintings. The bedroom had twin beds with elegant lampshades covering a porcelain base carved with little angels. 

As charming as the apartment was, Jackie and I picked up our steps on the 8-minute walk to the metro... the graffiti-lined streets (peopled only with clusters of young men in hoods) made us uneasy. To be fair, we would be wearing hoods too if only our coats had them! (And if only my daughter had on her doudoune, instead of a heavy sweater! How many times had I warned her to bring a warm coat?)

Nagging her the entire way, I finally gave up. This was a mother-daughter weekend, a time to cherish one another and not rip each other apart! The warmth of the underground was a relief and I followed my street-smart tough-skinned daughter farther down into les entrailles of the Italian subway where we caught the metro to the fashion district.

Céline, Georgio Armani, Chanel, Valentino--I can't remember all the designer shops we passed--passing being the key word! It was much wiser to enjoy some window shopping--what the French call faire du lèche-vitrines (literally "window licking")--than to enter those stores. Not that we would be comfortable entering anyway. (I remember being in Paris with Jackie, when I finally assured her it was okay for the two of us to go into a certain fancy and very famous boutique--only to be chided by a saleslady after my daughter lingered too closely at one of the displays. Ill at ease we quickly left the store. And I left behind, at that upscale store, a little bit of my daughter's trust.)

But by the time we got the to luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, for more window-licking, our ears were about to fall off like icicles. Stepping into Stefanel, we were warmly welcomed. "Most items in the store are 30-50 percent off," the saleslady said, inviting us in. Noticing a stack of wool bonnets, I quickly decided what my Milan souvenir would be: a warm hat! 

And it was indeed chanceuse to have a well-made cap when we left the gallery and hurried along the snowy streets beyond. But, reaching up from time to time to scratch my forehead, I longed for the simple ski hat I'd left behind.

Allez-maman! Come on Mom, let's go! I held on to my daughter's arm as we threaded in and out of the shops, forgetting my scratchy ahead, I was now caught up in the moment instead. 

To leave a comment, click here.

P.S. We easily hailed an Uber car once we were away from the strain station. And we used Uber to get back and forth from our rental apartment to the city center. For as little as $7 per ride, taking an Uber pop cost only $4 more than two metro tickets. I highly recommend this ride-share service. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments box (I know Uber has had some bad publicity), but, if you are like many of us who have actually used the service in France (and now in Milan!) I feel certain you will rave about it too.

Get your Uber discount here!
Get 10 off your first Uber ride when you use this promo code  When you use this promo code, I will get credit too--and I definitely want to use Uber next time I travel. All you do is open the Uber app and, presto!, your location pops up on the map (you don't even have to know what street you are on). Next, you will see which cars are available (I chose a 13 euro ride in an Uber pop, over a 38 euro ride in a sedan for our transport back to the train station). The ride fee is charged to your credit card (no exchange of cash. Perfect!) Click here to try Uber and get 10 off your first ride.

And no perks here (for you or for me), but you can click here to see the apartment my daughter and I rented. Don't hesitate to contact Andrea, the owner.



la valise = suitcase
nikel = spotless, spick and span

la doudoune = padded jacket
les entrailles = bowels 
le bonnet = ski hat
chanceux, chanceuse = lucky
allez, maman!  = come on, Mom

Jackie dress

In the cabine d'essayage with my daughter. I will treasure this image forever and am so grateful for the weekend we spent together. If you missed the pictures from our trip, please see them here, in this gallery

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


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Bruce in northwest Connecticut

How lucky you are to have had this experience with your daughter! Sounds as though it was a wonderful trip,

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

Morning dawns with FWAD arriving in the emailbox in this hopeful new year.
Life is back to normal after a peaceful interlude...

Between your narrative and photos, it is so easy for a reader to imagine oneself in the middle of your story. Your honest expression of feelings and trepidations, as fleeting as the latter may be, brings a huge dose of reality to the seemingly perfect experience. You have taken us on amazing adventures over the path of life...sometimes smooth, sometimes rocky.

And so many memorable moments for you with Jackie. Treasures forever...
Wishing you many more creative thoughts over the coming year!

Cindy Mc

Souvenirs précieux Kristin.
As time passes they become even more so.
Bonne Année à tous.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Chris, and Bruce--and all who write in here,  for the encouragement you have sent me to continue writing this journal. I am deeply touched and lucky to have met you in person. Hope to have more chances to meet readers in 2015.

Kristin Espinasse

And thank you,  Cindy. Often,  as I am typing these notes in the comments,  a new comment is being posted and I dont see it in time to respond. Happy weekend to all!

Annette Heath

So grateful, Kristin, for this delightful description of your journey w/Jackie, the apt. you rented (lovely), and experience w/Uber (so glad to know this and may I ask if you tipped the driver?). I will need to use Uber right here at home...when leaving my car at the dealer for work to be done, and again to return for pick-up. I so enjoyed your whole trip, train trip included!!! Mille mercis!!! P.S. Did you buy that lovely dress for Jackie? The one she tried on?

Kristin Espinasse

Annette,  there is no tipping with Uber! No exchange of cash whatsoever. If you  do sign up please use my promo link, as Id like to use them as often as possible. Maybe I can finally sell my car? And yes,  got the dress for Jackie. A steal at 19 euros!

James Navé

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine who lives in Mosier, Oregon gave me a beautiful handmade sweater with a Trussardi label stitched inside. It had belonged to her late Italian husband Georgio. He was a dashing man who was a friend of mine and likely a friend of Trussardi.

I had no idea when Arlene gave me the sweater how fancy it was until strangers started commenting on the sweater's beauty, style, and design. When I Googled Trussardi, I discovered I was wearing a work of art, not a sweater. This explained why people "lick the window" when I wear my sweater, which I'm doing now sitting in a coffee shop on a cool, rainy day in Asheville, North Carolina. Here's to Céline, Georgio Armani, Chanel, Valentino, and Trussardi. May their shop windows always be clean

Sue Lennox

Oh, Kristi and Jackie, what a wonderful memory for you both!

Karen Cafarella

What great memories for you and Jackie. It looked like a wonderful trip and love the apartment. Great story to start the New Year!


Milan is a terrific city! My kids could shop there for days. We lived in Italy and, at first, were taken aback by the hoodies, graffiti, and grittiness. But it is an imitation of American hip-hop culture and very, very rarely menacing. Not sure what neighborhood you were in, but you were probably perfectly safe. I remember seeing an old woman slip on the ice in Milan. All those young men looking tough came running to her aid, full of concern. Milan often gets overlooked in the guide books...but it is one of our favorite cities.

Kristin Espinasse

Kolleen,  really enjoyed your inciteful comment. Thanks for the story you shared about the hoodies (hiphoppers) helping grandma. Its opened my mind. I want to go back to Milan!
James,  what a treasure to have your friends Trussardi sweater.



I am new to your blog and am enjoying it very much. Thanks for the good work. You remind me of my first visit to Milan in the early 2970s when my host gave me a ticket to see Barishnikov dance at La Scala. I didn't know that humans could actually fly until that evening.

By the way, is it nikel or nickel? I can't find the word in Google translate or in a general Google search.

Thanks again.



1970s, mais oui.




nickel is the correct spelling. :-)

Cheryl in STL

What a wonderful mother/daughter trip! Those are truly special times.

And I have a funny lèche-vitrines story....I always taught that expression to my students. One of them (who spoke French well) went to visit a friend in France. They were out looking at windows and doing a little shopping. So my student decided to try out his vocabulary. He told his friend that he liked to "faire du lèche-poitrine"!! You can imagine the laughter that followed! He will never again forget "vitrine"!


Our dear Kristi,
The new year is here(!)and with it come prayers for blessings for you and your family,and all who read (and so enjoy!) FWAD!
This was such a beautiful and descriptive post(not to even mention dear Jackie,who is nothing short of gorgeous!)
Your talent only seems to grow,dear Kristi,and you truly are a master of exphrasis!
Natalia. xo


For Richard - when you need help with a French word's meaning, spelling and usage, Google is not the best place to go. Try this instead:

Bill Facker

Kristin, Wishing you and your family great Health, Happiness, and Prosperity in 2015! Thank you for your continued effort to "gift" us with FWAD. Mahalo et Merci .. Happy New Year .. Bonne Année!

Bill Facker

Avril Rustage-Johnston

Happy NewTeay Kristin and your family. My goodness, what an elegant beauty Jackie has grown into!


Happy New Year! I love the photo of the dressing room! I clicked over to feedblitz site for a moment, hoping to see a better photo of le nouveau bonnet, but instead got a quick glimpse of Max. Your children, gifted with two VERY attractive parents, have each been blessed with beautiful combinations of each!! What lovely adults they have turned out to be!

Peggy Bruns

Love Uber!! We've used it in San Francisco and NYC. We highly recommend it

Joan L.

Great photos! I was wondering if "la doudoune" has anything to do with "down" filling for a jacket. Does anyone know?
19 euros for a dress is amazing. I guess that's what you can find when you're still young, thin, and gorgeous. :) Happy 2015 Everyone!

Koula Louras

Bonne année to you all!
Kristi, having finished reading your first book recently (which I loved), I now very much look forward to reading your blog. Your story telling is nothing short of brilliant! Thank you for sharing your special moments with us. I was in beautiful Milan a couple of months ago also doing a lot of window shopping! Again, thank you😄

Audrey Wilson

What a lovely trip to have. I love the image of 'window licking' . Drooling over the beautiful clothes in the windows !!
Never been to Milan,but as ex Alfa Romeo owners we've always said we should .(It's the home of Alfa).
It's always fun to find your way around Metro systems. I recently experienced the Bart in San Francisco which runs right under the Bay.
I look forward to your posts & photos in this New Year.

Jan Francis

Great post Kristin. I clicked to see where you had stayed. Later I tried to find a hotel in the U.K. through and everything now comes up in French! Anyone know how to switch it back?
Thanks Jan

Jan Francis

O.K. Sorted now- silly me. I only had to click on the flag at the top! Thanks, jan


Leslie, Thanks for the reference to wordreference. It's nickel.



Little typo:
luxeuse = luxueuse

Joan L.

You gotta love a word like luxueuse, with an x and three u's.

Jackie Clark Mancuso

What a fun trip! We've gone to Bologna for the past five summers, and I love shopping for Italian clothes during the sales! Well, I love shopping in Paris during the sales too...

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