en l'occurrence - such a useful expression!
Adieu, Monsieur Thé. Homage to Steven Smith

"Dodo" and things that go bump in the night!


Smokey, a  kid at heart, about to prance beside a carpet of anemones. Today's word is part of a very useful list of French baby talk. See it here (including a recording of each word).

dodo (doh-doh)

    :  beddy-bye, night-night

Paris Monaco Rentals

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

 Listen to Jean-Marc: 
Download MP3 or Wav

Fais dodo, 'Colas mon petit frère...
Go to sleep (Nicholas), my little brother...

                                             -from a well-known comptine, or nursery rhyme

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French phonetics. Click here. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Dodo, from the French "dormir," brings back so many memories, including sleepless nights or les nuits blanches. How many times did we sing this golden oldie to our children:

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo...

Now that the kids are grown, sleepless nights should be a thing of the past. But when the lights go off Chez Les Espi, our house is as lively as ever!

A grand slam of her upstairs door means our daughter is ruffled once again...

"Mais qu'est-ce qu'il y a!" Jean-Marc shouts.

"Eteins la lumière!!!" our daughter complains. Jackie can't stand it when we leave the hall light on. It filters in beneath her bedroom door, distracting her from sleep. Owing to our bathroom's location (down three sets of stairs and across two rooms), Jean-Marc and I flip on the light switch a few times each night as we make our way safely across the house.  Invariably one of us forgets to switch off the light during the two-minute aller-retour. On the way back to our room, we get a startling reminder when the door slams shut (it's Jackie, turning off the light herself).

By the time we crawl under the bedcovers, the tone is set for the night. And we work out our frustrations in dreamland... 

It must have been 4 a.m. when last night's debacle began. "Quit talking about plants!" I begged. "Enough going on about plants, plants, plants!"

Jean-Marc was mumbling something back, when he sat up and turned to me. "C'est toi! C'est toi qui parle des plants." You're the one talking about plants! And with that, I woke up to the amusing conversation we were having.

It was both funny and revealing... Lately, the scales are falling from my eyes and I am beginning to see clearly how the things I accuse my family of are sometimes my own doing (it wasn't Jean-Marc who misplaced my new pot-holder. It was I who left it under a stack of dishes! It wasn't Jackie who took my brush... I see I'm the one who left it in the car... And it wasn't one of our dogs who ate the rest of the yogurt cake....)


                                 (Don't miss the yogurt cake recipe, here.)


Bon, back to today's headline: Things That Go Bump in the Night, or les monstres qui surgissaient dans la nuit. If it isn't loud doors it's loud snores and things outdoors that keep us awake....

Last night something poked at my ribcage. When it happened a second time I turned over and naturally stopped snoring (but before I fell back to sleep, I smiled, impressed about how Jean-Marc's new tactic had worked! Instead of saying "Chérie, tu ronfles!" (a phrase that was keeping me awake all night long!) he now gets the message across silently.

But once the whistle of my breathing stops, the eery sounds of the forest keep us awake. One in particular makes our blood curdle. ..

"On dirait quelqu'un en train d'être égorgé!" Sounds like someone is being strangled! Jackie says, trying to pinpoint the exact sound. This particular high-pitched cry is as chilling as any Hitchcock film. Come to think of it, maybe it's a bird cry? Or, in keeping in theme with today's word... a dodo bird?

I think on that a bit as I try to fall back to sleep, only this time it isn't sound keeping me awake, it's that nightly tug-o'-war! My husband is yanking the covers again! But he WON'T get them all this time, no! I've carefully tucked in the entire length of my side of the bed! And, for extra protection, I've tucked in my half of the end of the bed. There!

And just when we begin to nod off, our 19-year-old rolls in--back from the nightclub at 5 a.m. Now, if we could only get some sleep around here...



A cat in La Ciotat. Can you see the "upside down dog," third shadow over?Don't miss all the photos I took this week. Follow me on Instagram . I'll be posting more pictures soon!

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My very dear friend Tess is opening her farmhouse for her Paint in Provence workshop. You will be picked up from the airport and fed homemade meals during this relaxing and inspiring getaway to France. Check out the dates and see photos here! And I will see you in May and June, when Tess drives workshop attendees to our vineyard, for a painting day in the olive orchard. 

 The first time I ever picked tarragon was at my friend Tess's farmhouse. She was making poulet à l'estragon and would I mind collecting a few branches from the garden? she asked, her wooden spoon pointing toward the potager. I couldn't tell an herb from a weed, then, but by some stroke of luck I returned to the kitchen with the correct aromatic branch. Stoked, I went on to plant the versatile herb in my own kitchen garden, enjoying it with chicken, in salad dressing and more. But by the end of winter it seemed clear the plant was dead (an annual, after all?). Only a few dried, leafless sticks remained. And then, sometime last week... I noticed the budding fuzzy green carpet, above!

Tessa's tarragon chicken, with cream, onions, peppercorns, and l'estragon.

Snail mail in the town of Pélissanne, north of Aix-en-Provence.

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S'il vous plait, la recette pour le poulet à l'estragon! Jamais vu avec les onions et le poivre rose. In French or English, no matter.

Rob Curran

Isn't "égorgé" better translated as "slit throat" than "strangled?" (Unless you want a "frisson," don't look at the images when you google the word "égorgé.")

Kristin Espinasse

Nlbknitter,  will try to get the recipe!
Rob,  thanks,  and yes,  that is the correct translation for the sound we hear out in the woods!

Annie Shultz

maybe Jackie needs one of those - it's a long sausage made of cloth and wading to put on the inside of her door at the bottom it will block light and draft

we listen to a programme 'midsummer murder' and there is a bird in that sounds as if it's being throttled

Kristin Espinasse

Annie, great idea for the door saucisse =-).  And I think the sound is some strange bird. My neighbor says it may even be a fox. Need to google Fox cries...

Ally Davis

Your snoring (me)/ blanket hog(my husband) story made me smile! Do they sell night lights in France or would that disturb Jackie as well? I would love la recette pour le poulet aussi!

Kristin Espinasse

Ally, Ill bet nightlights are sold in France. Good idea! And Ill get that recipe from Tess for you all ;-)


We have coyotes in the woods behind our house. Have you ever heard coyotes? The cackling, the screaming and howling is very unnerving. It really kind of creeps me out. Enjoyed your post!


Kristi I could so relate to your bedtime "struggles" with snoring (me) and blanket tugging (him), not to mention the trips to the loo! Happens here almost every night but it's just the two of us now, so no young ones complaining about noise or light. I also get poked in the ribs and do the "blanket tuck". Must be a universal phenomenon.😊


In our home, my family members play what we like to call 'musical beds.' On most nights, inevitably, one of our children we come to join us in bed, crawling in to snuggle in-between me and my husband. If that child happens to be my younger boy, he will toss and turn, forcing my husband out of the bed and into the three-year-old's bed. In the morning, the older boy will often go searching for Daddy and join him in the younger brother's bed. And sometimes, all four of us and our two cats end up in our Queen bed. If the tossing and turning ensues close enough to my rising time, I won't need an alarm clock. I usually just get up and allow more room for the children to get their beauty rest. ;)


Isn't Max coming to Portland this summer to work for Steven Smith Teamakers? Sad news reported in the Oregonian, Portland's paper, that SS died yesterday from liver cancer. I assume his thriving business will continue, but sad nevertheless- he reinvented tea in the U.S. with Stash, Tazo and now his namesake.


Perhaps there is a solution to leaving the hall light on. Replace the switch with a twist timer. You twist it to be on for five minutes or so, then it will turn itself off

Leslie NYC

You captured a sleepless night chez les Espe so well! Then the pink nose resting above the matching tiles made my day. I just burst out laughing with the joy dogs bring! Thank you.

Heather in Arles

I loved this post. Let's just say that some of the content was rather...familiar! ;) And please, please give Breizh a kiss from me. That sweet face...

Teresa Meek

Kristi dear, get a night light for the hallway; its faint glow will probably not travel upstairs and disturb Jackie.

You can get some kind of apparatus for snoring too.

Bonne chance!


An eye mask blocks the light and perhaps calms the eyelids. Don't ask me why, but it seems to help with sleeping.


Kristi, your photos capture the beauty of everyday life which we so often take for granted. Encore, merci beaucoup.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and pictures that left us
Full of smiles! What happy days and nights and just a beautiful part of life!
THANK You !!
Natalia. Xo
PS One thing that really helps me not to snore is not getting over tired during the day.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Such a sweet photo of (which?) your dear pooch resting his (or her) head.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

I was thinking Breizh ... but she looks so young :)



Bonjour! I would guess that the shrieking bird you hear in the night is a peacock. They often sound like a child in utter distress. We had neighbors that kept 3-4 in their almond orchard when I was a teen-ager.


Bill Facker

Kristin, what a lighthearted and enjoyable post this is! Merci for the smile you've placed on my face! Aloha

Cynthia P. Lewis

Dear Kristin,

Mille mercis for the amusing descriptions of a "night at the Espinasse home"! ...Funny how we all have similar rituals, so to speak.

Have you thought about an owl which might be making the sound that makes "your blood curdle" ? Now would be the time of year when they are establishing their territory for nesting. I don't know if you have an owl similar to our screech owl which will awaken you from a sound sleep and frighten you almost to death in the same instant.

I'll be looking for that wonderful sounding chicken recipe which your friend Tess made. You can tell that she is an artist by the pretty pink peppercorns and tarragon to give her chicken flavor and eye appeal ... something done so well in France. Many thanks, again.

Audrey Wilson

I was also going to suggest the door sausage . I've seen them made to resemble a daschund !
As for snoring ,my problems is a man who clicks (!) & trying to retrieve the duvet can also be a problem !
Yes please for la recette.
Things that shriek in the night -how about a Shriek Owl ?

Audrey Wilson

Or should that be Screech Owl ??


Here it's coyotes, even in the city. No rest for the weary.

Kathleen from Connecticut


As others have suggested,a nightlight. We use this because we also have to navigate steps to the bathroom.
As for the noise. Have you ever heard a rabbit or other small animal cry out as a coyote gets it. It is like a small child screaming. It has really scared seal times.
I have gotten used to my husband snoring and he says that I do also, but I haven't heard myself 😆, although It did wake me up one night and I thought that I sounded like a cat purring.
"Things that go bump in the night" and the noises we hear.


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin!

I love all the photos of course and the story.

I can relate to Jackie, my husband leaves a light on quite often and I hate getting out of a nice warm bed to shut off the light and then I bang my way back to the bed in the dark. This happened recently and I ran into the bed post and woke him up and he had the nerve to ask what I was doing wandering around. Maybe I should keep a little flashlight by my bed. :-) We have a fox that makes quite a chilling scream like sound or someone told me rabbits can make a sound like that when they are caught by a predator. A few years ago we heard a scream like cry and our daughter ran to our room and said it sounded like a demented baby! LOL


Chere Amie, encore a most enjoyable blog revealing our humanity. It brought smiles and a laugh to this reader. I am so looking forward to late May! Toujours

Deb Cozen

and a baby fox in the night can sound like a child screaming... Wakes us up in our PA home for sure!

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