Paris story + How to say "locked out" in French?
Another way to say "Mind your own business!" in French

tresser & weaving with lavender

ice tea in wine bottles le thé glacé dans les bouteilles de vin

How to making iced tea in Provence.... (As for how to make lavender wands... read on!) 

tresser (treh-say)

  1. to plait, to braid; to twist
  2. to weave, wreathe (basket, garland)

synonyms: natter (to plait, braid), entrelacer (to interlace, intertwine)

: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote:
mp3 or wav

Tressons, tressons ces fleurs, hâtons-nous, jeune amie, Les songes et les fleurs demain ne seront plus! Let us weave, let us weave these flowers, let us hurry, young friend, for the dreams and the flowers will be gone tomorrow. --from the book "Irlande: Poésies des Bardes" by D. O'Sullivan

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

"The time to pick the lavender is now, while it is fresh," Marie-Françoise explains, as I follow her over to the scented driveway where purple flowers mingle with rosemary in one long line, like juilletistes convoying toward the sea.

"We'll take a bunch from the bottom of the bush. You won't even know they're missing!" Following Marie-Françoise's example, I begin snapping up stems from the base of the lavender plants near our mailbox. My husband’s aunt has a knack for wildcrafting and before long she has collected enough spiked flowers for my lavender braiding lesson. I hand over the stems I've collected and our bouquet is now 34 flowers strong. Next, Marie-Françoise tosses out one of the flowers…..

 "Eh, oui! she says, noting my confusion.  "We'll need an odd number in order to weave them!"

It will soon be no secret how the French make lavender wands. First, we pluck off the leaves then gather the stems, tying a ribbon around the neck of the bouquet, just beneath the flowers.

Wondering how to help out, I reach over and put my finger on the ribbon, in time for my aunt-in-law to knot it. Next, she turns the bouquet upside down…..

I have only ever weaved ribbons through my hair as a child in Arizona, adding bright beads in turquoise, coral, and silver—colors that inspired the native Indians. I liked the ochre of Sedona, the blue of Navajo jewelry, and the silver in that lining along the eastern sky I would one day follow to France. I hadn’t yet discovered lavender or the fields of Provence, didn't know that one flower's essence would match my very own. Meanwhile France was budding within me, there along the edge of the Mojave.


Far from the desert, in the Rhône Valley, Marie-Françoise tells me that what we have here is lavandin—which smells just as good as lavender. “We will create une bouteille de lavande” she says, admitting the shape is more like an amphore than a “bottle.”

We’ll make the lavender bottle by weaving ribbon through the stems that have been bent back over the flower bundle.

Fishing out the longest ribbon, pulling it to the top, Marie-Françoise begins to weave. As she passes the ribbon through the bars she tells me hand-woven lavender has been used from time immemorial to freshen drawers and armoires and to keep out moths. The making of these Provençal pest busters is a family tradition. Not far from the Pont d’Avignon Marie-Françoise and her sisters would get together and weave up a lavender storm.  When out of ribbon, the sisters got creative—raiding their closets for old sweaters (in search of the satiny loops found inside--normally used for keeping the garment from slipping off the hanger). “String all the colorful ends together and voilà!  Ribbon for weaving!”

     Marie-Françoise finishing up another lavender "bottle".

Noticing the relaxed expression on my aunt's face as she weaves, I wonder whether her thoughts are drifting off, like mine, to yesteryear… to giggling French sisters rifling through an armoire and, for me, back to the desert, to coral landscapes and warm breezes through my braided hair, weaved with turquoise and silver linings from a French horizon.



Check out the Lavender Lover's Handbook and more about lavender essential oil here.

French Vocabulary

tresser = to weave or braid
le (la) juilletiste
 = one who vacations in July
eh, oui = that's right
la bouteille de lavande = lavender bottle
une amphore = ancient jar for storing oil or wine


More in-context French vocabulary in the book Words in a French Life: Lessons and Language from the South of France

  Planting lavender
Jean-Marc and Breizh, planting lavender a year or so ago. 

Look how high that lavender's grown! Two dogs high, when Breizh stands directly beside it.

Happy 4th of July, to those who celebrate. And happy 21st wedding anniversary to Jean-Marc and me! Also, happy happy birthday to my dear father-in-law, John

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.

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


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Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Happy Anniversary!
It would be a miracle for me to have enough lavender flowers to make une bouteille. It looks like fun.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Happy Anniversary!
The photos are exquisite!


Happy & healthy Anniversary to you and Jean Marc! Next month Dick and I will celebrate our 35th! I feel blessed to have found my soul mate, my "one" all those years ago, and on a kind-of blind date as it was! The pleasure of having the "one" in your life, over the years, creates that warm and comfortable place in your being. There is always the day to day nonsense that makes life challenging, but that "one" by your side makes the rest of the world go away! You and your family has made so many wonderful changes in your life, and it truly appears that all has been way more than positive! Awesome children, a thriving wine business, and your books, blog and other musings that keep all of us living vicariously through you! Kristen and Jean is your day and night to celebrate your blessed marriage those 21 short years ago now!!! Have a wonderful celebration whatever you choose to do! Xoxo

Sarasota, Florida


Thanks for this post and lovely pictures. Reading about your lavender weaving was a fun way to start a long holiday weekend here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where this week I have also been harvesting my lavender blooms for simple sachets. Happy Anniversary!


Update on Smokey too please!!!!


Happy anniversary, Kristi and Jean-Marc! Thank you for the beautiful story and the spectacular photos of all that lavender! Lavender is a favourite of mine. While on our honeymoon trip in the south of France, my husband and I took a tour through a lavender factory, where we learned about the difference between lavender and lavandin. I purchased a bottle of each in two different shops and have been using the essence sparingly for the past nine years.


Hi Kristin,

Happy Anniversary! Thanks for the lovely post today! You know I love lavender! Have a beautiful weekend!


Happy Anniversary. May you look forward to the next 20.
I have always wanted to weave the lavender. I think I will go rob some from my sisters plants(mine are not as prolific) and give it a try. I always thought that lavandin was the French word for lavender as was lavende. I have four french framed photos of lavender with French lace,ribbon and script using all three variations of the word that look like pressed lavender on linen. I have them in the bathroom(I have art in every room in my house). We have about 5 lavender farms in the area now, so it is much easier to get it at the Farmer's Market.


Happy anniversary!

Janet Traylor

Hi, Kristin, always enjoy your essays, and this was no exception. A small clarification: only a small portion of the Mojave Desert abuts Arizona, in the northwestern corner of the state. Whereas Phoenix is situated within the great Sonoran Desert. We like planting lavender here in the city, and it usually does quite well throughout our intensely hot/dry desert summers. Keep up the good work!

anita burkhart

happy anniversary to you...not to mention 4th of july !!! how lucky you have the best wine with which to toast the happy occasion! i am sure i will need a lesson or two to be able to make these lovely lavender bottles! over the years i have brought back suitcases full of lavender sachets which are still in use ! time for a trip to provence and stock up!!! excuse needed to return!
i adore your blog...the highlight of the week!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Janet, for the helpful information. And very happy to know lavender grows in the Sonoran desert. 

Chris  and George

Dear Kristi,
Happy Anniversary to you and Jean-Marc...we wish you many more dream-come true years together! And thank you for sharing your magical world with all of us~

Kristin Espinasse

Chris and George,  and all friends here,  Thank you very much for the anniversary wishes!  =-)

Betty Wallin

Happy, happy anniversary. Your pics and stories make me feel warm and fuzzy! Thank you for what you do so well.

Cheryl in STL

Happy anniversary!
I finally have found a place in my yard where lavender seems to be happy. Maybe next year I'll have enough to make myself a lavender bottle...or at least try!

Nyla Witmore

Quelle idee! removing branches from the bottom! Voila! My lavender is now blooming in my yard in Bouoder, Colorado and you are inspiring me.

Anne Irons

Have some champagne!!! I'll treat if I ever meet you! Congratulations!

edie schmidt


Lovely lavender!
Bon anniversaire a vous!

Edie from Savannah

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

WOW! 21! We feel like "beginners"! Féliciations!

Sandy Maberly

Best wishes on your anniversary! Thinking of you both and wishing I were in France once more, breathing in that exquisite scent of lavender!

Diane Young

Happy 21st! Hard to believe how the years have flown. Thanks for sharing so many of them with us. My dear French teacher (courtesy of Alliance Francaise) once brought me a little lavender sachet which I have kept in my linen closet for umpteen years. Vive La lavande de Provence!

Cynthia P. Lewis

A very happy anniversary to you both!! May you enjoy many, many more wonderful years together!

Karen Cafarella

Happy Anniversary to you both. Many more years of happiness and fun.

I love lavender but never had luck growing it.


Our dear Kristi,
What an absolutely beautiful post and pictures!
We always look forward to these--and your wonderful articles in France Today!
Congratulations to you and Jean Marc for your 21st! We share your joy and wish you a continued lifetime together filled with blessings and happiness!
Natalia XO
PS Happy birthday,too, to John!


Que votre bonheur continue!


Happy anniversary to you and Jean-Marc!! When I met you in Paris, Chris & I were celebrating our 47th anniversary! That just doesn't seem possible. Where on earth does the time go??!! Enjoy each day, because the time does go! And, so many wonderful moments to remember and many more to come, each day!

I need to find this type of lavender as I'd love to try to make a "bottle." Our lavender we find in nurseries is mostly the kind with the 'bunny ears' instead of the longer flower stem kind. Marie-Francoise has such a beautiful, open face - just lovely! Please tell her - she should make a video of her lavender weaving!

Pat Cargill

Lovely! And interesting to see how the lavender is weaved. Happy 21st to you and J-M and best wishes for many more celebrations.

Susan Dupuis

Veuillez-vous bien nous montrer une amphore / bouteille de lavande complet?

Sheryl in Denver

I had never heard of lavender wands until I read your lovely post with Marie-Francoise several years ago. I planted a small lavender garden here in Denver, which is similar to the climate in Provence, and it is thriving. I have a Lavender Party every year with my girlfriends and we all weave lavender wands while drinking lavender drinks and eating lavender cookies (they are yummy). The lavender is almost at full bloom now and it is time to gather my BFFs. I wanted you to know that the pebble you dropped into the pond has spread to a tradition in Colorado. Some day, I hope to have you at my Lavender Party in Denver, Kristin.

Fred Caswell

i HAD FORGOTTEN THAT YOUR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY FALLS ON THE SAME DATE AS OURS. WE CELEBRATED OUR 29th with dinner at a bay side table with a somewhat blocked view of fireworks.

We send our love and best of wishes to you both and your family.

Fred and Nancy

Kristin Espinasse

Sheryl,  Thank you for sharing the outcome of the lavender story.  I am so happy to hear that.  Maybe one day I can join you,  now that my sister lives in Denver.

Cathy - California

I have made these before here in California, but mine always end up with a mildew smell about 3 weeks later.
What am I doing wrong?

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