A rare tornado in France over the weekend!
Broken bones and Broken French

To Get One's Money's Worth, in French + Downton Abbey


Join us for tomorrow's (October 14th) winetasting at 3pm. Or meet us October 19th.We would love to see you here, near Bandol! Email your confirmation to [email protected] (Thanks, Nick and Jill Cook, for this photo!)

"To get one's money's worth"

    : en avoir pour son argent

Nov2014Mas de Perdrix. A home in France that artists and writers love to rent.  Work on your creative project in this inspiring environment.



Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words
Download MP3 or Download Wav file

En avoir pour son argent, c'est tirer le maximum de bonnes choses du trésor de la vie. 
Getting your money's worth means getting more of the good things out of life.
           Example sentence found at rbc.com via linguee.fr

by Kristin Espinasse

"Posh Talk"

Have you ever heard the voice of your mind? Does it have an accent? Canadian? Australian? Texan? Lately, my mind's voice has swayed from standard American to British English --this after watching two seasons of Downton Abbey in one week! 

But is that sensible, my dear? (Oh! There it goes again! Not only has my mind adopted an aristocratic accent, but it has picked up certain phrasing as well! Just ask my dog, Smokey, who reads my thoughts. But can he hear them sounding like The Queen's English?  And is he confused or, worse, does he think I'm putting on airs?

All this Downton Abbey episode-binging (and posh-talking) began when Netflix charged my credit card two months ago and I realized I had not watched one movie. Another film-less month passed followed by a punctual charge!

"Why don't be defeatist, dear! It's very middle class!" (Yikes -- did you hear that one? That wasn't me talking at all! It was Violet Crawley-dowager Countess of Grantham! And just what would she think of a once-disciplined blogger...turned binge-watching accent-hopping Downton Abbey groupie?

Well, my darling, at least you are getting you are getting your money's worth now! (Hmm. I don't know if she would actually say that - but as you know it's today's phrase du jour and I've got to wrap up this post now so that I may race back to my telly and begin Season 3!)

P.S. I do feel guilty about being glued to the screen instead of writing stories of my own but, once again, as one of the Downton characters would say:

A change is as good as a rest.
Un changement équivaut à un repos

 (Meantime I am dying to know who is your favorite and least favorite Downton Abbey character?...)


To leave a comment, click here



I wanted to highlight  Dierdre Heekin's book "An Unlikely Vineyard" once more, as it is a real treasure and as my husband, a winemaker who is too busy to read, has been taking the time to read it because he's enjoying it so much! J'aime l'atmosphère et son écriture, he says of the Dierdre's story. And Jean-Marc loves all the wonderful photos. The book was given to us by, Nina and Charlie in New Hampshire, and as soon as Jean-Marc  puts it down I will take it back up for my garden studies!

A review:
"An Unlikely Vineyard is a rare blend of scholarship, storytelling, and poetry. Deirdre Heekin’s enthralling tale of sinking roots into her land will inspire and enable anyone who ever dreamed of growing food, making wine, or bringing beauty out of the soil around them. This meditation on the cultivation of place is an elegant rallying cry in a world that too often settles for placelessness."--Rowan Jacobsen, author, American Terroir : Savoring the Flavors of our Woods, Waters, and Fields 

To order, click here: An Unlikely Vineyard


This morning I planted more fava beans in the garden. We are lucky to live in a mild climate where favas can be sowed twice a year. You can order heirloom seeds and garden supplies at Amazon. Any purchase will support this newsletter. Merci beaucoup!


I ordered all these plants via post and they made it here beautifully! There are 6 blueberry plants, 1 sea-buckthorn shrub, and 3 goumi bushes.


Saturday we walked along the coastline and enjoyed the bright bunches of wildflowers, the natural waterfall, and this beautiful cove where people were swimming and picniquing. After, while having a sieste in the shade, I looked up and smiled when I saw this glimpse of my husband, Chief Grape. See him in this video on French TV.

Sablet home for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence.

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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Bruce in Northwest Connecticut

Ummm … Is Jean-Marc wearing anything in that photo?


Mmmmm. I loved the posh talk in your head and that Smokey is hearing it as he reads your thoughts. And watching several seasons of Downton Abby? What could be better? Over here we wait for the next season with great anticipation. I'd call that binge watching delicieux!

Julie Farrar

I could think of worst ways to spend a day than binge-watching Downtown Abbey.

lynn at Southern fried French

OK, anyone who is a Downton fan should, this very moment, google Jan Moir, columnist for the daily mail in the UK, and read her reviews of Downton Abbey. They are hysterical and will have you on the floor laughing. She is a big fan, but it is a series that begs being poked fun at. There are also some great parodies on YouTube. Meanwhile, we are deep into the final (sniff) season.


Bonjour Kristi,
I love Downton Abbey and I'm only halfway through season 3. I am savoring it. I love Violet - My favorite quote of hers is "What's a weekend?"

Enjoyed today's photos of Jean Marc and Smokey Dokey!

Sue J.

One of my favorite lines:Lady Mary says, "I'm going upstairs to take off my hat." DA is endlessly fascinating.


Need to see season 3, been here in France all year, so missed it in the US...favorite = Maggie Smith followed by the man killed off in the car accident.

Jeanne in Oregon

Oh, Kristin. I know just what you are talking about. I didn't begin watching Downton Abbey until season 4, so I purchased the DVD collection and spend many lovely hours enjoying the earlier episodes. I was astonished when I realized my thoughts had taken on that lovely British accent ... sometimes posh and uppity, as Violet or Mary might have uttered, often more down to earth as Mrs. Hughes, and occasionally simple and practical as Mrs. Patmore. I am so looking forward to season 6, and while I will miss watching new episodes when Downton Abbey ends, I am so happy to own the DVDs of all seasons (yes, season 6 will be shipped in January). Oh, dear. I think it's time for a cup of tea. Carson!

Teresa Schirmer

Love love Downtown Abbey!!!
Love Daisy!! 😍not fond of Mary.
And why not take some time to step into a
Different century!!!??


How fun to imagine you watching Downton. I have watched all the episodes. Twice. All the characters are endearing and so believably genuine! I especially love the exchanges between Violet and Isobel Crawley. I am saddened at the fact the upcoming season will be the last. Wishing we could all live as a fly on the wall at Downton for just a few more seasons.


This is great! I can relate to the British accent that my thoughts acquire after watching DA. I stopped watching it after the first two seasons, simply because I didn't have a chance to continue watching. I must get my hands on the DVDs sometime. I'm currently reading the Outlander series, so the voice in my head speaks with a Scots accent.

Heather in Arles

Well, at least you can take comfort in that you are watching something elegant and classic! After a friend mentioned it, I watched an episode of "Modern Family" since it is on Netflix...and...couldn't...stop. Remi was out of town for the week and it was just shy of "out of control." And I am not a tv person! At all! But I think sometimes we need to turn part of our crazily busy brains down and just enjoy. And yes, I picked up the intonations and rhythms of some of those characters too!

Gros Bisous to you and Mr. Smokey,

Cassie Alexandrou

Ah, Downton Abbey! Can't wait for the final season to begin in January, here in the U.S. The characters are so rich and complex, and I love the glimpse into their world -- a world and a lifestyle long gone by. The Dowager Countess is my favorite and has had some of the best lines in the series. Thomas drives me mad with his scheming ways, but a part of me feels sorry for him sometimes. Anyway, enjoy the next season and keep us posted on your thoughts and impressions. Cheerio!

Audrey Wilson

So what's wrong with a British accent da-ahling !!Whenever I go State side people say "I just love your accent . Say something else !"
I'm an avid DA watcher &guess my favourite character must be Violet followed by Carson
I shall definitely get withdrawal symptoms when it finishes My daughter who lives in Phoenix is always behind in the plot, so I have to be careful not to spill the beans !!
By the way, we have had another good series about Mr Selfridge,an American, the founder of the famous store in London Hoping for another follow -up after DA
Ta ta for now da-ahling .Must go to change for dinner (in my dreams !!)


The Dowager hands down!!

catharine ewart-touzot

Not much of a DA fan, I have watched a few shows and they are interesting for certain mostly because I do enjoy seeing how people lived and dressed, and interacted during the time periods of the furniture and architecture I admire so. I don't watch a lot of television but when I do flip through the channels and see walking dead, Modern Family, the one about DC and the presidency today, I think perhaps it would be wonderful to return to the DA time slot, especially if you had the title and position!..Kristin you do so beautifully well in French guess that was a post I missed, so glad to see it now.

Alice Shupe

I've often wondered if other people hear their inner voice in different accents like I do and now I know that at least one other person does! I pick up accents easily and will hear my inner voice (and sometimes outer voice) speaking in whatever accent I've been exposed to a lot recently. British, Irish, Russian, French - whatever it is I pick it up. Maybe I'm not so weird after all!

Cynthia P. Lewis

How wonderful that you are enchanted by the world of "Downton Abby". I can envision you and Smokey curled up together with eyes glued on the "telly". Some years ago there was a British series called "A Crown in Her Jewel" which has always been one of my favorite series (about the British in India when "the sun never set on the British Empire"). Netflix offers it, too.

As for the characters in "Downton Abby" ... they are all superb! If I had to choose: the Dowager Duchess and Mrs. Crawley together.

Best wishes and happy times at your wine fêtes!

Sharon in North Carolina

I like Mary, because she was able to change her personality and gain maturity through events in her life. I have been binge watching Midsomer Murders and by season three I was using British phrases and starting to have a slight British accent. I couldn't use a British accent if I tried, but let me hear one for an extended time and it will be there when least expected. Giggles!!!


Maggie Smith! The Spanish have a fascinating series on Netflix that they call "their" Downton Abbey. I started watching to see what they mean, and it is because the series is so well done and so entirely riveting! A period piece called "The Time in Between".


My favorite line, too..


Our dear Kristi,
Your comments about speaking in Queen's English really brought a smile,especially because I found myself doing the same thing when I watched the the first series of Poldark on Masterpiece Theater in the 1970's !
I even bought a set of china(which I still have and use!)
that was as similar to theirs!
What fun and what a happy reminder of wonderful times in our lives!
Also--as always-- beautiful pictures!
Natalia. xo

Dawn Johnson

Oh my one of my favorites for sure!! So funny that you bring up the British accent as I sometimes hear it in my mind's voice too. Always wanting finish my vowel ending words with an r as in "no-r". It's funny as I've been hanging out here in Cotignac with my German "daughter" who lived with me in 2003-4 she mentioned that I seem to be using more British phrases like "that's really lovely" or "I quite agree" I love all the exchanges between Violet and Mrs. Crawley, I love Daisy and Anna and really all of them. Love Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. And as for Thomas, well he is one we all love to hate but when I have seen him in interviews not in character, the actor is so cute and funny and so different from Thomas that I admire his acting ability to make us hate him so. It must be fun for him. Yes I'm a British television fanatic, I too love Mr. Selfridge and Call the Midwife and was into The Paradise until it got cancelled. My German daughter and I had been watching episodes of call the midwife each night on my iPad while we've been here, she is completely booked. If you've never seen, it's very rich and if you've had kids it will make you cry usually.
Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Leslie NYC

Mrs. Hughes.


They are all very likable in their own way but I favor Mrs. Hughes and Carson. And Maggie Smith is very funny, my dear! I have the recordings or discs and watch during the off season when I get sick of all the politics. We have not started the next season yet - Can't wait. The architecture and the grounds also rate very high. Have a great week.




When I finally discovered Amazon Prime was streaming Downton Abbey free of charge, I finally started watching what my friends have raved about. I hadn't wanted to start watching mid-series. What a pleasure to binge watch the first five seasons without having to wait a week for each new episode. I've become fond of all the characters, but my favorite is definitely Mr. Bates. I enjoyed the description of your Downton Abbey escape, Kristin, and what a fun idea to have your fans share their favorites. Merci!


I ( Canadian residing in New Zealand)am a big fan of British TV also...just waiting for the final series of Downton..In the meantime have been watching Mr Selfridge (almost as good) and Poldark...Call the midwife...Jewel in the Crown...and most recently the adaptation of Diana Gabaldons amazing book The Outlander (really excellent !!) and waiting for the next one to be aired (April) One can't stop thinking and speaking in a scottish accent after watching...even though one must feel rather alarmed at the very thought ....LOL !

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I love seeing life in that era, from the sinking of the Titanic forward, through the Great War and into the 1920s. The Dowager Countess gets a lot of the best zinger lines, which I like. My favorite character is probably Tom Branson, who loves Sybil. I do not know how far you are in the series now, and lots happens for that pair. My least favorite is O'Brien, the lady's maid for Cora, the Countess. She schemes so much, cares not for honesty. She is counterpart to Thomas, and a contrast to Anna and Mr Bates.

I watched each episode many times, as my local PBS station would run an episode multiple times in a week, and now in fall, show all the past seasons so we can be reminded and fresh on all the details when the last season starts here in the US in January. I take in new details, new angles in the story, each time.

Hmm, thinking on it, my favorite thing to watch is the fashions, for men and especially the women, at each age, status in life, and how they change over the time of the series. So many beautiful dresses!


Who doesn't enjoy watching the Dowager Countess, but my favorite is Mrs. Hughes. Her kindness, her sensitivity to others, her lack of self-importance, despite being the Housekeeper, have all endeared her to me. So it's her voice I hear in my head. I will miss them all.


Hi Kristin,

We're all caught up on Downton Abbey for now! We got hooked on it! I love the Dowager Countess, she has the best lines! I also like Mr. Barrow because he is always up to something! I like Lady Rose too because she is bringing some life into the household!

I am enjoying An Unlikely Vineyard! Thanks for the recommendation! Maybe you and JM can write your own book together, The Unlikely Frenchwoman or Lunatique: Vineyard Madness in Southern France! HAHA

Well.....are you going to tell us? Was JM au naturel in the cove? :-)


I fall into a British accent now and again. It usually happens after watching a British film.


i can relate to your first "binge watching" experience!!! i did the same thing once i started on Downton...just melted into their world and couldn't stop! just hearting the music as the episode begins makes me excited!! am all caught up and so sad that there will be only this last season...i just may have to purchase the DVDs to recapture all of the Dowager's witty quips! my favorite character(s)...hands down: Mr. Bates & Anna <3 <3 i love to hate Thomas. don't feel guilty, enjoy every show! i know it'll somehow influence your writing and your blogs!


My favorite is grandma violet. I love her wit. She is old school, but as you will see later, there is another side. I like Mary because of her independent side. Love that show. Masterpiece theater is my favorite! Enjoy the rest of the seasons.


Dean and I started watching Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime for free. Although we do pay for Prime .We'd sit with my IPad and watch one or two episodes at a time, and finally we realized that we could watch it on my 21'"computer screen. Dah!
Now we have to start Episode 5. I think that that is right number. I couldn't believe that he got a hooked as me.

Marianne Rankin

I've never seen Downton Abbey, so don't have a favorite character.

Neither of the audio files has been working for quite a while.


I can't stand O'Brien and Thomas. Having said that, the actors play them both very, very well, I admire their talent and feel they do add greatly to the show.

But, . . . to pick out a favorite? Oh, that's a tough one. Casting did an excellent job. I love Violet's character and her great lines. I can't imagine anyone but Maggie Smith as Violet! Perfection. I love Mrs. Hughes's kindness and compassion and Mrs. Patmore's down to earth practical wisdom, Rose's irrepressible bubbly nature, Anna and Mr. Bates's genuine-genuiness (Yes, it's a word, I just created it ;). But, oh, they are all great . . . Carson, Mary, Sybil, Tom, Cora, Robert, Daisy, Isobel, Edith . . .

So glad I have the DVDs. I plan on getting the last series as soon as it is available. It is so nice to be able to immerse myself in another place/time like that from time to time. I also like to spend some time in Cicely, Alaska, vis-a-vis Northern Exposure. Very quirky little place. If it really existed, I think I'd be tempted to move there! :)

Barbara Kelley

Violet of course! My least favorite T
Thomas, that sneak.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Sherrill has expressed many of the thoughts swirling around in my mind about Downton Abbey. I have loved Maggie Smith ever since "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie". But Anna Bates tugs at my heart. I am hooked! Masterpiece Theater offers us wonderful stories that capture us and take us through the ages...and we can forever revisit and lose ourselves in these gripping stories with magical moments. Brideshead Revisited was one of my favorites...the music haunts me to this day.

Your gardening is a constant source of inspiration! You are able to have so many of the plants and trees we cannot grow as our climate is far too cold and harsh. Whether popping seeds into the soil or just scattering them, glorious vegetables and flowers seem to emerge. And Smokey, who seems to love his sticks, must be very content with nature's endless supply.

It is always amazing to read your reader's comments and see how much this diverse community comes together and shares similar thoughts in response to your writings.
You spark an interest for us in so many different things!

John Oswin

Hi Kristin, I, too am an avid watcher of DA. My favourite character is the Dowager Violet...my least favourite I cannot divulge as many of you have not got onto series 5/6 yet and I don't wish to give 'anything away'....Its been an awesome road for all the storylines and superb acting to boot...lots of funny moments and serious ones too...I, like many others I'm sure, will miss it. We (in the UK) are into series 6 and the 4th episode has been shown this Sunday (11th Oct). Its interesting to hear how so many people around the world have enjoyed the programme and will surely continue to do so...I really enjoy reading all the news each week and good luck with your wine tasting sessions!....

Sandy Vichery

Hi Kristi,
"Posh Talk" I Love it! I LOVE how they speak, I imitate them all the time and I remember things to tell my English friend and she just laughs at me. :)
I finished season 5, I am a fan of "binge-watching" much to my husbands dislike. He prefers I read a book! I like Violet the best, I love her facial expressions! I also like Mrs Pattmore and Daisy..I dislike Thomas.If you need more shows to Binge watch, hit me up on FB messenger! :)

Susan Souza

My favorite is Lady Mary and least Thomas

Diane Young

We are in the midst of reruns now and will get season 6 starting in January. I'm so hooked I finally ordered the complete series so that I can remenisce after it's all through. Favorite probably is Anna for her undying love and faith in her husband. Least favorite is Thomas, although he is a super actor. Favorite scene of all so far is Matthew proposing to Mary in the snow. His death was very hard to accept, even knowing it's all make believe.

Richard Swarb

Tom the Irishman, Sybil's husband who has matured and grown to love the family, honest and straightforward, willing to work with the truth as he sees it with everyone at all times. Appears to have saved the marriage between Matthew and Mary.


Having lived cheek by jowl with these types for more than 30 years, and in fact not far from Highclaire where it is all filmed, I had my fill of it years ago, in real life, and its one of the reasons we moved to France. (By the way, I am not a red or socialist...) The good thing is that the finale stopped when it did in 1925. Another 16 years and all but the very few will be swept away by the changes that were brought about through liberation of women and working people by the needs of the war machine.
My least favourite:- Mary. The best Hard to say but perhaps the dowager (Maggie Smith) and the cook and her assistant.

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