French strikes--and Lunch at Chateau de Pibarnon with Eric De Saint Victor!
Pouponner: How Do YOU care for your guests? (And vice versa). Send tips!

Baguette? How I Come up With the Word of the Day

Miss Bossy Boots in my kitchen. We're a good team! Next winetasting is June 10th at 3pm. You are all invited.

TODAY'S FRENCH PHRASE: mener à la baguette

    : to boss, to boss around, to rule with a rod of iron

ECOUTER--Hear these French words spoken by Jean-Marc:
Download MP3 file or Wav file

Pendant le repas et la séance de peinture, la charmante Tess nous a mené à la baguette.
During lunch and the painting session, charming Tess bossed us all around.


    by Kristi Espinasse

Betty, one of our guests at yesterday's lunch and winetasting, asked how I come up with the word of the day. Voilà mon secret: I first write the journal entry and then try to find a word to summarize the story's theme. This is easier said than done, and I end up scrambling for a French word--any French word! Tant pis!

Case in point: yesterday's meetup. Most of the thematic words that could have worked have already been used in the years of journal entries that I've stashed online--words like festin (September 2005), dégustation or, given the gastronomic theme, un fouet (August 2004, "Tribute to Julia Child").

Unable to come up with a word for today, I relaxed back and recalled scenes from yesterday's convivial RDV. And that is when I heard it! A slight murmur....a snippet from our table lively conversation at the table.

       photo: The delicious meal Tess prepared for our guests.

Was it Meiling or Wendell or Thelma who said it? Peu importe! What matters is what was said: "There goes Miss Bossy Boots again!"


Miss Bossy Boots is my dear friend, chef, and artist Tess (wearing purple and cutting this baguette). She created a delightful and enriching way to experience France, via her Paint Provence vacations--and she often brings her "darling hearts" (or, more often, "Naughty ones!") as she calls them, to our home--and brings a gourmet lunch to boot. (To boot, hey....). Smokey adores Tess as she is the most generous and leaves behind tasty salmon skins and all les restes.

Hearing our guests call Tess Miss Bossy Bottes, I'd found our word of the day! Only how to say it in French?

Jean-Marc suggested chef, so I looked that up. "Faire son petit chef" does indeed mean, "to boss around". But so does mener à la baguette ! And this was the more colorful of the two idioms--plus there was a foodie theme in the phrase!

Hélas non! The baguette in question refers to an iron rod...and not a warm, golden and fluffy loaf of French bread weilded by an authoratative English woman!

Ah, well, as Tess would say, "Darling Girl, don't worry about it!"

Well who am I to argue with Miss Bossy Boots? All worries aside, I leave you with that delighful phrase-of-the-day...and these souvenir photos from yesterday.


Eugenia, Kristi, and Tish. We are all wearing blue, hinting to the sky to change colors. They gray eventually gave way! And we enjoyed a sunny moment...before the rain came down.

Tish took this picture of our new deck, facing our front porch. What should be planted in the bed below? (Extra credit if you name a perennial food crop!). Comments welcome here.

With Eugenia, from Georgia, and Betty, from North Carolina. 

                            "The Angels' Share."

Missing from this photo is my beautiful friend Cyn and her adorable Bandol neighbors, Cathy and Jean who didn't speak English and who were wonderful sports! Pictured: Cyn's husband Ian, Mary Lynn, Jean-Marc, Betty, Eugenia, and Tish. Jean-Marc is talking about "The Angels' Share". This is the amount of wine that evaporates, each month, from the wine barrel. The French say the evaporated or missing wine goes to the angels, La part des anges...

I think I'll leave off on that ethereal note--and let this story enjoy a heavenly ending!



Tant pis! = oh, well! (too bad)
Voilà mon secret = here's my secret
le festin = feast
la dégustation = tasting
le fouet = whisk
RDV = rendez-vous, meet-up
peu importe = no matter, it doesn't matter
hélas = unfortunately
les restes = leftovers
amicalement = warmly


Marjorie R. William's new book on French food and culture: Markets of Provence.

"Thorough, accurate and mouth-watering. Essential reading for all market-hoppers.” ―Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence and A Good Year". Order a copy here.

I am so excited to see my blurb on the back of this book, in between these Provence and Food experts! Thank you for ordering a copy HERE.

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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Hi Kristi,

I love the phrase today! I picture someone wielding a stale baguette! They are hard as an iron rod! :-)

Love this please keep me subscribed, my daughter married a wonderful French man, live in Paris with their adorable babies. I usually visit 2x a year so wonderful.

Suzanne Dunaway

Chere, very few food crops are perennial because of being seasonal, but I plant rosemary, sage, parsley and lemon thyme for ever-use during the year, but even the thyme needs pruning each fall. Maybe plant miniature Meyer lemon bushes. They smell wonderful and the citrons are amazing. You can find them through nurseries and they stay small with pruning and you'll have lemons almost all year!
Hope this helps.
Oh, I also plant lavender, but you can't eat it. Just smell it when you having lunch on the terrace!

One perennial food I can think of is an herb, sage. It comes back and grows like crazy here in the states.
You all look so happy! Thanks for this.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Do you have enough winter for rhubarb to thrive? It is a perennial food plant where I live. Needs some compost, being a "heavy feeder". Harvest the stalks, put the leaves in a compost heap, as they are not edible. You already have blueberries, is that right?

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

As for flowers, bold giant purple cone flowers, or yellow coreopsis. The might need deadheading in their bloom season, but they come each year.

catharine ewart-touzot

What about dill, it is airy and I keep Coreopsis on the porch because I like the small yellow blooms. I also use rosemary and sage quite a lot mixed with chives. These are more substantial evergreens which I like close to sitting/entrance areas just to look nice all of the time. Looks like it was a very pleasant happy time yesterday.

Suzanne Codi

Hi Kristi! How about planting some rambling vine crops, like zucchini, or melons or any squash. You would in no time have them rambling down the hill. You could interplant a few Tournesols for added color, since it looks like you have full sun there. Jealous of all the sun, we have to cut down a trash tree this weekend that has started shading the tomatoes... Cucumbers also have pretty foliage and so yummy in the hot summer...Have fun!! Maybe France next summer, it's been 5 years since our last bills a priority over vacations...oh well, c'est la vie!

Patricia Sands

That sunny slope looks like the perfect setting for a prolific herb garden ... avec les tournesols, as Suzanne suggests! I just ordered my copy of Markets of Provence to bring along to France in ten days. :-)


Herbs; thyme, rosemary are perennials. Plant annual veg.


Asparagas would be lovely, depending on the variety you could start harvesting in 2 years and they are long lived. Plus once you stop cutting you allow them to keep growing to form their lovey ferns, then cut them down in the early winter to harvest again in Spring.. We share something in common concerning our husbands Kristi, love, understanding and support are all we can offer to help them through their demons...


I agree with Patricia that les tournesols would look wonderful and create a cozy natural fence around the deck. However, I think lemon trees would also look charming while possibly providing a bit of shade on a sunny afternoon. I'm curious whether you are planning to install some type of canopy or shade sail above the deck. I also wanted to say how cozy your wine tasting looks, and the spread looks delicious.

Mark Guinther

Hi Kristi!

Great post as usual (or should I say Poste) Hey, any chance we could have Jean-Marc pronounce "Reims" as in Reims Cathedral? Some people around here have a difficult time with with the pronunciation (scraping and so forth).

Thank you and keep up the good work.


Kathleen from Connecticut

May I suggest chives and rosemary. Rosemary thrives in the south of France,plus add your lavender for that special scent. I love to make lavender ice cream and I have used very, very old lavender flowers for this and it is so heavenly.



Zut ! I just sent out an article to our French Conversation group about baguettes and I could have added this expression. :)

I did find one that refers to someone with thin legs as having 'baguettes', though.

Gotta' go find some bread!

Joanne Ablan

Hi, Kristi,
I love berries. While not the most beautiful
landscape plant, they are delicious, and love sun.
Our local French bakery makes the most delicious
fruit desserts with fraises, framboises, et myrtilles.
We had some at our family reunion last night. The
Babas Au Rhum with the raspberries were my favorite.
So delicious!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Love the story about la part des anges ♡

So many good planting suggestions. Meyer lemons & lavender get my vote, as does asparagus and dill, rosemary many choices.

BTW, know you appreciate corrections. Wasn't sure if typos or missed meanings: foodie item or foodie theme? be planted or we plant?

Vance Anderson-Inks

Yummy post. Received my copy of "Markets of Provence". Can't wait read it.

Joan L.

You have some awesome friends. I love seeing the French table set for a meal.... Bon appetit!

Anne Umphrey

I too was going to suggest asparagus. Here in New England it is in all the farm stands right now. Very tasty. Last evening I had shaved asparagus as a salad next to a lovely piece of salmon.

I enjoy your articles so much. I read them every day at work (don't tell my boss). One day I hope to visit you at your chateau and work on my book series there. I think my muse and I would have a better line of communication there, enjoying good food, good company, and the beautiful country side. :-) But we're getting the job done here. I published my first book in paperback yesterday! I've only published ebooks in the past.

The meal looks so yummy!

Thank you for your emails. And if you every think no one is reading, I want to let you know I am. Please continue to send.

Thank you,

Claudia Helena Ross


Our dear Kristi,
This is absolutely wonderful!
Between dear friends and heavenly food,wow(!),is there a better
way to enjoy the day?!
I also have to compliment you on how you have turned your kitchen and
your yard into magic!(Is that painting by dear Jules?)
Just transports us to a place filled with happiness and peace.
I had forgotten about this,but my mom used to revive a day old baguette by slightly dampening the top ,then wrapping in foil and place in a 350 oven for a few minutes.
Natalia xo
PS Your remarks on the back cover on "Markets" were terrific!

Barbara Becker

Grape tomatoes always come back . . . all over the place! Better maybe, would be hazels . . . hazelnuts (YUM).
Don't grow too tall, but would give you a nice looking border around the deck.

Sharon in N.C.

Blueberries and any berry bush, chives and other herbs. I want to come to one of T"es's great meals even if I don't paint. Or yours. If we get to France next spring I will be in touch.


How about kale and any asian veg, particularly bok choy and arugula. All these self seed and will return year after year if some of the plants are left in the soil to go to seed. Plant oregano, which is so hardy and spreads, mint, chive, rosemary and lemon balm which spreads like crazy but grows into a nice green, round bush and smells good. The bees love borage, which will self seed easily and sets pretty blue flowers.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

You are in great company throughout this lovely and lively post!

Not to be bossy, but my comments continue to evaporate sometime after the preview appears. This time I'll just hit post and see what happens :)

Beautiful looking meal and crowd.
Menu and recipes, please...

gwyn ganjeau

What lovely suggestions above! I love the lemon tree idea, and oregano is a loyal citizen and returns yearly. Perhaps a bay tree -- bay enhances so many dishes, and taking it from one's own tree somehow seems to add even more comfort to those long-simmering dishes.

Teresa R. Schirmer

I start many of my French classes with a 3 minute bell ringer using your wonderful phrases!!!
Love them!!!!
Beautiful ladies in your pictures! I so envy your soirées! Someday I will visit... but, a new stage in life is about to happen. Un bébé..... Je serai grand-mère si bientôt!

Your patio/deck is awesome... For next year... plant some irises.. they will bloom in middle May, Peonies end of May and any fragrant perennials... I love chives!. They have a purple flower and are plentiful all summer long. Mint... all on its' own on the other corner! Wonderful with your citrons pressés!
Have a wonderful spring & congratulations on your book review.. Just purchased!
Teresa r. Schirmer

faye lafleur

Here in Lafayette La.,, we say "tant pire".......meaning same????

Diane Young

Oh, how I envy all the gardeners. I have managed to get 2 things to survive for years - hydrangeas (the last 2 years my bush has one blue among all the pink) and a few dwarf azaleas. Also the wonderful vincas come back on their own. I have too much shade so not much growing in back yard. A few pots around the patio, with a yearly blooming of an amaryllis in the Spring and the blessed kalanchoe, which never seem to die and like cool weather best. This year I bought a little jade plant for the house and it's my kind of plant. It just wants a few drops of water about once every week or 10 days. It's so hot and humid here that summer seems to burn the plants unless we get a lot of rain or I water often (which I don't do when it's hot). Your new deck looks so inviting and your kitchen is so spiffy now. Over the years you and JM have really done a lot of home improvement. Ah, youth!


perennial food crop? artichokes

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Wonderful suggestions from everyone for plants.
I wonder if clematis can survive in your climate. It is a most wonderful vine with a variety of colors and much to my surprise, it reseeds itself! We have so many volunteer clematis vines around that we have had to pull them up this spring!

The angel's share! Something new...thank you Jean-Marc. We have so enjoyed learning about wine from Jean-Marc and following the creation of your vineyard. There is a progress...worth retelling.!


I say roses. The smell is food for the soul.

Kristi - I love reading your interesting stories/notes/etc. I don't speak French, but traveled there with my daughter a few years ago. Especially loved the Provence area.
I have just finished reading a book called Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It is a memoir of her years in Italy as she bought and remodeled an old house. It reminded me of many of the things you have shared. Thought you might enjoy it.

Barb Cashen

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