"Bidou": A Do-It-Yourself Tummy Tuck in French (Bilingual Story)

Eden Theatre oldest functioning cinema in the world
Today, learn a tummy tuck trick my husband and I use on our morning walks. Passing by historic sites, such as the Eden Theatre--the oldest cinema in the world--is a helpful distraction as we do our "standing situps."

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LE BIDOU (bee-do)

    : tummy, tum-tum

The word bidou is used by children or by adults speaking to children. Bidou is also a colloquial term used in casual conversation. Read on... 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Brains are the New Six-Pack"

My husband and I have tweaked our morning walk to include a (not-so) simple exercise de ventre. By thoughtfully contracting our stomach muscles during the sweaty aller-retour to the port, we can tackle two goals at the same time: cardio fitness and improving core strength. The walking part is easy, the challenge is remembering to suck it in.... For this, we have a one-word reminder/call-to-action that really works:

"Bidou?"

Our prompt or truc de mémoire may be childish ("bidou" means "tummy" in baby talk) but boy is it effective! No sooner does one of us call "bidou?" than we instantly cave below the ribs. But not for long. In a matter of steps my mind is somewhere else, far from my midriff! Apparently, it isn't just my stomach that needs training, so does my brain.

To combat such flightiness, we've come up with an extra command: one of us will say "BIDOU?" and the other will name a target. We must hold it in until the You-Name-It destination. Let me give you an example:

Jean-Marc: "Bidou?"

Kristi (sucking it in):  "Oh, Merci! (for the needed reminder) "Bidou Bâteaux!" This is a signal to maintain it until we reach the boats 20 meters ahead. Once we reach the boats (or sometime in between, depending...), it's the other person's turn to keep us on track...

Kristi: "Bidou?"

Jean-Marc: "Oui oui! (my husband replies, confidently. But is he telling the truth? Has he really been holding it in all this time? Seems like it's always me saying merci! and him saying oui! oui!). Nevertheless, "Bidou Phare!" he suggests next.

Hold on! That's a little too far the phare. I know that in 10 or so meters I'm gonna accidentally let it all hang out. Therefore I humbly suggest, "Bidou Cinema?" (because the Eden movie theatre is only another 15 meters up ahead and I think this is a more realistic goal.)

No matter how amusing the game and how consistently we play it, more often than not I forget to keep my tummy tucked in. The good news is Jean-Marc and I are both improving. In fact, I was smack in the middle of a long stretch of holding it in when I saw a man with a very big bidou wearing a funny T-shirt. It read: "BRAINS ARE THE NEW SIX-PACK." 

I'm not a fan of smug T-shirts, but this one got me thinking about how both the French and the English have an unhealthy symbol for "muscular stomach": the French call toned abs une tablette de chocolat--a chocolate bar, picture six squares-- while the English call them "six-pack abs".

Next, I wondered, Does this Frenchman understand the English on his T-Shirt? Ah well, what does it matter? After all, his quirky message was beginning to sink in and make some sense to me. Because a flat stomach is, in my experience (not that I've yet experienced one....), the result of consistent brain power. Indeed, les cerveaux sont les nouveaux abdos!

COMMENTS
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Old wooden boats in the port capucin
Bidou Bateaux? Here is one of our targets--the old wooden boats in Port des Capucins.


FRENCH TRANSLATION by ChatGPT

"Les Cerveaux Sont Les Nouveaux  Abdos"

Mon mari et moi avons ajusté notre marche matinale pour y inclure un exercice de ventre (pas si simple). En contractant consciencieusement nos muscles abdominaux pendant notre aller-retour transpirant vers le port, nous pouvons atteindre deux objectifs simultanément : l'entraînement cardiovasculaire et le renforcement des muscles profonds. La marche est facile, le défi réside dans le souvenir de rentrer le ventre... Pour cela, nous avons un rappel en un mot qui fonctionne vraiment bien :

"Bidou ?"

Notre rappel ou truc mnémotechnique peut sembler enfantin ("bidou" signifie "ventre" dans le langage des tout-petits), mais il est incroyablement efficace ! À peine l'un de nous prononce "bidou ?" que nous rentrons instantanément le ventre en dessous des côtes. Mais pas pour longtemps. En quelques pas, mon esprit est ailleurs, loin de mon abdomen ! Apparemment, ce n'est pas seulement mon ventre qui a besoin d'exercice, mon cerveau aussi.

Pour contrer cette distraction, nous avons inventé une commande supplémentaire : l'un de nous dit "BIDOU ?" et l'autre nomme une cible. Nous devons le maintenir rentré jusqu'à la destination en question. Laissez-moi vous donner un exemple :

Jean-Marc : "Bidou ?"

Kristi (en rentrant le ventre) : "Oh, merci ! (pour le rappel nécessaire)" Puis "Bidou Bâteaux !" Cela signifie que nous devons le maintenir jusqu'à ce que nous atteignions les bateaux (à seulement 20 mètres devant nous). Une fois arrivés aux bateaux (ou quelque part entre les deux, selon les circonstances...), c'est au tour de l'autre de nous garder sur la bonne voie...

Kristi : "Bidou ?"

Jean-Marc : "Oui oui !" (mon mari répond avec confiance. Mais dit-il vraiment la vérité ? A-t-il vraiment rentré le ventre tout ce temps ? Il semble que je sois toujours celle qui dit merci ! et lui qui dit oui ! oui !). Néanmoins, il propose ensuite "Bidou Phare !".

Attendez ! Le phare est un peu trop loin. Je sais qu'à environ 10 mètres, je vais involontairement tout laisser pendre. Par conséquent, je suggère humblement, "Bidou Cinema ?" (car le cinéma n'est qu'à 15 mètres de là et je pense que c'est un objectif plus réaliste).

Peu importe à quel point le jeu est amusant et à quel point nous y jouons régulièrement, j'oublie souvent de garder mon ventre rentré. Mais nous nous améliorons tous les deux. En fait, j'étais en plein milieu d'une longue période de maintien lorsque j'ai vu un homme avec un très gros bidou portant un t-shirt drôle. Il était écrit : "Les cerveaux sont le nouveau pack de six".

Je ne suis pas fan des t-shirts arrogants, mais celui-ci m'a fait réfléchir sur le fait que les Français et les Anglais ont tous deux un symbole peu sain pour "ventre musclé" : les Français appellent les abdominaux tonifiés une "tablette de chocolat" - imaginez six carrés - tandis que les Anglais les appellent "six-pack abs".

Ensuite, je me suis demandé : ce Français comprend-il l'anglais sur son t-shirt ? Eh bien, peu importe. Après tout, son message original commençait à s'enraciner et à avoir du sens pour moi. Parce qu'un ventre plat est, d'après mon expérience (pas que j'en aie encore fait l'expérience...), le résultat d'un pouvoir cérébral constant. En effet, les cerveaux sont les nouveaux abdos!

RELATED STORY
Six-pack abs and The French Gut-Buster (Jean-Marc's new ab gizmo)

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me read the vocabulary list


le cerveau = brain
le ventre = stomach
la marche = walk
le défi = challenge
un rappel = reminder
le bidou = tummy
efficace = efficient
les côtes = ribs
une cible = target
néanmoins = nevertheless
le phare = lighthouse
drôle = funny
une tablette de chocolat = chocolate bar

Old port and lighthouse at La Ciotat
Bidou Phare? Can you hold in your tummy from here to the lighthouse? A little concentration will help...

REMERCIEMENTS
Sincere thanks to the following readers who sent in a donation following our Thoughts About Adopting a Pet post. This truly is a reader-supported blog and I appreciate your help in publishing it. Merci beaucoup!

Marianne R.
Natalia R.
Linda H. (via Zelle)
Susan S.
Suzanne I.

I admire your good humor, honesty, and tenacity. Your articles are down-to-earth and honest. --Susan S.

Love your blog. I lost you on my account, many computer glitches. Happy to be a part of your lives. Wishing you and your family love, health, happiness, good fortune. Please keep writing… it brightens my day! ❤️ Suzanne I.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Engagement is a "faux ami" + Welcoming a Pet into the Family & Responsibility

Animal shelter dog cat refuge France
"Adopt Don't Shop"... is that even debatable? And yet the decision between adopting from a shelter or choosing a puppy from a breeder isn't always straightforward. Read Jean-Marc's essay about our current dog dilemma, and we welcome your thoughts and experiences in the comments. (Picture taken at one of the animal rescue centers we visited this month).

Today's word is a faux-ami or false cognate (or "false friend"): it resembles an English word but it has a different meaning:

L’ENGAGEMENT 

  : commitment 

"Engagement" in French refers to a commitment, promise, or involvement in a specific task, cause, or relationship. It is often used in contexts such as engagements in relationships, job contracts, or social and political commitments.

However, in English, the word "engagement" primarily refers to a period of time when two people have agreed to marry, or it can also mean involvement or participation in an activity or event. While there is some overlap in meaning between the French and English usage, the primary emphasis and connotation of the word differ. (https://chat.openai.com)

Example Sentence 
L'engagement de bien prendre soin d'un chien est essentiel lorsqu'on l'accueille dans sa famille. (The commitment to take good care of a dog is essential when welcoming them into one's family.)

IMG_2650
Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.


A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT ADOPTING A DOG...

by Jean-Marc (English translation by chat.openai.com)

In 2006, we went on our summer vacation to the island of Groix in Brittany. During our stay, especially during our walks, we encountered many dogs, which delighted our family. Maxime and Jackie were 11 and 9 years old at the time, and I thought it was the right moment to welcome such an animal into our home. Our house had a large fenced garden and was located in a neighborhood with many walking paths. I believed that this provided a guarantee of comfort and important integration for the future member of our household, as well as for us.

After inquiring with veterinarians around Draguignan, we learned about a litter of Golden Retrievers. Through this channel, we met and chose Breizh (a name in Breton language that means "Brittany") when she was just a few months old in an animal shelter in Luc-en-Provence. Everything went really well with our little dog, and the children took great care of her. It was pure happiness for our extended family. Later on, she had a litter of puppies, and that's when we decided to keep her son, Smokey... and that's when the troubles began. I won't dwell too much on this because it's not the purpose of my text, but as the children naturally paid more attention to their friends than to the dogs, Breizh and Smokey, among their mischiefs, regularly ran away, causing us a lot of worries. It was then that we realized the immense responsibility of having a dog in the family.

Smokey and breizh goldenn retrievers
Breizh, Smokey and a bouquet of anemones

Now, as we find ourselves without a furry companion and after mourning the loss of Smokey last July, the temptation is strong to consider welcoming another one. Kristi and I recently visited two dog shelters. The overall feeling that comes to mind is that these animals suffer a double injustice. After being abandoned and often mistreated, they live confined in small cages, despite the kind-hearted volunteers who come to walk them. Adopting them is indeed a true act of love, but is it always the right solution? Because an adult dog from a shelter carries a heavy past that needs to be overcome. It is possible that they may never fully recover from their trauma, and I humbly admit that if it brings us additional troubles, I prefer not to take that risk. According to me, having a dog should be a pleasure for its owner, and it is this joy that will make the animal happy. In the opposite case, it becomes a suffering for both, which is why it is crucial to think carefully before making such a decision. Too often, without proper consideration, families are enticed by a puppy or even an adult dog from a shelter, but if the general conditions of care are not met, the animal unfortunately ends up alone and confined again. At best, if the family brings them back to the shelter, and at worst, they are abandoned on a highway rest area, as often happens at the beginning of summer vacations.

To be honest with you, I think Kristi and I are a bit lost about whether it's the right time for us to have a dog again, and if so, whether we should adopt from a shelter or go to a breeder to choose a puppy. In the end, we're leaving things up to chance, with the idea that it's more up to the future dog to come to us, and if it happens, we'll know it's the right one.

 

QUELQUES RÉFLEXIONS SUR L'ADOPTION D'UN CHIEN...

by Jean-Marc

En 2006, nous sommes allés passer nos vacances d'été sur l'île de Groix en Bretagne. Pendant notre séjour et particulièrement au cours de nos balades, nous avons croisé de nombreux chiens, ce qui a plu à notre famille. Maxime et Jackie avaient 11 et 9 ans à l'époque et je me suis dit que c'était le bon moment d'accueillir un tel animal chez nous. Notre maison avait un grand jardin clôturé et se situait dans un quartier avec de nombreux chemins de balades. Je me suis dit que cela constituait un gage de confort et d'intégration important pour le futur membre de notre foyer, comme pour nous d'ailleurs.

Renseignements pris auprès des vétérinaires autour de Draguignan, nous avons eu vent d'une portée de Golden Retriever. C'est par ce biais que nous avons rencontré et choisi Breizh (nom en langage Breton pour désigner la Bretagne) lorsqu'elle avait juste quelques mois dans un refuge au Luc en Provence. Tout s'est vraiment bien passé avec notre petite chienne, les enfants s'en occupaient très bien et ce n'était que du bonheur pour notre famille agrandie. Par la suite, elle a eu une portée de chiots et c'est à ce moment que que nous avons décidé de garder son fils Smokey... et que les soucis ont démarré. Je ne veux pas trop m'attarder sur cela car ce n'est pas le propos de mon texte mais, alors que les enfants pensaient naturellement plus à leurs amis qu'aux chiens, que Breizh et Smokey, parmi leurs bêtises, fuguaient régulièrement (nous provoquant beaucoup de soucis)... on se rend alors compte de l'immense responsabilité qu'est d'avoir un chien dans sa famille.

A l'heure où nous nous retrouvons sans toutou et après avoir fait le deuil de Smokey en Juillet dernier, la tentation maintenant est grande de penser à nouveau d'en accueillir un. Kristi et moi avons récemment visité deux refuges pour chien. Le sentiment général qui me vient à l'esprit est que ces animaux subissent une double injustice car après avoir été abandonnés et souvent mal traités, ils vivent enfermés dans une petite cage, ce malgré les bonnes âmes bénévoles qui viennent les promener. Les adopter est donc un vrai acte d'amour mais est-ce toujours la bonne solution? Car un chien adulte issu d'un refuge a son lourd passé qu'il va falloir évacuer. Il se peut d'ailleurs qu'il ne remette pas de son traumatisme et j'avoue humblement penser que si cela doit nous apporter des soucis supplémentaires, je préfère ne pas prendre ce risque. Avoir un chien doit, selon moi, être un plaisir pour son maître et c'est cette joie qui rendra l'animal heureux. Dans le cas inverse, c'est une souffrance pour les deux et c'est pour cela qu'il est très important de bien réfléchir avant de prendre une telle décision. Trop souvent et sans avoir bien considéré la chose, des familles se font séduire par un chiot ou même un chien adulte de refuge mais les conditions générales d'accueil n'étant pas réunies, l'animal va malheureusement se retrouver à nouveau seul et enfermé, au mieux si sa famille le ramène au refuge et au pire si il a été abandonné sur une aire d'autoroute comme souvent cela se passe au début des vacances d'été.

Pour tout vous dire, je pense que Kristi et moi sommes un peu perdus pour savoir si c'est le bon moment pour nous d'avoir à nouveau un chien et dans un tel cas, si nous devons adopter dans un refuge ou si nous devons aller dans un élevage pour choisir un bébé. Finalement, nous laissons le hasard faire les choses avec l'idée que c'est plus au futur chien de venir à nous et que, si cela se passe, nous saurons que c'est le bon.

Jean-marc smokey kids in Collioures
Jean-Marc, our kids, and Smokey years ago in Collioure.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to the French and English terms below

1. Engagement - (m) - Commitment
2. Île - (f) - Island
3. Vacances - (f/pl) - Vacation/holidays
4. Été - (m) - Summer
5. Balades - (f/pl) - Walks/strolls
6. Chien - (m) - Dog
7. Maison - (f) - House
8. Jardin - (m) - Garden
9. Clôturé(e) - (adj) - Fenced
10. Confort - (m) - Comfort
11. Vétérinaires - (m/pl) - Veterinarians
12. Portée - (f) - Litter
13. Golden Retriever - (m) - Golden Retriever
14. Breizh - (f) - Name (in Breton) for Brittany
15. Mois - (m) - Months
16. Chiot - (m) - Puppy
17. Soucis - (m/pl) - Troubles/worries
18. Malades - (m/pl) - Sick
19. Responsabilité - (f) - Responsibility
20. Refuges - (m/pl) - Shelters
21. Adoption - (f) - Adoption

RELATED STORY
Do you know about France's rule for naming purebred dogs? Learn about the initial-based convention for dog registry (and find out what Breizh means in French)

Griffon dog at animal shelter in france
 A "Griffon" we saw at one of the animal shelters. Do you have tips on how to best welcome a shelter dog into a home? Share in the comments.

EXPAT TAX HELP
Are you an American living outside the US and struggling to complete your taxes? I just turned in mine last week and the process was simple, straightforward, and inexpensive using this US expat tax filing software and this special offer.

Dog on window ledge in france
Spotted just this morning in La Ciotat: local dog enjoying the maritime breeze. One ear up to determine the direction of the days wind.

REMERCIEMENTS
Mille mercis to the following readers who sent in a donation following my Expat Taxes post. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Rajeev B.
Lainey M.
Barbara B.
Patricia S.
Vicki B.
John C.
Francis B.
Judy F.

Smokey golden retriever and kristi
Visiting Ile de Ré with Smokey.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Vachement Content! How I filed my Expat Taxes Early (and Easily)

image from french-word-a-day.typepad.com
Oh happy day in La Ciotat! I've filed my US expat taxes and now I can go out and play! It only took a few hours thanks to this excellent tax software at Expatfile. Now, don't miss today's non-taxing story. 

"VACHEMENT CONTENT(E)"

    : chuffed, very pleased

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Chuffed is a word I use so infrequently I could count on one hand the number of times I've said it. Today, it perfectly describes this feeling of satisfaction. I am chuffed, chuffed, so very chuffed to have completed my taxes on my own this year!

Chuffed, chuffed, chuffed! (In French that'd be vachement contente!) Now maybe you're thinking, Well, Mrs. Kristi, what's so chuffy about doing your own taxes? I do mine all on my own!  Yes, but are you navigating the complex terrain that is US expat taxes? Are you a "resident alien"? I've been sweating over my international tax requirements--specifically my US federal tax return--ever since 2005, when I learned I had to report my income to the IRS--even though I live full-time in France and co-file here with my French husband.

I did my own taxes that fateful year, thanks to the help of another "resident alien", Sharon, who had some good news for me: thanks to American tax treaties with France I would most likely not owe any money to the Internal Revenue Service.  I printed out all of the forms and somehow managed (thanks to Sharon!) to submit my first 1040 from overseas.

But I didn't want to bother my friend every year. So around 7 years ago, I learned about an expat tax service for Americans abroad. I used them up until two days ago, when I heard myself ruminating, I don't want to pay another $600 for tax preparation this year! I realized I was doing most of the work myself, via their online software, and even correcting mistakes made by the IRS-enrolled tax agent (and I'm not the smartest crayon in the box, either...).

So this year I googled "expat tax software" and stumbled onto Expatfile.com (they do not know me and I am not being paid for this enthusiastic report. However, I will receive referral fees should any other "aliens" (in France, Germany, England, or on the Moon) file their US taxes with Expatfile via any link in this post--and here's why you should:

Simple and Fast: While the record for one of their clients is "6 minutes" (talk about alien intelligence!), it took me just two hours. But that's because I took my own sweet time (I need time to overthink instructions and to constantly second-guess myself).

Inexpensive: This year I paid $189 for tax help at Expatfile.com. Did I tell you that up until now I've paid $600 each year for tax assistance? Considering I made less than $15,000 in 2022 from all three of my jobs (blogger, columnist, and author), that's a big chunk of cash to pay (4 percent of my income) for help filing my US federal tax return. I already pay a whopping $1600, yearly, to send out this newsletter via a listserver and my blog expenses don't stop there. Thankfully I am finally learning to list all expenses for the IRS--including a home-office a.k.a. Formerly My Daughter's Bedroom (deduct $5 per square foot with a maximum of 300 square feet).

Responsive: I don't know if "Matt" is an AI robot, but when I asked him for a discount after signing on at ExpatFile.com he immediately gave me 10 bucks off and remained super attentive for each question that followed. Thanks, Matt! (I can't guarantee you'll get the same discount but one should always ask.) Just like I asked the cashier at the supermarket whether he'd taken into account the 10 percent discount noted on the eggrolls. "Yes," he assured me. Only, when I got home and looked at the receipt, I saw he'd neglected to punch in the 20 percent discount for the chipolatas! So ask and verify. It all adds up.

Adds up: And so will my savings now that I'm no longer paying an extra 350 dollars a year for tax help. And I've been shouting it from the rooftops ever since I turned in my 2022 taxes. But each time I brag about my $350 savings--someone wants a piece of the pie! That is, my own family now wants to tax me...

...Jean-Marc says I can put it in the cagnotte (piggy bank) to buy him a Porche. (As if!)
...Max suggested I spend it on a cool birthday present (he turns 28 today! Happy Birthday, Mr. Son!)
...My sister, Heidi, hinted I might spring for lunch when my family from Denver arrives in 3 weeks.

No sooner did I save all this money, than a bunch of Sticky Fingers want to help spend it! I'm gonna go chat with Matt (the robot?) now and see if he has any more advice--now that my family wants "un petit tax" from me too. Meantime, if you are a US expat anywhere in the Universe and are struggling over taxes, don't sweat it. Update: You will get an even better deal than me: $20 off when you use this link. Go to Expatfile to begin the simple filing process.

 

EXPAT TAX FACTS

  • Only 2 countries in the world have Citizenship-based taxation: the US and Eritrea (a Northeast African country whose name means "Red Sea". Expats from there are truly seeing red when tax season comes around!)  
  • A number of Americans abroad are so frustrated about filing US taxes they're giving up their citizenship.
  • You are required by law to file your taxes as a US citizen living abroad, but you won't necessarily undergo double taxation (the US has tax treaties in place to avoid this).
  • However innocent, you may need to file and "FBAR" (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), as I just did. 
  • As an expat you have an automatic extension through June 15th to file your taxes. Why not begin, as I did, this week? See the low pricing options over at Expatfile and remember--Matt is there to help you! 

image from french-word-a-day.typepad.com
Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
This time we'll focus on tax-related terms....

Click to listen to the list in French and in English

1. Les impôts - Taxes
2. La déclaration fiscale - Tax return
3. Le résident fiscal - Tax resident
4. Les traités fiscaux - Tax treaties
5. Les déductions fiscales - Tax deductions
6. Le contrôle fiscal - Tax audit
7. Le taux d'imposition - Tax rate
8. La période fiscale - Tax period
9. La réglementation fiscale - Tax regulations
10. Le compte bancaire étranger - Foreign bank account

image from french-word-a-day.typepad.com
Au revoir, for now, and thank you for reading. Here's an interesting blog for those interested in France and genealogy: Anne Morddel's French Geneology Blog. Enjoy!

REMERCIEMENTS

In French, a patron or supporter is un(e) mécène.  Following the "Glou-Glou" Wine Farewell edition, Tchin Tchin! and special thanks to these mécènes for their helpful donations which keep this blog and its newsletter going:

Jennifer T.
Carol A.
Elaine S. 
Ruth S.
Judy M.
Scott J.
Natalia R.
Susan C.
Valerie W.
Suzanne D.

Have time for one more story? Read "A Hussy to the IRS" (about the time the IRS almost called an expat The Slut of the Port)

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


A Fun Word for Wine + Jean-Marc's Epic Farewell at Chateau Beaupin

Dinner at chateau beaupin with jean-marc and kristi
Jean-Marc and Kristi, center, surrounded by longtime friends.

Tuesday Night was my husband's big night and this was no time to stress. So I took a deep breath, asked readers for ideas about how to chill before a social event when you are an introvert and you don’t drink, and received some excellent tips in return. Next, I dressed to the nines and headed to Marseilles with mon cheri for his epic farewell dinner. With the help of his friends and investors, Jean-Marc was saying goodbye to his wine shop, Le Vin Sobre (the commercial name of his wine company "Glou-Glou").  Read all about it in his own words (in French and in English) below.

TODAY'S WORD: "GLOU-GLOU"

- An onomatopoeic noun-turned-adjective imitative of both the sound of liquid leaving a bottleneck and of the rapid gulping of said liquid, glou-glou leads a small pack of recent French lexicographical imports driven by the surging global interest in French natural wine... A glou is what Anglophones call a “glug”; a wine that is glou-glou is one that invites glugging. -Spruge.com

You'll run across the term glou-glou just about everywhere in France (and now elsewhere) if you are into wine, as my husband is. But just what exactly is glou-glou and how do you use it? I liked this simple explanation from Mashed.com:

"It's the kind of wine you can sit back and relax with friends and just enjoy — it's glou-glou."

image from french-word-a-day.typepad.com
Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.

CELEBRATING FRIENDSHIP AND WINE AT CHÂTEAU BEAUPIN
by Jean-Marc Espinasse

After selling my wine shop in January, I managed to gather the friends who accompanied me on my adventure at Vin Sobre La Ciotat for a farewell dinner.

I chose to have this dinner in Marseilles at Château Beaupin, a magnificent 19th-century mansion located close to where most of us grew up. In fact, almost everyone present has been friends for over 40 years, and everyone was delighted to discover this place, which is both mysterious and well-known.

It has recently been restored, and last year, Chef Sidi, whom I know through our son Maxime, cooked outdoors on braziers. The season wasn't yet warm enough to consider an outdoor dinner, but I had hoped to have the aperitif outside. Unfortunately, it was raining, and as the 24 guests arrived, our dining room became quite cramped.

By magic, the mistral returned in the early evening, giving us a wonderful red sky for the sunset and allowing us to extend the champagne aperitif.

For the occasion, I brought bottles that had a strong connection to me. Domaine Rouge Bleu (our first vineyard), the Ephemera cuvées that I now vinify with friends, as well as Château Ferry Lacombe, where I had my first job, Domaine du Banneret of my cousin Audrey, Château de Pibarnon in Bandol... and I enjoyed explaining the history of each wine to the guests.

The meal was convivial and delicious. And since everyone knew each other, there were changes in seating from the table plan I had established, which I found delightful.

Before I knew it, it was already midnight, and the first guests were already leaving. I would have liked to prolong this, but I was really happy to have been able to make it happen, to bring together my friends associated with Vin Sobre.

This morning, when I woke up, I was still happy thinking about this evening and I said to myself that we should continue to organize this event with my friends, even though the adventure of Vin Sobre La Ciotat is well and truly over. So, I will look for another equally symbolic place and hope to organize a new event to continue to keep Glou Glou alive, despite everything.


CÉLÉBRATION DE L'AMITIÉ ET DU VIN AU CHÂTEAU BEAUPIN
par Jean-Marc Espinasse

Après avoir vendu ma boutique de vins en Janvier, j'ai réussi à réunir les amis qui m'ont accompagnés dans mon aventure au Vin Sobre La Ciotat pour un dîner d'adieu.

J'ai choisi de faire ce dîner à Marseilles, au Château Beaupin, une magnifique maison de maître du 19 ième siècle située à toute proximité de là où la plupart d'entre nous a grandi. En effet, la quasi unanimité des personnes présentes sont des amis depuis plus de 40 ans et tout le monde a eu grand plaisir à découvrir ce lieu à la fois mystérieux et connu.

Il a récemment été restauré et, l'année dernière, le Chef Sidi que je connais grâce à notre fils Maxime, y a cuisiné en extérieur sur des braseros.
La saison n'était pas encore assez chaude pour envisager un dîner en extérieur mais j'avais espéré faire l'apéritif dehors. Malheureusement, il pleuvait et au fur et à mesure que les 24 invités arrivaient, notre salle à manger devenait bien étroite.

Par enchantement, le mistral a repris ses droits en début de soirée, ce qui nous a valu un merveilleux ciel rouge pour le coucher de soleil et permis de prolonger l'apéritif au Champagne.

Pour l'occasion, j'avais amené des bouteilles pour lesquelles j'avais une forte connexion. Domaine Rouge Bleu (notre premier vignoble), les cuvées Ephemera que je vinifie à présent chez des amis mais aussi Château Ferry Lacombe où j'ai exercé mon premier job, Domaine du Banneret de ma cousine Audrey, Château de Pibarnon à Bandol... et je me suis fait plaisir à expliquer l'histoire de chaque vin aux invités.

Le repas était convivial et délicieux. Et comme tout le monde se connaissait, il y a eu des changements de place par rapport au plan de table que j'avais établi et j'ai trouvé cela extra.

Avant que je réalise, il était déjà minuit et les premiers invités partaient déjà. J'aurais voulu prolonger cela mais j'étais vraiment heureux d'avoir pu faire cette soirée pour, à l'origine, réunir une dernière fois mes amis associés au Vin Sobre.

Ce matin, en me levant, j'étais encore heureux en pensant à cette soirée et je me suis dit qu'il fallait continuer à organiser cet évènement avec mes amis, même si l'aventure du Vin Sobre La Ciotat est belle et bien finie. Du coup, je vais me mettre en quête d'un autre lieu tout aussi symbolique et espère organiser un nouvel évènement pour continuer à faire vivre Glou Glou, malgré tout.
 
Sidi at Chateau beaupin marseille
Sidi Chateau Beaupin
Chef Sidi Salhi, who went to school with our son Max, talked about the food and preparation. We had fresh, seasonal asparagus, a délicious purée de céleri rave, fish (I believe it was turbot), spring strawberries, and a rich chocolate cake for dessert. Miam!
Sidi
Sidi, about to grill some local dorades on the brasero. 

WONDERFUL ADDRESSES:
Chateau Beaupin = 37 Avenue Beau Pin, 13008 Marseille
Phone: +33 695 380 173 Instagram: chateaubeaupin_marseille
 
Hédoné - Sidi Salhoné's new restaurant in the colorful and historic Panier district of Marseilles.
14 rue du Refuge, 13002 Marseilles
Phone: +33 637 952 397 Instagram: hedone.marseille
 
Le Vin Sobre - Before opening his own Vin Sobre in La Ciotat, Jean-Marc worked for a time at Le Vin Sobre in Marseilles. 
There are several wine boutiques throughout Marseilles, find the nearest here.

 
Jean-Marc and Kristi at Chateau Beaupin in Marseilles France
Everything went beautifully. I'm already dreaming of another dinner get-together at this historic batisse in Marseilles. How about you? Would you like to join us? Maybe we can arrange it for this blog's 25th anniversary? It's good to dream!

LEAVE A COMMENT 
To leave a comment or to read the comments, click here. If you like, include the city where you live (it's always interesting, especially for my Dad who is reading from Palm Springs!)

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to all these terms in French and in English


Glou-glou = gulp, glu​g​
Réunir = to gather
Aventure = adventure
La maison de maître = master's house
Restauré = restored
Les braseros = fire pits
En extérieur = outdoors
Le mistral = a strong, cold wind in southern France
La connexion = connection
Le vignoble = vineyard
Vinifie = vinify
La cousine = female cousin
Convivial = friendly, convivial
Le plaisir = pleasure
Le plan de table = seating plan
L'évènement = event
Le dîner d'adieu = farewell dinner
Magnifique = magnificent
Tout le monde = everyone
Mystérieux = mysterious
Les droits = rights
Le coucher de soleil = sunset
Les cuves = vats
Le bon vivant = person who enjoys good food and drink
Étroite = narrow
Merveilleux = marvelous
 
Lili the cat and old wine bottles
As Lili the Cat looked on, Jean-Marc brought out some of his most meaningful bottles to share with friends at the dinner.

Jean-marc speaking kristi photographing
Jean-Marc toasting to his friends and family. Thanks, Isabelle J., for this photo.

REMERCIEMENTS
Following the "Dogs on Board" edition, Ahoy! and special thanks to these readers for their helpful donations:

Betty D.
Pat C.
William C.
Michael P.
Nancy A.
Cathy S.
Joan S.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Doggone it! A Travel and Dog Lovers Edition

Corsica Ferries cruise liner French bulldog Toulon Menorca
Millow, an 8-year-old French bulldog, enjoying the salty air en route to Minorca, Spain

From Toulon to Minorca Jean-Marc and I sailed across the Mediterranean sea with dozens of wonderful dogs. Enjoy all the photos of these seasoned traveler-toutous in my column below. First, meet a cherished reader and dog lover...

OUR CHÈRE NATALIA
You may know Natalia from the cheering and affectionate comments she’s left here over the years. Natalia’s enthusiasm and support have touched me and other bloggers, including Lynn McBride of the delicious Southern Fried French journal. Lynn recently asked Natalia to share about her French connection. Read Natalia’s thoughtful reply here and see her two adorable chiens

TODAY’S WORD: LE CHIEN

: dog, hound, mutt

FRENCH EXPRESSION
avoir un mal de chien à faire = to have a heck of a time doing something
avoir un mal de chien = to be as sick as a dog
les chiens ne font pas des chats
= the apple doesn't fall far from the tree 

IMG_2650
Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.


REMERCIEMENTS

You may not be aware, but each time I write a new edition for this blog, a few to several donations come in. This truly is a reader-supported journal. For the week of May 1st, special thanks to readers Mel L. and Karen L. for your donations, and to reader Carolyn, who advertised her Women in Burgundy Tour. Many of you have asked to advertise in this newsletter and, until recently, I have declined ads. For now, if you have a France or French-related announcement and would like to sponsor this journal, please contact me at [email protected] Thank you!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
Things don’t always go as planned when traveling overseas, but some things soften the blow of such travel woes: dogs, for example… 

When we learned our overnight ferry from Toulon to Minorca would be delayed 8 hours (therefore losing us one full day on the island), my husband and I were sorely disappointed. If Jean-Marc’s frustration was summed up in one word—merde!—my reaction might've been an old-fashioned “doggone it!” (Only because it fits the theme of this story…and you’ll soon understand why…)

OUR DOGGONE DELAY
Not only would we be staying all those extra hours on the boat, but we were told to pack up and leave our cabine earlier than expected. So much for an afternoon sieste to break up the boring wait. While Jean-Marc argued with the manager at the onboard receptionist desk, I waited awkwardly by the luggage room. Another passenger sat with her fox terrier. We soon struck up a conversation about traveling with pets: “Corsica Ferries is one of the only ferries--if not the only--that allow dogs onboard, with access to all the public areas.” Madame explained. “The other navires require you to stow your dog in the boat’s underbelly, in a cage.

That’s how I learned that Corsica Ferries was known for its dog-friendly policy.

Suddenly, I began to notice all the dogs on board, and for the duration of our trip (and on the return voyage) I didn't see the hours go by... so busy was I checking out all the seaworthy chiens and talking to a lot of lovely passengers and pet owners…

Here are some of the traveling toutous I had the pleasure of meeting... 

64DF5120-AB4E-419C-AEF6-3DC1DD67F4AC
Zoe, 9 year old. Bull terrier from Italy.

ABA6FD35-2BF1-4347-B6B4-3597ADC6EA5F
Lotte (lot-a), a 2-year-old “dual-line” Labrador from Germany

Corsica Ferries travel with Fox Terrier France Menorca
Merlan, 9-year-old tricolor Fox Terrier from France 

dog on board Corsica Ferries
Anonymous: this beautiful Weimaraner was spotted in the lounge, sleeping beside its maître who himself forewent a cabin and opted to sleep rough. Ruff ruff! 

travel with dog Corsican Ferries Toulon Menorca
No grass to pee on in the dog park, which led to confusion for certain dogs. "There was a large crate with some rocks in it," one woman explained, but her dog (Sammy, pictured below) held it until they reached the shore.

Sammy
Here is dear Sammy who really needed to tinkle as he waited patiently to "debark" at the port in Toulon. Sammy's mother was found pregnant and abandoned until this lady's mom found her. The mom kept the mother dog and the daughter took Sammy. Another sister took one of Sammy's siblings. What a happy ending!

Griffon dog on Corsica Ferries Toulon to Menorca
Jack, 9-year-old wirehaired Griffon from Nimes. He was adopted after braving the SPA, or animal shelter, for 3 full years. He lost all his hair but it has grown back and he is absolutely dashing! 

What I thought would be a boring wait on our delayed ship turned into a chance to spend time with a number of soft, affectionate, and intelligent dogs. After losing my own last summer, dearest Smokey, this was the chance to make up for so many dogless months. It was also an opportunity to discover other breeds and crossbreeds and to begin to dream about our next fidèle companion (hint: I would like a smaller dog, for ease of travel and handling, but I'll take whatever chance or destiny brings my way).

If this particular ferry ride wasn't already a dog lover's dream, nothing could have prepared me for the surprise on our overnight trip home. As usual, hundreds of passengers boarded the ship along with their dogs. I now had a second chance to take more pictures and chat with the pet owners and this was bliss. But that night, everything culminated into one giant dog extravaganza!

It all happened so unexpectedly when Jean-Marc and I sat down for dinner in the ship's dining room. We were seated right next to the revolving kitchen door and after it slammed one too many times my husband asked if we could be moved. "I'm sorry, sir, but the only other table available is next to a dog."

A dog? "That's no problem!" I informed the waiter. We grabbed our drinks, got up, and walked to the other side of the dining room where, low and behold, there wasn't just one dog... This was the designated section for dog owners

In case I never have the privilege to dine among a pack of dogs ever again, Jean-Marc captured the ecstatic moment on film. I leave you with that clip (also viewable here). Tell me, how many chiens can you see? (Note: one or two are hiding beneath the ship's starched tablecloths). 

Amicalement,
Kristi
P.S. Thank you for sharing this post with a dog lover. More dog photos below...

IN THE COMMENTS
I would love it if you would share your experiences traveling with dogs. Do you have tips? Any unusual stories? Have you taken the bus or a boat or flown with your dog? Tell me about it here in the comments.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

Don't miss the vocabulary sound file--click here

le chien = dog
le toutou = doggy 
merde! = sh#!, crap!
la cabine
= room on a boat
la sieste
= nap
le navire
= ship, ferry, car ferry
la SPA = animal refuge, shelter

Rocky  labradoodle from Germany
We sat beside 8-year-old Rocky, a labradoodle, and his family from Germany. They had taken their motorhome from there to Toulon, and cruised over to Minorca. Rocky loves to travel on land and at sea, and he's a real teddy bear isn't he?

Vizsla dog in the sun
I'm not sure what kind of dog this is on the sundeck (a Vizsla hunting dog, like another one I saw earlier?), but I was anxious to know how he would step off that net when he woke up...). I love how he or she is just chillin' with the owner. 

Kristi sailing with dogs
Me, enjoying some dog time with 2-year-old Anton, a Bearded Collie, and 8 -year-old Scooby, a Jack Russell.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


A Horticulturist, A Lawyer, and a Cat walk into a Chat bot...

Purple delphinium and cabanon
Today's entry won't whisk you into the blossoming fields of Provence or take you on a tour of Paris's catacombs. Our destination is cyberspace (of which France is part of, n'est-ce pas?) and the mission is to keep up with technology. This journal will return to its bucolic roots very soon, so please don't leave the room. Without further delay, here's our word of the day:

DÉBROUILLARD (day-broo-ee-yar)

    : someone who is resourceful and able to find solutions to problems on their own
    : quelqu'un qui est astucieux et capable de trouver des solutions à des problèmes de manière autonome.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Navigating New Technology: A Cat's Guide to Using ChatGPT"

In the dozen or so hours I've poured questions or commands into Chatgpt--an artificial intelligence chatbot--I've had many amusing exchanges--especially when I ask it to respond as a specialist in the field, i.e. "answer as a horticulturist or a lawyer or a cat..." Did you know it could do that? The answers are delivered in very specific ways depending on "who" is talking. 

Recently I asked Chatgpt to help with a current garden dilemma. I carefully worded my query as follows:  "Answer as a horticulturist: there are tomato plants sprouting in the same pot as my 4-year-old lemon tree. Will the tomato plants be ok?

Here's the answer I got back:

"As a horticulturist, I would advise that it is not recommended to grow tomato plants in the same pot as a lemon tree. Lemon trees have different nutrient requirements than tomato plants, and their growth patterns are also different..."

Next, I asked it to answer as a lawyer...

"As a lawyer, it is important to note that the answer to this question may vary depending on the specific circumstances and applicable laws in the jurisdiction where the lemon tree and tomato plants are located."

Then I asked it to "answer as a cat"...

"As a cat, my answer would be to first sniff and investigate the tomato plants and lemon tree to satisfy my curiosity. If they are safe and non-toxic to cats, I may choose to lounge in the pot or nearby area, or use the leaves and branches as a fun toy to bat around."

Finally, I asked it to answer as a life coach...

"As a life coach, I would say that having tomato plants sprouting in the same pot as your 4-year-old lemon tree could be seen as a metaphor for life. Sometimes unexpected challenges or opportunities arise, and it's up to us to find ways to adapt and make the most of them."

Answer as Kristi?
I could have gone on for hours, asking the chatbot to reply in various "voices" (while enjoying the colorful output), but it was time to resolve my garden dilemma. In the end, I decided to go with the voice of experience. And in my own experience I have seen tomato plants and citrus plants live together in harmony (in fact, the two tomato seedlings that sprang up last year--in the same small pot as our kumquat--grew into hardy plants yielding a dozen tomatoes! 

So the moral of the story is: have fun with artificial intelligence, but call on and trust your own experience as far as possible. In other words, when it comes to new and unfamiliar technology sniff and investigate, then do some lounging in time to mull things over. Indeed, we must continue to think, and not delegate all our problem-solving to a robot.

Now, what would the cat say?

*   *    *

Lili and the kumquat
Lili and the Kumquats. Sounds like a cool band! This year our kumquat tree welcomed dozens of calendula or "souci" blossoms after seeds sprouted in the same little pot as the tree. I'm about to pull out the last of the flowers as more tomato sprouts have appeared this year. It's some kind of magic pot that houses that old kumquat! (Notice one of our doves, above.) 

Lemon tree
The lemon tree was a gift from Mom. In the background, our old farm table which we still haven't replaced after the fire.

LISTEN TO THE FRENCH
Now you can enjoy another video from FluentListener.com. Be sure to do the whole listening exercise here. And for David's French listening course, go here.

Ce que je dis toujours

FRENCH VOCABULARY

I received this suggestion from Mary, regarding the sound file:

"It would help me immensely if Jean-Marc would say the English word first, then the word in French. I read your article first, then listen to the words - but I cannot remember what the word meant when he speaks it. I love to hear him speak - and really want to know how to pronounce the words correctly - and it would be very beneficial to hear the English word, then in French."

Here you go, Mary! In the following sound file I say the words in English, first, and Jean-Marc pronounces the French:

Click here for the audio file


The horticulturist = L'horticulteur
The tomato plants = Les plants de tomate
The lemon tree = Le citronnier
The nutrients = Les nutriments
Growth = La croissance
The lawyer = L'avocat
The circumstances = Les circonstances
The jurisdiction = La juridiction
The cat = Le chat
Curiosity = La curiosité
Non-toxic = Non-toxique
The life coach = Le coach de vie
The metaphor = La métaphore
The experience = L'expérience
The kumquat = Le kumquat
Harmony = L'harmonie
The problem = Le problème
The technology = La technologie
To resolve = Résoudre
Thought = La pensée

Kristi and smokey and lemon tree
Memories. Making parsley pesto with Smokey. That's another lemon tree we had at our vineyard. I wonder what ChatGPT's life coach would say about all the lemon trees we have tried growing--on the vineyard and now near the beach? Are they metaphoric?

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


La Rafale: The Gusts of France: An Ode to the Mistral Wind

Wind sports in france hyeres
Harnessing the wind in Hyérès, South of France, a kite surfer’s paradise. More advantages of the wind in today's story. First, our word of the day: 

LA RAFALE

    : gusty wind, bluster, squall

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Brise, rafale, mistral...No matter how poetic it is in French, wind can be disruptive and annoying. My husband used to curse the wind as it blew through our vineyard snapping the limbs off his grapevines. The blustery Mistral knocked down his precious grapes weeks before la vendange and made pruning time a glacial nightmare. Ever seen a southern French winemaker in a ski suit? It’s a funny thought. But most times we’re not laughing about the wind....

Tempête, Bourrasque, Tourbillon--when the wind is really strong it knocks over our flower pots and rattles our wooden shutters making us restless. Part of the reason I cannot sleep is that I'm busy thinking of all the damage happening outside: the pepper tree will lose tons of leaves (now floating in the fountain below). Mom's fence (the flimsy divider that gives her a modicum of privacy) will have blown down, and our garden chairs will be strewn around the yard.

Apart from the wind's damage, it’s irritating. It makes my eyes water like faucets and it blows my hair into my lipstick. And on my list of gripes about the wind, I can now add that it ruins dates....

Saturday Jean-Marc and I took a scenic drive to Tourves, where we hiked around the flowering garrigue. After picking wild thyme and le romarin, and stocking up on pinecones for our fireplace, we headed to the village of Néoules for lunch. The restaurant was full so we sat outside, even if it was un peu frisquet. The waitress gave us blankets in case we were frileux.

Next, the wind picked up....

The breadbasket flew first, then the napkins. As I ran after our serviettes and la corbeille à pain, my husband held down the fort. He placed his mug of beer over the menu and fastened down la nappe with the help of strategically-placed forks an knives. This wasn't what I pictured in my mind when we decided to forgo a picnic and dine out. I imagined a cozy booth with a view of the countryside. I pictured us being a little more dressed up than usual, and every hair smoothly in place. Instead, we sat wrapped in blankets, holding on to our flapping hats. As we waited and waited for our moules frites, I feared that when they finally did arrive they’d fly off into the not-so-scenic view (our table overlooked the parking lot).

LE VENT ET SES VERTUS 
When we got home that afternoon, I filled my trusty bouillotte with hot water and headed upstairs to décongeler, or thaw out and rest. I usually watch Youtube, but lately, I'm into ChatGPT. So I asked the virtual robot to give me a few good reasons to admire the wind (instead of curse it). I added that I'd like the answer to be funny--and salt and peppered with French. Here's the amusing (and slightly corny) response I got back from the chatbot:

"Firstly, the mistral wind clears the air of all the pollution and dust that's been clogging up your nose. So now you can breathe easy and say "merci" to the wind. But be careful not to get blown away when you step outside, mon ami!

Secondly, the mistral wind can help dry out your laundry faster than a tumble dryer. So say "au revoir" to soggy socks and hello to fresh, crisp laundry in no time. Just make sure you have a good grip on those clothespins, or they might end up flying all the way to Paris!

Thirdly, the mistral wind is a tourist attraction in its own right. People come from all over to experience the gusts of wind that can knock you off your feet. It's like a rollercoaster, except you don't have to wait in line and it's completely free. C'est magnifique!

Fourthly, the mistral wind can help you generate some green energy. Install a wind turbine in your backyard and let the wind power your home. It's like having your very own Eiffel Tower, except instead of lights, it powers your fridge.

Fifthly, the mistral wind can help you avoid awkward conversations. Just tell your chatty neighbor that you can't hear them over the wind, and voila! Problem solved. Merci, mistral!

Sixthly, the mistral wind can make you feel like a supermodel. With your hair blowing in the wind and your coat flapping behind you, you'll feel like you're walking the runway at Paris Fashion Week. Strike a pose, mon cher!

Seventhly, the mistral wind can be used to create a natural exfoliant. Just stand outside for a few minutes and let the wind do its thing. Your skin will be as smooth as a French croissant in no time.

Eighthly, the mistral wind can make you feel like a real adventurer. Imagine hiking through the Rhone Valley, with the wind pushing against you like an invisible force. You'll feel like you're in an action movie, only with more baguettes.

Ninthly, the mistral wind is a great way to practice your French. Just shout "Vive le vent!" (Long live the wind!) as you step outside, and you'll sound like a true Francophone. Bonus points if you can do it without getting blown away."

(End of quote) I hope you enjoyed Chatgpt's response as much as I did. The wind has finally subsided over here and it’s safe to wear lipstick again. Vive le vent et vive le rouge à lèvres!

To comment, click here.

***

Painting holiday in France


FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here for Jean-Marc's soundfile

Le vent = Wind
La rafale = Gusty wind, bluster, squall
La brise = Breeze
Le mistral = Mistral (a strong, cold wind that blows from the north through the Rhône valley and southern France to the Mediterranean Sea)
La vendange = Grape harvest
La tempête = Storm
La bourrasque = Gust of wind
Le tourbillon = Whirlwind
La garrigue = Wild Mediterranean scrubland
Le romarin = Rosemary
Un peux frisquet = A little chilly
Le frileux, la frileuse = Person who feels the cold easily
La serviette = Napkin
La corbeille à pain = Breadbasket
La nappe = Tablecloth
La fourchette = Fork
Le couteau = Knife
Décongeler = Thaw out
Merci = Thank you
Au revoir = Goodbye
Mon ami = My friend
C'est magnifique = It's magnificent
Vive le vent = Long live the wind!
Les environs = Surrounding area
Le Rouge à lèvres = Lipstick

Thank you for checking in today and being a part of this French-language community. Your support through reading, sharing, or donating keeps this journal thriving amidst the sea of digital information. Goodbye for now and I leave you with some recent photos from our town...

Tree blossoms in La Ciotat
During a stroll through La Ciotat on Sunday...

Architecture in la ciotat
Notice the netting at the top, beneath the roof tiles on this ancient façade: a safeguard against falling tiles when the wind blows through town.

La ciotat centre cille
The sign reads: Cet endroit n'est pas un depotoir. Merci de jeter vos ordures devant chez vous. This place is not a dump. Please throw your garbage in front of your own home. (Looks like the sign is working. No garbage for the mistral wind to blow all over our town.)

View down to the sea
The view down to the sea along Rue Louis Vignol. 

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


La Surdité: I Can't Hear What You Are Saying! + Tinnitus in French

Jean-Marc and Mama The Dove
Jean-Marc, tending to his tomato plants as Mama the Dove looks on. 

la surdité (suhr-dee-tay)

    : hearing loss, deafness, infirmité auditive

VIEW FULL POST
This newsletter has experienced technical problems recently, as I am trying to set the format back to “show full post.” Hopefully, you are seeing this now. If not, my apologies. Click here to view the entire post.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Je n'entends pas ce que tu m'as dit..."

Over the past year, I have noticed my husband and I aren't hearing each other so well anymore (and it's not like we're that old at 55 and 56). Proximity used to be the problem: "I can't hear you when you're talking to me from the other room!" one of us grumbles (we're both guilty of these long-distance hurlements). But lately, I've noticed a few other factors that may explain our surdité, or hearing loss. I'll get to those in a minute... 

Pardon? What was that you said? Hmm? Hein? I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Often, these ear strainings, or hearing struggles, happen when we are right beside each other: seated at the table, working in the garden, or riding in our car. It can be so frustrating and there's the tendency to want to blame the other. "Tu marmonnes," I'll say to Jean-Marc, wishing he’d speak up. But when my husband went to see the doctor last month about the ringing and buzzing in his ears, we learned les acouphènes were affecting his hearing. (The tinnitus came on suddenly, two years ago. It got so bad that Jean-Marc now wears une prothèse auditive). While we still don't know what brought on his severe tinnitus (stress? the vaccination?), we now know it is partly responsible for our communication conundrum.

BLAME IT ON THE FRENCH
At least Jean-Marc has a good reason for not hearing me clearly. But the same isn't true for you-know-who. (I'll admit: listening is part of the problem. I've got to tune in when my loved ones speak!) On the bright side, our hearing difficulties do lead to some laughs. Recently, while out on a morning walk, the subject of breakfast came up—this, just after the subject of fishing, which must have been on my mind when Jean-Marc said:

"Tu veux le croissant qui reste d'hier matin?
"Uh...No thanks. I'll have toast," I said, thinking it odd he was offering me yesterday's fish for breakfast. Beurk!

But Jean-Marc insisted that if I wanted it, the fish was mine. He'd happily leave it for me. We went round and round with this fishy conversation until I turned to him and asked just what exactly are you talking about? And that's when I heard about le croissant (and not le poisson). Ouf! I now understand that French is to blame for my own auditive issues--and I was beginning to think it was my age. That said, I will think about a visit to the ear doctor--l'Oto-Rhino-Laryngologiste (try hearing that one in French!).

***
I hope you enjoyed today's story. Now is a good time to plug my friend Dave's French listening program. Check it out and be sure to get the French Listening Course.

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FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read this French list:

la surdité = hearing loss
Je n'entends pas ce que tu m'as dit = I didn't hear what you said
Pardon = Excuse me
hein = eh? what?
marmonner = to mumble
tu marmonnes = you're mumbling
l'acouphène (m) = tinnitus
une prothèse auditive = hearing aid
beurk! = yuck! ew!
le croissant = croissant
le poisson = fish
ouf! = phew
Jackie and Lili
Our daughter, Jackie, and 18-year-old Lili-the-Cat, who is deaf, or sourd. Turns out there’s a word for Age-Related Hearing Loss: Presbycusis. I would love to hear your stories regarding la surdité. Also, have you experienced tinnitus and do you know the cause? Thank you for commenting.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


The French word "capter" + Exploring the Wonders of Chatgpt and AI-Assisted Writing

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Salut! This week I have a personal assistant who speaks 40 languages and who has just written this blog's first press release in French. Follow along today as I become the last person on earth to learn about Chatgpt, a computer program and tool that can talk with you and help you by answering questions, translating languages, and giving suggestions. (It also helped with the phonetic pronunciation of today's word and more...) To read the full post (if not shown here), click here.

Today's French Word: "Capter" 

pronunciation: kahp-teh

definition: to get, understand, grasp

Example: Je n'ai pas capté ce qu'il a dit. I didn't understand what he said.

Click here to listen to the example sentence

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Wednesday, Jean-Marc and I met up with our Swiss friends, Tanja and Marc, in the seaside town of Bandol. Usually, this excursion to Winny's café is a biannual girls' meetup (just Tanja and I) where we catch up on dogs, kids, and health but this time our husbands added to our colorful chat. When the men finished discussing wine, our conversation merged to another topic, something called Chatgpt.

Chat what? I was suddenly lost and didn't understand what the others were talking about. Je n'ai pas capté. Finally, I reached for my smartphone and typed the word "Chatgpt" into Google.

Chatgpt was some sort of assistant that helps solve problems with the help of AI, or artificial intelligence. You can ask Chatgpt anything, just as you would google--only it's beyond Google. Chatgpt can actually do things for you (such as grade a paper, if you are a teacher). For such AI savoir-faire, it uses an enormous amount of text data from the internet, including books, articles, websites, social media posts, and even human interaction from previous Chatgpt users.

"[Chat]gpt is about amplifying what every person is able to do." -- Chatgpt video

As I tried to wrap my mind around Chatgpt, my tablemates at Winny's offered more examples of this AI-in-action's potential:

--It can tell you how to make wine
--It can help you design a product
--It can even write a press release

It can write something for you? Well, that was amazing! I hurried home to learn more about Chatgpt and to try it out. But when I got to the actual chatbot (the AI or non-human waiting to assist me) I froze. What, if any, were the risks and dangers of talking to Artificial Intelligence? Would that be like talking to a spy? (To find out, I snuck back over to Google, who had only one warning: that Chatgtp could sometimes hallucinate.)

Hallucinate? While I didn't understand what that meant, at least it was Chatgpt doing the hallucinating (and not something IT could do to ME. Imagine!). Still, I decided to proceed with caution. One of the things I learned Chatgpt could do was grade papers. Out of curiosity, I asked it to grade an article I had just submitted to France Today magazine...

The AI guy (or girl?)--the non-human--gave me a "B" and the following critique: Overall, the essay is well-written, entertaining, and emotionally engaging. It does a great job of conveying the author's love for dogs and their search for a new furry friend.

"Emotionally engaging,"... I wonder how Chatgpt can comprehend emotions? For that, I asked it to write a "hopefully and happy story about my family"--in one hundred words. I entered a few facts (our family members' names, our city, our boat, sea urchins...). Within seconds, here is the story Chatgpt composed:

On a beautiful day in La Ciotat, the family set out on their boat, ready to hunt for sea urchins in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Jean-Marc steered the boat, while Jules regaled the family with stories of her youth. Max and Jackie dove into the water, gathering the spiny delicacies. Lili the cat lounged on deck, watching the birds flutter by. As the sun began to set, they returned to shore, and Kristi prepared a delicious feast of sea urchin pasta. The family laughed and chatted late into the night, grateful for each other's company and the joys of life in the south of France.

(Well! What do you think about that? Next, I asked Chatgtp to translate the text into French....)

Un beau jour à La Ciotat, la famille a pris le large sur leur bateau, prête à chasser les oursins dans la Méditerranée scintillante. Jean-Marc a dirigé le bateau, tandis que Jules a raconté des histoires de sa jeunesse. Max et Jackie ont plongé dans l'eau, ramassant les délicieux oursins épineux. Lili le chat s'est prélassé sur le pont, regardant les oiseaux voleter autour. Au coucher du soleil, ils sont rentrés à terre et Kristi a préparé un délicieux festin de pâtes aux oursins. La famille a ri et discuté jusqu'à tard dans la nuit, reconnaissante pour la compagnie les uns des autres et les joies de la vie dans le sud de la France.

Whoah! As the French would say, C'est hallucinant. That's amazing! (Perhaps that is what Google meant in its warning?!). While I am still a touch apprehensive about interacting with AI, I can't help but be curious and want to discover more ways in which to use AI--to begin with as my multilingual writing assistant. Meantime, I would love to know how you use Chatgpt and what your thoughts are about this technology. Please share your experiences with Chatgpt in the comments.

Bisettes,

Kristi
P.S. I just got off the phone with Jean-Marc. I told him I didn't need him to record today's sound file.... I managed to do it with the help of AI. "So you don't need me anymore?" he chuckled. Funnily, I have the same concerns. Will my own job become obsolete in this era of artificial intelligence and all it can do? 

To read the press release for this blog, written by Chatgpt, go here.

Tess-Advert-3

 

FRENCH TRANSLATION OF TODAY'S POST
by Chatgpt
(Human corrections are welcome. Please use the comments section)

Une journée dans la vie française par Kristi Espinasse

Mercredi, Jean-Marc et moi avons retrouvé nos amis suisses, Tanja et Marc, à Bandol, au bord de la mer. Normalement, cette excursion au café de Winny est une rencontre annuelle ou biannuelle entre filles (juste Tanja et moi) où nous rattrapons le temps perdu sur les chiens, les enfants et la santé, mais cette fois, nos maris se sont ajoutés à notre conversation colorée. Lorsque les hommes ont fini de discuter du vin, notre conversation s'est soudainement tournée vers la créativité et quelque chose appelé Chatgpt.

Chat quoi? Peu importe le nombre de fois que Marc l'a prononcé, je n'ai pas compris ce qu'il disait. Je n'ai pas capté. Finalement, j'ai pris mon smartphone et je lui ai fait taper le mot dans Google.

Chatgpt était une sorte d'assistant qui aide à résoudre des problèmes à l'aide de l'IA ou de l'intelligence artificielle. Vous pouvez demander à Chatgpt n'importe quoi, comme vous le feriez avec Google, mais c'est au-delà de Google. Chatgpt peut réellement faire des choses pour vous.

"[Chat]gpt consiste à amplifier ce que chaque personne est capable de faire." - Vidéo de Chatgpt

Alors que j'essayais de comprendre Chatgpt, mes compagnons de table à Winny ont offert plus d'exemples du potentiel de cette IA en action: elle peut vous dire comment faire du vin. Elle peut vous aider à concevoir un produit. Elle peut même écrire un communiqué de presse."

Ça peut écrire quelque chose pour vous? Eh bien, c'était incroyable! Je me suis dépêché de rentrer chez moi pour en savoir plus sur Chatgpt et l'essayer. Mais quand je suis arrivé sur le chatbot (l'IA ou le non-humain qui attendait de m'aider), je me suis figé. Quels sont les risques et les dangers de parler à l'intelligence artificielle? Serait-ce comme parler à un espion? (Pour cela, je suis retourné en douce sur Google, qui n'avait qu'un avertissement : que Chatgtp pouvait parfois halluciner.)

Halluciner? Bien que je n'aie pas tout à fait compris ce que cela voulait dire, au moins, c'était Chatgpt qui faisait des hallucinations (et pas quelque chose que cela pouvait me faire. Imaginez!). Néanmoins, j'ai décidé de procéder avec prudence. Une des choses que j'ai apprises que Chatgpt pouvait faire était de noter des articles. Par curiosité, je lui ai demandé de noter un article que je venais de soumettre au magazine France Today...

J'ai eu un "B"! Et le résumé suivant : "Dans l'ensemble, l'essai est bien écrit, divertissant et émotionnellement engageant. Il fait un excellent travail de transmission de l'amour de l'auteur pour les chiens et leur recherche d'un nouvel ami à fourrure."

"Émotionnellement engageant"... Je me demande comment Chatgpt peut comprendre les émotions? Pour cela, je lui ai demandé d'écrire une "histoire pleine d'espoir et heureuse sur ma famille"... en cent mots. J'ai entré quelques faits (les noms de nos membres de la famille, notre ville, notre bateau, les oursins). En quelques secondes, voici l'histoire de Chatgpt :

Un beau jour à La Ciotat, la famille a pris le large sur leur bateau, prête à chasser les oursins dans la Méditerranée scintillante. Jean-Marc a dirigé le bateau, tandis que Jules a raconté des histoires de sa jeunesse. Max et Jackie ont plongé dans l'eau, ramassant les délicieux oursins épineux. Lili le chat s'est prélassé sur le pont, regardant les oiseaux voleter autour. Au coucher du soleil, ils sont rentrés à terre et Kristi a préparé un délicieux festin de pâtes aux oursins. La famille a ri et discuté jusqu'à tard dans la nuit, reconnaissante pour la compagnie les uns des autres et les joies de la vie dans le sud de la France.

(Eh bien ! Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez ? Ensuite, j'ai demandé à Chatgpt de traduire le texte en français...)

(Waouh ! Comme diraient les Français, c'est hallucinant. C'est incroyable ! (Peut-être que c'est ce que Google voulait dire dans son avertissement ?). Bien que je sois encore un peu appréhensive à l'idée d'interagir avec l'IA, je ne peux m'empêcher d'être curieuse et de vouloir découvrir d'autres façons d'utiliser l'IA - pour commencer en tant qu'assistante d'écriture multilingue. En attendant, j'aimerais savoir comment vous utilisez Chatgpt et ce que vous pensez de cette nouvelle technologie. Veuillez partager vos expériences avec Chatgpt dans les commentaires.

Bisettes,

Kristi

P.S. Je viens de raccrocher avec Jean-Marc. Je lui ai dit que je n'avais pas besoin de lui pour enregistrer le fichier sonore d'aujourd'hui... J'ai réussi à le faire avec l'aide de l'IA. "Alors, tu n'as plus besoin de moi ?" a-t-il plaisanté. Drôlement, j'ai les mêmes préoccupations. Mon travail deviendra-t-il obsolète dans cette ère de l'intelligence artificielle et de tout ce qu'elle peut faire ?

IMG_5852
I've had my dose of technology for today. Going to putter around in my yard now. It's good for the brain! To view the comments to this post, or to write one, click 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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


The Missing Link

Sanary sur Mer
I am very sorry for this extra email in your inbox but there was a missing link to my current post making it difficult to access today's update

To access the full story, click here or go directly to French Word-A-Day.com. Thank you very much for your understanding (and if you follow me on social media you have probably heard enough from me today). Désolée!

Bisettes et bon week-end,

Kristi

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety