Sugiton calanque--a.k.a. "Les culs nus". I asked friends if the term was okay to share. "Ça depende..." they answered, giving an acceptable, harmless alternative ("Cul-cul" pronounced "kew-kew"). Read on, in today's story, and thanks for sharing this ...

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More smoke--and sizzle! Calanque, Sugiton, sentier, plage naturiste, and les culs nus--scenic French vocabulary :-)

Calanque sugiton culs nus
Sugiton calanque--a.k.a. "Les culs nus". I asked friends if the term was okay to share. "Ça depende..." they answered, giving an acceptable, harmless alternative ("Cul-cul" pronounced "kew-kew"). Read on, in today's story, and thanks for sharing this post with a friend.

TODAY'S WORD: la calanque

        : rocky inlet
        : cove
        : creek

Try Mastering French Vocabulary with Audio MP3

Hear Jean-Marc read the following French sentence. Click here.

Dimanche on est parti se balader dans les calanques de Marseille où il y a plusieurs plages... Les “culs nus” de Sugiton sont officiellement reconnus dans la carte postale du plus beau site du golfe du Lion, menacé de surfréquentation. 

Sunday we went walking along the rocky inlets of Marseilles where there are many beaches.... Sugitons "Les culs nus" are officially recognized on the postcard of the most beautiful site of the gulf of Lion, which is in danger of overcrowding.

Improve your spoken French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French


    by Kristi Espinasse

On Sunday we stopped into Le Vin Sobre, where Jean-Marc works every other weekend. Today he was not working, but the store, located near the Obélisque round about, not far from Luminy university, was the perfect place to meet up with the others in our small hiking group.

While waiting, Jean-Marc and I chatted with Marie, his co-worker who was manning the store. She is a lively and very warm and friendly person, and she made our one-hour wait (our friends were late!) worth any inconvenience. While we were sipping the spicy cardamom tea that she made us (Le Vin Sobre is a gourmet store with a wonderful selection of thés and specialties to eat!), Marie stopped to sniff the air once again. "Funny," she said, it smells like... "de la fumée"...

Marie approached Jean-Marc and me, still sniffing for the source...when I realized that the accident we had Tuesday night had deeply infused every item in our home--including us!--with smoke!

"It's us, it's us!" I explained, and it wouldn't be the first time that day, for our friends finally arrived, and halfway into our walk, they mentioned the smokey scent they kept getting a whiff of.... And it was not coming from the trees around us!



It was doing us a world of good to get out of our smokey house and into all this fresh salty air! The wildflowers had bloomed and it was fun trying to name them all, even if I didn't get pictures of every one (like the wild purple irises!). But this papery ciste was easy to capture...

Ciste flower

An hour into our walk along the sentier, Jean-Marc, Nicolas, and Carol began searching for a way to descend the steep calanque to access the pristine beach below. But when they began to talk about the need for ropes and special climbing equipment, I headed in the other direction and anchored myself to a rock beneath a shady bush. Already shaking from walking along the slippery pebble path (one false step and plunge to your death), I could not push my nerves any farther!

France, Marseilles, calanque de sugiton les culs nus nudist beach

What a relief when the three decided to find another spot to picnic! And what a magnificent place it was, overlooking the white rock beach below. "It's known as Les Culs Nus," Jean-Marc explained.

The naked butts? As my brain searched for a translations, my eyes began to notice clusters of naturistes. This was a nudist beach! And just as all this info was percolating in my head, our friends asked an unexpected question:

Did we mind if they got naked?

hiking the sentier path near Sugiton calanque les culs nus hikersMarseilles

The photo above just about explains the look on my face on hearing the question above. Smiling Carol looks a lot more adventurous, n'est-ce pas?

Having managed to get everyone to avoid rappelling down to the beach, I now needed to figure out how to get everyone to keep their clothes on.

Poutargue mullet eggs

La bouffe! Yes, food is enough to distract any French man or woman. So we all settled down, with every thread of our clothes on, and dug into a delicious picnic!

The best part about a picnic is sharing the food and discovering new things to eat. Nicolas shared a specialty from Martigues, something Jean-Marc called "le caviar des pauvres": its real name is "la poutargue," also known at Bottarga.

Carol warned that the taste is not for everyone. Ha! She could have said that about nude sunbathing. Ah well. I'll loosen up someday. In my own time.

*    *    *

Kristi and Corinne
Our friends Corinne and Eric showed up to join us for the picnic. Thanks for reading today's story. By the way, would you or would you not join the others on la plage naturiste? To leave a comment, click on the link at the end of this post.

Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.

cul-cul =  butt, also means wishy-washy, ridiculous
le thé = tea
de la fumée = smoke
le ciste = "rockrose" or cistus
le sentier = path, way
la plage naturiste = nudist beach
la calanque = rocky inlet
la bouffe = food, grub, nosh
le caviar des pauvres = caviar of the poor
la poutargue = boutargue, or bottarga

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Recommended. Easy French Step-by-Step. Recently, when visiting my friend Susan the potter, I saw this book on her table. Susan highly recommends it. Order a copy here.

When you shop at Amazon, entering the store via the coded links below, your purchase helps support this free word journal. Thanks for keeping this in mind (and thanks, Dad, for your recent coffee pods purchase!)

AMAZON GIFT CARDS - for that hard-to-buy-for one on your list!

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes


PET SUPPLIES - food, shelter, all the supplies you need to ensure your pet’s health and longevity

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.

FOUTAS - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym, and massage

TISANES - French herbal teas. My family drinks one every night, to help drift off to sleep.

APRONS, French-themed - keep the tomatoes in the tart and off of your nice shirt.

TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed linens for the house.

WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: a collection of early blog stories from 2002-2006

LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.



Many thanks for reading. Heading back to Marseilles, to meet friends and show off a few special places. I'll try to post a picture on my Instagram. To see every photo hit the follow button, here.

To Leave a Comment Click Here.

Accident, and the French words drame, fumée, cheminee, feu, buche, poumon, respirer

Boite-a-lettres mailbox Ramatuelle France lace curtains dentelle rideau shutters window France
I searched my photo archives for a picture of "fumée" or "feu", when this popped up. (The lace symbolizes smoke and the little red mailbox, fire?) Ah well, it is much prettier than the scene that took place here last night.... (Photo taken in the town of Ramatuelle, France)

TODAY'S WORD: la fumée

        : smoke

panache de fumée = plume of smoke

Try Mastering French Vocabulary with Audio MP3


Listen to Jean-Marc read this sentence in French. Click here

Le drame s'est produit quand une bûche est tombée à l'intérieur de l'insert de cheminée, faisant soulever la vitre et laissant alors toute la fumée sortir à l'intérieur de la pièce.

The drama happened when a log fell from inside the fireplace insert, causing the glass to lift and letting all the smoke go out into the room.

Improve your French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French


    by Kristi Espinasse

Last night I drove to the village of Ollioules to visit my friend the potter. How inspiring to learn that 5 years ago, Susan, who worked in film, had not an inkling of what would become her love affair with clay. Looking around her atelier, I was delighted to have ventured out of my own, predictable train-train, to be peering down into an exotic four à céramique, still hot from Susan's latest creation: a Mediterranean blue glaze. How to describe the glorious shade of blue?

Susans studio
The potter's atelier. photo (c) Susan Rogers. Follow Susan on Instagram

Jean-Marc was  away last night too--at a pizzeria in Cassis, with his friend Pierre. I knew he'd make it back much later than I and I did not want to return to a big empty house. So I lingered a little longer chez Susan. Finally driving up the dark, winding driveway I arrived at our old mas and was disappointed to see that Jean-Marc had forgotten to leave the interior lights on.

Then again...on closer look...there was an ethereal dimness beyond the windows.... Was that a light?

I struggled to get my key into the keyhole, dropping my jeu de clés several times. That's when I sensed the smoke! Finally opening the door, a thick white cloud billowed forth--our golden retriever rushing out from beneath it!


As my dog and I made it several meters away from the house, I turned to witness all that fumée--a smoke so thick you could see nothing beyond it.  Checking to make sure our older dog was OK (how he could survive in a room that dense with smoke is a mystery. You could say our Smokey lived up to his namesake last night. And lived he did!).

In the time it took Jean-Marc to hurry back from Cassis, my sister, Heidi, kept me calm on the phone as I rushed into the house, in several short bursts, breath held tight, to open doors and windows. I also moved the lever for the chimney damper to the right.

Jean-Marc pulled into the driveway so fast his car skid several meters over the gravel. He took over right away, opening the rest of the windows in the house, before examining the scene of the drame which almost stole Smokey away from us. The accident happened when a bûche fell against the glass door pushing it open and letting the smoke go out into the room.... It eventually filled the entire house and every cubby hole!

I stayed outside comforting Smokey (or the reverse)  until the house was completely clear. It was unusual to be sitting in that dark gravel driveway - the place I always hurried away from to get into the house (when returning late at night). On this night no big bad méchant loup lurked outside, but a great open sky blanketed us in peace. The rain felt good, too.


Smokey, and his mama, Breizh, who passed away in 2015. This is where Smokey's bed is. How he survived in a room of thick smoke is a miracle. So much to be thankful for.

Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.

Ollioules = a town in the Var, west of Toulon, east of Sanary-sur-Mer
le train-train = daily routine
l'atelier (m) = workshop, studio
le four à céramique = pottery kiln
Cassis - seaside town east of Marseille, just west of La Ciotat
le mas = farmhouse
la fumée = smoke
le jeu de clés = set of keys
la bûche = log
le méchant loup = big bad wolf

Posts you may have missed: Most Difficult to Pronounce French Words


Susans hat and studio
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