Today, try the online edition--and let me know what you think of the new background (from red to some lighter shade...). photo: Chris Davis Speaking of colors and shades our Mas des Brun is now available in the US at these addresses. TODAY'S WORD: ...

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Envers + Recipe for generosity

Mas des Brun rose wine from France photo credit Chris Davis
Today, try the online edition--and let me know what you think of the new background (from red to some lighter shade...). photo: Chris Davis

Speaking of  colors and shades our Mas des Brun is now available in the US at these addresses.

TODAY'S WORD: envers

     : to, towards
    : back

à l'envers = upside down

Try Mastering French Vocabulary with Audio MP3

AUDIO FILE: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following in French

La vraie générosité envers l'avenir consiste à tout donner au présent.
Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.
                                                                                           -Albert Camus

Improve your spoken French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French


    by Kristi Espinasse

After our chat about tout et rien et espadrilles, I walked my neighbor home. Taking a raccourci through our back yard, Annie paused before the permaculture garden, which is wilder than ever during this time of transition.

"Tu es le chef d'artichauts!" Annie said, approaching the raised garden beds. "These are the violet variety, non?"

I wasn't sure. When we first built the stone beds, I remember casting a variety of seeds--before crossing my fingers that luck would spring up (mostly a lot of fennel appeared--which already grew like weeds in the surrounding fields!).

Viewing these artichokes through the eyes of Annie, I saw them in a new, spectacular light.

"You ought to be eating them!" Annie, said. I realized I had been waiting to harvest them when Mama Jules arrives, May 29th...

There were at least 10 artichoke plants, each with 5 or more of the delicious globes--some, as Annie remarked, had a faint purple undertone. Each plant had two or three ripe masses that were ready for harvesting. As we stood admiring the plants, it finally occurred to me Why not offer Annie some?

"Wait! I'll be right back!" I said.

Returning with a paper sack, I began to collect the large "flowers" with delectable leaves and was feeling the sheer joy that comes with giving... when another  impulse gradually overcame the positive emotion. Maybe I should keep some for myself? Wouldn't they be delicious with homemade mayonnaise or melted butter or canned in olive oil and herbs? We could keep some for a rainy day if we didn't give them all away!

Tangled there inside another artichoke plant (I had climbed up into another bed to access the hard-to-reach chokes)  I heard Annie calling and her words only mirrored my own: Gardes-en pour toi! Keep some for yourself!

Yes, pour moi! Moi! moi! moi! (Ah! That was the voice of Gimme Gimme La Radine. The stingy low-life avec sa pingrerie that lives beside the trash heap of my lower persona. It voices itself from time to time--usually when it comes to food... like when my husband asks for a bite of my dessert).

Thoughts teetering between lack and abundance, I emerged from inside the giant leafy "Cynara cardunculus" to begin handing over more and more artichokes to my neighbor. It was the only remedy--the quickest, the nearest, the surest--for what had unexpectedly ailed me: l'avarice.

"Merci! C'est trop gentille!" Annie said. Then she mentioned she'd return to my house in a little bit....

And she did--with a plateful of deep-fried artichoke hearts. It was her Italian grandmother's tasty recipe! Looking down at the plate of sliced, breaded and fried chokes it seemed Annie had taken all I had given her and returned it to me (she insists there remained enough for her family). And in so doing, Annie gave me another precious recette, a universal Recipe for Generosity:

Whatever you give will be returned to you--often better, larger, and improved!

 *    *    *


Artichoke blossom
artichoke blossom and bee.


envers = toward
un raccourci = shortcut
le chef =chief, master, chef
l'artichaut = artichoke

l'avarice = miserliness
la pingrerie = stinginess

radin(e) = stingy
c'est trop gentille = it's too kind
la recette = recipe


Purple artichokes
artichokes at our vineyard here in St Cyr-sur-Mer, where we've lived since 2012. In the photo, below, artichokes growing at our home in St Cécile where we lived from 2007-2012
Artichoke and lady bug coccinelle

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Porter + en savate: A popular way to wear a French classic (espadrilles!)

Espadrilles and wicker baskets at the quincaillerie in st cyr-sur-mer

Beneath the wicker baskets you can see the stand of neatly-stacked espadrilles at our local quincaillerie here in St Cyr-sur-Mer

SABLET HOME- for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here for photos and more details.

TODAY'S WORD: porter

    : to wear

prêt-à porter = ready-to-wear

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the French words espadrilles porter en savate

Les espadrilles se portent en mode “savate” (talon ouvert derrière) ou avec le talon fermé. Petit rappel pour les espadrilles traditionnelles, il n’y a ni pied droit ni pied gauche, c’est avec l’usure que l’espadrille prendra la forme de votre pied. -Chaussures Hervé

Espadrilles can be worn in "savate" mode (heel open behind) or with the heel closed. A little reminder for the traditional espadrilles, there is neither right foot nor left foot, it is with wear and tear that the espadrille will take the form of your foot.

Sharpen your French listening skills. Can you distinguish between the French U, the French ou and the English EW? Take this quiz from


    by Kristi Espinasse

When I saw Annie walking up our driveway I noticed we were wearing the same thing: T-shirt blanche, manches longues. "On est des sosies!" I said to my neighbor, reaching to kiss her, or faire la bise.

"Ah, but you are wearing shorts!" Annie said, pointing to my cutoffs. Annie weaved her arm through mine as we walked to the front porch, beneath the grapevine arbor, its giant leaves shading us from the sun. We settled there at the old picnic table.

Though we are a generation apart and from different cultures, Annie and I relate well to one another in this tender friendship which has blossomed over 5 years, since the day she appeared in the driveway to provide a "neighbor's key" for the house we were viewing as part of our plans to build a vineyard.

Here now on the front porch, Annie and I chatted about the usual topics--our families, our animals, our plants, and our recettes. (We had a fresh new subject, too!--our country's new leader, President Macron, brilliant, but who will be given du fil à retordre, according to Annie).

"Tiens," I said, changing topics. "Those are new espadrilles...bleu marine. Last summer you wore red ones."

Annie looked down at her stiff new shoes. "I usually wear them en savate."

En savate... I'd never heard the term but knew what my neighbor meant. I could picture Annie's used red espadrilles en savate -- with the back heel pressed down (imagine a pair of backless shoes, or mules). Jean-Marc and I do the same with our old sneakers, which pile up outside the front door. After a time, we don't bother to put them on properly--we simply slip our feet in--crushing down the back of the shoe with our heels. It makes for quick departure if we're heading to the garden or out to the vineyard. (Sometimes we wear them this way to town.)

To think that what we were doing was perfectly acceptable--not to mention natural (even historic! turns out"savate" is the word in French for "old shoe")!

But in modern-day French it is something you do to old shoes (or even new ones, just as one takes a perfectly new pair of jeans and cuts holes all over them--like my daughter does. Grr!). Do this with espadrilles and you are simply wearing them "en mode savate".

This is all good news when it comes to fitting a pair of espadrilles (something everyone has doubts about--even the French!). Too small or too large? No worries, just wear them en mode savate. This casual style looks great on men and women! So if you were hesitating on purchasing a pair of France's favorite summer shoe, lâchez-vous! Let yourself go--and let go of the heel, too :-)


Francesc Galofré 1894 painting, A model, we see what espadrilles once looked like


quincaillerie = hardware store
porter = to wear
T-shirt blanche = white T-shirt
faire la bise = to kiss on the cheek
manches longues = long sleeves
On est des sosies = we're twins
la recette = recipe
du fil à retordre = to give somebody a hard time
tiens = hey
bleu marine = navy blue
en savate = with heel folded down





For a large selection of striped espadrilles click here. And for these striped "smoking slippers", worn by my friend Tanja, click here. All sort of style (solid colors, too) here



- see a selection here


THE FRENCH LOVE THESE BEACH TOWELS - quick drying, good-looking

Au revoir clutch

Au Revoir Straw Clutch - a charming purse for summertime. Order here.


Find out how we came to live on this vineyard, in the story Mas des Brun: A Dream-Come-True Vineyard in Bandol

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