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Kristin Espinasse

Kristin EspinasseIn a couple of blog entries, I've referred to Kristin Espinasse as my "blogging idol". An American-born woman married to a French vintner, she publishes her blog, called "French Word-A-Day", three times a week, while I sometimes have trouble finding the time for my once-a-week entries. And I'm retired, while she's still raising her children, maintaining a household, writing books, and helping in the vineyards.

I find that subscribing to Kristin's blog is an entertaining way to increase my French vocabulary. Even if the word of the day is one I already know, there is almost always something of interest in a day's blog entry (I assume the "Word-A-Day" part of the title means the blog was once updated daily, but now it's actually updated three times a week). In addition, I always enjoy Kristin's stories about her life as an American transplanted to France, now with a French husband and two French children (whose French is often better than hers).

Words in a French Life coverIf you want to learn more about Kristin's life, and how she came to live in France, you might want to buy her book (click on the cover to the right to be taken to its Amazon page). She's included the following excerpt from the introduction in her blog: "Back in Aix, I was dancing the night away wholly devoted to study when I met my future (French) husband. He barely spoke to me the night we met, but his first words to me -- before even 'Bonsoir' -- were 'Il faut qu'on se revoie,' we must see each other again. His dramatic greeting stopped time. When he handed me his card, I thought I had stepped into the pages of a fairy tale. Beneath his name, 'Jean-Marc Espinasse,' were the words 'Roy d'Espagne' ..." Note 1 

Visiting Kristin & Jean-Marc

To show my appreciation of her blog, in 2008 and 2009 I had sent Kristin a few stories about some of my experiences in France. She posted a couple of these on the blog, here and here. I've since included these stories as entries in my own blog (which wasn't started until January, 2010). These entries are Monsieur L'Oiseau and L'Accent tonique, and these are the entries in which I referred to Kristin as my "blogging idol".

Planning a trip to western Provence in September, 2009, I mentioned to Kristin in an e-mail message that we'd be in her vicinity. She invited us to drop by to say hello, and once in France, I telephoned Jean-Marc from Arles to set up a date and time. I was uncertain if a visit would really be possible, because Jean-Marc was in the middle of le vendange, the grape harvest. He had brought in the grapes for his rosť a few weeks earlier, but was now in the middle of harvesting grapes for his award-winning red (Domaine Rouge-Bleu "Mistral"). But they nevertheless made time for us to drop by. They treated us to some of their excellent wine, along with some local olives. Here's Margie, on the right, chatting with Kristin, on their patio, in front of a field of vines:

Kristin and Margie on the patio

Jean-Marc offered us three of his wines to taste, although after a full day of back-breaking work harvesting grapes, he himself was drinking a beer. He has a substantial number of outlets for his wines in the US and in Europe, but I talked with him about his difficulties finding a good Massachusetts importer. I've been trying to help him in this quest, but haven't found it easy.


Then we watched Jean-Marc (back to the camera), his brother Jacques (left), and their other assistants begin to prepare the machinery to transfer the day's harvest of grapes into a porous concrete fermentation tank.

Preparing for the grapes

The picture below shows "la remorque", full of grapes, being set up for unloading ("remorque" means "trailer"). The grapes (for this particular red, stems and all) are forced up the red hose seen circling over Jean-Marc's head by a large tractor-driven screw at the bottom of the remorque. This also crushes the grapes (sorry - you don't get to stomp them with your feet). Jean-Marc's brother Jacques is handling the tractor. Margie watches from a safe distance, as Kristin steadies the ladder for a helper who is wielding a shovel to be sure the grapes feed smoothly and completely into the auger.

Unloading the grapes

Meanwhile, the Espinasse dog, Braise, wandered the grounds, seemingly oblivious to the fact that her puppies looked upon her as an ambulatory milk bar:

Braise and her puppies

We were delighted that Jean-Marc and Kristin were willing to have us drop by at this very busy time.

Margie, Kristin, and Larry

Jean-Marc has his own blog, on behalf of the vineyard, called Rouge-Bleu, of course.

Although I took all the photos on this page (except the one I'm in just above), Kristin is an excellent photographer, and her blog contains many photos depicting scenes and life in France. She's written another book, called Blossoming in Provence - clicking on that link with take you to its page on Amazon.com. Click on the banner below to go to Kristin's blog (but you'll be leaving my page).

French Word-A-Day logo

A version of this entry first appeared in the somewhat obscure and hard to find travel section of my "old" web pages, under the title French Word-A-Day. I thought it might be of interest in my blog.

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© 2011 Lawrence J. Krakauer   Click here to send me e-mail.
Originally posted December 15, 2011
Revised slightly December 17, 2011 to link to Kristin's new book on Amazon

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Footnotes (click [return to text] to go back to the footnote link)

Note 1:   Since not everyone reading this is Kristin's usual French-studying audience, I'll specify that "Roy d'Espagne" means "King of Spain".

The word for "king" in French was spelled "roy" in old French, and is spelled "roi" in modern French, but both are pronounced the same (sort of like "RRWAH"). In the Latin-languages, the letter "y" is called the "Greek i" (in French, "i grec").   [return to text]

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