Franco File Friday: Kristin Espinasse (+ a giveaway!)

When discussing the French lifestyle, it's far too common to focus on the trends, habits and behaviors of Parisians as though they represent those of the entire country but to truly understand France, it's important to look beyond the navel-gazing capital. One of the first sites I turned to for the southern perspective was author Kristin Espinasse’s long-running resource French Word-A-Day.

The Arizona native’s story mirrors my own – study abroad student falls in love, makes the leap to construct a life in France and discovers blogging along the way. Her site and newsletter have been invaluable resources, brimming with poignant stories about Provence told through words and phrases. My first memory of Kristin dates back to 2009 when she spoke at the American Library in Paris and read an excerpt from her Words in a French Life, the published incarnation of her widely-read blog - I was hooked. With her second book Blossoming in Provence, she tackles integration, French in-laws and overcoming seemingly insurmountable expat obstacles for charming and humorous read you won’t be able to put down. Get to know her a little bit better below… 

Describe what you love about France in three words:
La langue française. I will never master it. I will always have a crush on it!

Favorite French word and why? 
Dardar, because it's just so fun to say. It means "double quick" which, come to think of it is also fun to say! I once worked at a vineyard with a very high energy colleague who often became impatient with the slackers and would shout that this or that needed to be done dardar! With that, we sprung into action double-quick!

The region's biggest asset? 
 calanques--those breathtaking inlets from the sea. My husband loves to dive for sea urchins, which we eat right on the beach. He brings scissors to cut open the prickly shells, inside of which the orange mousse, or roe is found. Along with a baguette and a bottle of rosé and this makes for a super simple picnic!

Your go-to spot outside of your region to explore? 
Roussillon. Jean-Marc, my husband, took me there when we first met. The warm palette of colors--les ochres--reminds me of my native Arizona, specifically the breathtaking landscapes of Sedona and the Grand Canyon. If you go to Roussillon, be sure to practice a favorite tradition: rubbing the chalky orchre into your lover's face.. and sealing the "paint" with kisses.

An amusing interaction with the French? 
The other day I gave in and took my daughter to a local McDonald's. We did the drive through, but before arriving I carefully practiced our order, in French.: "So you say your brother wants un menu Best Of, right?"

My daughter nodded. 

Un best of would be a cinch to order, only, when the girl at the other end of the microphone asked an unexpected question, I was unprepared to answer for my daughter, (who was already mouthing the reply from the passenger seat).

"What is it you wanted?" I asked my daughter to repeat.


"What's that?" 


It was suddenly impossible to understand my own child, and, with the employee waiting for my response, I had no choice but to mimic the unknown word, spitting it out quickly before I forgot the sound of it.

I was amazed when the employee understood the code word, and a little jealous the two strangers--she and my daughter--could speak over my head like that. 

Minutes later, on leaving the drive-through, the foreign word unraveled itself in my brain: "un wrap ranch". A RANCH WRAP!
 Oh that's right, I thought, wraps have now caught on in France!

No matter how long I've lived here, I am always surprised at the French appetite for American words, and how, once adopted, words from my very own culture end up being so foreign to me!  Un vrapp rhonsh. Un vrapp rhonsh... And I'll never be able to pronounce them like my daughter does!

Thanks for these insights, Kristin! 

Win a copy of Word in a French Life and Blossoming in Provence (2 winners)

To enter:

- Leave a comment below with something you're most interested in learning/understanding about the French
- For an extra entry, follow Kristin on Twitter (@KristiEspinasse) + leave another comment below saying you did.

Two winners will be selected at random and contacted via email. Contest closes next Thursday, December 20th, open to readers worldwide. Good luck! 

Update: Congratulations Lydia and Cristina! I'll be in touch shortly to arrange delivery of your new books.

Kristin's YouTube Channel 
Kristin on Twitter 

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