Le Dernier Mot: Odd Woman Out

Le Dernier Mot: Odd Woman Out

Kristin takes a deep breath after discovering her dream chalet has turned into a ‘man-tuary’

Last spring my husband and I bought a tiny chalet in the Alps after imagining the pleasure of living in a such a place.

The little cabin particularly appealed to mon homme, an outdoorsy type. Jean-Marc could not wait to begin moving in, and so arrived a week before I did. Fine by me: he could get everything up and running and I could show up in time to enjoy the comforts of our cosy Alpine nest. Cosy? Nest? I guess that depended on your perspective. What little space we had in the one-room abode was taken up by all of my husband’s sports paraphernalia.

Inching my way into the maisonette, I noticed seven pairs of hiking/biking/running shoes and the coat rack was crowded with mountain gear. Pushing aside some equipment in order to hang my scarf and sun hat, I caught a glimpse of the room beyond, where mountain bikes took up what space remained.

“I’ll move those right away,” my husband volunteered. And he did, in time to reveal a few more rugged details of the manspace he had (unconsciously?) created. Did he actually hang his L’Étape du Tour vanity medal on the kitchen wall – in place of the apron that was there before it? Who hangs a medal in a cosy nest? Cro-magnon does! In his man cave! There was no mistaking it now: my husband had, however inadvertently, created a man-pad and the ‘homely’ details I continued to discover were baffling.

Searching for linens at dinnertime, I had a great shock. The hand-stitched napkins I had carefully packed were completely déchirées – torn right down the centre! “Oh, I had friends over for a BBQ. There weren’t enough napkins so I halved them.”

Exhaling, I calmly reminded myself those embroidered napkins cost only three bucks at the brocante. Still, he was lucky they weren’t hand-stitched by my grandmother or no amount of sagesse could have kept me from clobbering my caveman.

Setting the frayed cloth serviettes in a mending pile (perhaps they could be refashioned into cocktail napkins?), I headed outside for some fresh air. That’s when I noticed a bright white dress shirt dangling from a tree limb… Now what?

“Oh, I washed it,” Jean-Marc explained. Just then my eyes darted over to the clothesline, qui avait disparue. In its place, a row of grapevines.

“You tore out my clothesline and planted vines?”

“I’m experimenting to see if I can make wine at this elevation,” he said.

“In the freezing Alps?”

Just then my man smiled that sourire that seduced me all those years ago, adding: “Qui ne tente rien n’a rien.” Nothing ventured nothing gained…

Me and my caveman have come too far in our adventures together for one of us to make a fuss over having to hang her culottes in the trees.

Grapevines in the Alps. Photo: Kristin Espinasse


UN HOMME = man
UNE MAISONNETTE = cottage, small house
DÉCHIRÉ(E) = torn
UNE BROCANTE = flea market
LA SAGESSE = wisdom
DISPARU / DISPARAÎTRE = disappeared / to disappear
UN SOURIRE = smile
UNE CULOTTE = underwear

From France Today magazine

Read more of Kristin’s popular columns here:
Le Dernier Mot: Wait a Minute Mr Postman
Le Dernier Mot: Crowning Glory
Le Dernier Mot: Affair of the Heart
Le Dernier Mot: Inside Job
Le Dernier Mot: Naked Ambition
Le Dernier Mot: That Which We Call a Rose…
Le Dernier Mot: France Isn’t All That Bad!
Le Dernier Mot: A Passage to Corsica
Le Dernier Mot: Desperately Seeking… Dessert
Le Dernier Mot: Sirène Again!
Le Dernier Mot: Milking the Breakfast Bar
Le Dernier Mot: Saperlipopette
Le Dernier Mot: Uninvited Guêpes
Le Dernier Mot: An Exception to Every Rule

Share to:  Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn   Email

Previous Article Degas at the Opéra at the National Gallery of Art in Washington
Next Article Madame’s Collection: Helena Rubinstein at the Musée du Quai Branly

Related Articles

The American-born author and photographer lives with her French husband, Jean-Marc, and their two children on a vineyard and olive farm near Bandol in Provence. She's the author of "Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France" and runs the French Word-a-Day blog and newsletter.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Lois Rudy
    2020-03-05 14:10:02
    Lois Rudy
    You have a better attitude than I!!! My little "pied-a-terre" in Paris has been taken over by my husband who works in the city. I live out of the country and we commute back and forth to see each other as often as possible.....However, each time I'm at the tiny apartment, I've noticed that he's usurped more and more space, leaving me with little more than one dresser drawer for my things and a small space near my side of the bed to call my own!!! I'm having a hard time accepting this "take-over" of his and thank you for letting me know I'm not alone!!!


  • Jan Hersh
    2020-03-04 23:10:24
    Jan Hersh
    Short but sweet...things change over the years in a long marriage. At least that what I am experiencing since our wedding in 1975!