By Clare Jones

September and October are my favourite months and the one activity which gives me the most pleasure at this time of year is blackberry picking. I love to cycle on a sunny morning to a quiet country lane and on the edge of a field find brambles glistening with juicy blackberries. Philippe Delerm in his wonderful book La Première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules devotes an essay to this simple pleasure. He likes to invite friends to join him:

–         Vous viendriez cueillir des mûres ?

–         C’est drôle, on allait justement vous le proposer.

“Would you come blackberry-picking?”

“Funnily enough, we were just going to suggest the same thing to you.”

It is the end of the summer and each family collects a pot of small black shiny berries (des baies), the adults talking of this and that (on parle de tout et de rien) and the children talking of new classes and teachers. Finally, they stroll home.

« On a cueilli les mûres, on a cueilli l’été. Dans le petit virage aux noisetiers, on glisse vers l’automne. »

“We have picked blackberries, we have picked summer. On the small bend with hazel trees, we slide towards autumn.”

If you don’t know this beautiful book yet, do take a look. It’s a book I go back to time and time again like a well-loved poetry book.

Here is the verb cueillir (to pick) in the present tense. Notice that it conjugates like an -er verb, as do the verbs ouvrir (to open), couvrir (to cover), offrir (to offer), souffrir (to suffer) and accueillir (to welcome).

je cueille, tu cueilles, il /elle/ on cueille, nous cueillons, vous cueillez, ils/ elles cueillent.

You might find the pronunciation a little tricky so here is a sound file.


A bientôt!


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About the author

Clare Jones was born in the North of England in 1960. She fell in love with the French language at the age of 11 and went on to study it to degree level at Leicester University, where she also became a qualified teacher. In 2011 Clare collaborated with Tamsin Edwards to produce an iPhone application, “Figure out French, Rouler un patin: to give a French kiss and other French expressions for leisure and health”. Though she now lives in England, Clare always has her nose in a French book and she surrounds herself by all things French. She is currently very busy teaching French as a private tutor and when she has the time, she writes a blog on the subject of the French language (click on the blog tab to read it). Clare enjoys tai-chi, swimming, and cycling in the local country park. She is also an enthusiastic member of her local community choir.

About the illustrator

Tamsin Edwards studied art at both Nene Art College, Northampton, and Derby School of Art during the early 1980s. Though well known for her atmospheric watercolour landscapes, Tamsin also creates quirky pen & wash illustrations, often portraying comic images of people and places. Tamsin has already collaborated with Clare Jones to produce an iPhone application. Past commissioned projects also include the children’s storybook ‘Tales of Two Shires’ and a book of poetic verses. As well as regularly exhibiting work and selling to clients around the world, Tamsin has also had several paintings published in an international magazine. To view further examples of her work or to buy original artwork from this book, please visit Tamsin can be contacted at

Author Photo

Illustrator Tamsin Edwards (left) and author Clare Jones (right)

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