Salut!

A while ago, Camden from Baguettes and Bicyclettes tagged me to do the Francophile Tag. She’s an American expat who works as an English lecturer at a university in the south of France; I’ve been following her adventures for a while on her blog and YouTube channel, and she’s a great resource for teaching and all things French. Definitely check her out!

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Paris (November 2016).

The word “francophile” means to be a lover of France and all that encompasses it, including the French language, food, culture, etc. Here are some questions related to my history of discovering and learning about France, and I’ll answer them as best as I can. Alors, c’est parti!

Introduce yourself

My name’s Rebecca, and I’m an American who lived and worked abroad in France for four years as an English teacher. I spent my first two years teaching middle school and high school level in Normandy, and the last two years teaching university students in the Lyon region. I’ve since returned to the United States where I’ve made a career change to civil service work (i.e. government).

How did you discover French language and culture?

I discovered the French language when I was in high school, where I took French as my foreign language. I soon became fascinated by its distinctive linguistic structure, including its verb conjugations. The rest of it– food, culture, history– followed afterwards!

How long have you studied French and what is your level of fluency?

You could say that I’m still “studying” French, or rather I still try to keep up my knowledge and comprehension of the language on my own (via blog writing, YouTube videos, and podcasts). Formal education-wise, I had about eight years of classes, beginning in my first year of high school to the end of college (where I minored in French).

Fluency-wise, I’m a self-prescribed B2 (intermediate-advanced) in French. I never took a formal test to evaluate my level, but I did take a practice one some time ago. Some of my French friends tell me I’m more than B2, but I don’t know about that…I can read and understand conversations more-or-less, as well as contribute to said-conversations with fairly-complex ideas.

At the same time, it’s been over a year since I left France, and my French has deteriorated a bit due to lack of use– I do my best to keep it up, and I hope to do so in the long-term!

Have you ever lived in or visited France or any francophone countries?

Yes! I visited France for the first time when I was 13, to the city of Nice (and a day trip to Èze). I returned for a summer study abroad in Paris during my third year of college, then spent four years working in France after I graduated.

Week 1 L'Arc de Triomphe 7-1-14
Visiting l’Arc de Triomphe during my summer abroad (July 2014).

Francophone countries I’ve been to include Canada (specifically Montréal/Québec), Saint Martin in the Caribbean (i.e. a DOMTOM of France), Belgium (specifically Brussels), Switzerland (specifically Geneva and Lausanne), and Morocco. It’s been really fascinating visiting each place and hearing the different accents and dialects in the French language (PS Swiss French is my favorite). 😀

What’s your favorite French food/drink?

That’s a hard question. Let’s break it down into several categories:

Favorite savory French food(s): galette saucisse from Brittany, croque madame from Paris, and bouillabaisse from Marseille.

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Bouillabaisse and pastis (not a huge fan of the latter!). Marseille (February 2017).

Favorite French cheese(s): Camembert (Normandy), Saint-Nectaire (Auvergne), Reblochon (Savoy), and Comté (Franche-Comté). Generally, I’m a fan of soft/semi-soft, mild cheeses.

Favorite sweet French food(s): tarte aux framboises, torsade au chocolat, and galette des rois.

Favorite French drink(s): I namely like French wine. Here are my favorites based on the type:

  • Red wine: Beaumes de Venise (Rhône)
  • Rosé: Cabernet d’Anjou (Loire Valley)
  • White wine: Riesling (Alsace)

What’s your favorite region of France?

I like many aspects of each region I’ve been to or lived in. But I’ll say my favorite is the southwest of France, particularly in and around Toulouse. This region, called Occitanie, is warm and laid-back, with some of the friendliest French I’ve ever met. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with both the city and countryside to enjoy, especially in the summer months.

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Toulouse (June 2019).

What’s your favorite French word?

It would have to be “choucroute” (sauerkraut). I get a big kick out of saying the word, as it combines the soft “c” with the hard “c,” as well as the guttural “r” sound in between. Makes me smile whenever I say it!

Which is better: French cities or French countryside?

I used to stick only to French cities during my travels, as I consider myself a “city break” kind of gal. But in my last year of France, I spent a couple of weeks exploring the southwest and south of France, and I fell in love with the countryside. It was a huge difference from the busy city life, and I really enjoyed slowing down and taking my time exploring the fields and villages on hikes.

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Lavender fields of Provence (July 2019).

On a scale of 1-10, how much of a Francophile are you?

I would honestly rate myself a 6 or 7. It’s interesting, because I would’ve rated myself higher when I was younger, back when I was a lot more passionate about the French language and the country itself. Ironically, I lost a bit of the passion living in France, partly due to the struggles I had integrating into society, as well as merely changing interests. This isn’t to say that I’m no longer a Francophile, though– I still very much love hearing and speaking the language, and I do hope to return to France some day for a visit (and to eat/drink all the good food and wine!). Once a Francophile…always a Francophile!

Thanks for reading! I’m tagging Rosie from La Grenouille Anglaise to do this next.

FRANCOPHILE TAG QUESTIONS :

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. How did you discover French language and culture?
  3. How long have you studied French and what is your level of fluency?
  4. Have you ever lived in or visited France or any francophone countries?
  5. What’s your favorite French food/drink?
  6. What’s your favorite region of France?
  7. What’s your favorite french word?
  8. Which is better: French cities or French countryside?
  9. On a scale of 1-10, how much of a francophile are you?

À bientôt, mes ami.es!

— Rebecca

29 thoughts on “The Francophile Tag

  1. You mentioned struggles with integrating into society while you were working/living in France. I’m curious- how was your experience in the other Francophone countries you’ve been to? (For me, I’ve had more pleasant experiences in places in France than in Montréal.)

    I like your favorite French word – a new one for me!

    It’s interesting that you mentioned falling in love with the countryside. I just discovered a song by Jehnny Beth called “French Countryside” – I’ve got it on repeat!

    Thanks for sharing more of your Francophile story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It surprises me that you’ve had more pleasant experiences in France than other Francophone countries; I’m wondering what makes them more enjoyable? For me, it’s hard to say if the other Francophone countries are more pleasant or not, just because I only had short visits (as opposed to living in them for the long term). All the same, I’d say such countries were a pleasure to visit, and I’d especially love to return to Belgium and Canada to see more of them!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Like you, I also rate myself as B2 in French. I have never taken a test to confirm this, but I have taught English conversation at B2 level for many years here in Germany, so I am well acquainted with the system. For the past sixteen years, since I retired from my full-time job, I have been trying to get my French back up to where it was when I was in my twenties.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great tag, isn’t, Rebecca! It must have been an amazing experience to live and work in France and eat all the French foods everyday. It’s one of the countries I love the most and would probably rate myself a sturdy 7. If I had to choose where to live in France, it would probably be the Basque Country as you can surf there. Thanks for such a great read and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to see that you’re just as passionate about France as I am! The Basque Country is one place that I haven’t explored too much of, but I agree it’s a beautiful place and worth visiting again some day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There were many aspects that made it a challenge to integrate into France, but the main reasons were being non-white and language barrier (i.e. even if you have a good level of French, you’ll still be treated differently). Also, the French can be quite xenophobic, so there’s always the subtlety of always being treated as a foreigner, despite living in France for years. It was often frustrating for me to constantly have to prove myself to others to show them that I deserved to live and work in France…but I will say that it was a great life lesson, and the experiences are some that I wouldn’t want to forget even after leaving the country. I do miss France at the end of the day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting insights which are consistent with what I have heard from other non-white people who travelled or lived in France. It’s unfortunate that the country has such a reputation but I’d still like to visit as a tourist some day.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you can have a whole category about French cheeses! I find it hard to try and keep up a language without being around people who speak it often, but how lucky that you can visit so many different countries and still get some French practice in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The French do take their cheese very seriously, and their passion for it definitely rubbed off on me when I lived there. I agree it’s a struggle to keep up French while not in France, but visiting other Francophone countries helps (as well as speaking with Francophone expats back at home). Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Occitanie is such a gorgeous region, and it’s my dream to own a home and retire there some day! You can find Beaumes de Venise in any supermarket (e.g. Carrefour); I’ll have to warn you that it’s intense, though, if you’re up for it! Merci de me tagger dans cet article! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just “researched” it and it seems to be a vin doux naturel! Is that correct? We actually have some around here in Perpignan that seem similar: Banyuls and Rivesaltes. They are sweet, viscous, strong, and usually drunk as an apéritif.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not 100% sure if Beaumes de Venise is a vin doux naturel, but from your description, it sounds about right! Also have had Rivesaltes before, and it’s one of my favorites, too; I got it often whenever I went grocery shopping! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Coucou Rebecca.

    Congratulations for this interview. I never learnt French! I Started it nice day by buying some French books and translated them with my dictionary in my hands. After three books my vocabulary increased and increased Now, I have 1500 French books and I have read them twice.

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your journey to learning French is incredible! You might not have had formal schooling in the language, but self-teaching is a great way to learn as well, if not better. It’s really admirable, especially now you can write articles in French! Passez une belle journée. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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