episode 1: beginnings

In this first episode of the France project, it seems only fitting to discuss what makes France so enticing to foreigners. After all, it’s one thing to visit as a tourist and see the sights, but it’s another thing altogether to uproot yourself and make a new life in another country. This extra-long very first episode is filled with tales of “beginnings” from current and past expats!

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In Part One of this episode I chat to three different expats who are in France for different reasons: Chris, the diplomat, who first came to France for the love of the country and it’s culture; Lindsey Tramuta, of Lost in Cheeseland, who came for the language and stayed for love; and Steve, who is here because… he’s paid to be here.

In Part Two, you’ll hear the stories of two more people about their first experiences of France and why it kept calling them back – Ann Mah, the author, and Jaana from Finland – and, finally, I share my own story of how I found myself in France.

Part One

I interview three expats who are in France for very different reasons.

ChrisChris, the francophile

Chris and I caught up in my current favourite Paris coffee house, Coutume Café in the 7th. He told me about becoming intrigued by the idea and culture of France thanks to his friendship with a half-French schoolmate. We talk about his first real experiences in France doing a student exchange and the long-lasting friendships he made. We discuss French cinemaphilia, stereotypes and their predilection for healthy debate, and finally what keeps drawing him back to France, as well as why it is so appealing to so many people.

Who: Chris
Place of origin: United States
Where we met: Coutume Café, 47 rue de Babylone, 75007

Lindsey TramutaLindsey Tramuta, came to study and stayed for love

I met up with Lindsey in the 16th, as we were both on our way home from work one day. She explained why she decided to study in France and her initial experiences of being a student in Paris, as well as the life-changing things that happened to her when she arrived and the various academic choices she made following this experience. She also shares why and how she became a francophile – from a linguistic perspective, which then led to an appreciation of the culture – and we talk about the opportunities that this experience has given her today, the advantages of studying abroad and how it has affected her life.

Who: Lindsey Tramuta, of Lost in Cheeseland
Place of origin: America (Philadelphia)
Occupation: Freelance writer, blogger and social media manager for a global beauty brand
Where we met: Le Fétiche, 53 rue d’Auteuil, 75016
Where to find her: Lost in Cheeseland, twitter, facebook

SteveSteve, who came for work… and just hasn’t left

I’ve known Steve for many years now, and he never fails to make me laugh. We met for wine and giggles (and occasional guffaws) at Le Gramont, in the 2nd arrondissement, a café located just around the corner from his first home in Paris, many years ago. He told me why he moved to France in the first place and what it was like to work in an international media office, we discuss his self-confessed “non-francophilism” in detail and he ponders about why he has never left France.

Who: Steve
Place of origin: England
Occupation: Journalist
Where we met: Le Gramont, 15 boulevard des Italiens, 75002
Where to find him: twitterblog

Part 2: story time…

Ann MahAnn Mah, who fell under a spell

In this part of the show, Ann describes coming to France with her family when she was a little girl, where she found herself falling madly in love with Paris, despite being surrounded by teenage angst and no air-conditioning. You’ll hang on to every word of her descriptions of a sweaty, magical summer in France, a testament to the powerful charm of a city.

Who: Ann Mah
Place of origin: United States (California)
Occupation: Freelance travel writer and author (Kitchen Chinese)
Where to find her: annmah.nettwitterfacebook

Jaana (copyright Minttu Heimovala)Jaana, who followed Mickey to Paris

In a written interview, my Finnish friend Jaana shares her story of falling in love with France. She knew she wanted to live in France when she came here as a student, and looked for any way she could to get here – and it just so happened that it was through a job with Disney! She tells me all about what it was like to work for “the Mouse” as a foreigner who was just learning how to navigate the language, and describes how her experience working in France has changed her life. Read the interview here.

Who: Jaana
Place of origin: Finland (Jyväskylä)
Occupation: Customer care adviser
Where to find her: twitter

KatiaMoi (Katia)

In my own little “beginnings” story, I describe how I found myself falling in love with a Frenchman, living in France and trying to find my way in a place where I didn’t belong. I describe how little by little, thanks to some fortuitous experiences and encounters, how I learned to love this country that I call home. For now… [Read the transcript]


Full picture gallery

  • promenade de l'australie and the Eiffel Tower
  • Chris
  • Lindsey Tramuta, of Lost in Cheeseland
  • Lindsey Tramuta, of Lost in Cheeseland
  • Steve
  • Steve
  • Ann Mah
  • Ann Mah
  • Jaana
  • Jaana (photo copyright Minttu Heimovala)
  • A magical place! (photo by Jaana)

Music featured in this episode


When I sent the tweet out asking “random question for current/past expats : what brought you to France?” I got a huge amount of interesting responses on twitter. Here are just a few.

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a podcast exploring
the je ne sais quoi
about life in France

created & produced
by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne
© 2012