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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  • Posted September 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Very excited to hear more of your take on the je ne sais quoi of France – great start!

  • Kanimesh
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Woohoo!! Am bookmarking it and all. Waiting for more episodes — good luck!


  • Posted September 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back and congratulations on your new project! Looking forward to “hearing” what it’s all about. Bravo!

  • Jaana
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    YAY! I only got to listen to a bit of Chris’ interview but it’s fantastic. Can’t wait for the next episode! :)

  • Posted September 10, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    True to form, I listened today as I cleaned two bathrooms for my sister, who has been working very hard of late and needed a hand. I said, “I have a new podcast I have to listen to!! Can I clean your bathrooms?!” (I always listened to K&K at my housecleaning jobs, so I became hooked on cleaning while listening to you, Katia. :D )

    I have had to leave France, just this summer, and under sudden circumstances that were not, let’s just say, my preference. This podcast helped me so much. It helped me keep a little piece of France inside of me as I adjust to being back to the US after four years there.

    And can I also say just how wonderfully-presented everything was — the interviews in the cafés, the stories everyone told, the killer piece by Ann (so amazing), and of course, hearing my fave Aussie through my earphones.

    I am blown away, Katia. I am so glad you are doing this — it is simply awesometastic.

    (I also just now read Jaana’s post, and enjoyed that as well!)

    Thank you, truly.
    Your formerly alien parisienne, now Denverite (and yeah, if I can ever get my sh*t together, I might blog again, too. We’ll see. You have been an inspiration. :) )

    I cannot WAIT for the next one. :)

  • Posted September 10, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad you’re back on the air! :-D

  • katia
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for your AWESOME comments! My heart has well and truly been warmed :) And I cannot WAIT to share the next one with you all!

  • Lori GuberaStengel
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Please enlarge the font; although I can divine enough to make this request, I cannot read any of the text sauf les titres. Merci!

    • katia
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I enlarged it a little for you, Lori – I hope that helps :)

  • Posted September 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I am SO excited that The France Project is on the air — and tremendously honored to be included in the first episode. Excellent work, Katia! I can’t wait for the next one!

  • Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Great job, Katia! Loved hearing the stories.

  • Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    what a lovely episode of podcast and i am looking forward to the new ones!

    paris and i had a love-hate relationship the first time i visited it. like all things curious in life, i had chances to renegotiate this relationship and from then on, i was visiting 3-4 times a year. finally graduating from my studies, i found a position right in centre paris (several friends who saw that job posting also emailed it to me!) and i went for it. i was lucky i was hired. so here i am. :)

    now, as my CDD is coming to an end, i need to start putting on my thinking caps and figure how to extend my good fortune into staying put for a little while more. wish me luck!

    • katia
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Thankyou so much for your sharing your experience, Lil – I find it so interesting to hear about these love/hate relationships with Paris!!!

  • Genevieve
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Katia, I love it. I am excited to hear more!

  • Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Katia,

    The way you do that is definitely very interesting for a pure French like me, born in Paris, but very involved now with Anglo-Saxon people liking France, since I just wrote a book in English for them. I see that you address all kind of reasons to be francophile and to become an expat in France, from life style to wines and good food, and the serendipity of all of our cafés, restaurants and other place to talk and rebuild the world “jusqu’à pas d’heure” as we say! :)

    My book especially deals with that part of the French way of life, often mesmerizing for foreign people, which is the particular easiness that we are known to have regarding sensual life. The book is titled: “Being French! A Frenchman’s Guide to a More Sensual Life” and it’s only two week that it’s available as en E-book on Amazon. The uniqueness of that boo (in my knowledge so far), is that it’s genuine French insider, addressing Anglo-Saxons in their own language about this intriguing French spirit in the love and sex department. So no need to say that it contains a lot of that “je ne sais quoi”! :)

    Anyway this is the place where you can reach “Being French!” and read 12% of it in sneak peek, and my URL leads to my blog page where I say all what’s needed to know about the book: Being French! on Amazon.com

    And me, I will definitely follow what you do because your podcasts are both interesting and absolutely delightful!

    • katia
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks very much, François :)

  • Sara
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink


    I’m so glad that you’re back on the air! I didn’t realize how much I missed you until I found this site, completely devoured the first episode right away, eager for all the great and warm characters you invite to share with us.

    This is such a wonderful new project. The production is just so professional and polished, I feel like you should be doing this full-time!

    Thank you for your work, and it’s wonderful to hear your voice again!!!

    Sara (Sara from Belgium — we ate cactus tacos last year together on a blustery Parisian day and you and Kyliemac humored me in listening thoughtfully to my stories of learning Flemish)

    • katia
      Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Sara, YES! Of course I remember you! And you gave us both delicious Belgian chocolates :) I am so glad that you enjoyed this first episode…! I cannot WAIT to put out the next one, where you’ll hear another familiar voice, as well as LOTS of new ones ;)

  • Dean
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear you’re on to a new project!

    A side note, the hold music on my company’s conferencing system sounds a lot like “An Inside Joke” :-)

    • katia
      Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Thanks Dean! And I wonder if it IS inside joke?! That would be rather cool :)

  • Posted September 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Katia,

    I heard of your show from the ‘Secrets of Paris’ blog and I really enjoyed listening to it because I myself am moving to Paris in November, initially to study for a CELTA teaching certificate and then to stay for good hopefully!

    I was thinking it could be interesting if you interviewed someone who is actually trying to establish a life in Paris and so see how they eventually get on.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Alain from Dublin, Ireland.

    • katia
      Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Hey there Alain! I’m glad you enjoyed the show! And thanks for the topic suggestion – it could definitely be an interesting subject to tackle :)

  • Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Having lived in Paris for 20 years I’m always curious how other expats (and artists) live and work here…and of course “Why France?” Enjoyed the podcast and look forward to tuning in… Best, MR

    • katia
      Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Thankyou so much, Matthew. I’m glad you enjoyed the show – I always find the “why France?” question such an interesting one because the answer really is different for everyone. I’d love to know YOUR answer!

  • David
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    I really like the content of your podcast. I like France and it is interesting to hear what draws others to France. I understand why you do interviews in cafes but I did find the clanking of dishes and glasses distracting. A quiet place would in my opinion yield a better listening experience. Thank you for starting this podcast.

  • ahtoo
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    So very happy to find this podcast, really missed your France stories.

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

created & produced
by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne
© 2012