Oh... for a French Life!

l'Institut de Français, Villefranche sur Mer (photo the author)

I have been asked many times what is it about France which makes me enjoy it and so want to learn the language and spend time there?

Of course the reasons for my interest are varied and have changed over the years.  But I think the enduring fascination actually began with my mother. Josephine loved cooking and collected French cookbooks, from which she would choose recipes, try to find the ingredients, not always easy in the '60s in Australia, and play French records, particularly Françoise Hardy, while she hummed away in the kitchen over her new creations. This song is one which I remember being able to sing all the words,  without having any clue what they meant!  A perfect way to learn French as a child...

Françoise Hardy..."Tous les garcons..."

Those early influences certainly inspired me to learn the language and my first lesson was at boarding school, when I was 11, with a tiny little woman, who taught  only in French and so we young girls knew no differently.When I moved schools at age 14 my new French teacher, an Australian with a very broad Australian-Franco accent found me difficult to understand and downgraded me to the lowest level class.  Of course I was bored and so changed my subject choice...a decision I have forever regretted.

Many years later I learned Italian for three years and despite enjoying the experience, I remained committed to the objective of one day speaking comfortably in French.

In the last 15 years or so I have visited France more than 10 times.  In many different locations, and circumstances, I have allowed the ambiance, the culture, the language, and the cultural differences to excite and encourage me to explore further.

Surprises around every corner...beautiful Èze (photo the author)

As I step on the plane at the beginning of each 24+ hour trip to the other side of the globe, my thoughts turn not only to past memories filled with the people who have shared my sojourns; but to my expectation for the new experiences which will energise me with their opportunities for the uncertainties which I know I will encounter.

In a few months I will experience it all over again when I arrive in Villefranche sur Mer for another month long immersion course at l'Institut de Français. The uncertainties of the learning environment will have been tamed by the knowledge gained during my previous visit; but the opportunities for exploration, alone and with new friends, will keep the excitement percolating!