The Thing About France: the podcast for, by and on American Francophiles

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The Thing About France, Saison 3

Produced by the cultural services of the French Embassy. French Morning is a media partner for season 3.

Episodes will be released every Tuesday and available on Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, The Thing About France site, and on French Morning.

The American francophile is a strange creature. He or she often knows more about France than many French people; can, according to his preference, quote Montaigne from memory or sing Gainsbourg like a French born and raised. In short, his fascination for France fascinates us the French, who like nothing so much as to look in the mirror which is held out to us by these warned observers.

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It is to these francophiles that the podcast The Thing About France gives the floor – in English. The third season will air on July 14. Produced since its inception by the cultural services of the French Embassy, ​​the podcast now has a new broadcaster – and a new partnership with French Morning. Literary criticism for New York Times, teacher and translator, Liesl Schillinger will succeed Bénédicte de Montlaur, the former cultural advisor who created the podcast. For this new season, “we wanted to see what a conversation about France would look like if it were this time led by an American, in the hope that the listeners would identify themselves and learn even more”, explains Gaëtan Bruel, the advisor culture, which succeeded Bénédicte de Montlaur last year.

If Liesl Schillinger is now in charge of interviewing these American writers, artists and other intellectuals, it is not by chance. She cultivates her Francophilia from a very young age. “I was so in love with the French language from a very young age that my parents enrolled me in French lessons in college and enrolled me in an exchange program at the age of 12 to take a been on a farm in Nièvre, ”she says. Schillinger. That summer with Mr. and Mrs. Jamme in the village of Langeron, and others who followed, made the little girl of Indiana a lifelong Francophile. She sang Daniel Balavoine, loved Tintin and became, among other things, translator for Alexandre Dumas fils. With the title of Knight of Arts and Letters, awarded in 2017, it was more than enough to earn him a guest spot during the first season of the podcast, alongside famous francophiles such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, the writer David Sedaris and journalist and essayist Adam Gopnik.

Now in the interviewer’s seat, she wants, she says, to question these American Francophiles about “how their French experience transformed their identity”. Due to the force of circumstances, this third season was recorded against the background of Covid-19. The biographer William Middleton, who contracted the disease in Paris, talks at length about the differences between the French and American health systems – but also “the infinite pleasure of returning to the Parisian terraces at the end of the quarantine”. Graydon Carter, the legendary editor of Vanity Fair, whose interview will be broadcast in the 6th episode of this season, told Schillinger about his confinement on the Côte d’Azur where, now retired, he spends most of his time. “He just told me about his exhilaration there, his fishmonger who delivers it to his house, and that sort of thing … That’s the wonderful thing: our customers can’t stop talking about” their “France, like a lover – or a sublime chocolate cake! ”

The interviews will not avoid the hottest topics of the day, including Black Lives Matter, and will include one with essayist Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Self-portrait in black and white. Married to a Frenchwoman, he lives in Paris, where he conducts “the same kind of intellectual mission that James Baldwin did in his day,” notes Schillinger.

The guest of the first episode of season 3, which comes out on July 14, is Lauren Collins, journalist at The new yorker. She recounts the challenge of explaining the French Academy to an American audience, what we gain and lose by translating, and what it is to cry during the pandemic.

Each episode of the series will be released every two weeks and available on Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, The thing about France as well as on French Morning, media partner.

Learn more

The Thing About France, Saison 3

Produced by the cultural services of the French Embassy. French Morning is a media partner for season 3.

Episodes will be released every Tuesday and available on Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, The Thing About France site, and on French Morning.

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