Almost French: A New Life in Paris (Anglais) Broché – 26 mai 2005
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I left Australia hoping to cram a lifetime of adventures into one unforgettable year. Instead, I ended up with a new life. I’d taken one year’s leave from my job as a television reporter in Sydney to travel around Europe. If I didn’t go now, I never would, warned a nagging voice in my head. Though, at twenty-seven I wasn’t much interested in hanging around youth hostels. The idea was to immerse myself in fascinating foreign cultures, to work as a freelance journalist in Eastern Europe, which in my mind bubbled with unwritten, hard-hitting stories.
It was in Bucharest, Romania, that I met Frédéric. His English was sprinkled with wonderful expressions like ‘foot fingers’ instead of toes and he seemed charming, creative and complicatedvery French, in other words. When he’d invited me to visit him in Paris, I’d hesitated just long enough to make sure he was serious before saying yes. Why not? After all, this is what travelling is all about, isn’t it: seizing opportunities, doing things you wouldn’t normally do, being open to the accidental?
That trip to Paris was more than eight years ago now. And except for four months when I resumed my travels, I have been living here ever since.
It was a city and culture I was familiar withat least that’s what I thought back then. When I was a child, my family had toured France in a tiny campervan and my eyes had popped at the chocolates and the cheeses. At secondary school I studied French and saw a few films by Truffaut and Resnais, which had struck me as enigmatic in a very European way, although I couldn’t have said why. When I was sixteen we lived in England for a year and I came to Paris several times. In my mind, these experiences added up to knowledge of France and some understanding of its people. Then, a little over ten years later, my meeting with Frédéric drew me back, and when the time came to actually live in Paris, I figured belonging and integrating would take merely a matter of months.
Now, remembering my early naïveté draws a wry smile. The truth is, nearly all my preconceptions of France turned out to be false. It hardly needs to be said that living in a place is totally different from visiting it. And yet this blatantly obvious statement does need to be said, particularly about Paris, the most visited city in the world. A place I imagined to know after a few nights in a closet-size hotel room as a teenager and one summer holiday with a Frenchman sipping kir on café terraces.
At times the learning curve has seemed almost vertical. The social code I discovered in France wasn’t just different from the one I knew, it was diametrically opposed to it. For a long time, I couldn’t fathom the French and, to be fair, they couldn’t fathom me either. My clothes, my smileeven how much I drankset me apart. During my first year, dinner parties turned into tearful trials. There I was, a confident twenty-eight-year-old with the confidence knocked out of me, spending cheese courses locked in somebody’s bathroom, mascara streaming down my cheeks.
It hasn’t all been tears and trials, of course. The truth is, if France failed to live up to some of my expectations, in other ways the reality has been far richer, a thousand times better than my clichéd visions. My work as a journalist has enabled me to meet people ranging from famous French fashion designers to master chefs. On a personal level I’d taken a headlong plunge into new territory as well. Put a very French Frenchman together with a strong-willed Sydney girl and the result is some fairly spectacularand sometimes hilariouscultural clashes.
If I had to pick one word to sum up my life in France, it’d have to be "adventure." Every moment has been vivid, intensely felt. No doubt many people who live in a foreign country would say the same thing. But there is, I think, something that sets France apart from many other parts of the world. I know of no other country that is so fascinating yet so frustrating, so aware of the world and its place within it but at the same time utterly insular. A nation touched by nostalgia, with a past so greatso marked by brilliance and achievementthat French people today seem both enriched and burdened by it. France is like a maddening, moody lover who inspires emotional highs and lows. One minute it fills you with a rush of passion, the next you’re full of fury, itching to smack the mouth of some sneering shopkeeper or smug civil servant. Yes, it’s a love–hate relationship. But it’s charged with so much mystery, longing and that French specialityséductionthat we can’t resist coming back for more.
From where I write in Paris today, I see a foil shimmer of rooftops, a few orange chimney pots, quaintly crooked windows and lots of sky. Although by this city’s standards it’s nothing special, to me it is precious, this view. It makes me think back to a time when we didn’t have it, when we were living in a different apartment where I wasn’t nearly as happy. Those early difficult years in France seem a lifetime ago now, as though they were lived by someone else. So much has changed since then, including me, probably. The truth is, when I started to write this book I had trouble taking myself back to that time. I don’t know why it should have been so difficult. Either I’d forgotten or subconsciously didn’t want to remember or, being a journalist, I was paralyzed by the idea of writing in the first person. Probably a combination of all three.
For days and weeks, I sat staring at my rectangle of pearl gray sky. For inspiration I looked at old photos, read my early articles and Mum sent me all the letters I’d written from France, which she’d carefully kept. The memories came back gradually, growing sharper and brighter until I could see myself on that summer’s day almost eight years ago, excited but nervous, arriving in Paris in my safari shorts and flat, clumpy sandals, oblivious to the horror my outfit would inspire in any self-respecting Frenchman.
And suddenly it seemed as though it had happened only yesterday.--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Revue de presse
'An entertaining tale of being a fish out of water in one of the most magical cities in the world.' —Everything France
'Turnbull pulls no punches when it comes to describing life among her new countrymen and is refreshingly direct about her own failings as perceived by the Parisians. Required reading for anyone contemplating a spot of French leave.' —Marie Claire
'Best, most seductive and funniest travel memoir this summer is Sarah Turnbull's Almost French, a novel twist on an Australian twenty-something back-packer's romantic liaison with a very French Frenchman and the howling differences in language, customs and expected behaviour.' --What's On in London
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Que "les Français" le veuille ou non, il y a beaucoup de vérité dans ce livre - oui, il y a des stéréotypes, oui il y a des généralisations, mais vu de "notre côté", vu par quel qu'un qui n'est pas française, ces stéréotypes et généralisations sont souvent vrai, sont rencontré au quotidien.
Le lire permettra de comprendre, un peu, la réputation qu'à les français, et de comprendre pourquoi c'est réputation à été acquise.
Pour les Français qui vivent dan un couple mixte, ce livre peut être révélateur - mon amie me comprend mieux maintenant, sait que mes frustrations ne sont pas du à des idiosyncrasies personnelles, mais révélateur d'une vraie différence de culture, une différence qui à été raconté avec humour et franchise par l'auteur.
Mais je suis restee sur ma faim. Je m'attendais plus a la decouverte de la france "pittoresque" : en fait on assiste aux rencontres cocktail dans les hotels particuliers de Neuilly, a des week-end dans les chateaux et maison de vacances. Bref depaysant meme pour un francais ;-)
Amusant mais en conclusion, l'auteure est tout de meme tombee dans un monde qui est etranger a beaucoup de francais.
Difficile de faire un livre sur une culture sans tomber dans le "baguette beret" ou dans le "auteuil neuilly"
Je recommande plutot l'excellent livre Sacres francais de Stanger : beaucoup d'humour et de temps en temps on se suprend a penser bon sang mais on est vraiment comme ca ?
C'est sympa, faut le lire en anglais car il n'est pas (encore) traduit, mais l'écriture est facile à lire. Si vous avez réussi à lire Harry Potter dans le texte, ça sera facile pour vous.
J'ai bien aimé ce livre, car d'une part moi j'étais en Australie lorsque cette australienne découvrait la France, c'est marrant de faire un parallèle.
Et puis aussi elle a un regard extérieur sur la vie des parisiens et des français en général, et ça aide à prendre du recul sur nos attitudes, notre vie!
Commentaires client les plus récents
Written from the point of view of someone who was lucky enough to be from the start with someone who introduced the author to the right class of person so the she didn't have too... Lire la suitePublié il y a 19 jours par Client d'Amazon
Good read. very down to earth and with humour. Mainly about discovering life in Paris rather than one of the regions.Publié il y a 5 mois par Alcock Ian
Afer hopping, skimming through this book, which is all one can do, due to the well-worn clichés and yawning so called experiences, there
are a couple of things that... Lire la suite
I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Sarah adapted over the years. A facinating insite into how difficult it is for the two differnt cultures to get used to each other.Publié il y a 7 mois par H in France
Je suis tombée sur ce livre dans la mère patrie de Mme Turnbull. Je me suis aussitôt dit, tiens cela pourrait être amusant de voir ce que les Australiens percoivent... Lire la suitePublié le 28 octobre 2012 par Megghan
Je suis passe par beaucoup d'auteurs étrangers qui parlaient de leurs experiences en France, et la a Paris, Sarah Turnbull nous offre une belle invitation au voyage dans... Lire la suitePublié le 18 décembre 2011 par Florent Mathieu
For a French living in Australia... It's just AWFUL. I try my best to adapt to the Australian way of life, and I'm particularly interested in the perception of French people by... Lire la suitePublié le 6 juin 2010 par Gaëtane
I was hardly entertained by Turnbull's novel which appears to take every opportunity make fun of the French culture. Lire la suitePublié le 20 février 2006 par Catherine
"Almost French" is a remarkable story of a woman who goes to France to visit an acquaintance, a French lawyer. It is the romantic nature of the city of Paris that rapped her. Lire la suitePublié le 28 janvier 2005 par Ralph Doh