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No matter where you go, North, East, West or South


No matter where you go, North, East, West or South

TW: "France Monthly" is a wonderful global newsletter about France and its regions. Sylvie, please tell us more about it and what inspired you while creating it?

SYLVIE: Annick, thank you for asking. My motivation is a personal one. It all started with my experience as an expatriate in the US. I lived in Boston, Massachusetts,  which  is one of the oldest cities in the United States  and simply loved it ; I loved the big houses, the straight and large streets and last but not least the people there, my American neighbors I mean ; I felt really good in my new environment.  But family reasons brought me back to France two or three times a year and each time it was like an eye opener and I discovered my own country: its small buildings, its crooked and paved medieval streets and its amazing and gorgeous monuments made by passionate men of the past. I had the strange feeling of being torn apart between two cultures and somehow I wanted to share that.
 
TW:  Were you trying to reach out to a specific group of people or just about anyone who loves France?

Carnac (Brittany) - Sylvie Rauscher in front of a Menhir, a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top. They originate from many different periods across pre-history, and were erected as part of a larger Megalithic culture that flourished in Europe and beyond.Carnac (Brittany) - Sylvie Rauscher in front of a Menhir, a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top. They originate from many different periods across pre-history, and were erected as part of a larger Megalithic culture that flourished in Europe and beyond.SYLVIE: At the beginning I wanted to reach the Americans who were interested in knowing more about France, those who had already been to France or wanted to go there in the future. My newsletter was sent in English (with a link to read it in French) and little by little readers from England and then Australia started writing to me. Today, I know that it is read in Russia and China. It seems that I am covering the whole world now but I still use American English!

TW:  While working on a new project, I had the great honor of meeting you in Villefranche. I was then quite impressed by the busy life that you were living between producing a France monthly newsletter and raising your children. How do you do it all?

The château of Azay-le-Rideau was built from 1518 to 1527, one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the river. (Loire Valley, near Tours)The château of Azay-le-Rideau was built from 1518 to 1527, one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the river. (Loire Valley, near Tours)SYLVIE: Yes, I am busy but it all works out well. I have three children, who are now 20, 21 and 22 and I am proud to say that they are my greatest supporters of my work. But I must confess that it is much easier now that they are grown up and being students, quite independent. I can leave the house for a few days, visit a few places that I want to write about and not feel guilty at all about leaving them behind because now they can take care of themselves. Actually, everyone seems to be much happier; they are free to be and I am free to go travel!

TW: That sounds like a good deal to me. Please tell us about your life in the United States and what exactly brought you there for the first time. 

Le Mont-Saint-Michel (English: Saint Michael's Mount) is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country's north coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 50.Le Mont-Saint-Michel (English: Saint Michael's Mount) is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country's north coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 50.SYLVIE: My husband’s job brought us to America. He was working in the software industry and we lived in Boston for nine years. I LOVED it! In 2003, we moved back to a city in East-Central France in the region of Rhône-Alpes.  I love France but I still miss the city of Boston and my friends there, a lot. The problem of a long expatriation is that when you come back you are not quite the same as you used to be.   It was not that easy during the first two years of our return, now I feel the difference as a richness and my views and vision have become more global.

TW: I understand because the same happened to me when I moved back to France in 2005. After living for thirty one years in New Jersey, I had a hard time adapting to this busy and stressful European life. It's like being off track. 

SYLVIE: Yes, I agree with you. We are not the same people as we were when we left France.

TW:  How do you decide on what region to write about?

Carcassonne (Occitan: Carcassona) is a fortified French town in the Aude département, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.Carcassonne (Occitan: Carcassona) is a fortified French town in the Aude département, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.SYLVIE: I am lucky to live in Lyon which is a city located in the center of France. That makes it very easy for me to travel anywhere without making plans.  I usually drive my car and spend a few days here and there. I follow my own heart and desires. France is extremely rich in diversity of food and scenery. No matter where you go, North, East, West or South, the landscape will be gorgeous, the food will be different and unique and the people passionate about their region. They are so proud of where they live and since France is smaller than Texas it makes it very easy to go anywhere.

TW: Among all the regions that you have presented in your newsletter, which one is your favorite?

Sylvie Rauscher, Founder of France MonthlySylvie Rauscher, Founder of France MonthlySYLVIE: It is very difficult for me to say which region would be my favorite. They are all so differently charming.   Yes, I visit all the places that I write about. I take my time to check them out and discover what specialties they have to offer. Could I say that I prefer Bretagne (Brittany) to Alsace, I don’t think so, on one side I have the ocean, the wind, the white houses, the crêpes, on the other side the half timbered wood houses, the mountains and the wine road. I love both! What about Provence! It’s simply gorgeous, but the Atlantic side is worth the visit too. And the Perigord with the castles, the foie gras … No I am really sorry, I just can give you what in France we call a « Norman answer » which means in French "p't-êtr' bien qu'oui, p't-êtr' bien qu'non" and in English “maybe, maybe not" but it’s probably normal to me because I was born in this lovely region of Normandy…

TW:  I agree with you. Every region of France has a beautiful and distinctive charm. Isn’t France the most visited country in the world?

SYLVIE: Yes, I think so. I heard that France has over 80,000 million foreign tourists annually. That certainly is a lot. 

TW: When you travel to each county, do you go on your own or take an assistant with you? Are you the photographer? 

Beaujeu located in the Loire valley. The French province of Beaujolais was formed by the development of the ancient seigniory of Beaujeu (department of Rhone, arrondissement of Villefranche). The lords of Beaujeu held from the 10th century onwards a high rank in feudal society. In 12 to Guichard of Beaujeu was sent by Philip Augustus on an embassy to Pope Innocent III.; he was present at the French attack on Dover, where he died in 1216. Guillaume de Beaujeu, aka William of Beaujeu, was the 21st Grand Master of the Knights Templar, from 1273 until his death during the siege of Acre in 1291.Beaujeu located in the Loire valley. The French province of Beaujolais was formed by the development of the ancient seigniory of Beaujeu (department of Rhone, arrondissement of Villefranche). The lords of Beaujeu held from the 10th century onwards a high rank in feudal society. In 12 to Guichard of Beaujeu was sent by Philip Augustus on an embassy to Pope Innocent III.; he was present at the French attack on Dover, where he died in 1216. Guillaume de Beaujeu, aka William of Beaujeu, was the 21st Grand Master of the Knights Templar, from 1273 until his death during the siege of Acre in 1291.SYLVIE: First of all the help comes from the Tourist offices who are very active in promoting their region. They usually invite me to meet with an historian of their city or region and I spend a few hours with them while visiting. This is really a precious help and I am thankful.  It is very nice for me to spend a morning or an afternoon with such interesting and passionate people. Then I pursue my research with the reading of four or maybe five historical books and then I write the newsletter. And, I have a very good assistant who takes the photos and a very good professional translator for the English part.

TW: France Monthly is a unique and very interesting Newsletter.  The way you are presenting  France is like a puzzle. Each region is a piece of the puzzle representing ‘La Belle France d'aujourdh'ui' (Today's France.)  Do you have any other exciting projects on the back burner?

SYLVIE: I really love what I am doing, I love the regions I visit, the people I meet, and all the discoveries that I make, I love sharing them with all the readers from around the world. I was so pleased to hear that some teachers are actually using my newsletters to teach their French classes and I am really proud to hear some readers say that they have visited a place that I have described. Sometimes they print my newsletters and bring them along for the journey. My future goal would be to help my readers find typical and comfortable lodging while traveling in France. I just need to find the perfect partner for that.

TW: Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us more about France Monthly.  Treasures of Wonderment wishes much success in the years to come. Your work is Art and you are good at it, I must say. Wishing you all the best to you and all the travelers visiting France thanks to your wonderful work.
 
Visit France Monthly at http://francemonthly.com/

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