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Interview: Laura K. Lawless – 1

Laura K Lawless

Laura K. Lawless is a true Francophile, a freelance translator, the guide of the french language authority site French.about.com.

She has also written seven books about language: four on French and three on Spanish.

What are three adjectives to describe Laura K Lawless, the person?

Playful, adventurous, hard-working

What is your connection to France? You describe yourself as a ‘French fanatic’. What does that mean to you?

As far as I know, there’s no French in my family tree, but when I’m in France, I feel like I’m home. I visited for the first time when I was 15 and fell in love – with the country. I call myself a fanatic because I love just about everything about this place: the language, the people, the big cities, the tiny villages, the food, the wine… After my three-month ‘six corners of the Hexagon’ trip last summer, it’s no exaggeration to say that I have seen more of France than most French people.

What do you like about living there? And where exactly in the south of France do you live now?

I live in Menton, less than a kilometer from the Italian border. I love many things about living here (see above), but the very best part is speaking French every day. I like how everyone always says “Bonjour, even when climbing on the bus or getting in line, and I love that everyone says “Bon appétit”around lunch time, whether or not you’re actually sitting at a table together.

menton - fete du citron-1

Menton – Fête du citron

Why do you think it’s important for people to learn another language?

It’s good for you! It will help you understand your own language and culture. And when you travel, you might meet people who speak your language, but your interactions will be limited to what they know. If you speak their language, you’re limited only by yourself. You’ll make deeper connections and get to know the place a lot better if you speak the language.

What are your interests outside of languages/translation?

I love to cook so much that I suspect that in a parallel universe, I’m a famous vegetarian chef! I also love reading, movies, and swimming.

menton - la voile

Menton – La voile

How have you found living as a vegetarian in France? Do you have any advice for our members?

The French are usually fairly surprised, but accommodating. When I get invited to eat chez des Français, I make a point of telling them right away, giving them a chance to un-invite me, or else to plan accordingly. As for eating out, there’s usually a vegetarian restaurant or two in cities (my favorites: Poêle de Carottes in Strasbourg and La Zucca Magica in Nice).

If you want to eat at a traditional restaurant, especially one with an actual chef, call at least a day or two in advance and let them know you’re a vegetarian. In my experience, chefs enjoy the challenge and often provide outstanding meals.

Everyday restaurants always have salad, if nothing else, but there are usually a few other options like pizza or pasta. Ratatouille is a typical dish in the south that is always vegetarian. (If your French is iffy, be sure to check out this list of typical dishes and unusual foods, most of which you want to avoid) And if you make your own food, there’s no problem at all – the marchés are full of beautiful fruits and vegetables for eating at home or for picnics.

Where to from here?

We’re staying in Menton for another couple of years at least, while we continue saving up in order to eventually buy a place somewhere in France.

Thank you Laura for this interview with MyFrenchLife™.

 

Discover episode two of our interview with Laura, where she gives advice to language students!



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7 Comments




  1. Judy MacMahon
    7 years ago

    Laura,I can’t tell you how often I refer to your french.about.com site for my french revision! Thank you for your site and for this interview! Best, Judy


  2. Virginia Jones
    7 years ago

    Laura,
    Oh my , you live near my dear blog friend Jilly , who writes for Menton Daily Photo and Monte Carlo Daily Photo. I feel as if I know your city so well because of our friendship.

    You are so right, trying to speak the language enhances your experience and the French so appreciate the effort. That said I can’t imagine that they like hearing my struggling French with a southern accent, but I press on! 🙂

    V


  3. lkl
    7 years ago

    Judy – it was my pleasure. Thank you for interviewing me; the questions were stimulating and very thorough.

    Virginia – I love Menton Daily Photo! As for your accent, many men have told me that they find American accents sexy, so …. 🙂


  4. tarunak
    7 years ago

    Good to know more on your French expedition……I always enjoy visiting your website as well as learning from it. Thanks a ton!


  5. Bethany Untied
    7 years ago

    Firstly, I’ve been a big fan of your work for About.com for many years now, using the information for my teaching and tutoring quite often. When Judy told me she was interviewing you, I was a bit starstruck !
    Secondly, I applaud your vegetarianism in France- I know it is no easy feat ! I studied abroad in Martinique with a vego, whose host mother assured her that she could eat the soup she was making- although my friend could clearly see pig’s feet floating in the stew.
    Love the advice about ringing a restaurant in advance…I can just see a French chef taking on the challenge !


  6. lkl
    7 years ago

    Tarunak – je t’en prie ! Glad you like my site.

    Bethany – 🙂 When you live here, it’s really not bad, because you mostly eat at home. The hardest part isn’t restaurants, but at friends’ homes. The key is to be up front and polite; I’ve felt bad about having to turn down food at times, but I’m careful to keep a sense of humor about it and avoid saying anything critical.


  7. james kearney
    7 years ago

    Laura, I am one of the thousands of your fans who use your website often and am grateful to you for your work. BTW, my wife is also a vegetarian and when traveling we always look for oriental and Southeast Asian (Indian, Pakistani, etc.) restaurants because they always have vegetarian meals. There is no shortage of such restaurants except, perhaps, in the smaller towns. Jim Kearney