An Aussie in France
Maybe it was the Latin mass that started it all. I loved chanting away in a language that wasn’t my own even if I didn’t know what I was saying. So when I started to learn French at high school, I was delighted. And it all fitted together so well, just like a puzzle. I actually liked learning verb tenses and vocabulary. I even talked to my dog in French! We had a TV programme at school about a family of four that lived on a barge on a French canal. From Townsville suburbia, it looked like paradise.
When I went to university I learnt on the very first day that I could go to France as an assistant English teacher at the end of my honours degree. I was then supposed to come back and teach French of course but I had no intention of doing either.
And that’s exactly what happened. I spent two years as an ‘assistant’, first in Pau, then in Nantes, after which I moved to Paris and did a post-graduate degree in technical and economic translation at ESIT. I’d found my calling at last. I love translating because you’re always learning about new subjects. You never become an expert of course, but it’s an open invitation to explore new fields and you can talk to anyone about practically anything!
View of the Palais Royal gardens from Rosemary’s window.
I’ve always sought to be part of the French community and have French friends. It’s only now that I am getting older that I am interested in meeting more English speakers, although teaching translation at my alma mater for the last fifteen years has largely fulfilled that need. I brought up both my children bilingually and sent them to normal French schools. Their father is French and after I divorced, I married another Frenchman which put paid to any expectations on the part of my family that I would go back to Australia to live.
I used to live in a town just outside Paris, but eight years ago, I moved into an apartment overlooking the Palais Royal gardens right in the middle of the city. I feel duty bound to share such a wonderful location but I actually miss not having my own garden. I know my neighbourhood well and love sharing it.
I’m an inveterate traveller, particularly to other European countries and have also spent holidays in most parts of France. Jean Michel and I combine our love of good food, wine, cycling, mushroom-picking and architecture with exploring new places and meeting new people. I’m also fascinated with other languages and can get by enough in Italian and Spanish to communicate with the locals.
New house in Blois in the département of Loir-et-Cher, France.
Jean Michel is retiring in two and a half years’ time and we’ve just bought a wonderful Renaissance house in the Loire Valley built in 1584. We’re very excited about the move even though it’s not in the immediate future. In the meantime, we’ll be setting up the ground floor as a holiday rental and spending as much time as we can on the upper floor. The Loire is a beautiful region and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.
My new blog stems from the desire to express myself with my own words and not those of the people for whom I translate. It was sparked off by the departure of my son to Australia. I’ve had a book in the making for many years which is now feeding the blog and replacing it – a far more realistic venture! Since I first moved to France, I’ve written many articles for various associations, often in French. Now, I have found my own venue and my own voice.