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Interview avec… Alesa

Francophile, Alesa Gawlik

Meet Alesa

I'm Alesa and I'm an American from Kansas who's lived in France for over 8 years. Although I may not be French (not yet anyway, fingers crossed for my nationality request 🤞🏼), I am the lifelong Francophile behind Fun From France. I studied French in high school and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in French in the US, and was always on the lookout for ways to immerse myself in authentic, current French culture. I listened to as much French music as possible to practice my French, finding the lyrics and teaching myself to sing along, but it was really hard to find much in the Midwest in the early 2000s. When I first arrived in France, I realized just how little I knew of everyday French life and common cultural references.

To practice your compréhension orale and hear Alesa explain her favorites en français, watch the short interview above. Don’t yet have a high enough level of French yet, pas de problème — the video’s subtitled in both French and English.

For even more of Alesa’s recommendations, keep reading…

Alesa’s French music recommendations

When learning French, I listened to a lot of…
🇨🇦 Céline Dion (Pop)
🇨🇦 Dany Bédar (Pop-Rock, Acoustic) – you may not find his lyrics on the streaming platforms, but you can find them here
🇩🇪 / 🇷🇼 Corneille (R&B)
🇫🇷 Manau (Celtic)
🇫🇷 Louise Attaque (Rock)

but more recently, I’ve been listening to…
🇫🇷 Ben l’Oncle Soul (Soul, Motown)
🇧🇪 Stromae (Pop, Hip-Hop, Electronic)
🇫🇷 Cléa Vincent (Pop)
🇲🇱 Aya Nakamura (R&B, Pop, Afrobeat)
🇫🇷 Saez (Rock, Alternative, Chanson Française)

Écouter Alesa’s playlist on Deezer or over on Spotify  — you’ll find the lyrics there for most chansons too so you can sing along!

Alesa’s French movie recommendations

🇫🇷 Intouchables (2011) by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano

Pour info, the 2017 American remake with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston was entitled The Upside.

🇨🇦 Mommy (2014) by Xavier Dolan

This movie is made in Québec which means the accent / language is pretty tricky to follow, if even you speak French fluently. So don’t feel too bad if you don’t understand a thing — it actually had French subtitles when I saw it in the movie theater here in France.

  • ⚠️ Attention ! ⚠️ This movie isn’t the easiest to watch as it deals with some pretty heavy subjects. But it’s guaranteed to make you feel all the feels, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll pleurer 😭 both of joy and sadness.

Alesa’s French TV show recommendations

Le Bureau des Légendes

Odds are good that if you liked Alias (je sais, I’m aging myself a bit here), you’ll like Le Bureau des Légendes. It’s all about undercover French spies around the world and it’s full of suspense. Although this one isn’t on Netflix, it is available on Amazon Prime Video, et avec English subtitles!

Lupin

You’ve probably already heard of this show, as it was incredibly popular all around the world, but France’s gentlemen thief, played by Omar Sy, is absolutely addictive. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can only conseiller that you watch! You can find it on Netflix, with English subtitles here.

Dix Pourcent (10%)

Known as Call My Agent in English, this show is about a talent management agency and a lot of famous French actors and actresses make an appearance. It’s a great way to learn more about French pop culture. It’s also facile to find subtitles in English. The series is available on Netflix ici (at least it was, last I looked).

Alesa’s French book recommendations

As a French major, I’m pretty big into the classics. But there are a few more recent reads you should certainly chercher. FYI – affiliate links below, so if you buy a book from the following links, you’ll be helping to support Fun From France!

Les Précieuses Ridicules, a great French play by Molière

Les Précieuses Ridicules (1659) – Molière

Who doesn’t love Molière. He definitely had a way with words. Always hilarious and usually full of subtle (or maybe not so subtle) mockery of the nobles, this one-act play is sure to make you laugh as well as improve your French.

Buy the book from French independent bookstore Eyerolles or on Amazon.

Candide by Voltaire

Candide (1759) – Voltaire

A favorite author of the French whenever things get a little dicey politically, Voltaire managed to write a classic French novel full of humor and satire that also to retraces some of the historic moments of the time and offers some deep reflexions. This one’s all about metaphors. The one that sticks the most? “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”. A must-read if you ask me.

Get the book on Eyerolles or on Amazon

Cyrano de Bergerac play by Edmond Rostand

Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) – Edmond Rostand

One of my all-time favorites, every line that Cyrano says is amazing. If you liked the way V from “V for Vendetta” spoke, you’ll love this play. It’s funny and full of meaning, all at the same time. Plus, it’s a play, so it’s a pretty quick read.

Get it from Eyerolles or on Amazon.

The Phantom of the Opera book by Gaston Leroux

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1910) – Gaston Leroux

Everyone’s heard of the Phantom of the Opera, but did you know it was originally a French book? It’s full of suspense and is a real page turner. If you like mysteries or thrillers, this one’s pour vous!

Buy the novel on Eyreolles or on Amazon

French mystery series, Maigret by Georges Simenon

Maigret (1931) – Georges Simenon

For those who are fans of Agatha Christie, the romans policiers of Georges Simenon is a good French equivalent. His main character, Comissaire Maigret is somewhat of a Hercule Poirot, and fortunately, there are more than 70 books that follow the mysteries of Maigret.

Buy the first book where Maigret makes an appearance, Pietr-le-letton, here on Eyerolles or on Amazon.

Nord Perdu by Nancy Huston

Nord perdu (2004) – Nancy Huston

A native English speaker from Canada, Nancy Huston has lived in France for a long time now and has a clear maîtrise of the French language. But it isn’t pour autant that she doesn’t still feel like a foreigner here and that people don’t pick up on her accent. If you’re an expat in France and want to feel less alone, this book is just what you need. You’ll be nodding along emphatically saying “oui!, c’est exactement ça !”.

Up your alley? Buy the book on Amazon here.

Le Petit Nicolas, French children's book

Le Petit Nicolas (1956- 1965) – Goscinny-Sempé

Whether you want to feel like a kid again or are just starting to learn French, Le Petit Nicolas is an adorable option for la lecture. The short stories are told by a charming child, from his point of view. Full of cute misunderstandings and lots of laughs — often at the expense of his parents or teachers —, it’s a favorite of adults and kids alike.

Get the collection on Eyerolles or on Amazon.

Les Cahiers d'Esther, French comic book by Riad Sattouf

Les Cahiers d’Esther – Riad Sattouf

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up in Paris? Well, Les Cahiers d’Esther gives you a good glimpse into the life of une adolescente parisienne. A bande dessinée based on true stories, you’ll learn loads about middle schoolers in France and the attitude of collègiens towards adults and current affairs. So far, la série follows Esther from 10 years old up to 16.

Start the series by buying the book on Eyerolles or on Amazon.

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