Friday, March 15, 2013

France et Moi with author Juliette Sobanet


Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I’m talking to author Juliette Sobanet about what France means to her.

Juliette is author of some of my favourite romance novels set in France and an emotionally charged memoir, links to Amazon can be found below. You can read my reviews of her book Sleeping With Paris here, Kissed in Paris here, Honeymoon in Paris here and Dancing With Paris here. She also writes a lovely blog called Chocolate for Writers.

First question, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say its strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?

Juliette: For me, it’s the charm and the romance found in those cobblestone streets, in an afternoon sipping wine at a sidewalk café, or an evening stroll down the Seine. And of course the freshly baked baguettes, the outrageously delicious pastries, the crêpes, the wine, and the cheese all make France so unique and special (and fattening!).

2) Have you ever spent time studying in France? If so what was the best thing about being immersed in French life and the scariest thing?

Juliette: In undergrad, I spent one semester studying in Lyon, and later I spent a year in Paris competing my Master’s in French. The best part of my experience by far was living with a French family in Lyon. I spoke French with them every day, ate authentic, delicious French meals with them each night, and I am still close with them to this day. If there was ever a time in my life I could go back to, it would be my semester in Lyon.

The scariest thing about studying in France was the initial feeling of being so far away from everything familiar and pushing myself way out of my comfort zone. In the end, that is the part of the experience that forced me to grow, learn, and change, and what better place to do all of those things than in the lovely land of cheese and croissants?

3) What level would you say your French is? Do you have any top tips for learning French?

Juliette: I taught French for several years after finishing my Master’s degree, so I have an advanced knowledge of the language. But I still have to practice to keep it up. It’s amazing how quickly vocabulary will escape me if I neglect using the language for any length of time.

My top tips for anyone learning French would be to spend time (as much as possible) in a French speaking country, immerse yourself in the language and culture, and do not surround yourself with people who speak your native language. After that, practice! Never, ever stop practicing.

4) Do you have any embarrassing language mishaps you are happy to share?

Juliette: I do . . . but they’re kind of inappropriate ☺ Those are always the worst! Let’s just say I’ve made some really silly mistakes. It doesn’t matter how advanced you are, you will say something ridiculous at one point or another, but on the plus side, you will never, ever forget that word once you’ve misused it!

5) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?

Juliette: Ahh, just the thought of being at a French café right now makes me smile. I would order a strong tasse de café and a buttery croissant . . . or better yet, a pain au chocolat.

6) What is your favourite thing to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie?

Juliette: If I have to choose just one thing, it will be a pain au chocolat. I am powerless when it comes to buttery, flaky croissants filled with melted dark chocolate. Pure heaven.

7) What is your favourite regional French dish? Do you ever cook traditional French food at home?

Juliette: Lyon is famous for being the gastronomical capital of France, and one of the tastiest Lyonnais specialties is called a quenelle. They’re made with either meat or fish and a delicious cream sauce. My host-mom used to make them for dinner occasionally, and to be honest, at the time I didn’t even know what was inside of them! All I knew was that they were unbelievably tasty.

8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tome, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?

Juliette: I am definitely a Camembert. In fact, the best meal I've ever eaten in Lyon (and possible in my entire life) included a breaded wheel of Camembert cheese as the main dish!

French Village Diaries France et moi Juliette Sobanet
Juliette's favourite breaded Camembert

9) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite but what is your favourite French city and why?

Juliette: Lyon and Paris are almost a tie for me, but I have to go with Lyon. It’s a gorgeous, charming city that boasts some of the most amazing restaurants I’ve ever eaten in, and I’ve spent some of the happiest days of my life there. I can’t wait to get back for a visit.

10) If money and commitments were no object where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?

Juliette: Oooh, I love this question. I would definitely buy a beautiful apartment in Lyon, and if money really wasn’t an object, I would buy an apartment in Paris and a beach home down on the Côte d’Azur as well. Pourquoi pas?


Finally, do you have any current projects you would like to tell my readers about?

Juliette: I have several exciting Paris book releases coming up this year. One of the books I’m writing at the moment is called Midnight Train to Paris, and it will be released this spring by Montlake Romance as a Kindle Serial, then later in print. In this story, we follow a hard-hitting DC reporter who must travel back in time to 1930s France to save two young women abducted from the famous Orient Express train while resisting her attraction to the one man she’s sworn off forever. I am beyond excited about this book and can’t wait to share it with readers!

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.

Juliette: Thank you for having me!

You can follow Juliette on Facebook and Twitter. Here are the Amazon links to her novels, novella and memoir.