There are bloggers who write about Paris and France and then there is French Girl in Seattle.
For seven years, French native and U.S. resident for over twenty years, Veronique Savoye (a.k.a. French Girl in Seattle) has regaled her readers with her passion for the French culture through her blog, French Girl in Seattle.
An avid traveler, with a soft spot for France and Europe – where she still visits every year – Véronique tells stories about la Belle France and all things French and, when she’s on the road, travel tales with a French twist.
Here’s my interview with this much-loved blogger and connector to French culture:
Robyn: One of your readers once said, “Thank you for always making my French heart smile.” That’s quite a compliment. How do you get your reader’s hearts to smile?
Veronique: When I was developing the website companion to the French Girl in Seattle blog, I wrote a blog post that I was looking for a tagline for the site. I wanted my dear readers to help me, because who would know better than them. A lovely reader came up with, Thank you for always making my French heart smile. I think what she feels is why people spend time with me online. By bringing them photos and stories that capture Paris and France I’m taking them back there if they have traveled or lived there before and, for those that have not, it lets them dream a little. But because I find “French” in my life here in the states, I also bring them stories from locations outside of France, such as Denver and San Francisco or wherever I go. I think my readers respond well to that.
Plus, my stories and photos are different than many bloggers because I look at things as a French native so I see things a bit differently. I will write about familiar things, but I will put a spin on it, a French spin.
I love to indulge in nostalgia. I try to include cultural references, insights into French culture and I am hoping that people will then google more of my references. I’ll write in depth about legendary French film stars. I like to think about my work as filling the space between the content about the traditional sights of the French capital and France and then what I call the “New Paris.”
R: Living in the U.S. but reporting on all things French can be, I suppose, challenging when you are not in France year-round. How do you transport your readers to across the pond? Are there any special techniques you use in your writing that you find particularly effective?
V: My special technique is not done purposely. Since the beginning, I have focused on nostalgia. Yet my memories are very vivid and everything comes right back to me. It’s interesting to me that people think Paris has changed when it really hasn’t. Since I am in France every year, I must make material last for a while after a trip. But I do find France wherever I am, so I suppose that’s my “special technique!”
R: You had a post back in December last year about Trader Joe’s Best French Desserts which I thought was a very clever way to bring France into our American lives. What are some good examples of French products, culture and other influences here in the states that you think are presented particularly well?
V: French food products and French cuisine are represented well here in the states. In Seattle we have a few good bistros and French bakeries. But whenever I find an awful French bakery in the states, I cringe something fierce. So, when I find a great place here, you can be sure it will be on the blog. I think products like the jam Bonne Maman is relatively easy to find in the U.S. French butter is easier to find in now too, but it is expensive, sometimes twice the price you’d pay in France. And I really do get a kick out of Trader Joe’s take on French food products in their Trader Jacques line – I love it.
R: Except for the Best French Desserts, it is very rare to spot one of your posts written in what I call a “listicle” – the seven bests of this, the five bests of that. You write more in long-form journalism. Why do you think that the “listicle” became popular and what advantages and disadvantages are there to using this kind of format?
V: I think it became popular when social media really took off. We are in this culture now that is very consumeristic, and we look at something for four seconds. Graze and go. I think there is efficiency in it. It delivers, it’s easy, it’s convenient, it can give one suggestions and recommendations, and it’s shareable. But, as a person who really researches at length, doing that research, choosing the photos and writing can take me four to six hours of work for one post. I do it the old-fashioned way. A lot of bloggers stopped blogging over time because they get discouraged. What the list format does is to discourage reading. So it doesn’t encourage the blogger to write. Also, the content is not always original – it’s the same tips everyone is sharing. But I enjoy writing and telling stories and I will keep doing that. I give context and focus on French life and my readers tell me this is important to them.
R: Your blog now is seven years old, how has it evolved? Did you have early influencers or mentors or has your style, which I think is very approachable with a lovely dose of sass, always been there?
V: I just started reading blogs and there was a woman who wrote beautiful stories of Normandy and I was always attracted to blogs that have French empathy. I’m turned off by bloggers who moan and complain to be funny. We all know the type. They get all whiny about the challenges of French life –toilets that get clogged, excessive sidewalk dog poop. The people who influenced me are the ones who wrote stories, showing what life was in France.
R: You write on several topics ranging from French life to French food to French artists and so much more. Are there any topics you enjoy writing about more than others and why?
V: I would say stories that open the window into French culture – I like to write about rituals, traditions. I like documenting an urban walk in Paris or in a smaller town. Something I love to do and want to do more of is writing French movie reviews. I’m a cinephile. There are always movie references in my stories. It’s always a great way for me to find content too. I can always review a French film on Netflix. There is this adorable romantic movie called Blind Date that you must watch.
R: Some people still believe that the French stereotypes exists – although I believe it comes more from those who do not actually travel to France – but I think your blog does an excellent job of bridging cultural barriers. What cultural misunderstandings are you committed to resolving for your readers?
V: The mission I have assigned to myself is to show Americans that France is not just Paris, as Paris is not representative of all French life. I also want them to know that many Parisians they meet are from other parts of France. There are so many places to discover outside of Paris! It’s a bit of a fantasy, but I want them to know there are many things outside of Paris. But when I’m in Paris with visitors, I try to take them to Paris neighborhoods they might not go to on their own. I say, at least step away from the Seine river and explore further afield. Get on the metro line and take it to a metro stop you might be unfamiliar with. You must be aware of the less Disney-fied areas and you can do so easily with the public transportation in France.
R: You’ve taken French Girl in Seattle to new heights recently. Can you tell us what you’re doing to expand your brand? I hear it includes something to make my French heart smile …
V: I am trying to generate some income and so I have created a boutique online, offering fun, French-themed products (many made in France) – I think that is what makes your heart smile, Robyn. These products are available via well-known sites, but francophiles may not have seen them yet, so I act as their personal shopper, in a way, by pointing them in the right direction. I love reviewing travel products and will be doing this in articles on the website. I’ll be also offering consulting services, answering people’s cultural or travel questions. And I hope to one day soon, offer small group tours to France. A lot on my plate – so to speak!
R: Ok, time for the lightening round … Le Mille-feuille or Opera Cake?
V: Mille-feuille for sure, but the real one, not the Napoleon version.
R: Bonjour or Bonsoir?
V: Bonjour, I’m a morning person.
R: One word to describe your approach to travel? To wine?
V: Walking, follow your taste buds – I know that’s more than one word! For wine, Sancerre, but I say just enjoy the wine you like.
R: Le Metro or Le bus?
R: Repetto Ballet flats or Louboutin?
V: Neither, too flat and too high. But I did a blog post on something called the Zizi model of the Repetto line. It’s a flat but with shoelaces.
R: Favorite French seaside destination?
R: What makes YOUR French heart smile?
V: Observing my own people and marveling at their diversity that debunks so many stereotypes. When I go back to France, I like to be in a place where I can watch the French as they go about their daily lives. For example, one of my favorite spots is le Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement. It’s not a tourist garden; here you can observe French families. It’s nostalgic and that always makes my French heart smile.
Bienvenue chez Véronique, a French native and Seattle resident. A longtime blogger and travel writer, she shares her passion for the French culture through her blog, French Girl in Seattle. Get notified by email when new blogposts are published on the blog by signing up on Veronique’s home page. You can also follow French Girl in Seattle on Facebook and Instagram where Véronique publishes photos daily. If you like what you see, please support this community by commenting or sharing publications with friends, or visit la Boutique, to discover Veronique’s current selection of favorite French-themed products.