If you spent any amount of time living in Paris in the early 1990s, you’ll be familiar with FUSAC (France – USA – Contacts). Originally a magazine containing classified ads and advertisements serving the English-speaking communities (Americans, British, Canadians, Irish, Australians, New Zealanders, and other nationalities who speak English) of Paris and the surrounding area, it was founded in 1988, just a few years before I moved there. In the over 5 years I sepnt in Paris, FUSAC was a big part of my life – for jobs and lodging, it was THE place to look and Anglophones eagerly awaited the publication day every fortnight. In 1998 they created a website and today FUSAC is all web-based and is still well-known for ads offering employment, childcare and housing. In addition, FUSAC contains ads and articles for all aspects of the English-speaking community: music, dance, theatre, courses in English and French, items for sale, meeting places, and much, much more. Like the paper version I knew and loved, FUSAC is still a great resource for the English-speaking community of Paris. But more than just classifieds and articles, FUSAC also has a small boutique selling some books for Francophiles and I was thrilled to receive a couple of of these to check out recently.
As a French teacher, I was interested to check out one of 3 volumes of Speak Easy Puzzles. This book will appeal to your inner language
nerd student with matching games to help learn French and English idiomatic expressions. Idiomatic expressions give such colour to a language (my students love these, though for 7-12 year olds they can be somewhat puzzling!) and it is essential to have a few in your linguistic arsenal so you can sound less “text book” ;). When I saw the book, I thought I recognised this puzzle format and, in fact, some of these puzzles are those that were published for many years in the FUSAC magazine, now collected into a book by popular demand. Though there are tons of phrase and vocabulary books out there, this might appeal to the casual language learner a little more because of its “game” format. The puzzles and games are accompanied by cute watercolours (Lisa Vanden Bos, one of the founders of FUSAC, did these!) making it a fun and attractive read for, say, your plane ride to France!
I was also keen to check out 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French because, even though I don’t live there, I used to live there and, because we own a vacation rental property in the South West, I do spent a fair amount of time there, so I kinda sorta qualify!
The French say that foreigners can never truly “become” French. But if you’re in France long enough, to a greater or lesser degree, whether you expected to or not, one day you realize that you’re crossing to the other side. How do you know that you’ve arrived?
90+ Ways… is a cute, fun read and also has lovely watercolor illustration to go with the cultural observations. It’s an amusing look at “Frenchness” for people who have lived or who are living in France or for those simply studying French (I sure could have used this when I studied French “Media Arts” and film back in university. There were SO many cultural references that I just didn’t understand, having never lived there! Even for someone who is just visiting, there are some useful cultural tips in there to avoid awkward faux pas.
Disclosure: I was invited to check out these two books by FUSAC for review purposes. I was not under any obligation to write about them, nor was I compensated for writing this post. All opinions my own.