Jun 28 2012

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escape the tyranny of distance… and maintain your French

The great challenge for Australian francophones is maintaining our French, given our distance from France. Even with one or two trips per year, as some of us are able to make, there are still long fallow periods when we’re not using French for many months at a stretch. I’m always interested to hear other Aussie Francophones tell how they do their ‘maintenance’. The most fluent people, from my small and fairly random sampling, seem to keep up their French by reading French books on a regular basis, preferably daily, and this is also what I do.

These can be bought locally at Melbourne’s Foreign Language Bookshop at 259 Collins Street, where I notice they have a large range of French books, including French classic literature. Buying the books this way has the advantage that you can actually flick through them first to see if they’re the appropriate level for you.

Another way to obtain French books is via Amazon France, which I’ve used many times. One can even buy old copies of Paris Match from this site!

The book I’m currently reading is Le Quai de Ouistreham by French journalist Florence Aubenas, a prizewinning work of narrative journalism. There’s a summary of it on French Wikipedia; the book  shows the other side of France—that of the unemployed or under-employed, the economically disadvantaged, a life that many French people are leading today, and which many visitors rarely see, and probably don’t want to see. But if you’re truly interested in France, you’ll find this book a compelling read.


If you’ve started reading books on an e-reader, such as a Kindle or a Sony Reader, you’ll be disappointed to find that not many French books come in e- formats. I had my own theories about why this was so, and today came across this article which seems to agree with me.

Another method of maintaining our French in Australia is the wonderful  Australian-Francais organisation My French Life/Ma Vie Francaise, which originated here in Melbourne (fondatrice, Francophile Judy MacMahon), now organising nine opportunities per month for French conversation. This is coordinated most efficiently through the Meetup site, which  even has an iPhone app, that I find invaluable for keeping track of forthcoming events for which I’ve signed up.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.escapetoparis.com/2012/06/escape-the-tyranny-of-distance-and-maintain-your-french/

1 comment

  1. Jennifer

    For more information regarding ebooks in French, see the French section of mobileread:
    I recommend this site for free French ebooks : http://www.ebooksgratuits.com/

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