Learning About France: The Research Process

After my first trip to Paris in 2017, I returned home with a desire to learn more before my next visit. While the major travel publications were helpful, I wanted to find sources that went beyond talk of the major sites. The call to live in Paris was loud and clear. If I was to do this properly there is a lot I needed to learn. Here are just some of the sources I turn to on a regular basis:

Oliver Gee, The Earful Tower

Among the first sources I came across was The Earful Tower. Founded by Australian expat Oliver Gee, the namesake podcast just entered it’s fifth season.

Gee also brings in today’s up and coming small business owners, the young guard transforming Paris’ outer arrondissements into the hottest areas of the City of Light.

Gee, a journalist by profession, has had a diverse line up of guests on his show, from Australian Ambassador to France Brendan Berne to chef and author David Lebovitz. Oliver’s lighthearted demeanor is engaging, but the success of the podcast is directly related to the diversity of guests he secures. While many are well known, Gee also brings in today’s up and coming small business owners, the young guard transforming Paris’ outer arrondissements into the hottest areas of the City of Light. The Earful is a family affair. Season four of the show saw Oliver and his wife Lina Nordin Gee aboard a red scooter on a 4,000 kilometer honeymoon tour of France!

Over the last year Gee has expanded The Earful Tower concept to include video “Walk Shows“ and a book club. As a regular listener, I find myself simultaneously pinning new restaurants in my Mapstr app and adding books mentioned to my Amazon wish list.

Corey Frye, A French Frye in Paris

Season two of The Earful Tower was punctuated by regular visits from American expat and tour guide Corey Frye, of A French Frye in Paris. Frye studied art at university and is a lover of history. He has built a large following online thanks to his weekly, half hour walking tours of Paris, available on Facebook Live. The videos have become required viewing for hundreds of his followers, including my wife and I.

… Frye’s deep knowledge of the subject makes each location new again. There is always something to learn. The visitor to Paris will see the city with more practiced eyes thanks to his considerable effort.

Despite being a resident and tour guide for years, Frye still conveys the deep sense of wonder typical of the first time visitor. While he visits some locations more than once, Frye’s deep knowledge of the subject makes each location new again. There is always something to learn. The visitor to Paris will see the city with more practiced eyes thanks to his considerable effort.

Frye’s online community, the self proclaimed frites, are quite active online and off. Advice and recommendations flow freely among members of his Facebook groups. Regular Frites Meets, gatherings of Frye’s followers, occur in Paris and in cities across the United States. There is also a France-themed book club underway, both endeavors notably initiated by members of Frye’s online community.

The Local

The Local provides news in English in nine countries, including France. Coincidentally, Oliver Gee wrote for the site and Corey Frye has appeared as a guest columnist. The site is subscription-based, but select articles are available for free. As someone that is considering a move to another country, versus visiting on vacation, keeping abreast of the news is important. The Local and other European based news sites, delve into subjects that American news outlets do not regularly cover.

Upon arriving in France I always feel a bit more comfortable, thanks to my knowledge of the local news. An added benefit, it gives me an easy conversation starter with any Parisians I interact with during my stay.

The above are just three of the sources I use to improve my appreciation and knowledge of all things French. Over the course of the next several months, I will highlight other sources that can assist you in preparing for an expat life.

Disclaimer: Both The Earful Tower and A French Frye In Paris are on Patreon, just as I Rather Be In Paris. I am a patron of both sites. As someone who continues to enjoy and benefit personally from the information they provide, it was an easy decision to contribute to Gee and Frye’s work. Neither was aware of this piece prior to publication.. - JU