About Me

_DSC2068_cropCanadian by birth. French by adoption. Soon to be Swissed.

It’s been more years than I care to remember since I moved away from my hometown Toronto. I first landed in Paris back in 1992, armed with little more than a rudimentary grasp of the French language and an unabashed love of its food and wine. Oh, and my husband, who is French, although he was a happy expat and would willingly have lived his whole life away from la patrie.

Although I now speak French fluently, my accent lingers on. At best, it’s a faint hint of my English mother tongue, which the French find quite charming. After a long day or a few drinks it’s considerably more pronounced (and less charming): mistakes in grammar, syntax, or just saying something inappropriate that signals to all and sunder that I am not from here.

Over the years I’ve picked up a lot of my adopted country’s culture: eating foods that still bear traces of their origins, drinking fuller-bodied red wines and in general, becoming slightly less polite than most Canadians.

Still, I often feel like a stranger in a strange land. Those ‘beam me up, Scotty’ moments tend to occur whenever I go shopping, drive my car, hit the gym or basically go anywhere in public. Daily, in other words. Misunderstanding, then frustration, ensues. Along with a few choice gros mots.

Now I’ve moved to German-speaking Switzerland, a wonderland known as ‘Innerscheiz’, where I intend to share new linguistic adventures and, with this blog, capture some of the most memorable moments to share with you.

66 comments

  1. Wife After Death · June 20, 2013

    Hi there! Thanks for the follow and the like. I am also now following you – I am a hopeless Francophile and look forward to your posts. X

    • MELewis · June 20, 2013

      I am humbled — from my glimpse at your blog, you are a brilliant writer! Bravo to you for having the courage to blog about grief. I look forward to following your posts.

  2. Leana Delle · September 5, 2013

    Thanks for following my blog, and I’m thrilled to find yours! I dream of living in France someday. Now I can live vicariously through you – a fellow Canadian.

    • MELewis · September 6, 2013

      Merci! Stumbled upon your blog and loved it. Looking forward to following along!

  3. Rose Red · January 23, 2014

    Hi, just to let you know I’ve nominated you for the Leibster Award. I love hearing about your French life 🙂

    • MELewis · January 23, 2014

      Wow, I’m honoured! Thanks for nominating me….now I just have to figure out what to do next. I’ll check out your blog (which I also love!) for hints. Merci!

      • Rose Red · January 24, 2014

        De rien! – and thanks! 🙂

  4. redbeanie12 · February 22, 2014

    Bonjour! This is a very cool blog! I am a high school student in my third year of French, and I am infatuated by the French language and culture. It is my dream to travel to France one day, but in the meantime, I’ll learn more about daily life in this country through your blog!

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      Hope your dream comes true. Cheers!

  5. jetgirlcos · February 23, 2014

    Congratulations on Freshly Pressed! Which is how I found your blog, and because I couldn’t not click on something with a picture of a baguette! My mid-life passion is the French language and culture (and I’m learning some Québécois too!) and looking forward to a trip to France later this year. I like your blog very much! Merci!

    • MELewis · February 23, 2014

      Thanks for the comment and for following! I’m so pleased that my blog is being discovered by so many new readers like you. Hope your trip is everything you hope for and that my blog may help you know what to expect!

  6. Niranjana · February 23, 2014

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Ever since I began to learn French, I developed a love for the French culture and the country as well! I would love to visit France, but until then, I’ll have to visit it virtually through your blog!

    Merci beaucoup! 🙂

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      Right back atcha! Cheers!

  7. Hey great blog! love it! -Bill

  8. Jean · February 24, 2014

    Really all Canadians are mostly more polite than French? Hmmm. Anyway, love your blog.

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      How rude of me not to have replied until now. Merci!

      • Redterrain · January 25, 2015

        Canadians are a pretty polite bunch 🙂 I always feel happy to be around such thoughtful people when I travel home.

  9. celia knox · February 24, 2014

    I stumbled across your delightful blog through freshly pressed! So glad I did. Your words and photos have reignited my fascination with France. Thank you!

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      Merci! Glad to have you on board (belated response – sorry!)

  10. Permission Slips · February 25, 2014

    You had me with the baguette photo. I am a high school French teacher and plan to use some of your posts in class. Merci!

    • MELewis · February 25, 2014

      Mais de rien! Glad to know my experiences have educational value for French students!

  11. Emily · February 26, 2014

    congratulations on Freshly Pressed! huge francophile (currently with the luck of actually living in France) so I’ll be following, just so I can continue enjoying France even after moving back to the UK this summer!

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      Belated cheers, Emily! Sorry I only saw this comment now. Hope you are still enjoying France from the UK!

  12. cheergerm · March 16, 2014

    Hi FranceSays. I have nominated you for a Versatile Blogger award, head over to pick it up if you would like. 🙂

    • MELewis · March 16, 2014

      Merci beaucoup! Will check it out for sure, and thanks for nominatiing me!

  13. peakperspective · September 7, 2014

    How bold and adventuresome you are! I’ve got so much admiration for folks who make the decision to leave home in search of life far from what they know. No doubt you’ve brought a lovely, kind and gentle-natured spin to all your exploits. It’s the Canadian way–no? And I doubt that part of you could change no matter how long you were away (no matter how you may deny it!)

    • MELewis · December 17, 2014

      Thanks for the compliments! Your kind comments somehow escaped my attention until now…. I guess I’ll always keep a nice, soft Canadian core, even though it’s now at least partially obscured by a solid French mean streak! Cheers for the follow. I’m also enjoying your blog and the funny take you have on life’s exploits – even without leaving home. 😉

  14. Elyse · January 25, 2015

    Bonjour Mary Ellen from sunny Florida! I came across an old Christmas card from you during the holidays, and lo and behold here you are online. I can hear your voice with such clarity in all these wonderful ruminations. Takes me right back to French class with Madame Stephan, only much funnier. Congratulations on your blog and your joie de vivre. Drop a line sometime. Hugs from Eeee!!

    • MELewis · January 26, 2015

      Eeee-lyse! So wonderful to hear from you! This blog has taken over a bit in the past two years and I’ve been remiss with Christmas updates. So glad you found your way here! Perhaps you will bring back some memories from the good old days that will make their way into these posts. (Madame Stephan – was that our French teacher’s name?) Best wishes to you and Jim for 2015. Bises xxx

      • Elyse · January 26, 2015

        Yes, Madame Stephan was our French teacher. A robust woman with a very distinct “perfume,” from what I recall. She wouldn’t let us speak English during class. But we know that French wasn’t what set you apart back in the day. It was your AMAZING singing voice. Your rendition of Eliza Doolittle’s “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” is forever seared in the collective memory of our school choir. Such a big voice from such a bitty gal…..Blew everyone away! I hope you’re at least still singing in the shower. :-O Eeee

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  16. Monica · March 2, 2015

    Bon Jour …Monica here, E’s big sister. I am enjoying your blog. It takes a reader to be a writer and I understand that your are a voracious reader. E is always commenting about you and your lovely friendship. Be well and I will check in from time to time. Monica

    • MELewis · March 2, 2015

      Hi Monica! How lovely to hear from you. I remember you as if it were yesterday. If my memory serves, back then you looked exactly like the singer Anastasia.:) I have been meaning to get back to E with a longer update…timely reminder! Merci and hope to see you back soon!

  17. lapetitemaisonbijoux · March 3, 2015

    A belated thank you for the follow! Looking forward to lots more smiles of recognition as I follow your blog…

    • MELewis · May 18, 2015

      Just realized I never replied to this! Am enjoying your blog and also your jewelry designs. Thanks for following me too!

  18. A.PROMPTreply · May 17, 2015

    Thank you for the follow! I was so chuffed to find your blog this morning, I had a lovely little look around and very much look forward to sharing your journey on here!

    • MELewis · May 18, 2015

      Thanks for your most kind words. Glad to have you on board, and looking forward to following your blog too!

  19. coteetcampagne · June 2, 2015

    Thanks for the “follow”.. and I loved the cockroach post; think I may well trawl through your archive.
    It’s good to find another “warts and all” take on French life, I do get weary of all these fairy story, rose-tinted, romantic adventure takes on moving to France

    Gill

    • MELewis · June 2, 2015

      So glad to hear I’m not the only one with an aversion to all the sentimental slop about French life. I know the warts can get a bit tiresome after awhile, but venting about them makes me feel so much better! Looking forward to reading you.

      • coteetcampagne · June 2, 2015

        Well, I have bared my soul on my blog (very un-English and very un-me- usually) but venting it here has helped me stay sane in some trying times!
        à la prochaine

  20. jeanne · June 23, 2015

    Salut mon ancient amie Mary Ellen – c’est Jeanne Kilburg d’Edina, Minnesota. Il y a la reunion quarantenne (sp?) ce weekend and j’ai vu un tres viex photo de toi et moi chez Missy Stone ou nous fumons commes des experts (hard core). J’ai passé du temps en France and la France me manqué et je l’adore!!! J’etais professeur de francais depuis des annees, mais maintenant, je suis prof des ados troubles. Pardon, mes accents et ma grammaire peut etre roule. bises ~ Jeanne

    • MELewis · June 24, 2015

      Salut Jeanne! J’ai déjà répondu sur FB mais cette fois ci en français, puis que tu le parles si bien. Quelle retrouvaille! Ça fait plaisir après 40 ans! Je suis tellement contente d’être restée en contact avec Elyse, et maintenant je vois ce qui se passe avec d’autres anciens camarades d’Edina. Pour ma part, après environ 20 ans dans la région lyonnaise, je habite maintenant tout pres de la frontière suisse vers Genève, mais toujours en France. Je vous souhaite une excellente réunion de classe ce weekend. A bientôt! Mary Ellen

  21. jeanne · June 24, 2015

    Je suis tellement jalouse de toi!!! J’ai assistee dans une stage pedogagique en Vichi et une autre a Toulon, aussi j’ai travaille dans une programme universitaire pres de Tours. J’ adore la France et la culture francaise! Ma soeur Susan habitait en Geneve quelques annees, travaillant pour l’OMS.
    a bientot! Jeanne

  22. roughwighting · July 24, 2015

    Delightful!

  23. Wannabe Supermaman · November 20, 2015

    Hello! Just came across your blog and am loving it so far. I also live in France and am married to a Frenchman (who was in Canada for ten years, also a happy expat) after living in the UK all my life. Really looking forward to reading more about your life here!

    • MELewis · November 20, 2015

      Merci! Sounds like we have parallel lives in many ways….looking forward to sharing our adventures in France! 🙂

  24. Chez @ Chez Moi · December 7, 2015

    Finally I have visited your blog to have a proper look around, and I am so glad that I did. I have enjoyed reading your detailed, interesting and humorous posts this morning. Thanks for following my blog!

    • MELewis · January 8, 2016

      Seems I have fallen behind over the holidays. Many thanks for stopping by and following along! Bonne année 2016 🙂

  25. Nadia · January 8, 2016

    Just found your blog. Loved reading it. We moved to Dordogne in July 2015 so still newbies but loving every minute of it. Looking forward to reading up regularly.

    • MELewis · January 8, 2016

      Thanks for following! I look forward to learning more about your experiences in the lovely Dordogne.

  26. LaVagabonde · February 9, 2016

    I can so relate to this. I’m also married to a Frenchman and lived for 7 years in New Caledonia, so I was immersed in the culture, even if it was slightly altered by the South Pacific aspect. Red wine, espresso, real food, less talkative with strangers. We do end up becoming a kind of hybrid, don’t we? 😉

    • MELewis · February 9, 2016

      Nouvelle Caledonie to Poland, that’s quite the culture mashup! Sounds like we have a few things in common and yes, hybrid is a nice way of putting it. 😉

  27. M. L. Kappa · June 9, 2016

    Hi, and thanks for the follow! Will reciprocate – I love your blog, and I spend a decent portion of my time in Normandy… Pleased to meet you, Marina

    • MELewis · June 9, 2016

      Merci! Happy to have you along and very interested to discover your adventures in Athens!

  28. itsmeanniebee · September 11, 2016

    Another blog for me to read and live vicariously through until I can move to France myself!
    Fantastic 🙂
    Merci!

    • MELewis · September 12, 2016

      Glad to have you along! Hope you find a vicarious thrill or two – or at least some useful information for your future move!

  29. Redterrain · September 8, 2017

    Hey Mel, are you on Instagram? I’d love to follow along on there if you do have an account!

  30. Anuj Agarwal · September 26, 2017

    Hi FranceSays Team,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog FranceSays has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 French Blogs on the web.

    http://blog.feedspot.com/french_blogs/

    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 French Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.

    Best,
    Anuj

    • MELewis · September 28, 2017

      Thanks for the recognition, Anuj! I look forward to checking out your platform!

  31. Kiki · March 19, 2018

    Mel, go and have a look at my comment on Dale’s blog – wouldn’t that be a fascinating theme to look into????? https://adelectablelife.com/2018/03/18/sunday-stuff-and-gratitude-march-18-2018/
    Sadly couldn’t address you in any other way as your ‘email link’ isn’t working….
    Bisous, Kiki

    • MELewis · March 21, 2018

      Hey, Kiki! I popped over to Dale’s blog and chuckled at your attempts to make sense of various bath/toilet configurations. I’ll give some serious thought to a post on this fascinating topic! 😉 P.S. Not sure where the email link is…? Would love to fix it.

      • Kiki · March 21, 2018

        The eternal bathrom/wc/toilet question…. 🙂
        Thanks for having a go on your end – you’re always so up to the pulse of times/things!
        Well, the problem was that you feature somewhere on your blog a ‘sending a mail’ but then one cannot access it. Some bloggers have a ‘just for blog things’ email address they display on their blog. But anyway, don’t worry about it!

  32. nessafrance · December 9

    Hi Mel, Not sure the best way to contact you, so I’m leaving this here. Just to let you know that I am giving your blog a little shout-out on my Life on La Lune blog. I’m not expecting you to do anything in return, or list your own favourite blogs, since I know this can be tiresome, but this is just so it doesn’t come as a surprise. Not yet posted – will do so in a few minutes. Vanessa

    • MELewis · December 9

      Thank you, Vanessa! Much appreciated. 🤗

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