Gallic Fever

Toujours francofolle !

About Gallic Fever


–  Ellen Count, GallicFever editor –  JE SUIS CHARLIE

As I grew up with my dedicated, committed French teacher mother, I unconsciously copied her passion for Paris, and for France beyond the Seine. Maman and I, alone together, were as close as only antagonists can be — but whatever my regrets, catching her Gallic obsession never was among them.

Nancy, in the Lorraine region -- probably home to my dad's forebears

Nancy, in the Lorraine region — probably home to my dad’s forebears

Maman, by the way, despite looking the Parisienne part (below, right) was born in the U.S.A., and couldn’t claim a drop of French blood. Still, hadn’t her Degas milliner, Marquet Pariscape, Dufy racehorses presided (in reproduction, of course) over my entire childhood? All summer, Maman traveled. She sent me cartes postales and brought home Faience pottery, Courvoisier cognac and tiny chocolate bottles filled with French liqueurs.

But, ironically, it was thanks to forbears on my father’s side that France was, literally, in my bones. (Never mind that Daddy didn’t live with us, rarely gave his ancestry a thought, and insisted he couldn’t learn a foreign word, French or otherwise.) Maman took care to train my ear for the purest Parisian accent. RaCHmaninoff, she made me pronounce, starting at age six. The compThenandNow3-resizeoser’s name might be Russian, but that r is a must for the French tongue. Sans the tricky r, you can’t correctly say, c’est vrai.

I was in my thirties by the time I could afford to travel to France for a couple of weeks a year. When, moonlighting from my day job as a fashion copywriter, I suddenly published a story on a French subject in the Times (above), Maman did seem pleased, if not so surprised. I surprised myself and everyone else by taking a long detour into writing about New York City police detectives. With one crime book, then two, finally published — surely I’d return to la belle France. The time came when I did. By then, I could fly to Paris as often as twice a year, even for three weeks. Even for a month . . . .ruth-caption

In 2012-2013, six months in Paris turned out to be, as a friend had predicted, life changing. Home in New York now, I’m unsettled. Not really at home. Nothing helps the malaise but my French rounds: French film. French news. French boots. French arts. French mascara. French lessons. French crafts. French beret. Repeat at least one of the above, daily. Sooner or later, somehow the circuit will bring my French bones back around. Back where they belong.

18 thoughts on “About Gallic Fever

  1. tres bien

  2. So glad to hear you are where your heart is. I would live to get back to Paris but with $6,000 in dental work facing me (don’t ask) and just recovering from emergency surgery (for a ruptured lumbar disc where a piece of it broke off and lodged in my spine) I am afraid I my return will not be soon. Love your new blog and will read it religiously. Still in love with Margaret and Charleston. The dogs are great and my recovery is going very well. Kiss Paris for me. Much love

  3. Bienvenue chez toi, Ellen! And thanks mom! She was damned right to contaminate you with this Gallic virus… Bises, voisine

  4. J’aime votre “blog.” Comment dire blog en français? Suzanne

  5. Hi Ellen-
    Neat blog. I’m glad you are in NY-we need chic ladies like you

  6. I shall read with great interest. We share some Paris memories.

  7. formidable et enchante et pardon si je jais des erreurs.

  8. hi ellen
    i am not the first because i was at the beach !
    but i love it , is so funny because i am from france and eventually paris that i don’t particularly like as you know and i love new york and feel home and myself there ! i am still wondering how an open minded new yorker can enjoy the boring parisians !!!!!!
    but it seems that you do so it is perfect !

  9. It is a very nice description of your origin,


  10. Et on est toujours contentés de te retrouver ou que tu soies. On t’embrasse très fort . Sophie

  11. Me voilà enfin sur ton blog Ellen. C’est très agréable d’avoir de tes nouvelles. Biz. Coryse

  12. Dear Ellen.
    Thank you of let us to know a part of your story and how you have learnt French.
    Your French is fantastic without mistake and I really would like to speak English like you speak French.
    I will enjoyed to follow you on your blog.
    Take care and be safe.

  13. The first time I looked at Gallic Fever I was struck by how professional it looked and how interesting I found the content. It’s always niice when someone you know reports they’re doing something for which they have a passion and finding that their decision to do it was the right thing. When I read the article on the French apartment and saw the beautiful picture of the park, I was seriously tempted to catch a plane to Paris. I admit to being envious that you’re managed to “live the dream”, something that many of us haven’t yet figured out how to fit into our schedules and finances.

  14. Merci, merci, Dione. My live-the-dream secret is apartment exchange — an exchange link is found under C’est La vie New York-Paris where you saw the Parc Monceau historical post card!

  15. avec toi Ellen, on comprend mieux pourquoi l’amitié franco-américiane perdure depuis tant d’années! Tu es la meilleure ambassadrice que je connaisse: la modestie, l’ampathie se mêlent à parts égales avec ton charme! Tu m’as conquis j’t’adore ( sauf en tchador ahah).

  16. Your blog is
    Nice …. comme le ville de sud en France …

  17. wonderful

    • Merci, Linda — a pleasure to know such a thoughtful expat! You have an idea, now, why I spend so many Sunday afternoons at Le Memorial de la Shoah. I’ve heard testimonies there by “troisieme age” (senior) Jewish men and women, who, as children, survived the Nazi occupation of French cities. The Memorial offers a forum where these survivors describe the courage of both Jews and non-Jews (sometimes both, in combined Resistance actions) who hid Jewish chidren — saving them from deportation to the Nazi death camps.

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