Californian export, Carrie Anne started learning French while she was in college, but it was her love of French piano music that inspired her to study in Paris on an exchange programme abroad, during her degree in Musicology at UC Berkeley. Once there she fell in love with France, the language and its culture, and vowed to return. Whilst undertaking various acting roles in films, television and commercials after university, she set up an independent tutoring business from her home in Los Angeles, teaching Spanish, French and English Literature. She started French is Beautiful in the spring of 2014, inspired by a desire to reach a global audience through her love of the French language, and to empower women through education and cultural connection.
She finally moved to Paris in 2015 after obtaining the Compétences et Talents visa. I met Carrie Anne a couple of years ago through a mutual friend (also from California), and was instantly taken with her calm and conscientious demeanour. As an expert in the French language with a very different approach to teaching it - for example her tutoring style is the antithesis to my French teacher's in school, who preferred verb drills over enlightening us about France's culture, art or its history, which would have certainly kept me more interested. She treats her courses as lifestyle ateliers; to broaden the mind, further skills and learn about a fascinating culture rather than the academic act of learning grammar and vocabulary. And as so many of you have asked me how I learnt French, I was keen to interview her and ask her for her advice!
Carrie's top five tips for learning a language:
1. Be consistent - with as little as ten minutes a day over one month, you will make massive progress.
2. When you feel challenged, stay curious. Instead of becoming frustrated by a grammar rule that is contrary to one in your native language, try to retain your sense of wonderment, like a child. This is why children learn 'more easily' - they stay open, they stay curious.
3. Find your community of French speakers and / or aspiring Francophones. Being in a class will keep you motivated and accountable; finding a practice partner - even if they are more / less advanced than you are - will remind you that you are learning a new language to connect with others.
4. Don't forget why you are spending your valuable time learning a new language - to connect with others, to connect with a culture that you love or admire on a deeper level. Stay connected to your 'why'.
5. Record and celebrate your successes, literally. Record yourself as you practice speaking and don't hesitate to celebrate milestones (finally getting that French R), French style - with champagne!
Best career advice you ever received?
I found that much of the career advice I received early on, when I was working in finance, was fear-based. I took that advice by doing the opposite. But this is an interesting question for me to answer because I don't think of myself as having a 'career', but, rather, as having a message, a mission. That said, the best 'career advice' that I have received since becoming an entrepreneur has come from other entrepreneurs : mind your wellbeing, share your story, let your own personal excellence be your goal and, especially in this digital age, don't forget the power of in-person connection.
My career advice to everyone : if you don't find the job you want, or it isn't given to you - create it. You will experience more growth, more joy, more lessons than you would otherwise. Truly creating your life is a powerful way of living.
What would you do if you didn’t launch French is Beautiful ?
I love making films and writing songs.
Last good book you read?
'L'alchimiste' by Paulo Coehlo ( 'The Alchemist' ). I've read it a few times. Pure magic (and the perfect book to have for a métro ride, or while waiting for a friend at a café).
What’s in your magazine pile?
The Gentlewoman ( in English )
Woman by Madame Figaro ( in Spanish )
Nez ( in French )
Vogue Paris ( in French )
Vivre Bordeaux ( in French )
What’s on your nightstand?
One rose quartz, one smoky quartz, one quartz crystal and a deck of angel cards.
What’s your morning routine?
My alarm is set to FIP radio (I highly recommend waking up to music and sultry talk radio in French!). I listen to it in bed for a little while before making my coffee and staring out at the Parisian rooftops. My street is so quiet, mornings are a time to reflect on what I can control in the day ahead and to set my intention to be open to that which I cannot.
Go-to alcoholic beverage?
I love a rich glass of red wine - Pinot Noir (from the region of Colette, of whom I'm a huge fan) when in France, Pinot Noir from Washington State when in the U.S. and Barbera when in Italy.
Tea or coffee?
One black coffee or double espresso in the a.m.; herbal tea in the afternoon and p.m. (I love Yogi teas).
Glossier lip balm, lip colour du jour, perfume oils ( I create my own mix of musky, masculine scents ), hand cream (anything that smells like lavender, bergamot or sandalwood) and a small hairbrush.
What do you do to relax?
Exercise, followed by a hammam / sauna, really relaxes me. A weekend in the countryside is my ultimate relaxation. It brings out my playfulness and reconnects me with nature. Reading or listening to a friend also relaxes me. Road trips help me to tune down my ambition and lean into the moment.
Favourite Café, Favourite restaurant, favourite shop
Cafés: Le Bonaparte in the morning for a café and a croissant at the counter; Le Petit Fer à Cheval for a glass of wine at the end of the day; Café Marly at 8am for a meeting (there is nothing like feeling like you have the Louvre to yourself).
Restaurant: Impossible to answer! This really depends on my mood, on what I am in the mood for, on who I am with ( or if I am alone ). Paris has amazing options, but some of my best restaurant experiences here have been simply by wandering into the nearest brasserie. Paris has many beautiful surprises to offer up if you follow your intuition. I love a cozy corner of a chic brasserie with a book or a friend.
Shop: Dressing Factory in the 7th - it always has an incredible vintage collection.
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Words & Photos by Marissa Cox.