Representing France in the United States, defending its interests, and protecting its citizens are a few responsibilities of the French embassy in Washington D.C. But alongside this diplomatic, political, and economic mission, its teams are also tasked with promoting French culture. From this mandate was born the FrancoFiles podcast, with the first episode aired in January 2019.
“It was a way to move past our institutional communications, which are often focused on serious geopolitical issues,” says Elise Giraud, deputy press counselor at the embassy. “Our podcast in English is aimed at Americans who are interested in France for its history, cuisine, tourism, or language. Each episode is a chance to build bridges between our two cultures.”
An episode on the Villa San Francisco, an artistic residency program inaugurated last August by the Cultural Services of the French embassy, will kickstart the new season. The following episodes will feature interviews with the director of the American Library in Paris, Roxanne Varza, the Iranian-American director of the Parisian start-up incubator Station F, and French geographer Julien Icher, who is mapping out the 5,000 miles of Lafayette’s tour of the United States.
A Fun, Educational Podcast
“We wanted to offer a different perspective of the embassy’s historical mission and give a voice to those we rarely hear from,” says Andrea Fort, the American Francophile who hosts the FrancoFiles podcast and interviews guests – remotely, for now, given the context. “The overall tone is fun, entertaining, and educational, and our listeners love hearing stories they wouldn’t find elsewhere.”
The highlights of the first season include a visit to the ambassador’s residence, which was built in 1910 by French-American architect Jules Henri de Sibour, the story of African-American soldiers who fought in France during World War I, a discussion about the influence of the Michelin Guide on American restaurants, and a review of the French Revolution, its causes, and its influence on contemporary French culture.
The second season will span ten episodes, each lasting between 20 and 30 minutes, broadcast once every two weeks from January 12. All episodes can be accessed on the FrancoFiles website and on the Apple Podcasts and Spotify streaming platforms. A third season is already in the works. “Each episode illustrates the wealth and diversity of French-American friendship,” says Andrea Fort. “Our guests are passionate, and that really comes through in their interviews!”