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Pardon My French

How a Grumpy American Fell in Love with France

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To make a friend is a joy. To make a friend in another country is a wonderment—a small miracle. Pardon My French follows the lives of an American couple who have embraced a daunting mission: Not to be spectators in France, but to be absorbed by France.

Amidst the minefields of linguistic faux pas, the perplexities of French gestures, the exquisite and often exotic cuisine, and the splendor of Christmas on the Mediterranean—see what it is like for an occasionally gruff American to be adopted into a new family. Witness the hugging, the teasing, and the laughter that follows, when nothing on earth could be more perfect. Experience what it is like to fall in love with the French.

Follow the adventures of the author as he pits his rather staid and conventional driving skills against the French speed demons of Languedoc. Step into his sneakers as he tests his basketball prowess against the young French bucks adorned with backward ball caps and over-the-knee Chicago Bulls game shorts. Watch how he frolics in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time with a French topless companion. Marvel as he sits in with a world-class French jazz band. Observe him overcome his shyness in talking to the beautiful nude model from his painting class in the studio atop the village police station. Envision how he learns to dance the tango with his head upright, his chest expanded, and his strides befitting a newly adorned French god—one with sensuality on his mind.

"Yes. To become a world-class traveler, Johnson believes one must always say yes. He follows his own credo well in this entertaining and enlightening travel memoir. After a stint in France in 1971 to learn the language, Johnson and his wife return decades later for a one-year stay. Although hampered from the getgo in his efforts to find an apartment by the heavy-handed bureaucracy, and still struggling with the language despite much study, Johnson enthusiastically plunges into a variety of classes to learn more about France and, especially, the French. He is neither unreservedly rapturous nor unduly disheartened by the cultural divide, which includes a less-than-helpful attitude about customer service and a downright dangerous approach to driving. Instead, he goes beyond merely noting his experiences to exploring the causes of cultural traditions, primarily by quizzing his French friends. It is this openness and curiosity, along with the author’s infectious humor, that makes Pardon My French both entertaining and enlightening." —Booklist

“Funny and insightful, Allen Johnson’s love for the people of France shines through like a warm summer day on the Mediterranean.” —Christian Valette, Mayor of Pérols, France, 1989-2014

"As a reader who loved A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik I was greatly pleased to find that Pardon my French is just as delightful and in the same tradition....Anyone who has traveled in France, or would like to someday, will find much to love about this book." —Claire Bellarmine, author of An Adjustment in Consciousness

"One warning: Have your passport up-to-date when you read Pardon My French—you may just want to take the next flight to Paris. Bon Voyage.” —Judith Martin, Co-author of Experiencing Intercultural Communication

“What a wonderful book this is—like an Olympian swimmer, Allen Johnson plunges into the “France profonde” that most of us crave to experience. Here it is, in depth, both practical and poetic—all the paperwork to rent an apartment, what you need to know about joining a club and becoming a member of French society, how to participate wittily and appreciatively at 5-course meals, and most importantly, how to cultivate and maintain friendships. A magnificent and useful read.” —Gene Parulis, Professor at Community College of Vermont

"Yes. To become a world-class traveler, Johnson believes one must always say yes. He follows his own credo well in this entertaining and enlightening travel memoir. After a stint in France in 1971 to learn the language, Johnson and his wife return decades later for a one-year stay. Although hampered from the getgo in his efforts to find an apartment by the heavy-handed bureaucracy, and still struggling with the language despite much study, Johnson enthusiastically plunges into a variety of classes to learn more about France and, especially, the French. He is neither unreservedly rapturous nor unduly disheartened by the cultural divide, which includes a less-than-helpful attitude about customer service and a downright dangerous approach to driving. Instead, he goes beyond merely noting his experiences to exploring the causes of cultural traditions, primarily by quizzing his French friends. It is this openness and curiosity, along with the author’s infectious humor, that makes Pardon My French both entertaining and enlightening." —Booklist

“Funny and insightful, Allen Johnson’s love for the people of France shines through like a warm summer day on the Mediterranean.” —Christian Valette, Mayor of Pérols, France, 1989-2014

"As a reader who loved A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik I was greatly pleased to find that Pardon my French is just as delightful and in the same tradition....Anyone who has traveled in France, or would like to someday, will find much to love about this book." —Claire Bellarmine, author of An Adjustment in Consciousness

"One warning: Have your passport up-to-date when you read Pardon My French—you may just want to take the next flight to Paris. Bon Voyage.” —Judith Martin, Co-author of Experiencing Intercultural Communication

“What a wonderful book this is—like an Olympian swimmer, Allen Johnson plunges into the “France profonde” that most of us crave to experience. Here it is, in depth, both practical and poetic—all the paperwork to rent an apartment, what you need to know about joining a club and becoming a member of French society, how to participate wittily and appreciatively at 5-course meals, and most importantly, how to cultivate and maintain friendships. A magnificent and useful read.” —Gene Parulis, Professor at Community College of Vermont

More books from this author: Allen Johnson