Why did you come to the US?
I would say that I did not come to the US but to San Francisco. I discovered SF when I used to work for a Californian company based in Paris. With my wife we were looking for some fresh air, not projecting our entire life in Paris. As soon as I got a job opportunity here, it became an evidence to move in with my family.
What do you like about the US?
Americans think big and positive. I’m always amazed by the smile and the positive attitude of the clerks at the supermarket! Although their job might be boring, they take the time to speak with you, to pack your stuffs and to wish you a great day. On the tech and entrepreneur side, everyone thinks big and networks are wide open.
What do you like about SF ?
SF is an amazing city. First, I like the light, from the cloudy and foggy white to the sunny and blue sky bright one. Of course, I like the views from everywhere, but also the different districts, the nice buildings, the beach and the fantastic Golden Gate Park.
Do you have a passion?
I like “fooding”. I’m always happy to share a good bottle of wine with friends, or a good tasty and refined dish at a nice place. My favorite places are some bistrot restaurants in Paris where the Chef prepares perfectly executed fresh food with only 4 or 5 ingredients. But the top of the top remains Michel Bras at Laguiole.
Do you have a dream?
A business that would mix fooding and digital.
Remi is indeed an excellent cook and a fun model to shoot, Just like the clerks at the supermarket, he takes the time to make sure that his friends have a good time while enjoying his cooking specialties from all over the world..
” I came to the USA after a short assignment in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Life is cool here, my husband had to follow me and he is taking care of our three girls, Samantha, Deborah and Jess (Jessica), all great pom pom girls, just like grandma. I was born in a city and I am a city girl, and I not a big fan of small towns like Orbey or others.”
What are you the most proud of?
“Being an executive woman is not easy every day, I travel all around the world and thanks to Bob, my husband, I can dedicate myself to making the world a better place to live for our kids; my friend Marina and Isabella are also a great support”
I love this picture of Sandy on the road to Death Valley, a moment of rest at the very opposite of her lifestyle, urban and fast.
“I lived nine years in Los Angeles and I was a ballet dancer. Back to France I started a dance school in Mougins, South of France; we came back in 2013 and I love this place, in the US you can be yourself while in France you have to follow a life codes…”
What do you dream of ?
“I think “Ballerina Belle”, I dream “Ballerina Belle”, I hear “BB”, I live “BB”. Ballerina Belle is a thirteen episodes TV series I produced, and is about a young american girl called Belle, she arrives from California to the south of France with her mother, and her dream is to become a Ballerina. My youngest daughter is Belle, my oldest is Manon the ballet pianist ,and I am “Madame Odette”, the Ballet Dance teacher.”
Carol’s is full of this American energy that idea that “anything is possible”: while she is working on selling her TV series, she is managing her dance school, she teaches pilates and zumba to the french community, is invested in organizing shows for the school and even wrote a book about “french cuisine”…her next business woman dream is to direct a Broadway Musical Movie. Good luck!
” I came to the US to fulfill a wish I made at the corner of California & Powell streets in 1982 ! It took me almost 30 years but I did it!!!”
What do you like about San Francisco?
“Space , space, space. That feeling that you can breath here. The fog in the morning going down the hills, the sunset in the evening on the Pacific ocean near the Cliff House ”
What do you dream of ?
“Cycling to the flying boat. In fact I realized that Burning Man gave me the opportunity to cycle to a boat floating in the sky in the middle of the desert, a dream I realized even before dreaming of it!
Behind his very professional and serious image of a Finance Manager, Christophe is also capable of wearing the most amazing costumes he tried on Haight Ashbury, frightening his two teenagers for ever! I was lucky to spend most of my three days at Burning Man with Christophe, a very friendly burner.
“After spending 2 years in college in South Bend, Indiana, I took a trip to California, just in case I would never come back! Without noticing, I guess I was then infected with the “exploration” virus… Three years later, I was married, had my first child and worked for an American company; I was ready for a new experience abroad. I started raising my hand to get an assignment in a foreign country and was stubborn enough to succeed…9 years later!”
What do I like the most about living in San Francisco, California?
“I love the American practical sense. Everything is made to make your life easier and enjoyable. The social barriers are much thinner, the optimism is a way of living, giving is a philosophy… Everything is possible!
Even though a piece of my heart is also in Houston, Texas, California offers a variety of landscapes you can’t match elsewhere. The North Marin County weather is so perfect! And you’re a short drive or flight away from multiples wonders…”
What do you dream of ?
“Living in “optimismland”, I can only have dreams!
“I dream of transportation. Enjoying San Francisco’s fog patterns in the morning and having dinner with friends and family in Paris… Enjoying a sunset from the top of the Eiffel tower and waking up in Singapore… Cruising the Ha Long’s bay and visiting my children in their future own paradises.”
Laurent, his wife Chantal and their five kids, are probably one of the most friendly family I have ever met so far; I was impressed by Laurent’s capability to manage multiple tasks, from going to work all day, then managing the kids in the evening while organizing the next family trip to Costa Rica and making sure the insurance fees are renewed and the tax declaration is completed before doing his business trip for three weeks to Asia and coming back to prepare their annual “White Party”…I liked Laurent’s idea of “transportation”, probably a great way to keep deploying all that energy while his kids keep growing.
“I am from the south of France, and after 4 years on the East Coast I needed sun, and the only place I identified for that was California. I applied to several bilingual schools in the Bay Area, and was selected by the Lycée Francais…this was 10 years ago and I never left CA. When I came first time to SF, I felt like I was going back home…Californians are close to the nature, opened to the world, and most important they are tolerant.
I don’t know if its related to the adventure of the Gold Rush, but Californians believe that anything is possible here.”
If my personal life was a bit challenged in these past years, I still believe in my Karma; I try to give positiveness to others as much as I can because this is my nature, it makes me feel good, like positive rays.”
Nathalie is a beautiful school teacher, always optimistics and this is very contagious. She is not afraid of the future anymore, she believes in the importance of the moment, in her Karma. On her left foot are tatooed her three kids initials: Valentin, Ambre and Elina…
Why do you think you are an artist Pierre?
“I imagine this is not really a choice, I was born like this, a pen in the hands and images in my head. This is the most reasonable way I found lo live.”
What do your art pieces represent, is there any message ?
“I see myself as a forest in the night, the wind blowing between the murmuring trees, with little animals walking through the roots. I am a very mystical person, I am contemplative. But these are very personal things, it’s a bit difficult for me to explain. My work is a way for me to share my vision, like a reverse autoportrait.”
What brought you to San Francisco?
“In my life I have always looked for the opportunity that would make things happen: a project, meeting someone…and this is what has happened with Jules when he started his art gallery in San Francisco last year, we have a lot in common, our trajectories are parallel, all this was probably “written in advance”, and we are just at the start of a long journey…”
The first time I met with Pierre he was in the Jules Maeght Gallery installing his drawing on the walls. I was fascinated by the black and white rain forest that reminded me my childhood in Brazil and my trips to Africa. When Pierre explained to me that his family was originally from the Caribbeans, I suddenly understood why this young Parisian artist started his career painting the rainforest on the walls of Paris!
” I can not stand seeing others suffer, so helping them to reduce their pain is also a way for me to reduce my own sensitivity. I worked in many different companies, but I soon realized that this was not my vocation, these were not the jobs I dreamed of. We moved here to the US as my husband was offered a great job opportunity, and this was a way to give to our kids the gift of speaking english. It is probably time now for me to do what I have always dreamed of, dedicate my time to people who need support and assistance.”
How do you like San Francisco? “It was not easy for me at the beginning as my level of english was rather low, but it’s improving every day. The first time we came to SF, I immediately felt at home here, I was not scared like if I was far from home, there is something special here that makes you feel good.”
Veronique is already a very dynamic mother of three children, but she still wants to try to dedicate the rest of her time helping whoever needs her. I could tell listening to her that this need to “give” is strongly anchored in her heart. Wishing this will bring Veronique the satisfaction and peace she is looking for, receive by giving…
“When I was 13 my parents did not want to pay me any electronic games, so I decided to create them by myself, on the Amstrad PC1512 they accepted to buy me; I was spending all my days and nights developing, coding, hacking, I created a little Packman in a labyrinth…till the school I was in decided to “invite me to go to another school”, my parents were so mad at me ! I developed and educative software at 16 with my cousin that we sold to an editor, and then after high school I studied IT and started my own business. I did not want to be a slave, I did not want to have a boss deciding on what is good or bad for me, I did not want to have to depend on someone else for the decisions I wanted to make in my life.”
And why did you decide to open a subsidiary in the USA?
“I love the US, here anything is possible, here in the Bay area people think so BIG, people are free to think BIG (unlike in most European countries), people are not afraid of tomorrow, people believe in their capacities to find another job, people are ready to sale shoes if they get laid off in the IT business…there is no shame, just because tomorrow can only be better than today!”
Eric is full of humor and knows how how not take things too seriously when we speak about him and his background. Just like a fish in the ocean, Eric goes his ways with the elements sliding on his skin, cool and relaxed. I ended asking him what he did not like in life and he had this response”I hate the noise, the noise of this microwave for example, or the music playing in the ski resorts at lunch time!”.
I love this blurry picture of Eric, laughing about this interview and me trying to capture a clear “portrait” for this post.
“I lived in San Francisco when I was a little girl, and the only thing I remember is that I went directly to an american school without speaking a single word of English. One day I saw all students jumping off of their chairs and rushing under their tables; I was the only one not moving from my chair, I saw the teacher terrified moving her hands all over…I did not realize there was an earthquake. My teacher thought I was completely crazy, for me it was terrible, I did not realize what was happening and I did not even feel the earhquake….”
Why did you decide to come to live in the US with your family?
After that experience I came back to the USA many times for my job in the printing industry, and I have always felt at home here. In this country people are so nice, so open minded to foreigners, but most amazing is the strong belief Americans have that tomorrow will be better than today, that not situation is never desperate nor lost, an amazing optimism I wanted my three children to acquire. Although I am confident by nature, I am not certain like my american friends that tomorrow WILL be better than today, I wish I would feel like that, but I am French…
When Sandrine was telling me that story of her childhood at school, she was imitating herself with the big smile on her face like on this picture. Although she considers herself as more “French” in her beliefs than Americans, Sandrine never gives up until she has finished what she has started.
“While my husband is starting bass guitar lessons, I just started taking watercolor and drawing lessons; as two of our three kids left home last September for college in Montreal Canada, we probably have more time for us and our (new) passions but I also needed to create something, I paint 8 hours per week and I love it…too bad we have to go back to France next summer after three years in the USA, but my husband’s project is ending. Three years of sightseeing all over California, meeting so many people with different backgrounds, new strong friendships built up.”
Nathalie is a very nice person, very optimistic and happy to live, and this is so communicative. Her dream is to come back to San Francisco as soon as possible, her bedroom is probably already prepared in many houses of the French community in the Bay Area.
“When I came from France for the first time in the Bay Area, I was astonished by the light and the beauty of the skies (day and night!), the low pollution and traffic levels compared to Paris. What I really much appreciate here is the culture of service that people have , their discipline and their respect to others and to their environment. SF is a wonderful city to live in: very open minded, several museums and attractions, very active and innovative, world-class restaurant and excellent wines! What more can you ask for?”
Remi is a pop-rock music fan and he just started to take bass guitar lessons. When I asked him if he had a dream, he responded “to make it simple and very Californian: Peace and love!” Funny how California can change a pure Parisian into a Neo-Hippie in just three years!!
“I lived in New Jersey when I was four with my family, then came back at 24 to work for two years in New York. Since that time I have always wanted to go back to the USA with my own family, to make sure they could enjoy “the american lifestyle” I had loved so much when I was a little girl. I talked to my husband who had his own printing company in Paris, and after a short trip to San Francisco he said ” you know Amelie, your dream, we can make it happen here if you want!’.
Amelie is now part of the adventure of starting a new art gallery in San Francisco with her husband Jules, and as always in her life, the human factor is driving her decisions: Amelie loves working with artists as a team, brainstorming before making decisions, meeting new people and making new friends.
“As a kid I followed my parents around the world. I really wanted my kids to have this experience and this is why we decided to move to the USA. Today, the world is a village. They have at least to know their neighbors. I’m also working in the software industry, so the Bay area is a kind of place to be.
You were not sent in the USA by a company, you came by your own…
“Quitting my over-protected french contract for an US “at will” employment is of course a risk. Moving three teens is another one. Though I have been nurtured by mathematics and rationalism I often took decisions using my gut feeling. This time I had a strong feeling that it was a good move for the whole family. Isabelle, my wife, and the kids voted in favor”.
What do you like about the USA?
What is done to build a nation with kids and people from all over the world, speaking English, Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, French or whatever, is probably what stroke me most here.
Do you have a dream, how do you see your future?
“Building my own house, creating a school, living somewhere in Asia (yet another move) are some of my dreams. But I have hard time figuring my future : 4 years ago I couldn’t have foreseen my family living in San Francisco, so who knows”.
Full of passion, dreams and projects, Raphael spends a lot of time with his kids to build weird machines (bubble maker) or with his friends to produce his own beer “The french beer”; Raph also loves cooking for his (lucky) friends. Opening a bakery in the Bay area sounds like something Raph has in mind…more to go!
” After almost three years in the USA, I decided to start a Yoga Teacher training program here in California; in France I was working in the cosmetics industry, I was starting my own business when we decided to move to San Francisco, as my husband had this great opportunity for his career; our four boys are growing fast, and I want to be prepared to go back to France, whenever this is going to happen, with an experience from the USA that I could value back to Paris.”
Marine is an active mother of four kids, and although she enjoys a lot her life in Marin county, she does not really feel good not working anymore; she felt in love with Yoga she practices four times per week, and thus decided to get a yoga teacher diploma to practice her passion when time comes. Marine is also my lovely wife.
“The first time we tried to freeride, we used our ski gloves, I even tried the garderner gloves from my Dad; we decided to stop doing only freestyle, to find the adrenaline, the sensations, the speed we were looking for while descending the long streets of San Francisco. SF is the best city worldwide for freeriding, streets are never ending, there are not too many cars, the bitumen is good quality, and the landscape is amazing, sunset on Ocean Beach, hills and blue sky…”
Benjamin, Justin and Oscar are three French teenagers that value their team, the “Ride Dudes”, as being inspired by the professionals they admire the most in San Francisco, the “Sunset Sliders”; being part of a team pushes them go beyond their fear and find new challenges, just like the Marin Headlands they freerided today.
Jerome left his job in France as sound engineer travelling all around the world, the follow and support his wife who decided to start a new company in the IT business in the Silicon Valley. Jerome talks about sound like a painter about colors.
“One day I will buy a ranch in Montana, there will be a very long fence all over it, I will paint it in white, and I will spend my days seated on that fence, looking at the horses, like the one I had in France when I was younger. I will renovate the barn; I have always loved building houses and furniture. When we arrived from France 2 years ago we bought two cars, one truck F150 for me, a Jeep 4X4 for my wife.”
Francois travels all over the USA to sell a high technology cork to the best wineries; along with the boots, the Stetson hat, the truck, Francois is now realizing his dream of living the American life style, just like he dreamed of when he was a kid.
“I have always dreamed of adventure, I have always wanted to come to the USA, and Texas was the image I had of that country, the cowboys…people are cool here, there are relaxed, in the USA no ones judges you on your appearance nor the way you are dressed, unlike in Europe. Every year at Christmas I put the Rodolphe’s Red Nosed Reindeer horns on my huge Ford, and people like it! I am pretty sure that in my previous life I was an American, born and raised in Texas. ”
Chantal is a french mother of five kids, she is full of kindness and generosity, always so optimistic. Chantal’s dream is also to travel all around the world, not knowing where she would be going the day after.
” I hope that people visiting the exhibition will be sensitive to “the story” we are trying to tell them, that they will be feeling emotions while discovering the variety of the creations we are presenting to tell that story. This is the story of “Art in Motion”, full of speed and modernity over the ages. Art is like a big balloon, full of emotion like the one this little girl shared with us while visiting the gallery today with her Mom; she had a candide look, and seemed to be full of admiration watching the creations of Calder, Miro, Spelletich, Elliott, Snelling…”
Why did you decide to come to San Francisco to open your art gallery? “SF is a city continuously reinventing itself, everything here is simpler, free. San Francisco is a city always in motion”.
Jules generously shared with me these last weeks the great opportunity to put images on the conception of his gallery and the preparation of the exhibition he will be showing tomorrow. Just like the exhibition’s creations, Jules is a masterpiece, always “in motion.”
“My parents wanted me to spend my 11th grade in the USA, in New York or in San Francisco, I choose SF. I initially came here for one year only, but my friend Baptiste convinced me to stay one more. I grew up in a village in Picardie, North of France, among animals, and I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. But from the day I met with this french man Arlen, working in the aerospace industry, I decided I wanted to work as well in the aerospace world; from animals to the stars, this is where my stay in California has changed my life.”
Tom is living between France (the family) and California (the girl friend) and Canada is his next move to study mechanical engineering (the friends)
“What do you miss the most about France?” ” I love going to France each summer to see the family, but how can I really miss a place I never lived in? I was born in the USA, spent all my life in SF, my parents came here 30 years ago, not sure if they are going back to France in a near future. My boyfriend is from France, he lives in France for the moment and he will soon be starting college in Montreal, Canada. I am happy because tomorrow the two of us are going to spend some time in Santa Cruz, just him and me”.
Marinca is a student, a singer and a guitarist, she just started a new music band with her friends
” It is very easy to be a French in the USA here in San Francisco. SF is a city where you can live with your differences. SF will feed itself of your difference, just like if each one of us were a piece of that puzzle that is San Francisco; without you, without me, SF is not a completed puzzle, made of different colors and shapes; the puzzle would be incomplete; there is very little reject here in San Francisco, and politically the extremes do not survive long. I came to the USA at 24 for a two weeks’s trip, I was organizing concerts in France and wanted to see how different was SF. I never returned home; I worked as a maid, then I met an amazing couple who landed me a car and a house for one year, I then started a new Franco-American school in Sunnyvale with $100 000 people who trusted me gave me, and I hired four motivated teachers from France; Valerie became my wife 8 months after her arrival. I then started a company in the apartment rental business in Paris, allowing me to spend my time taking care of the kids, travelling all around the world to try to give a bit of that generosity, tolerance, and energy I received all these past 28 years in San Francisco”.
Just like the clowns, Claude does not want to be seen as a too serious person, and as every year, he is preparing his Halloween costume, for the little boy he probably still is
Why did you decide to come to the USA? ” I met that California girl who was coming to learn French in Besancon who was coming to learn french; I was finishing my studies and my career was to be in the Franco-German business, quite boring. We fell in love, two weeks later I discovered that girl’s town, Sausalito, I fell in love a second time in Love and I decided that my life would not be in Europe but in California; we got married in Mill Valley, we started a dental business, our twins were born two years later; this was far from what my destiny was supposed to be between France and Germany…” “Do you miss Europe?” “I miss buying comics in Brussels, I miss the little french cafes”
Fabian is now a talented photographer
This is the smile of victory. After many years of intense preparation, Laurent’s team, Oracle Team USA, won in 2013 the famous America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay. No need to come back to what was the closest match in the America’s Cup history, ORACLE TEAM USA wining 8 consecutive races after initially falling behind New Zealand. Laurent has been working for many years now for America’s Cup and Oracle, both in Portugal, Spain and in the USA. I like this picture of Laurent, a cup of champagne in the hand, five minutes after USA 17, the fastest boat in the history of the event, crossed the finish line. Laurent gave a call to the family in Europe, his daughter’s hand trying to say “hey Dad, I am here also to celebrate the victory with you”, and his wife in the background with the american flag she kept with her during all the competition.
I like this picture as Laurent is diffuse hiding behind his sharp camera. In real life Laurent likes to make movies, but is too shy to be in front of the camera. French film producer installed in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 15 years. Laurent is married to an American, Sandrine and their son Lhassa have been to Burning Man almost seven times. Laurent loves to discover people, places, different cultures than Bretagne where he was born – west of France. Laurent went to Burning Man for the first time in 2002, two years after his dad dramatically passed away; walking through the Temple on The Playa, he met with a man, David Best, who became his friend while he looked at him saying, “you are here because of your “PaPa””. From that day Laurent decided to dedicate most of his time producing films about the magic of Burning Man (“Voyage in Utopia” among other documentaries), trying to convince that BM is not only about sex and drugs, but mostly about Arts, Desert and 80 000 people willing to meet and stay for one week in a wild desert tin Nevada.
Laurent is finalizing his new project, “Temples Of Life”, the story of Temple architect David Best.
Contact me if you are interested in participating to these projects.
Franck was at Burning Man for the first time in his life. He decided to discover Black Rock City as part of the numreous places he wanted to visit while living in the San Francisco Bay area. Franck works in the glass industry in Napa Valley, Burning Man changed his life for the better. French Franck is happy, he “Is not a virgin anymore”.
@ Burning Man
Jules spontaneously proposed to show me the new Art Gallery he was opening early November. Jules was born in an artistic environment, south of France, and decided to come to SF to share his passion and discover new talented San Franciscan artists.
My name is Chris he says. In fact his name is Christophe and he is from France. Chris in the middle of the Black Rock Desert, visiting this Roman style Temple, plastic made. Ropes prevent from the desert Roman Empire fall. Christophe works in finance, he likes the Burning Man “no money” economy.
@ Burning Man
Marine does not like this photo and considers that her life is not interesting enough to deserve a post in this blog.
As many French women installed in the USA, Marine had to stop her career to accompany her husband in his career. Although this was a family decision, Marine feels guilty not to be an active woman as she was in France. Marine loves the life in California, but “I am not interesting”.
@ California, SF Bay area