French for Travelers 2016 Wednesday, Feb 3 2016 

Bonjour! This little French word is quite possibly one of the most important a traveler can use while in France. Why so? Well, it means ‘hello’ so saying it at appropriate times is a practical necessity. But the real importance of ‘bonjour’ has much more to do with politesse (politeness) and courtoisie (courtesy), two critical aspects of French culture.

Along with having a few French phrases handy, knowing the French habits of politeness and respect go a long way to avoiding any ‘faux pas’ when traveling in France. Just for fun, check your French culture knowledge with this short travel quiz below:

When saying goodbye to someone in France, you can say:

a)      Bonsoir

b)      Au revoir

c)      A bientôt

d)     All of the above

When served bread at a French restaurant, you should:

a)      Put it on the edge of your plate

b)      Eat it directly from the bread basket

c)      Place it on the table next to your plate

d)     None of the above

When invited for an aperitif at a French person’s home, you should:

a)      Stay for half an hour

b)      Arrive late and stay for 20 minutes

c)      Stay for an hour or so

d)     Stay until the family starts to sit down for dinner

When interacting with a French waiter at a restaurant or café, you can:

a) Call him over with a loud “Garçon!”

b) Address him as “Monsieur”

c) Address him by his first name as noted on his name tag

d) All of the above

If you’re intrigued by the French politeness associated with ‘bonjour’ as well as the answers to the little quiz above, I’ll be talking about it all in depth along with French etiquette, attitudes and much more in my annual “French for Travelers” seminar coming up at SMU in mid-February. For the ninth year in a row, we’ll explore how making an effort with the language in France goes a LONG way to a great travel experience there, even though many French speak a bit of English these days.

In this special mini-intensive course, I will also teach essential phrases for a variety of situations (including restaurants – how to order, what to order, what NOT to order – tête de veau, anyone??), French customs and vocabulary for a variety of contexts (table manners, shopping, hotels, museums, how to ask for gift wrapping!), indispensable pronunciation tips, and a long list of French travel essentials. Real life stories and anecdotes about travel in France and interacting with the French make this a lively and fun class. You will also walk away with specific tips and strategies about traveling well in France (by train, Metro, air) and also the confidence to really enjoy your time there.

If you already have some French, this course complements previous study of the language, though no prior knowledge of French is required. The class includes six hours of rich instruction plus comprehensive handouts so you will walk away with a great toolkit and guide to take on your next trip to France. Please note that this class is conducted primarily in English with lots of good practice in French. You can bring your France travel questions too! Advance registration is required through SMU’s Continuing Studies Program(Please note that this is the only time in 2016 this course will be offered – just in time for the spring, summer and fall travel season!)

“French for Travelers 2016″

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – February 16, 17, 18, 2016

SMU Continuing Studies – Main campus location

For registration information and to contact SMU, please click here

What does one say to call over this busy French waiter??

For those who live outside of Texas and might like to take this course via webinar (online seminar) format, we are exploring this option. Please let us know of your interest in the comment section below. Merci beaucoup!

Paint in Provence This September! Monday, Feb 1 2016 

Provence is possibly the most beautiful and rewarding region in all of France. It is known for its charming villages, picturesque countryside, warm sunshine, lively markets, fragrant gardens, flavorful cuisine, wonderful wines, and relaxed culture. And Provence’s stunning light and color have inspired artists for centuries.


In September 2016, your can have your own French art experience with French Affaires’ upcoming “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop” featuring southern France artist and resident Jill Steenhuis and hosting by France expert Elizabeth Seitz. During this hands-on week plus of French painting and culture, you’ll discover various motifs including Provençal landscapes, village architecture, outdoor markets, still lifes and more while working on composition, brush stroke and color mixing. Cultural visits to Cézanne’s art studio, Van Gogh’s painting sites and more will deepen your understanding of the real Provence. Jill’s artistic expertise, energy and poetic spirit plus Elizabeth’s deep cultural knowledge, warm welcome and desire to share the riches of this region make it a creative journey you won’t want to miss!

“Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”

September 15 to 24, 2016

Everything is arranged for your perfect art adventure – private accommodations in modern apartments in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, painting lessons for beginning to experienced artists with celebrated painter Jill Steenhuis, superb cultural excursions in the steps of artists Cézanne and Van Gogh, wonderful lunches and dinners featuring Provence cuisine with wine, visits to colorful outdoor markets, trip organizing and hosting by Elizabeth Seitz, airport transfers and land transport, and more. You’ll love soaking in the art and ambiance of Provence during this personal and unique painting trip in southern France.

Provence Painting & Culture Workshop Highlights

Nine days, eight nights in your modern, centrally located Aix apartment

Outdoor & studio painting classes with celebrated artist Jill Steenhuis

Cultural activities & trip hosting by France expert Dr. Elizabeth Seitz

Guided cultural tours of Cézanne’s & Van Gogh’s Provence

Gourmet Provence lunches & dinners with wine

Colorful Provence outdoor markets & villages

Full day excursion to the Mediterranean coast

Your wonderful paintings & sketches as souvenirs of your trip!

Your Provence Trip Hosts

 Jill Steenhuis, Artist - Jill Steenhuis, an Atlanta native, is a French impressionist painter living in the south of France. Jill earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Sweet Briar College in 1980. Upon graduation, she studied at the celebrated Leo Marchutz School of Painting & Drawing in Aix-en-Provence, which follows in the tradition of Cézanne. Since then, she has become an acclaimed artist & has sold more than 2300 works to private collectors, museums & art enthusiasts. She regularly exhibits her work at art shows in France & the U.S. Jill has lived in Provence with her French husband for more than thirty years & has three sons.


Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz, French AffairesA native Texan, Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz is a specialist in France & French culture. She is the founder of French Affaires, a unique company celebrating French travel, culture, language & l’art de vivre. She received her B.A., M.A. & Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University & studied at the Sorbonne in Paris & with Vanderbilt-in-France in Aix-en-Provence. She has lived, worked & traveled extensively in France since 1983. Her specialty is making France personal & special to everyone through her trips, classes & lectures. Elizabeth lives in the French countryside near Paris & travels regularly to the U.S. to speak about French culture to groups across the U.S.

Provence Trip Overview

Day 1: Thursday, Sept 15 – Depart your home city & fly to Marseille.

Day 2:  Friday, Sept 16 – Arrival at the Marseille Airport, Transfer to your Apartment, Walking tour of Aix, Welcome Bistrot Dinner with Jill & Elizabeth

Day 3: Saturday, Sept 17 – Aix Outdoor Market Tour, Cezanne’s Art Studio, Jill’s Art Studio, Cocktails & Dinner at Jill’s Provence Home

ChezNous l'Abeille

 Jill’s beautiful home just outside Aix-en-Provence 

Day 4:  Sunday, Sept 18 – Provence Painting Workshop Begins: Color Palettes, Sketching, Painting Demonstration by Jill  

Day 5:  Monday, Sept 19 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Landscape Painting en plein air

Day 6: Tuesday, Sept 20 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Charming Port of Cassis on the Mediterranean  

Day 7:  Wednesday, Sept 21 – Van Gogh’s Art in Provence: Arles, Abbaye de Montmajour & St. Paul de Mausole, St. Rémy’s Charming Town & Market, Bistrot lunch



Van Gogh’s Asylum near St. Rémy with reproductions of his works in the garden

Day 8:  Thursday, Sept 22 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Aix Flower & Vegetable Market



Day 9: Friday, Sept 23 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Still Life & Garden Scene Painting, Hang Artworks, Evening Art Exhibit, Cocktail Party & Farewell Dinner 

Day 10: Saturday, Sept 24 – Farewells & Trip Departure

About Aix-en-Provence


Aix-en-Provence is a gorgeous, vibrant city in the heart of Provence. With a rich history & welcoming southern French culture, Aix provides a superb base for our stay in France. Aix is known for its majestic monuments & architecture, beautiful old town, centuries old fountains, fascinating museums & cultural institutions, wonderful cuisine, colorful outdoor markets, popular universities& schools, lively arts & music scene, & grand boulevard the Cours Mirabeau, noted by many to be the prettiest main street in all of Europe.

 For the detailed Provence Painting Trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) . This special trip is limited to 8 to 10 participants for a highly personalized art and travel experience.  

A personal invitation from Jill to the “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”:

Elizabeth and I look forward to welcoming you to Provence for an intensive week of painting and cultural inspiration! Our French art workshop is designed for both experienced and beginning painters alike. The focus is on experiencing nature and culture in Provence through the senses in order to engage one’s inner poetry — to see, hear, smell, taste and feel, which will lead you to create new paintings expressing these experiences.

Out in the fields of wheat, sunflowers and lavender in the Provençal landscape, at the seascapes of Cassis or in the flower and vegetable markets of Aix, we will celebrate color. Our workshop will begin with learning to mix a harmonious palette at l’Abeille, my Provence studio and home, which will be our headquarters for the week. After warming up with special drawing exercises, each participant will do a landscape or garden painting in order to get used to the colors and light of Provence. The rest of the week we will draw and paint in the landscape and see places that inspired geniuses like Cézanne and Van Gogh, always seeking to release our creative spirit. Ideas come to our fingertips. Brush strokes go on the canvas. Immediacy is a key element to being able to let go of the intellect and let the paint fly onto the canvas without thinking and calculating, allowing artistic grace to happen. The exhilarating joy of being there to paint, to create from what is visually there in front of you, the sublime fragile beauty and translucent light of Provence will make it an unforgettable experience. A bientôt! Jill