Podcasts with Anne-Fleur: Explore the World with Earbuds

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Some people are adrenaline junkies. Me, I am a travel addict. I define travel this way for myself: I like to discover different lifestyles, cultures, traditions and sometimes, languages. As such, I enjoy traveling to a new neighborhood of Boston as much as going to Australia.  

During the first 18 months of the pandemic, I, like most of us, greatly missed being mobile. I wanted to go out and meet people on the street, in the supermarket, or in new countries. But I soon discovered that I could use podcasts as a way to “voyager” while doing dishes after my energetic toddler went to bed. While he dreamed about our next playground adventures, I got to sail away to parts unknown.

The podcasts I am about to present to you will take you on journeys you won’t forget. With these, you will travel through the wilds of France, to Spain and across the United States. 

Fasten your seatbelts, put on your headsets, sit back and enjoy the flight!

As a reminder, here is what the headphones next to the titles mean: One headphone, like this: ?  is for shorter and more tractable French and up to three headphones like this:  ?  ? ?  for longer and more complex. 

For the very first time again (Louie Creative), Flying Blue  ? ? 

What it’s about

This podcast is a series of 4 episodes documenting the very first time a woman, Aurélie, travels by herself and takes her very first plane ride to go on a solo trip to Spain. It is produced by Louie Creative, the branding content arm of Louie Media (the French studio that created Transfer, one of the most famous French native podcasts.) It was created for Flying Blue, which is the loyalty program of the airlines Air France-KLM. In these podcasts, we embark on the journey with Aurélie. For non native French speakers, the vocabulary is fairly accessible and the music conveys a lot of the emotions, which makes it a helpful bonus to follow the mini-series.

What I like about this show

While this is branded content, this podcast is not an ad but rather an invitation to travel, to escape, to dream and revisit sensations we all once experienced before the pandemic. I am a big fan of Théo Boulenger (Cerno), a French composer, and was delighted to discover he created the music for this short series. It is so precise, so well done. He worked with the talented Merry Royer (Première Loge), and this duo truly created something wonderful. Do you remember the very first time you checked your bags at an airport? The very first time you boarded an airplane–even if you were four years old? Or the very first time you went on an adventure by yourself? This 4-episode series will help you remember. 

An episode not to miss

While the series is chronological, you may listen to any episode independently without losing track of the story. However, I really loved the very first episode: “L’envol” because it really captures the quintessence of this show. Did Aurélie forget anything while packing? (Spoiler: She did.) How did she prepare for this very one-of-a-kind trip? What is it like to take off from earth for the first time ever? This episode is about leaving her house and getting to her destination. Even though simple in concept, this episode is quite moving. 

Pèlerinages Américains (Alex Grardel)

What it’s about

Alex Grardel discovered hitch-hiking as a teenager and traveled across Europe and North America. In 2019, he embarked on a one-of-a-kind adventure. With a mic in his back pocket, Alex decided to go meet “the Pilgrims:” various communities of people who embark on journeys to retrace the steps of their heroes around the country. Alex got to meet Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admirers, Into the Wild fans, the Mormon community gathering in Salt Lake City and even Kobe Bryant fans paying tribute to the late basketball legend. All these communities have something in common: they go on pilgrimages hundreds of miles away from their homes. Alex hitchhiked from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota to Jack Kerouac’s grave in Maine, and from Central Park in New York City to the Magic Bus (made famous by the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer) in Alaska. 

What I like about this show

This is hands-down one of my favorite podcasts ever. I love Alex’s approach to take us along on his journey. We hitch-hike with him, look for a place to sleep with him, sing along with the classic tunes he uses, and come to love the interesting people he interviews and highlights. I also really enjoy that the interviews are not dubbed; rather, he explains what happened in the conversation after it’s over in French. This makes the podcast more accessible to non native French speakers–and you learn, too, because you hear it in English and right after in French–and this style gives more authenticity to each episode. Lastly, the music is an important part of the show, and will transport you wherever Alex travels.

An episode not to miss

Honestly, it is hard to pick only one episode here. Rather, I’ll share my top 3 favorite episodes of Pèlerinages Américains: John Lennon : pèlerinage à New York pour l’icône pacifiste (the first of 3 episodes in a series dedicated to counter cultures); Pompiers Américains, pèlerinage pour les héros du 11 Septembre – Partie 3 : New York (the last of a 3-episodes series honoring American firemen around the country); and John & Bobby Kennedy : pèlerinage pour deux frères au destin tragique (following the footsteps of two catholic democrats, Bobby and John F. Kennedy).

L’Ardèche au creux de l’oreille (Stereolab), Ardèche Tourisme

What it’s about

What if you could visit one of the most beautiful regions of France before planning your next European vacation? What if you could get an idea of what there is to see from the comfort of your morning commute? This is what this podcast aims to offer. And delivers. Hervé, a Parisian podcaster, takes us through some of the most quintessential experiences of Ardèche, a region in France that is not densely populated and is home to some of France’s most beautiful villages.

What I like about this show

Ardèche is a region I don’t know well but have always dreamed of. I love that this show takes me off the beaten path, and leaves room for my imaginations. In it, Hervé explains what he sees, feels, or even tastes but he does not rush, and my mind wanders through the scenery while I listen to the show. I also like that while the emphasis is on the discovery, Hervé also shares, through his own experience, precious practical tips, which is particularly helpful for trip planning.

An episode not to miss

Again, so hard to only pick one episode. Here you can pick any episode to listen to, and can start in any order–there are lots of possibilities. I may recommend you start with Des falaises au bivouac des Gorges de l’Ardèche. In this short episode, Hervé will transport you to one of the most emblematic ecological spots of the region: Les gorges de l’Ardèche, which is a series of gorges in the river, locally known as the “European Grand Canyon”. 

Une lettre d’Amérique (Lionel Gendron), RTL ? ? ? 

What it’s about

Une lettre d’Amérique (literally meaning “a letter from America”) was initially created by Philippe Corbé (former US correspondent for RTL) during the presidential electoral campaign in 2020 to share his perspectives while on the road. Now hosted by Lionel Gendron, this show is your audio postcard from a French correspondent based in the US. 

What I like about this show

I have always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes of news reporting. I particularly like how both Philippe Corbé and Lionel Gendron share personal stories and extrapolate from there to explain life in the US.

An episode not to miss

Because of last weekend’s marathon in New York City, I was going to tell you about this episode, where Lionel Gendron takes us to his his first New York City Marathon and explains the history of the marathon as a way to foster inclusivity in the city. It is a great episode! But then I remembered this episode, created by Philippe Corbé, Gendron’s predecessor in April 2020. Back then, Corbé was in New York too, under lockdown. It was the very beginning of the pandemic– and the situation in New York was unraveling. In this very powerful episode, Corbé shares a love letter he composed for New York City and its inhabitants. It is indeed very moving. This episode also offers a translation of this New York Times article by Roger Cohen as well as an interview with him (in French).

Anne-Fleur Andrle is a Boston-based French-American podcast producer. She hosts a French Morning show called, French Expat, where she documents the journeys of French-speaking expats around the world. She is so passionate about podcasts that she created a podcast about it, called Génération Podcast, and has a weekly curated newsletter with French podcasts that she thinks are not to miss. She also consults for various organizations to help ramp up their podcast footprint.

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