Richelle Harrison Plesse is not just a Francophile... she is French!
Guest: Richelle Harrison Plesse
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Richelle Harrison Plesse is an accomplished international journalist who many Aussies would recognise from reporting and news-reading on our screens. She did not grow up as a Francophile but conversely considered herself an Anglophile! She moved to London after finishing university where she met her French husband and moved to Paris pour l’amour!
Richelle’s career moved into a new field after her French move. She had been doing a lot of travel journalism, lifestyle and culture reporting, but moved into hard news. She had the best of both worlds then by being able to report international news as well as still connecting with all the cultural things she loved. Her chat to me about her time working in newsrooms and also at France 24 was fascinating to me.
Richelle now doesn’t necessarily think of herself as a Francophile but rather she identifies as being French. I did suggest though that one can be both! French and a Francophile! Richelle’s best friend gave her a book when they were young, Almost French, which is about a woman who is a journalist who moved to France for love. I wonder if that book was a little prophetic!
One of the most memorable experiences in France for Richelle was reporting on the terror attacks in Paris. In January 2015, terrorists forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. 12 people died in the attack. I can imagine the impact would have been huge to a fellow journalist living in Paris such as Richelle. Later the same year in November stormed the Bataclan during a music concert, taking the audience hostage and killing 90 people. About the same time, 40 people were murdered in attacks on bars, restaurants and at the Stade de France national stadium. Richelle was singing on stage in a bar nearby at the same time and all within her venue could tell something tragic was unfolding from messages coming through to smart phones. The manager told her to keep singing and distract the audience as the whole place locked down for their protection.
Richelle lost a friend and everyone she knew had lost someone or knew someone who had lost family or friends. She had to continue to be professional and report on the attacks. I can’t imagine how difficult for Richelle that period must have been, going to work when she was as she describes “dying inside”. For the first time when Richelle talked about this, I saw the situation as it was for Paris locals. Incidents such as the Paris attacks have never swayed me from my intention to travel as I have always been of the belief that these things can happen anywhere, even at home in Melbourne. It is one thing however to be a defiant traveler, but another entirely to have to live with that sort of tension and grief all around in an ongoing way. The resilience of the French people is formidable and the way Richelle described the way they have moved forward collectively as well as individually, is inspiring.
Discovering new corners of regional France is something I adore. Just like me Richelle is inspired by the history, the architecture, the culture and the lifestyle as well as just loving a meandering exploration in either Paris or a country region. Chatting to Richelle about these loves of mine was beautiful food for my aching FrancoFiler soul!
Richelle loves so many foods but one she mentioned that I also like to make at home is Soupe à l’oignon.
DjeuhDjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson – Caipirnha