Francophile Elizabeth Seitz loves sharing her knowledge and passion for the French culture with Dallas travelers.
Her France for Travelers workshop at SMU allows students to brush up on their French, learn French customs, and get transportation tips before their trips. Next, it will be among the signature events of the French Cultures Festival encompassing Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
The festival is a celebration of French culture coordinated by the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston from March 1 to 31. The French language has been celebrated on March 20, which marks the start of the Intergovernmental Organization of French-speaking nations, since 1970.
“France seems to be where it’s at when it comes to history, cuisine. You couldn’t do (everything there is to do) in France in a lifetime.” -Elizabeth Seitz
But Dallas tourists don’t need to go to Houston to prepare for the spring and summer travel season. Seitz’s workshop is available from 7-9 p.m. March 2-4 at SMU, where she’s taught for about 13 years.
Seitz started her firm French Affaires around 2008, but her interest in the culture began much earlier. She started learning the language as a teenager and student in the Park Cities and first traveled to the country at 18.
“I found the language and the culture are so rich, and there’s so much history,” she said. “I love being an American, but France was worth a second look.”
Seitz said when she first went to Paris, the pyramids in front of the Louvre museum weren’t built yet, the Musée d’Orsay was a defunct train station, and there were “no McDonalds.”
She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in French from Vanderbilt University, which is where she first started teaching the language in 1989. She also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and with Vanderbilt-in-France in Aix-en-Provence in the southern part of France.
She received a French government grant for training of French professors at the Centre of Applied Linguistics in Besançon, France, regarded as the world’s premier institution for teaching French as a foreign language and French linguistics.
After her stint as a French professor, Seitz said she felt compelled to share the knowledge and passion for the culture and l’art de vivre (the art of living) she’d gained during her travels. That led her to start French Affaires to offer language courses, culture lectures, personalized trip design, and insider travel experiences.
“France seems to be where it’s at when it comes to history, cuisine,” Seitz said. “You couldn’t do (everything there is to do) in France in a lifetime.”
She said the castles and gardens of France are a particular must-see.
Seitz said locals might also not know that France is the most-visited country in the world and is about the size of Texas.
She and her husband divide their time between the U.S. and France with their dog, Marcel.