We love our members! In fact, we love them so much that we want you to get to know them and share in our community. In this series, Member Spotlight, the French Library introduces you to a member via our blog. This edition we are featuring Anne Atheling, a member whose history with the Center dates back to the 1940s and knows how to find a good deal at the opera! Read on to learn more about Anne...

Anne's advice for travelers: "Go young, go often, and go long."

Tell us about your first experience with the French Library.

In the spring of 1948, on my way from my home in New York City to spend the summer in Rockport, MA, I spent a week volunteering at the then-French Library on Newbury Street and met-up with the Smith College students returning from their junior year in France (one of the first post WWll). This brief experience at the French Library inspired me to apply for the Smith College Junior Year in France - and kicked off a life-long love of everything French. For many years I enjoyed membership at the FCC and today I am delighted that, in spite of "confinement", virtual programs are helping me to maintain my conversation skills with Alors... and my connection with France today via the Ciné-Club

What was it like living and traveling in France after WWII?

Parisian families were not yet ready to host us when we arrived in the fall, so we lived and took classes at Reid Hall which is in the Montparnasse quarter. We moved in with host families after the Christmas break. I could add endless details about daily life but, with no refrigeration, our hostess shopped daily and food storage was on the windowsill; we were each assigned a specific day of the week for a bath, and breakfast was left on a tray outside our bedroom doors. And a fun detail that always amuses - Jackie Bouvier (Kennedy) was in our class but, of course, did not live with us in Reid Hall.

During the academic year, we explored the cultural riches in and around Paris and ventured further afield on vacations. But I wanted to see Europe and didn’t have much money, so during spring break 1950, I learned how to travel on a budget - youth hosteling by bus in Brittany and the Loire Valley. Once on summer vacation, May to October 1950, I hosteled on my own through Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, and England - and, at 19, acquired "advanced" street-smarts in European travel before returning to NYC.

How did you keep up your French language learning while you raised your family?

I didn’t. French was not part of my life for 50 years until my three children were on their own and I could indulge my long-dormant love of all things French. Starting in 2000, I have been spending time in Paris every year. In 2019 I spent nine months and had planned on returning this year.

In retirement, you have been living in Paris for a portion of each year. What has that been like?

I have been fortunate to find reasonable lodging in central Paris, the key to my “long stay”. As a native New Yorker (Manhattan), I have keen “street-smart” skills. With a very modest budget, I have found endless free or inexpensive cultural activities such as opera and ballet tickets for five euros! Most importantly, I have friends in Paris who have made me part of their very normal daily lives.

What words of advice do you have for other travelers?

Go young, go often, and go long.

Interested in sharing your story or becoming a member?

Contact our Membership Manager, Natalie Collet, at or call (617) 912-0400.

Natalie Collet

Former Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French!

See All Posts

Related Posts

Thirty thousand books later...

Sonia says "au revoir"! I first started working for the French Library in the early fall of 2021. Covid variants were still very much making…

Read More

Les Crêpes de Bertrand Larcher

Last Saturday, many of our members braved the freezing cold temperatures to celebrate La Chandeleur at the French Library with us. We were amongst friends,…

Read More

Lifelong Learning of French - Part 2

Since I was very young I knew I wanted to learn as many languages as possible. It all started when I was a kid, and…

Read More

Upcoming Events


The impressionist revolutions

In person Master Class: French Culture and History

From Apr 4, 2023 To Apr 25, 2023 6:30 PM To 7:30 PM

Master class on Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne and Auguste Renoir: four sessions and one Museum of Fine Arts visit to better understand the French impressionists.

Read More

Musiciennes de légende by Marina Chiche

Author talk and book signing

Friday, April 7, 2023 6:30 PM To 8:00 PM

The French Library is pleased to welcome award-winning French violinist and author Marina Chiche. Marina will tell us more about her work on making classical music accessible to the widest audience possible and highlighting exceptional women performers forgotten by history because of their gender.

Read More
Saturday, April 8, 2023 10:45 AM To 11:45 AM

In this fun workshop, kids will learn about the life and paintings in the naïve style of Francophone Greek painter, Effie Michelis.

Read More