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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Four Ways to Meet New People

Whenever I engage with members of the French Library, particularly during our "Alors Conversation Club," my first question is often about their reasons for joining…

Read More

Event Recap: Bastille Day 2023 at La Voile Brookline!

This past Friday, our Bastille Day celebration was back for another installment at the charming La Voile in Brookline; over 70 guests enjoyed French appetizers…

Read More


Dear Friends, Merci! That is undoubtedly one of the first French words you learned. At this half-way point through the year, as I reflect on…

Read More

Upcoming Events

Wine Seminar

Wine Seminar - Rhône#2

Gastronomy & Wine program: Your French Culinary Arts and Wine Journey

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Join us in our Victorian Founder's Room for the first Wine Seminar of the year, dedicated to the Loire Valley wines. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, our series is tailored to provide a deeper understanding of French wines, refine your wine-tasting skills and vocabulary, and foster confidence in conversations, selections, and pairings. We will provide you with an authentic French perspective and access to a splendid array of quality wines.

Read More
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Meet the heroes who saved multiple art works during WWII in France! Michelle Young is a Harvard Graduate, author of the upcoming book The Art Spy about spy Rose Valland.

Read More
Thursday, May 30, 2024

Let's clink glasses and have a great time together! In collaboration with the Boston French Community.

Read More