Interview with moi…

My trip to France last year was with Elderhostel, (aka Road Scholar) a way-cool non-profit that organizes wonderful trips all over the world. Originally structured just for seniors, the parameters kept shifting, and now some of the most alluring trips are aimed at seniors and their grandchildren. (I can’t wait. No. I can.) There is a definite educational aspect to the tours, and local experts are available at each stop to accompany the tourists. The group I was with was fabulous. My fellow travelers were intelligent, educated, funny, articulate, and engaged. They were always up for new adventures (though, truth to tell, the risk factors for seniors in Southwest France probably top out at shaky stone castle steps.)
 
So when Road Scholar had a contest: send a photo and answer some questions, of course I entered. The photo I sent was this one:
 
Maison Drouin
 
That’s me in front of the house in Normandy where my ancestor, Robert Drouin, was born in 1607. I figured the house would make me a winner. And it did. So in January, I met at the University of Oregon Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art with Lisa Teso, a Portland photographer, and she took many photos of me. Then we went off to my house and she took photos of Lucy and Bubba, my Norwegian Forest Kittens. Here’s my favorite photo of them: (to say they were uncooperative doesn’t begin to address it.) 
 
here’s a link to a wonderful photo of me that Lisa took:
 
So my photo and a short interview were published in the most recent Road Scholar brochure of international programs. The full interview was on the website, and I’ve copied it here. Enjoy.
 
As a freelance researcher and editor for authors of historical fiction, Franzeca Drouin can, as she puts it, help “select the proper carriage for a dowager, compose an authentic menu for a dinner for the Prince Regent, furnish a duke’s bedroom (in London or his country estate) or arrange an elopement to Gretna Green.” As a student of history, Franzeca chooses to explore the world with Road Scholar. We asked her a little more about her experiences as a Road Scholar participant.
Q: Why do you choose to learn with Road Scholar?
A: I want to submerge myself in a culture, its language, its cuisine, its art and architecture, and especially, its history. I love learning how a culture develops and evolves. I find it incomparably rewarding to study the artifacts of a society, in situ, while living amid the current citizens of that culture.
Q: Describe your favorite memory from a Road Scholar program.
A: The day on Southwest France when we visited the cave paintings, at Lascaux 2 and at Rouffignac. That evening found us at our favorite restaurant in Sarlat, feasting, practicing our French on the reluctant waiter and sipping the local walnut wine. We had an impassioned discussion of the cave paintings. We had been deeply and thoroughly moved by the experience, and it was made infinitely more precious in the sharing.
 
Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned on a Road Scholar program?
A: As a history student, I felt utterly compelled to visit every old church that I found. The varieties of architecture never failed to delight me. For instance, the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse, basically a rectangle, totally blew my mind, and it did the same for my fellow participants when we visited it together. The Spanish pilgrims singing multi-part hymns while we were there enhanced the experience. The 12th century untouched church of St. Leon in St. Leon sur Vézère was entirely different, though just as fascinating. Then, finding the mighty cathedral of St. Front in Perigueux on my last day in France brought the magnificent adventure to a satisfying end.
 
Q: We offer 8,000 learning adventures in all 50 states and 90 countries around the world. If you could pick just one of those programs, what would it be? Why that one? Why does that program speak to you?
A:As a medievalist, I would be thrilled to visit and explore any medieval site in Europe. So, for me, almost every Road Scholar program in Europe sounds absolutely fabulous. I find visiting ancient churches an especially moving experience: the cathedrals are the epicenter of the historical, artistic, and spiritual heritages of medieval society. Most of the cathedrals are still cherished, lovingly preserved, and completely accessible. Even recent changes or deterioration of the fabric of the building is a record of history’s progress within the culture.If I had to pick one program, it would be Walking the Hill Towns of Umbria. My husband doesn’t share my passion for history, but he would enjoy long walks in beautiful Italy and authentic Italian meals, while observing Italian life, and people, and cars, on the route. If he could find a local soccer game to watch, he would be in utter bliss.
 
Q: Outside of Road Scholar programs, how do you like to challenge your mind?
A: I’m a freelance researcher and editor for authors of historical romance novels, and my authors find ways to challenge my mind on a daily basis. Currently, I am researching early 19th century contagions in England, medical training in France in 1800 and Georgian kitchens. I find the research utterly fascinating, and it’s very rewarding to see how cleverly my authors have integrated the information I’ve provided into their books.