fancyrobot archive

[Here is the archive of the FancyRobot comment thread on FIA, the good, the bad and the ugly of it. The original blog post by Ms. Segura starts things off. She is, of course, mistaken about Ms. Allain’s résumé. Disclaimer: the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Mystère et boules de gomme! blog. ]

French in Action

Remember French in Action? If, like me, you took French in high school and/or college, chances are you were exposed to the ultimate language-instruction soap opera. You’d watch the tapes, follow the adventures of Mireille (meeerrrrray) and Robert (roh-behrrrrrrrrrr), and learn some French along the way. French in Action was famous amongst the students for moments of incongruous hilarity like when Robert realized the hallway outside of his apartment smelled like cat pee (a useful phrase to learn in French, they love their cats) or when, daydreaming about romance with Mireille, gazing up into le ciel bleu (the blue sky), he toppled off a balcony and ended up in the hospital. Only to leave the hospital right after having his cast put on to rescue Mireille from a fire.

Rumors flew amongst my college French class pupils that the actress who played Mireille was actually a porn star at some point. Apparently, this was a well-known fact at many high schools that used the tapes. Unfortunately, there was no cast list available with the tapes, no way to find out her real name. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever gone into a Paris porn store looking for the oeuvre of a particular actress whose name you don’t know (oui, c’est l’actrice de Francais en Action, elle est une porn star) but, well, don’t bother.

As luck would have it, a good six years after taking my last French class, it suddenly dawned on me to try iMDb. Guess what I found.

Valerie Allain

That’s her name. Valerie Allain. You’ve got a web browser. Do what you need to do. I run a clean site here.

Posted by Liliana Segura on March 27, 2003 at 08:45 AM | Permalink


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Is that true Valerie Allain passed away in a motorcycle accident? Rumours said that around 1997 that happened and coincide that all data available to her are prior to that.

Do you know anything about it?

Also, I did not understand the meaning of your sentence:
As luck would have it, a good six years after taking my last French class, it suddenly dawned on me to try iMDb (???). Guess what I found.

Valerie Allain

That’s her name. Valerie Allain. You’ve got a web browser. Do what you need to do. I run a clean site here (???)

Please let me know.


Posted by: Carlos | June 24, 2003 at 11:22 PM

There are two Valerie Allains. One is the actress in French in Action, the other is the porn actress. Not the same person.

Posted by: Cynthia | August 01, 2003 at 11:35 AM

One word: A-R-I-A

Posted by: Reineer Wolfcastle | October 10, 2003 at 08:49 PM

The girl from FIA was not a porn star, but she did appear naked in several films. There are pictures at the site below:

Posted by: goethe | December 05, 2003 at 08:45 AM

Thanks for the FIA info. I am about half way through (lesson 21), and started wondering about the cast. Too bad we do not know more about what happened to them all, including Pierre Capretez (from what I can tell, he left Yale over a decade ago). It must be 20 years since the series was filmed. It would be interesting to know where everyone ended up.

One question. After you finished all 52 lessons, how comfortable did you feel in your French? Did you still make mistakes? In other words, after lesson 52, could you pick up a french college textbook and read it without the help of a dictionary? Are there any other study aid’s you liked?

Posted by: Tom | January 26, 2004 at 02:03 AM

Check out these screencaps of Valerie from some movie she did just after FIA!!

Posted by: Robert Taylor | February 10, 2004 at 05:49 AM

Pierre Capretz is still at Yale. He’s old, but we’ve still got him. 🙂

Posted by: A Yalie | March 02, 2004 at 08:50 PM

I do not think that link above is really Mireille, rather her face added to some chick. Some body parts look off, not perky enough.

Posted by: tom | March 03, 2004 at 11:21 PM

I don’t know, but is probably than Valerie Allain is DEAD, I mean both, because there’s no information over the sexy and sweet french teenager of the FIA, and the amazing girl form ARIA.

Posted by: Simon Lebon | May 12, 2004 at 06:16 PM

Having learned from FIA in high school, one of my favorite things about going to school at Yale was getting to see Pierre walking around campus. Never ceased to amuse me. The girl in FIA was in Aria, and then there’s a girl with the same name (perhaps with only one ‘l’ in the last name) who is or was actually in porn. I don’t know if either of them are dead. VIVE OUSMANE!

Posted by: Ousmane | July 25, 2004 at 02:07 AM

I just had an email from a Frenchman named Philippe who has a site with a page on the legit Valerie Allain, who was the highlight of French in Action. The info. about her on his site stops in the year 2000, but he saw her on French TV just last month, so she is indeed alive & still working. I’m going to try to find current info. & pictures of her. She must be near 40 by now. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Robert | November 13, 2004 at 05:22 PM

I just had an email from a Frenchman named Philippe who has a site with a page on the legit Valerie Allain, who was the highlight of French in Action. The info. about her on his site stops in the year 2000, but he saw her on French TV just last month, so she is indeed alive & still working. I’m going to try to find current info. & pictures of her. She must be near 40 by now. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Robert | November 13, 2004 at 05:22 PM

That link with the vidcaps from the movie Club de Rencontres isn’t a fake. I’ve got the movie on video and that’s really her, tits and all.

Posted by: Minouche | December 23, 2004 at 06:16 PM

Just go to:

Many of the questions raised by this board were answered four years ago in the group messages.



Posted by: Guynemer | January 03, 2005 at 08:01 PM

What happens at the very end???? I’m a high school freshman and really want to know….and unfortunatly it’s true Mireille is a porn star ( a boy in my class is certain if you know what i mean)

Posted by: Eleanor | February 01, 2005 at 06:49 PM

In the last ep Robert falls off a balcony if I’m not mistaken.
He’s badly injured and ends up in hospital.
It’s a bit hazy after all these years but I think the man in black turns out to be a talent agent or something who offers Mireille ‘work’ 0_o.
The oly other cast member I’ve heard anything about is Charlotte Kady. She did a few things in the 90s.
I wonder what became of the girl who played Marie Laure,,
She was cute.. ^_^

Posted by: Jack | March 23, 2005 at 08:22 PM

Valerie Allain is NOT a porn star.. she has never done hard core movies.
She has done a few nude scenes is all.
She is NOT a porn star…

Posted by: Jack | March 23, 2005 at 08:24 PM

I’m a big fan of the FIA series myself, although I bumped into the program after studying several years of French. As someone else posted, I too became interested in knowing more about the cast of actors/actresses who took part in the show — especially considering how long ago the series was filmed.

It’s a bit dissapointing (at least to me) that when I looked for Charles Mayer (« Robert Taylor »), I was only able to really find anything about him from iMDb, yet when I looked up Allain, there were a good handful (no pun intended) of websites devoted to such lovely tributes as footage of « Marie-Laure » tickling her feet.

All of the actors were loveable and I’m curious to know where they are and what they look like today. Does anyone know if there are any websites or anything where this type of information might be found? Vive Charles Mayer! 😉

Posted by: colette | March 29, 2005 at 11:30 PM

Hi, i really like French in action, and they show it here every Tuesday and Wednesday. I was wondering if anyone could tell me the name of one of the character in the show. He was a friend or cousin(i am not sure) of Mireille? He was in the last lessons around lessons47 and onward. He had red hair.
any help?
I really love the show even though at times i don’t understand it that well.

Posted by: samsara | April 13, 2005 at 03:18 PM

Hi, i really like the program French in Action. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of one of the characters in the show. He appears in lesson 47 and onward i think. He was either a friend or a cousin of Mireille? He had red hair.


Posted by: R | April 13, 2005 at 03:22 PM

hi my name is andres and im 27 i liked the soap opera as soon as i saw it on my cable tv its the 1st time i see it . i was a kid when this soap opera was on air . i wish i had seen it before . the cast list do appear at the end of it . when i looked 4 vallerie pics i remained a little dissapointed as soon as i saw her naked . but i dont mind she’s still pretty same as her sister in fia virginie contesse she’s 1 year older than me i tried 2 search 4 her at google but it appears nothin can u tell me somethin about her . i mean both
they r still pretty.

Posted by: andres abad | April 16, 2005 at 11:18 AM

LOL I don’t remember the part where Robert realizes the hallway smells like cat pee. Do you remember in which lesson it was?

Posted by: Jennie | May 13, 2005 at 07:02 PM

What????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Was the point ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Posted by: | May 16, 2005 at 10:54 PM

I actualy wrote to professor Capretz back in ’96 inquiring if he knew the whereabouts or had any news of Virginie Contesse (Marie-laure). He was kind enough to give me the adress where she lived during the time French in Action was being filmed. I sent a letter to that adress but it came back with a notation that no one by that name lived there. Ah well…she must have moved on. Too bad. I thought she was pretty funny.

Posted by: Justplainugly | May 21, 2005 at 07:34 PM

hi my name is andres . im back again . can u give me pierre capretz e-mail .

i would appreciate it


Posted by: andres abad | July 02, 2005 at 11:59 AM

Haha, I see someone signed their name on here as Simon Lebon. (me = HUGE Duran Duran fan.) Anyways…

Shucks, I was also hoping to find some more information on some of the actors of FIA, (especially « Robert »–his imdb profile says he did some nonfrench things–huh?) but I see I am not alone with pretty much dead-ends. I’ve been watching this show for as long as I can remember.(1987 I think I may have started?) Now, that I am studying french in school, it is really helping!

Posted by: Kats | July 16, 2005 at 06:39 AM

it should be noted that all episodes of FIA are available to watch online at

Posted by: j | July 19, 2005 at 12:58 AM

Wow! Valerie Allain. Thee most natural beauty known to exist on our planet in the last 23 years of my extensive research. I’m surprised that she does not have an official web site/fan club. I remember how my heart dropped and my adrenaline rushed when I first saw her on PBS in 1997. I was only 16 years old and still to this day at 23 years of age, I still feel that same shock and awe. I hope someone can give me her phone number or address. I’m sure she would like to go out with me. This would be a super superb act of kindness. Ha, I even make myself laugh. Merde! Pepe le pue!

Posted by: Roberto Carlos Reyna | July 22, 2005 at 08:15 PM

Il n’y a aucun pisse de chat. Robert habite dans un petit hôtel du quartier Latin. Ce n’est pas luxueux, il dit, mais c’est propre et pas très cher. Des chats? Non! Bien sûr, je l’ai peut-être raté, mais je suis en train de voir cette série la troisième fois. Si je détecte de la pisse de chat, je vais la signaler ici. (Vive Jean-Claude!)

Posted by: Dan Phillips | August 01, 2005 at 12:16 AM

Lesson 32 – Robert goes to dinner at the Bellou’s house. It is there in the vestibule of the apartment house that « le vestibule sent le pipi de chat »

Posted by: L McCarthy | August 02, 2005 at 03:09 PM

Robert said that Mme. Allain must be near 40 by now. He is right.
Her birthday is April 3, 1966 which means she will indeed turn 40 next year.
She was 21 at the time FIA was filmed (1987)
She is very much alive and still looks great!

Posted by: PWT | August 03, 2005 at 07:00 PM

L, you are right about the cat. I heard it as « Pipi the cat ». I thought that was the cat’s name. There are always new things to discover in this show :).

Posted by: Dan Phillips | August 03, 2005 at 11:26 PM

Dan, this is my first time watching this show and it is so frustrating because my station appears to be showing them in random order. One day episode 49, next day 22, etc. I am probably the only woman on this board and I just discovered FIA recently and I am watching it to work on my French (not to look at Valerie!). Anyway, I love the show – they act out so many daily life scenarios. They just played the cat episode recently, so I caught that line (thank god for Tivo!)

Posted by: LMacCarthy | August 09, 2005 at 06:52 PM

All of the posts are interesting and did
answer many of my FIA questions.However just one request……………if only one
A picture of Virginie Contesse as she looks today………….I have tried many searches
but nothing.Would she be about maybe 30 ish
help would be appreciated greatly

Posted by: David Bebeau | August 13, 2005 at 04:48 PM

Just wanted to chime in for anyone visiting Paris…I suspected that they filmed in my neighborhood but it turns out I lived on the same block as Mireille’s house in the series. Thanks to Tivo I spotted her address. It is at 18 rue de Vaugirard, 6ième (directly across from the Jardin de Luxembourg).

Posted by: John Guinness | August 13, 2005 at 06:55 PM

The weird thing is that a major element of the story was that the ‘homme en noir’ was taking an obsessive interest in Mireille … Il y a des tas de hommes en noir ici. Bizarre bizarre.

Posted by: Dan Phillips | August 15, 2005 at 02:23 PM

Hello all! I use to watch FIA also…actually I’ve seen it several times. I really love it. I’ve been in Paris last June and when I was at Jardin du Luxembourg I remembered about Marie-Laure and her boat…and still today the children play with boats in the big lake there. It was great…I also was at Rue de Vaugirard..le Senat..all these made me remember them..the cast…La Rue de Rivoli…un tas des choses…It would be wonderful to have some news from the cast…It’s a pity they are kind of lost.

Posted by: Camila Mendes | August 17, 2005 at 01:23 PM

I think perhaps it was a time when a group of
young French people got together to teach us French.We got to know them quite well as the
lessons went on.Now they are grown up and so are we and pehaps natually we want to know then as adults.I have searched far and wide
for photos or clues as to what they look like today with no luck.I will continue my search.Virginie,if you are out there please give your fans a sign.

Posted by: David Bebeau | August 19, 2005 at 07:29 PM

Michael Wiseman, listed by as « Obnoxious French student » (rather meanly — I thought he was funny), seems to have gone on to do action movies and TV. He was in a couple of episodes of Star Trek Voyager. I’ll have to see if I can spot him in that.

Posted by: Dan Phillips | August 20, 2005 at 12:59 PM

Hello, I have recorded on TV all the episodes of FIA which served me as a springboard to learn French,also in my possession an encyclopedia sized textbook. I love this methode francaise that I came across only a year after taking up French. It was a great way to get a good idea of French language from sheer zero. Of course, I love all the characters in the series, sometimes hilarious and sentimental. A little warning, never be complacent after mastering this series. I found that French is even more deeper than it seems.
So good continuation!

Posted by: Patrick Yi | August 27, 2005 at 12:33 PM

Hello, I have recorded on TV all the episodes of FIA which served me as a springboard to learn French,also in my possession an encyclopedia sized textbook. I love this methode francaise that I came across only a year after taking up French. It was a great way to get a good idea of French language from sheer zero. Of course, I love all the characters in the series, sometimes hilarious and sentimental. A little warning, never be complacent after mastering this series. I found that French is even more deeper than it seems.
So good continuation!

Posted by: Patrick Yi | August 27, 2005 at 12:34 PM

Actually her name is Valérie Allain, note the accent aigu on the e (ie: é). I am in my second semester of French and am having a hard time and recently found this show on TV and I fell in love with Valérie Allain. She is so jolie! Can’t believe I am actually saying this aloud. But her beauty is just so… wow! I hope she is ok and doing well. Would love to see her now.

Posted by: anon | September 16, 2005 at 12:21 PM

Hi – I’m in the UK and stumbled upon FIA and have managed to download the videos and audio from some college in the USA that hasn’t password protected them. (They seem to be only free in the USA and Canada and not aired on British TV). FIA seems to be becoming quite a cult now it’s on the net. I’m up to lecon 11 and enjoying the frustration! Au revoir!

Posted by: Allan | September 16, 2005 at 08:57 PM

anyone remember the little puppets at the end?

haha, those always gave me a laugh. the little guy that pops up with the red coat on with the sign that read ‘Fin’ was so cute. lol.

Posted by: | September 19, 2005 at 02:52 PM

Bonjour everybody,
this is Robert Taylor (Charles Mayer) from French in Action. I found that site while surfing, and read all your comments…You can ask me whatever questions you have about FIA and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
A bientôt !

Posted by: | September 22, 2005 at 07:33 PM

Bonjour everybody,
this is Robert Taylor (Charles Mayer) from French in Action. I found that site while surfing, and read all your comments…You can ask me whatever questions you have about FIA and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
A bientôt !

Posted by: Charles Mayer | September 22, 2005 at 07:33 PM

Robert again.
Please send your questions at :

Bonne soirée,

Posted by: Charles Mayer | September 22, 2005 at 07:48 PM

How long did it take to shoot the series? Did the cast get along well? Anything else you want to tell us about the show would be great.

Posted by: Tim | October 05, 2005 at 05:00 PM

Hey Allan,

Can you contact me at I have a link for watching the videos online, but I can not store them for later use. This is problematic because the above mentioned link ONLY works in north america and I am now living in estonia.

please let me know where that site is so i can download and view…

Posted by: Mike | October 07, 2005 at 10:49 AM

Who could learn french, while watching Valerie’s every move during the programs.

Posted by: Concerned | October 20, 2005 at 11:45 PM

Is there going to be a special reuinion for French in Action? If there is could you let me know. Thanks

Posted by: Andre Morales | October 27, 2005 at 03:14 AM

If you want to download the entire ‘French in Action’ series you can do so in the link I have given.

It is a hefty 5.9 gig download and you need a Bittorrent client. There are only a couple of seeds at the moment and I am one of them on my slow connection so get in there quickly!!

I hope this series is good at supplementing my university French classes.

Here’s the link:

For more info on Bittorrent visit

Posted by: GR81 | November 18, 2005 at 04:24 PM

Like Charles Mayer, I just happened upon this site. Pierre Capretz is alive and well and is still associated with Yale University as the Director of the Language Development Studio, where we continue to develop cutting-edge language programs. We just completed an interactive DVD for teaching intermediate to advanced French, which is based on the classic Truffaut film, Jules et Jim. It was recently published by Thomson Heinle. Presently, we are developing ‘French in Interaction’, an interactive DVD with related website.

Pierre was surprised and pleased to hear that FIA has become somewhat of a cult. His smile hasn’t changed.

A bientôt !

Steve Evans
Language Development Studio
Yale University

Posted by: Steve | November 22, 2005 at 10:56 AM

has anyone managed to find a photo of Marie-Laure yet? I am wondering what she looks like now that she has grown up.

Posted by: Simone | December 05, 2005 at 08:19 PM

Excepting Aria, does anyone know where to get good quality videos of Vals’ films? I have a a video of « Les Nouveaux Tricheurs » but it is of poor display on a North American screen.thanks, LS.

Posted by: lorne | December 08, 2005 at 11:50 AM

This link contains the filmgraphie of Valérie Allain, the french actress who played Mireille in FIA.

Posted by: Helen | December 08, 2005 at 06:16 PM

If you want French In Action episode guides or a forum to talk about French in Action, check out

Posted by: French In Action | December 31, 2005 at 09:55 PM

Bonjour tout le monde, c’est Robert.
I have received a few e:mails; I will answer them petit à petit, and also answer some of the questions from this page.

OK, first, Valérie is NOT a pornstar, allright, and never was !

From Tom:
«It would be interesting to know where everyone ended up (Posted by: Tom | January 26, 2004 at 02:03 AM)»

After 24 years in France, I moved back to Montréal, Province of Québec, Canada in 1995. I never really stayed in touch with the other members of the cast, which is usually the case once a project ends. The last time I saw Valérie was a couple of years after shooting. It was for an interview about the series with the parisian correspondant of a Boston newspaper.

From Colette :
(Posted by: colette | March 29, 2005 at 11:30 PM) :
«It’s a bit dissapointing (at least to me) that when I looked for Charles Mayer (« Robert Taylor »), I was only able to really find anything about him from iMDb
All of the actors were loveable and I’m curious to know where they are and what they look like today. Does anyone know if there are any websites or anything where this type of information might be found? Vive Charles Mayer! ;)»

Merci beaucoup chère Colette !
I’m mostly a theatre actor; I’ve done a few things for TV and film. If you’re really interested, I was in an australian 4 hours mini-series called Golden Fiddles. It was shot in 1990; it’s a bit cheezy, but you can check it out at :

Also, a great black & white short film called Skin Horse. It’s touring festivals right now. You can check for dates on :

Web site of the film :

From Samsara (Posted by: samsara | April 13, 2005 at 03:18 PM)
«I was wondering if anyone could tell me the name of one of the character in the show. He was a friend or cousin(i am not sure) of Mireille? He was in the last lessons around lessons 47 and onward. He had red hair. Any help?»
From R (Posted by: R | April 13, 2005 at 03:22 PM)Hi, i really like the program French in Action. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of one of the characters in the show. He appears in lesson 47 and onward i think. He was either a friend or a cousin of Mireille? He had red hair. Merci:)

Dear Samsara, dear R, the actor’s name is Franck Lapersonne. He still works regularly in France as an actor.

Lot of questions about Marie-Laure. You have to remember the series was shot during the summer of 1985, so we’re all 20 years older! Valérie was 20, I was 27, do the maths…So Virginie – Marie-Laure must be in her early 30ies…? (Can’t exactly remember how old she was back then).

From Tim (Posted by: Tim | October 05, 2005 at 05:00 PM)
«How long did it take to shoot the series? Did the cast get along well? Anything else you want to tell us about the show would be great.»
It took about 50 days to shoot the series.
It was during the summer of ’85. The cast & crew were great, we had loads of fun, great parties, very good times. Paris in the summer…As I mentioned earlier tough, we lost track after shooting. It sems – and I’ve always regretted that – every project creates a kind of artificial family; the bonds are real and strong. But once the project is done, everybody goes back to their…real life. It’s like summer camp I guess…

From Andre Morales (Posted by: Andre Morales | October 27, 2005 at 03:14 AM)
Is there going to be a special reunion for French in Action? If there is could you let me know. Thanks
Dear Andre,
A special reunion would be great! Yale and Pierre Capretz should organize it. I’m ready to help trace the actors, and go to Boston if it happens !

Et maintenant,
une merveilleuse année 2006 à tout le monde,
remplie de prospérité dans tous les domaines de votre vie. Et une santé de fer!
Charles Mayer – Robert

Posted by: Charles | January 07, 2006 at 11:41 PM

I know that FIA is available for free to stream at, but I want to watch them on my pocket PC.
Does anyone know where I can Download the episodes and then watch them later?


Posted by: Paul | January 09, 2006 at 10:38 AM

First of all I would like to thank Charles Mayer/Robert for graciously answering our queries about the program and cast.
Secondly, I think the FIA cast reunion idea is fabulous and really needs to be done.
Also, at least a special one hour reunion episode for PBS and/or educational material would be great! The reunion could even be the theme! There is a large viewing base considering all the ex and current students, educators and PBS/educational channel viewers that have been exposed to FIA over the last 20 years! What do you think, Pierre? Are you in?

Posted by: Mark | January 10, 2006 at 08:03 PM

Thank you once again, Mr. Charles Mayer for taking the time to answer our questions. Assuming you are, in fact, Charles Mayer and not an usurper…? (O_o)

My experience with the series was rather short lived. Though I took three years of French during high school, our teacher showed only one tape of the series; however, I was instantly a fan when I heard the professor say something along the lines of  » nous nous vont apprend comment parle français  » with such magnificent enthusiasm. I also loved the wonderful sense of nostalgia associated with introductory music, cinematography, and mannerisms of the actors — simply, the program captured a certain spirit of the late 1980’s.

Only recently have I rekindled my interest in the language as well as in French in Action, which remains a valuable tool in learning french.

I strongly agree with the poster who commented that she was a unique, natural beauty. Had I been in Paris that summer, I most certainly would have serenaded her and perhaps won her heart.

Here are some comments, or rather questions for Mr. Mayer: Did you ever meet Professor Pierre Capretz?

What sort of relationship did you develop with Valérie Allain? Is very unprofessional to romantically seek someone after the end of production?

Have you watched the series recently, and finally, did you have any idea so many people still loved your work?

Merci à l’avance.

Posted by: Faded Legend | January 11, 2006 at 11:46 PM

Does anybody know where to download Les Nouveaux Tricheurs or Club de Rencontres free?

Posted by: Franco Phone | January 15, 2006 at 01:59 PM

i am in hs and i watch fia on a regular basis…i was just wondering why mireille never seems to wear a bra?? those nipples are always there! and anything known about the marielaure recently??

Posted by: julio franco | January 16, 2006 at 06:28 PM

No one here, I repeat, no one, will EVER find out about the whereabouts of the actress who played Marie-Laure, Virginia Contesse. To me, she looked the most Gallic of all the cast members. I am sure she is aware that there is some interest in her now after all these years but she has chosen to move on with her life and it is pretty obvious that she has abandoned acting and « show business » altogether.

If she is heterosexual, it is very likely that she married and has adopted her husband’s last name, which will make it all the more difficult for those fans of FIA to locate her. She is, how do you say, « gone with the wind ».

Posted by: sleepypie | February 04, 2006 at 11:57 PM

It is certainly possible, Sleepypie, even if it is improbable. You seem so sure of being unable to find her such that you appear somewhat suspucious.

Posted by: Faded Legend | February 05, 2006 at 07:23 AM

I was long gone from school by the time French in Action came out. I’ve been using it to teach myself French, courtesy of PBS. And like so many others, I wonder what has become of the actors.

Especially Virginie Contesse, our wonderfully insouciant « Marie-Laure. »

Posted by: Alan | February 20, 2006 at 03:53 PM

Well, if the site can be kept clean of perversions and not sound like « stalker alley » in some instances…maybe the site will someday be graced with a message from one or both of the elusive ladies from FIA, as Charles Mayer / « Rrroberrr » has done.
Maintenons-le propre. Merci.

Posted by: Mark | February 23, 2006 at 01:45 AM


Actually, I’d like to know what became of all of them, including the ones of whom we saw fairly little, like Ousmanne.


Posted by: Alan | February 24, 2006 at 01:32 PM

Alan- you’re OK, I was referring to a few scattered prior posts. Yes, actually there were quite a few characters in the series. They should have a cast re-union for their own enjoyment if nothing else. I also catch the series on PBS – rarely in order, unfortunately.

Posted by: Mark | February 24, 2006 at 07:35 PM


I’d love to see an FIA reunion. And from reading these posts, I don’t think we’re the only ones.


Posted by: Alan | February 27, 2006 at 11:32 AM

I can’t believe Charles Mayer has posted here! I am so pleased! My question about what he has done since the series has been answered– turned out to be right about some of his projects. I hope he answers more questions again!

Posted by: Kats | March 01, 2006 at 04:12 AM

I’d also love to know what happened to the b-teamers such as Ousmanne.

Posted by: Bizz Litken | March 02, 2006 at 12:04 AM

I think I have discovered that Ousmanne is now a director. His name was Mohmmed Camara (talk about destiny) and I was able to track down this pic:

Posted by: Bizz Litken | March 05, 2006 at 08:52 AM

Robert! Please tell! Did you and Mirelle have a « real » romance?

Posted by: Susana | March 05, 2006 at 04:48 PM

I’m in love with Virginie Contessa!

I really want to see what she looks like now at age 32 or 33.
If you know any links to pics or such please post!!!!

Virginie, please read this and post what you’re up to now !!!!

I love you Virginie, I do !!!!!!!

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | March 10, 2006 at 12:44 AM

Yeah, I’m sure an informal invitation to be stalked will draw her out.

Posted by: Bizz Litkin | March 11, 2006 at 01:27 AM

The prevalent obsession with the little 10 year old girl is KiNda sCaRy……….

Posted by: Mark | March 13, 2006 at 11:57 PM

Ok, I love valerie aussi, and I have nothing against porn, but for those that say she only posed nude: go to google images, her name alone will be sufficient, and check out that 4-way photo of dear valerie taking a male protein bath and facial. case closed.

Posted by: Ed | March 31, 2006 at 12:55 PM

I had to look. No Ed, these poorly mocked up photos are « still photos » from « French In Action ».(Note the clothes – they are Mireille’s – this IS Mireille). The lover and party favors have been added. Note the title.. »I want to believe », along with the site name « Artifacial…… » This is his fantasy…well, yeah, uh, nevermind. Cheers.

Posted by: Mark | April 01, 2006 at 02:46 AM

I want to thank you for setting the record straight. You are absolutely right!!! Actually, I was sorry that I posted that crap right after I posted it.

I didn’t notice the details that you pointed out because I did not dwell on the photo. But of course it’s the clothes that give it all away.

I’m glad it turned out this way.

By the way, If anyone would like to re-live the French in Action episodes (maybe for the first time by way of these postings) there is a site that has all 52 segments. It’s a teacher’s resource site. You can’t save the downloads but you can see them in all of their glory. The site is:


Posted by: Ed | April 01, 2006 at 09:46 AM

I’ve watched the whole series several times now, as it’s the only decent French material I have access to. I think the saddest thing about FIA is that there’s only one season.

This show needs to be remade in _bad_ way. New characters, new story, new content, same format. I’ve lived in France, and this is the closest thing I’ve found to being there, with a combination of French, culture, and most importantly, things slowed down, clarified or repeated so that I can finally catch _every_ word.

Posted by: Tec | April 01, 2006 at 04:42 PM

While the world as a whole would benefit from any new form of education that meets its goals, the point of all of the posting going on here is the love of the original presentation called « French in Action ».

New characters and a new story would not be the show we are all remembering. If you look at some of the previous posts you will see that professeur Capretz is still producing new and innovative language presentations from Yale University. Perhaps one of those will satisfy your needs.

As far as those that are clamoring for a reunion « for their [the actors] own enjoyment if nothing else » they seem to be living in a romantic fantasy world. What would make you think that the actors would enjoy a re-union of a job thay had almost 20 years ago.

Perhaps they would, but I’m thinking about where I was 20 years ago and wouldn’t have the slightest idea what I would say to the people that I was working with at the time. I’m sure I wouldn’t even remember half of them.

We still watch FIA and it’s timeless for us. It’s as if it’s real and going on in some virtual space that we peek into at our leisure. People fill in the blanks with actual romances between Mireille and Robert and all sorts of other dream-like sequences of which a re-union seems just proper; real-world or not.

Just like a new show with new stories and new cast would burst the bubble and result in something meaningless, a re-union would be just as useless in enhancing the overall FIA experience.

Check please!!!

Posted by: Ed | April 02, 2006 at 12:02 AM

First you want to re-start the porn star rumor, then attack my – and other people’s desire to see what some characters look like and what they’re up to nowadays? Charles Mayer himself said he would LOVE to do a re-union. I suppose you were adamantly opposed to the « Gilligan’s Island » reunion too. Sorry these things insult your – intelligence?
Enough said.

Posted by: Mark | April 03, 2006 at 09:52 PM

Ohhhhh, sombody needs a nap.

Sorry I caught you on a « mauvais jour ». In retrospect, if the price was right, I’m sure the actors would just love a reunion, or did you think that the professor and Maryanne just showed up for old times sake.

The posting is hardly an attack, just my opinion. Sorry it made you angry.

With apologies to Giligan for missing the show.


Posted by: ed | April 04, 2006 at 09:04 AM

Well, you did use MY post and MY quote for the basis of your rant right after I nicely corrected your faux pas of the Valerie Allain porn thing you posted. What did you expect from me, kudos?

Your trying to make up for that blunder by sounding all so academic and beyond trivial interests while demeaning your corrector as a witless rube, finishing with the snobby critic’s « check please »…come on…really.

My interest in all this is just purely trivial entertainment – and I do enjoy the « where are they now » formats.
If people only attended paid reunions, there would be few. But we have all kinds of reunions worldwide, because many of us enjoy them. You didn’t attend any of yours, obviously – or found it lacking.

This is all I have to say in this matter…. I’ve had my nap and I’ll give Gilligan your ill regards.

Now let us return to pleasantness, there are other sites that handle arguements and I don’t care for doing it there either.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program………….

Posted by: Mark | April 04, 2006 at 10:00 PM

The point of my « rant » was simply that re-unions are sometimes disappointing, as in, « you can’t go back home again ». You didn’t pick up on that. At that point in the posting it had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with my purpose for writing. Which wasn’t about correcting a « blunder » that I already appologized for.

For some reason, youthful arrogance maybe, you took it as a personal attack. Again, I’m sorry about that but I don’t feel as if I need your permission to state an opinion.

Pleasentness notwithstanding, you should take a good look at your own postings. In addition to attempting to insult me, you have characterized other posters as « stalkers » and « KiNda sCaRy » perverts.

Not very nice, trivial or not.

For the record I don’t think you’re a rube.

Posted by: Ed au Culver Lake | April 05, 2006 at 11:16 AM

OK. As a middle aged man I normally laugh off such simple insults as a suggestion from a stranger that I live in a « fantasy land ». But it was a « mauvais jour », (as you put it). You unwittingly asked for it – and you recieved. That is the bottom line. Sorry we both had to add ugliness to the site. We now need to put this « malentendu » behind us.

However, I will not rescind my distain for stalkers or those obsessed with little girls.

Posted by: Mark | April 06, 2006 at 01:06 AM

Great spin.

Posted by: Ed | April 06, 2006 at 08:43 AM

Wow, I haven’t come to this place in a little over a week, and I see it got quite heated.

Regarding this paragraph, I have a question:

« Perhaps they would, but I’m thinking about where I was 20 years ago and wouldn’t have the slightest idea what I would say to the people that I was working with at the time. I’m sure I wouldn’t even remember half of them. »

What line of work were you in 20 years ago? I imagine it was not something that was captured on film, where that time period, in essence « lives on. » I’m sure the FIA actors rememeber eachother and may even enjoy a reunion. Charles mentioned it. Fortunately you don’t speak for the cast.

I do agree with some of the other things you said. I think some of those looking for more from this series are dreaming for the original FIA to be recaptured somehow, and that can’t be. But I’m not going to overly analyze any of it. If it ever was to happen, I’d check out the reunion too.

Posted by: Kats | April 07, 2006 at 11:28 PM

I don’t speak for anyone but myself and I didn’t mean any ill will at all when I posted. It’s easy to read in all sorts of things that are simply not there.

You yourself could have said « you don’t speak for the cast » which is certainly true, but you said « fortunetly you don’t speak for the cast ». As if to say that those that disagree are safe from my inappropriate ideas. I don’t that is the case by the way. But my « romantic fantasyland » comment seemed to raise hackles which was not what I wanted to do.

Your last paragraph captures my intent exactly. On the other hand, the flow of other posters ideas have given me pause forcing me to rethink exactly what I had said, and how I chose to say it. The part I don’t understand is the hostility that seems to be lurking in many posts.

I love the show, I love the characters, I watch it regularly at, and yes, I would watch a reunion regardless of how contradictory that sounds.

Posted by: Ed | April 08, 2006 at 02:59 PM

My reason for putting « fortunately » was to suggest that the paragraph I quoted was offbase. I realize you were adding your personal opinions. That’s why I wondered what you did 20 years ago. Doing a television program could make a big difference when it comes to doing a reunion. Unless you did something similiar 20 years ago, I didn’t see how you could compare how you’d feel about your own [imaginative] reunion to actors from an endearing tv show. I know 20 years is a long time regardless of what the circumstances are. But I think what was done can make a big difference–like I specifically pointed out in my last post. (It being on film and all). It also depends on the people. Some people walk out of a 20 year highschool reunion feeling like it was a waste of time while others get a lot out of it.

If that’s putting too much focus on one part of your posts then I’m sorry. I certainly can’t argue with anything else you’ve said.

Posted by: Kats | April 08, 2006 at 08:28 PM

That’s fine, I didn’t put any special meaning on « Fortunate » or the way it was used. I just wanted to point out that misinterpretations seem to florish on these message boards. Almost like lots of people are « spoilin’ for a fight ».

Charles Mayer said that he hadn’t kept in touch with the cast and that it was common for that to happen once a project ended. To me this means that projects involving TV shows and projects just about anything else are one and the same and can be compared. I’m also convinced that their fondest memories would be of things that happened off camera. Charles did say that there were lots of partying going on.

We have no image of this, only what was captured on the screen. If a reunion were to take place it would have to be orchestrated for us or we wouldn’t know what was going on. This is a point that I was trying to make in an earlier post. When you see a reunion on TV it’s scripted just like any other show in that media. It’s not for the actors, it’s for the viewers since we weren’t really there. In order for us to take part, this is the way it has to be. It works for us because we like the show and the characters. A little « inside » story is great to hear. Mostly, we’re interested in what they look like now, and how they have survived time.

I once saw a funny joke in a magazine. Imagine a scene with a party going on, people having drinks and chatting, a buffet in the background, and a placard reading:

April 1, 2006.

Hey, if they can do it………

Posted by: Ed | April 09, 2006 at 01:20 PM

Ed, I think you are probably a nice, well meaning person,but you do come across as a bit of a know it all, even though this is not your intention. This may have to do something with you getting into disputes.
You may find the chat rooms a kinder place if you could work on that.

Posted by: J | April 11, 2006 at 06:54 PM

Thank you J.
a la prochaine

Posted by: Ed | April 12, 2006 at 09:04 AM

Hey guys !
Relax, take a deep breath, enjoy the spring !
À bientôt tout le monde,

Posted by: Charles(aka Robert) | April 12, 2006 at 02:21 PM

Again Ed, can’t argue with any of that. 😉

I’m with Charles! And it’s good to see you here again. 😀

Posted by: Kats | April 13, 2006 at 05:05 AM

Look back, I’m not the one who was arguing. I’m the one being snobby and coming off as a know-it-all.

Au revoir J’en ai ras le cul.

Markie, it’s « disdain » not « distain », K pallie.

Posted by: Ed | April 14, 2006 at 02:05 PM

Oh my God. This isn’t over yet? How many times did I say I didn’t want to argue. I am REALLY over this petty spat!
I admit I overreacted to Ed’s second post due to circumstances. Yes – I apologize to Everyone for that, including Ed for my being so harsh on him. And also to the site host for getting her site muddied-up. But this has got to stop. Everybody stop. « J » stop – I neither want nor need your backing. Let’s PLEASE end this « Jerry Springer » episode. Detente!

Posted by: Mark | April 14, 2006 at 08:38 PM

Whoa, the alpha-male has spoken.

Take a lude and chill, really it’s all a joke.

btw I know Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer is a friend of mine
Markie–You’re no Jerry Springer

See—just a joke (I don’t really know Jerry but I watch the show every chance I get).
Quel con

Posted by: Ed | April 18, 2006 at 09:53 AM

la fil est mort!!!

Posted by: ed | April 28, 2006 at 03:47 PM

For all of you who were looking for Marie-Laure (Virgine Contesse). I found a letter purportedly from the one and only Marie-Laure at

Here is that letter:
French in Action Newsletter #12, Fall 1997

Courrier de Marie-Laure
Chère Marie Laure,
J’assiste au lycée de Millburn dans le new Jersey aux EU, près de New York. Dans ma classe de français nous regardons le « French in Action. » Cela nous sert à bien comprendre le texte. Mes camarades de classe et moi avons des questions à te poser. Quel âge as-tu? J’ai seize ans. Tu es dans quelle année à l’école? Tu habites où en France? Tu es amie avec Robert et Mireille dans la vie reélle? Tu joues bien ton rôle de petit soeur de Mireille. Combien de frères et de soeurs as-tu? J’ai une soeur. Est-ce que tu as une bête? J’ai un petit chien, c’est un Retriever dor. Elle a neuf semaines. Elle s’appèle Abbey. S’il te plait écris – nous bientot.


Jay Rozenwald

Cher Jay Rozenwald:
Merci de m’avoir écrit, mais qu’est-ce que tu as l’air de dire que je ne suis pas dans la vie réelle!! Quel culot! Et toi, et tes camarades vous êtes dans la vie réelle? Je me le demande…Si vous voulez savoir, j’habite à Paris qui est une ville réelle , rue de Vaugirard, qui est une rue réelle! Oui, j’ai deux soeurs plus âgées que moi mais je n’ai pas de frère ( mais j’ai des cousins). Je suis en CM 2 ( Cours Moyen deuxième année) Je vais bientôt entrer en sixième, au collège. Tu as de la chance d’habiter près de New York. J’aimerais bien aller à New York un jour et monter en haut de l’Empire State. Oui, j’ai une bête , un poisson rouge. J’aimerais bien avoir un chien, comme toi, mais mes parents ne veulent pas . Ils disent qu’on ne peut pas avoir un chien dans un appartement en ville, mais tout ça c’est des blagues parce que ma Tante Georgette , elle en a un de chien! Et pourtant elle habite dans un appartement en ville! Même qu’elle habite dans le même immeuble que nous… et son appartement est beaucoup plus petit que le nôtre. Ça montre bien qu’il ne faut pas croire ce que disent les parents. Mes amitiés à toi et à tes copains et copines ( je suppose qu’il y a
des filles dans ta classe , non? )


Posted by: ED | April 30, 2006 at 03:35 PM

Wow, I just translated what petite Marie-Laure had to say. She seems a bit snappy about being characterized as fictional and not in the real world.

« What nerve » she says.

I really didn’t pick that up from the fellow (a 17 year-old student from New Jersey) who was writing. Ahhh the French. c’est la vie, n’est-ce pas. Les grenouilles.

Posted by: ED | April 30, 2006 at 03:46 PM

So that’s what « quel culot » means. I could never figure it out, although I knew it was something like that. Interesting letter. I also don’t understand why she would say that. Maybe it’s because the student addressed her as « Marie-Laure » instead of « Virgine »? I’m surprised Virgine signed her letter as Marie-Laure if it bothered her being treated like her character. Too bad she didn’t answer every question too.

Posted by: Kats | May 12, 2006 at 03:33 AM

She might have signed « Marie-Laure » as a last little sarcastic sting, but maybe not. Mireille was always saying « tu m’agaces » (you get on my nerves) to Marie-Laure, what with all the foot-tickling with a feather, and trying to scare Mom with a rubber snake, her outrage might just be in character.

Was it really her? I try to take everyone at face value and let them be who they say they are, but I have to admit I’m sometimes skeptical.

The site seemed to be what we would probably call today a « French in Action blog » but it looked like it ran out of steam in 1997. I’m assuming it was monitored since it was an official site from the Yale University press. I feel like an archaeologist pouring over letters that were written 9 years ago.

Learning to speak french is my hobby and I recently found the 52 episodes downloadable on the internet so I’ve been watching about 2 or 3 a week. Marie-Laure is indeed my favorite with her ce n’est pas ma faut attitude. Corny as it may seem to those who don’t know, I’m hooked.

Posted by: Ed | May 13, 2006 at 08:08 PM

wow, i’m new here and i’m happy to see there are people out there that are fans of FIA like me. I’v been watching the program for about 5 months. i love Valerie Allain (whom remindes me of Grace Kelly)in the show i was looking for screencaps of her on the web,i wasn’t really holding out much hope in finding anything about her on account of the show being filmed in the 80s and it being a educational program..until i came across this site i didnt know it had a cult following….anywhoooo, does anyone know where i can get screencaps of her on the show. thanks

Posted by: gapardulliel | May 13, 2006 at 11:34 PM

You are right. Valerie does put one in mind of Grace Kelly

I’m not really sure what you mean by screencaps, but some of the older posts talk about iMDb, I didn’t find anything really significant there. Google will point you to lots of data and pics on Valerie. She includes French in Action among her credits.

A Bientôt

Posted by: Ed | May 14, 2006 at 09:55 AM

^thank u…screencaps are screen capures
it’s when u take images from a movie, film, show,

Posted by: gaspardulliel | May 15, 2006 at 02:03 PM

I did’nt say I want to have sex with a 10 year old !!!!

I said that I want to see how Virginie Contessa looks now at age 30ish.

I think she was very cute and pretty when she was young.

So I’m guessing she is a knock out now as an adult.

Sheesh !!!!!

Thanks and see you out there,

Loki Sunrider

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | May 16, 2006 at 05:38 PM

I’m a bit confused when I read from Charles Mayer that FIA was shot in circa 1985. I say that because I studied under Pierre Capretz at Yale in ’76 and took the FIA course. I remember Mireille et Robert only too well, and those memories have been reinforced by occasional reviews of those tapes online. We also watched Jules et Jim about fifty times, so it makes sense that Pierre is making another course segment from that film. But I am puzzled about Robert’s comment on the date of the shooting of the film. Perhaps his production assistant can help explain.

Posted by: ol’eli | May 17, 2006 at 08:28 PM

Dear Ol’eli,
this Charles – Robert – writing you a few words…How can you be puzzled about the date of shooting ? I was there, you know, for the 50 days of shooting, and even though it’s going to be 21 years this summer, my memory is still very faithful. Should you still be in doubt, click on this link :

You’ll see French in Action first aired in 1987; the 2 years gap is due to the enormous amount of editing that was needed.
You can trust me on that !
Au revoir,

Posted by: Charles – Robert – Mayer – Taylor | May 17, 2006 at 11:02 PM

I wasn’t there at all, but, according to her bio, Valerie Allain was born in April of 1966, which would make her 11 years old if it was actually shot in 1976. Marie-Laure might have been 10, but not Mireille.


Posted by: Ed | May 18, 2006 at 08:45 PM

I sought out clarification from Yale. It turns out that M. Capretz had already invented aspects of the Mireille/Robert storyline even in the early 70’s, but didn’t have the funds to actually shoot it in its final version until the mid-80’s. I think that my puzzlement stems from having studied the actual story (with many slide images/drawings of the characters)and then had the later images kind of blend in with my recollections of FIA in 1976, so that I thought that I had actually « seen » the televised characters in ’76. The mind can do some crazy things, so my apologies to Robert/Charles for my confusion. Loved the program and still watch it from time to time!

Posted by: ol’ eli | May 19, 2006 at 11:45 AM

M. Capretz visited my « French in Action class today at Alliance Francaise in Manhattan (my teacher knows him). Charming, interesting gentleman, and he even shared with us his latest interactive language program based on, what else, Mireille, Robert and company.

Posted by: Martin | May 23, 2006 at 08:14 PM


Ever since I first posted on this thread back in March 2006 there has been one post that has somewhat « haunted » me because of its possibilities. At least one other poster has remarked about it (in a hazy sort of way).

It’s the one from « Sleepypie » on 2/4/06 about Virginie Contesse who we all know and love as Marie-Laure. It may be nothing or everything but I infer from the tone of the message that the author is Virginie herself. It’s that one line that keeps playing in my mind:

« No one here, I repeat, no one, will EVER find out about the whereabouts of the actress who played Marie-Laure, Virginia (sic) Contesse ».

Why is the author so sure? Especially, the « no one here » with such emphasis.

The other point Sleepypie made that intrigues me was:

« I am sure she is aware that there is some interest in her now after all these years but she has chosen to move on with her life and it is pretty obvious that she has abandoned acting and « show business » altogether ».

Since no one has literally been able to track her at all it seems that there is some « inside » knowledge here. How would anyone be sure she is aware of anything? Is it just speculation that she has chosen to « move on with her life »? It may be obvious that she’s no longer acting, otherwise there would be something to track, but « show business altogether »? Either it’s just supposition or « special knowledge » that perhaps Mlle. Contesse is not working behind the scenes, directing or writing.

Anyway even heterosexuals don’t always « adopt their husbands last name » but I couldn’t really say with any certainty that it’s likely (or not) that anyone she or anyone else is married. After all Virginie would be early thirties, hardly a spinster in these social climates.

I think Sleepypie is Virginie Contesse or perhaps she’s a family member like a sister or cousin that knows all about her current whereabouts and situation.

That would make it clear how she knows that Virginie is how do you say « gone with the wind ».

With apologies to Sleepypie if I’m wrong.

Posted by: Ed | June 02, 2006 at 06:32 PM

Maybe somebody murdered Virginie and hid her body?

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | June 09, 2006 at 11:29 AM

Ed and All
I must say that your post is truly has posibilities.The exact same thing happened to Erzsebet Foldi from the movie « All That Jazz »…………..Our Virginie I feel does know she has fans and I can tell you I have search for years with no luck and it should happen to be that Sleepypie is in fact
Virginie then from all of us to you……and you family
You are loved and missed………….if not
I apologize.
I however really do believe that Valerie
does know where she is and as in the responsibility of friendship she will never tell.

Posted by: Half Moon Trails | June 10, 2006 at 12:05 PM

Or, Maybe Virginie wrote that response right before she committed suicide.

It’s very mysterious !

Thanks and see you out there.
Loki Sunrider

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | June 11, 2006 at 12:05 AM

I wonder who got her Red Fish ???

Thanks and see you out there.
Loki Sunrider

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | June 11, 2006 at 12:06 AM

can’t believe there are boards dedicated to her…but i remember drooling over that great body in high school…
I was flipping through the channels and saw it today…

brings back memories of french class and high school…damn…those were the days.

a shame I can only remember some verbs and nouns…

anyway the above link is from wikpedia

Posted by: Ferdinand | June 13, 2006 at 02:20 PM

I just returned from my first visit to Paris. Having studied with French in Action, I was more excited to see the locations of FIA than Da Vinci Code! We stayed in a very nice hotel a block from the Jardin du Luxembourg.

While the hunt for Mireille and Marie-Laure continues, I can say with certainty that I have located chez Belleau!

As you may know, 18 rue de Vaugirard is fictitious. If the address existed, it would be at the location of the Odeon Theatre. This was done to prevent fans from hanging around there waiting for Mireille to « partir pour la Sorbonne. »

In Lesson 32, M. Belleau shows Robert the « vue imprenable » from the balcony. From this, it was evident that the apartment was on the west side of the Jardin du Luxembourg–with the Senat to the left and the Pantheon straight ahead.

By exploring the portals of the buildings on rue Guynemer, I found the exact entrance that was used for chez Belleau in FIA.

So if you are visiting, walk by 32 rue Guynemer to see the actual location that played the role of 18 rue de Vaugerard.

Posted by: James | June 15, 2006 at 12:14 PM

Did anyone actually learn to speak French from FIA or did everyone just become obsessed with the characters?

Posted by: Sammy | June 16, 2006 at 10:13 PM


Actually, that’s a good question. I encountered FIA on PBS not in school and immediately noticed Mireille.

I’ve been studying French for years and can only claim to read and write. I found the FIA shows on the internet and have been watching them (finally in order) and have to admit that my speaking has improved because I can hear the language spoken in a real, soap-opera setting.

Mireille remains forever lovely, Marie-Laure is a true scamp, and poor Charles will never get to jump Mireille’s bones.

quel dommage

Posted by: Ed | June 17, 2006 at 11:05 AM


Posted by: HUGH KENNY | June 26, 2006 at 06:31 AM

Evitez les majuscules s’il vous plâit

Posted by: Ed | June 26, 2006 at 03:58 PM

Ok. I can do that. Until I looked it up I thought you were accusing me of exaggerating.

Posted by: HUGH | June 28, 2006 at 12:16 AM


Pas grave. Il regarde mieux, c’est tout. Merci.

Anyway, you’ve certainly spent a lot of money on those resources. Rosetta Stone is not cheap either. If you have the Annenburg tapes, why would you spring for the DVDs. It’s the same. Could it be to get a better look at Mireille? Just a joke.

As I said in a previous post, this is really the first time that I am hearing the French language spoken since High School back in the 1960’s. I have the FIA book so I can prepare for the watching the series, which I do free of charge at Annenburg/CPB website. I tried listening to the news in French but I have to admit that I couldn’t make out a thing. They just talk too fast.

It is teaching at its finest. Complete immersion and a soap-opera setting. Works for me.

Bon Chance

Posted by: Ed | June 28, 2006 at 08:32 PM


With my dvd unit I can loop any section, a sentence, part of a dialog,etc. It then repeats, over and over. I thought this would be

Posted by: HUGH | July 02, 2006 at 03:44 PM


Right, I didn’t think of that. That would be very useful. I have 2 dvd players and don’t use them too often. I miss the days of simply putting in a tape and hitting the button. I have more options on the DVD that I can handle. I guess I have to move into the 21st century sooner or later.

Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Ed | July 02, 2006 at 07:18 PM

Bonjour a tout le monde!

I’ve just saw this blog, and it is great to find myself among the people who like « French in Action »!

Even though I learned french in two different countries (Turkey: my hometown, and France) I had never heard about « French in Action » until I came to the U.S.. I first started watching it (on PBS, I guess) for fun since my french is quite good after all those years spent in France; but then, more I watched more I got curious about the characters: it is such a strange feeling… By the way, I wish I had some news about Virginie Contesse, friends, but despite my researches (I even looked at the « Page Blanches »!) I didn’t find anything about her! « Mystere et boulle de gomme! » Maybe still doing her homework, or got lost in « jardins de Luxembourg »… Virginie, si vous lisez ca, s’il vous plait, faites un signe!

Beyond characters, I also liked to see (in addition to Mr. Capretz’ smile!) small parts taken from some French movies, tv commercials etc. What a change after all those boring text books! I wish I could watch fia when I learned french (though I am still learning since we can never finish with learning a language…)

P.S.: Nothing to do with the topic, but if anybody interested, « Dinner Game » (a french movie:Diner de Cons) is great to have fun and/or to test your french, too. Especially, the telephone scene!

See you!


Posted by: | July 05, 2006 at 06:17 PM

This blog and the interesting (and sometimes bawdy) commentary of those who recall the series, is a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of a visionary (Capretz), the outstanding production values, the wonderful cast, the setting, and the chemistry of all who contributed. I very fondly remember the series in the 1987 and continue to watch the series to this day.

Posted by: Mark S. | July 07, 2006 at 03:56 PM

What a great series! I had the first edition materials in college, but never really studied as hard as I SHOULD have — but enough for a B. Now that they’re offering the videos online, I’m going back through and re-learning with a friend of mine, and we’re having a great time.

I’m wondering if the second edition materials are so much better than the first. I see the book has gotten a lot bigger! Is there a discussion board somewhere for students using FIA?

Posted by: Amanda | July 10, 2006 at 02:56 PM

I have the 2nd edition of the FIA companion book. It’s a big big book that tracks nicely with the videos. I got it for half price at one of the Amazon sub-sellers. It’s worth the retail price though.

There was a website that originated from Yale. I metioned it above in my other posts as the only source of contact with Virgine Contesse. The site seems to have passed into oblivion years ago.

Posted by: Ed | July 13, 2006 at 07:44 PM

> P.S.: Nothing to do with the topic, but if
> anybody interested, « Dinner Game » (a french
> movie:Diner de Cons) is great to have fun
> and/or to test your french, too. Especially,
> the telephone scene!

I just started learning French and discovered FIA through my daughter’s French teacher. Being able to both hear and see the language in everyday use beats a textbook anyday.

After you finish FIA why not continue your education by listening to French news online? It keeps you hearing the language from several different native speakers. I found this yesterday. It contains links to several French online tv and radio sites:

No, I’m not affiliated with the site.

Posted by: DK | July 14, 2006 at 10:31 AM

Okay, anybody…in Lecon 25 after the transcript, people are being interviewed on the street about what they eat for breakfast…First the young man who has cafe au lait and a croissant, then the man who has lots of coffee but rarely eats anything, then the woman. Can anyone tell me what the woman is saying? She ends by saying she has fruit and a piece of bread but I can not figure out what she is saying before that.

Posted by: BevT | July 16, 2006 at 11:05 PM

La dame réponde:

« En ce moment, Je prendrai du yaourt, des fruits et du morceau de pain. »

Bon appétit

Posted by: Leçon 25: les gens interviewés | July 17, 2006 at 09:29 AM


Over the weekend, to a few of Francophone whom I came across, I transmitted good humours of Prof Capretz.

1. I sang Marie-Laure’s nursery rhyme (Leçon 22 : Midi, qui l’a dit, la p’tite souris) to someone from Belgium. How he got trickled!

2. “Six saucisses sèches!”

3. To a youngster from north of Paris, I mentioned what Jean-Michel boasts and Colette has to say, “La vraie France qui travaille. Des usines, etc” (Leçons 47, 48)

J’ai tire la conclusion qu’on a toujours beaucoup à travailler. Bonne continuation!

Posted by: French in action on the weeked | July 17, 2006 at 10:33 AM

Merci à « Leçon 25: les gens interviewés » pour votre aide! La dame prononce « yaourt » avec un « g », n’est pas? …ou est-ce que mes oreilles me trompent? J’ai trouvé un audio dictionnaire pour ce mot mais il n’a pas la même sonne…un dialecte différent?
FIA a été vraiment merveilleux pour comprendre la prononciation.

Posted by: BevT | July 17, 2006 at 05:05 PM

¨ Préparation de lait de vache ou de brebis, non égoutté et fermenté. Le yaourt, originaire d’Asie centrale, a gagné l’Europe par la Turquie et les Balkans. « Il rangeait des pots de yaourth [sic], sorte de lait caillé d’une assez grande réputation, quoique sans orthographe bien sûre » (Aymé). Des yaourts aux fruits; des yaourts nature. — Fig. Pédaler dans le yaourt. — On dit aussi YOGOURT [‘jCguYt], 1455.

Posted by: Yoplait | July 18, 2006 at 12:17 AM

When I took a first-year immersion (15 credits) of French, one of my instructors said that she revealed her breasts in « B Movies » though in her case that might really mean « C Movies » but not quite « DD Movies ».
Thank you for this!

Posted by: David Stephen Ball-Romney | July 21, 2006 at 02:12 PM

Charles, thanks for posting the link to the short film’s Web site. You sure grew up to be a cutie! Well played.

It drives me nuts, though, that I never saw the ending of French in Action. The series is 52 episodes, and the American school year is only nine months. This show actually makes me want to get a TV and cable, so I can get the CPB channel to watch it regularly.

Also, I had a question for Steve from Yale: will French in Interaction use footage from or expand upon the original French in Action, or will it be a whole different concept?

Posted by: northwest fia fan | July 24, 2006 at 04:55 AM

wow, the post just keep on comming, i’m still amazed to see people still come here.

in my hometown they stopped airing the show, which makes me sad, so i will try to watch it online now, if my computer will let me. but i think i will send an e-mail to the PBS station to ask if they will put it bake on the air

Posted by: gadpardulliel | July 25, 2006 at 04:43 AM

Glad to see this page going strong!

Posted by: BizzLitken | July 25, 2006 at 11:10 AM

Back in 1988 or so I happened to see FIA on PBS and luckily they kept repeating shows so I taped them. I had never learned a foreign language and thought it would be a great way to learn. I ordered the books and tapes and went to work (since I’m not the quickest learner in the world) and eventually bulled my way through all the lessons while enjoying the characters and story in between. I had hoped to go to France but alas never made it – never even been to Europe. However after finishing the course I did get to Montreal for a few days and thought I could use some of the French I learned. Well let me tell you. I went into one store looking to hear some spoken French and when I walked in there was a man on the phone speaking fluent French. Well says I, this is the place for me. But when the guy got off the phone he switched back to English and spoke to me in perfect English and I said to myself ok I give up. I don’t know jack and I spoke to him in English without trying to show off what I thought I knew. Anyway I like this web site even with all it’s mystery and gum balls? I may be an idiot but I have now purchased the Pemsleur tapes and am going to try and refresh my memory. Who knows, I may get to France yet even though I’m getting older and now have five grand kids. Keep the comments coming, I’m glad you all enjoyed the show as much as I did. Sorry for being so long winded.

Posted by: grandpa | July 27, 2006 at 04:26 PM


Good story. I think you should go to France! Age is a but a number!

Posted by: BizzLitken | July 27, 2006 at 07:45 PM

Don’t feel bad Grampa,I’ve been studying french off and on for a long time. I can pronounce individual words with a reasonable degree of accuracy, but when it comes to complete sentenses there seems to be a rhythm of emphasis that completely escapes me.

I’m working now with FIA and it’s been great because it’s really the first time that I can hear the material being presented. But even with the printed text in front of me I have great difficulty with comprehension. It’s as if the speaker is taking 3 or 4 words and making a new, longer word out of them. The accent and emphasis is not where I expect it.

I’ve tried listening to the French news on cable. I think it’s presented via Le Monde. It’s amazing that I can’t understand even a single word at times. I know it’s fast and it’s a special kind of speach (news talk) but it’s still disappointing.

Gramps; If you can’t make it to France, go back to Canada.

Posted by: Ed | July 30, 2006 at 06:16 PM

Hey everybody!

I am a medical student, 17 years old, and aproximately a month ago I decided to learn a third language, so I picked French, basically because I’ve loved it my whole life. I luckily ran into FIA on TV, and even though they don’t have all the episodes, and those they have they play randomnly, FIA has turned out to be an amazing tool, helping me get used to the common language, as well as the actual french pronuntiation.
As I watched the episodes, I couldn’t help but just fall in love with the whole programme (gotta love Mireille!!), especially because of how there’s an actual story to be told behind all the lessons, as well as how everything’s made so easy for students. And yes, I couldn’t believe my luck when I ran into this site, and realized FIA was so popular! I used to think I had ran into some lost, random french learning show from the 80’s… I didn’t even know FIA was used at highschools all over the US.
So, yeah, I would love to watch all episodes, in ORDER, but I have no chance of buying the tapes or DVD’s here where I live, so I’d really appreciate it if someone could give me the link to a site where I could download the whole series, or at least most episodes. Merci beaucoup!

Awesome site, keep it up!

Posted by: Krlos | August 01, 2006 at 08:58 PM


You can view the French in Action series at

There’s lots of other good programs there too. You can’t download them and save them and they’re only valid in North America.

17 seems a bit young for a med student. N’est-ce pas?

Posted by: Ed | August 02, 2006 at 05:08 PM

Thanks a lot for the link, Ed! I’m already catching up on all the episodes I’ve missed… I’m going to France in a month, so I hope this helps! And yes, I’ll try and find Mireilles house.

And, about my age, we’ve only got 10 years of highschool here where I live, meaning most of us enter college at 17. I’m only in my first year (out of six) of med school and it’s amazing. Quite busy, but I can still make some time to watch FIA! hehe.

Thanks a lot again! See ya!

Posted by: Krlos | August 02, 2006 at 11:43 PM

I bought the 12 dvds, on e-bay for $99 with shipping. new it would
would have been $450. There are more.

Posted by: HUGH | August 08, 2006 at 11:07 PM

I’m a big fan of FIA and am going through the lessons again thanks to the link from this site for the Annenberg website (this website has lots of other good learning videos to cover many interests).

I hope I don’t burst anyone’s bubble; however, Valerie Allain apparently did a spread for playboy right after FIA (I wonder if HH was taking French lessons?) I am attempting to locate a copy of the Playboy issue and will get back to you all.

Posted by: Paul Armstrong | August 09, 2006 at 06:03 PM

want some laughs;

This was my favorite person on the whole show

Posted by: Paul Armstrong | August 09, 2006 at 06:35 PM

Ah yes, M. Armstrong, I also took particular notice of the arrogant, dick-head student, going back and forth with Prof. Capretz, especially in the early episodes.

I hadn’t realized that he had such a prolific bio in the industry, especially TV. What a trip! Thanks for pointing him out. I must admit that I saw many of those programs and didn’t recognize him.

Posted by: Ed D | August 10, 2006 at 09:00 PM

I’m happy to announce that NO, Valerie did not do a spread in Playboy, there is merely an out-take photo from « Aria » published in the November 1988 issue of Playboy.

Posted by: paulsamuel | August 22, 2006 at 06:24 PM

What do you mean « happy to announce » with respect to Valerie’s appearing in Playboy. Playboy in not pornographic and many young women from all strata of society have graced its pages.

Apparently you feel that appearing in this American icon is somehow dirty. Perhaps it’s the nude human form that’s dirty to you. All in all, it seems OK to appear nude in Aria (out-take notwithstanding), but not in a formal Playboy spread.

It seems somewhat shallow.

Posted by: Ed D | August 24, 2006 at 12:08 PM

Maybe you want your daughter, or your sister, or your mother to do a playboy spread?

Posted by: Paul Armstrong | August 24, 2006 at 05:10 PM

That would be entirely up to them. I would neither be embarrassed nor ashamed.

Your response is typical of someone who has nothing to say, but says it anyway. You have absolutely no basis for assuming that a double standard exists on my part. It’s as if you just can’t believe that I might have an opinion that differs from yours without some kind of catch.

But you had to say something…..right!

Posted by: Ed D | August 25, 2006 at 11:23 AM

Jaysus, what a dick!

Posted by: Paul Armstrong | August 25, 2006 at 09:19 PM


Posted by: Ed D | August 27, 2006 at 06:50 PM

I love the site. Vive Virginie! Lets all get t-shirts, bumperstickers, pins and March on Washington and/Chatres and promote a reunion, It would be a lot of fun. Charles, You obviously speak american,canadian english. Where did you learn your french prior to the 50 jours du « camping. » It sounds like you lived in France for quite some time, Do you feel like you are still learning the language? Your accent in FIA is very good, nice baritone voice. I lived in France for two years plus ou moins and I have never seen a french young woman look like Valerie Allain. There are not many women any where in the world that have her qualities in a total package. Pretty, Smart, and instructive. She is trully one of a kind. You all seemed to be in good sync with one another and all had the general idea and purpose down. There is a great spirit of learning because of your work. It must have been great fun. You are close to the same age I am and I admire your work on FIA.
How did you audition or come accross this project any way. T’avait de la chance! » J’habite en Arizona, et le « coo »boy ne soit que content encore ici. Merci, Robert/Charles

Monsieur Ed, t’as pas honte? Oh, La La mon vieux. Ou se trouve le bataille? Soit sage, tu n’as pas encore devenu roi de notre royaume. On est tous libre ici sur le net. Calme toi. Tu es assez inteligent, fait le part… S’il te plait.

Eh bien Tous, Je vous laisse il fait 105 degrees farenheit, Alors je dois trouver un orangia tres frais avant que je me crasse. Vive Monsieur Capretz. Il est come un grand chef de Gaulois celui-la. Il est bien le « Anatole France ou bien mieux le Victor Hugo des professors de la langue francaise pour nous des etrangers de la France. Obelix et Asterix sont mes amis… Alors, dites… Que le France me manque beaucoup. Vachement. (Charles, est-ce qu’on dit « La Vache » toujours en France?) Mais FIA me rend la… ben presque la. For me the course re-enforces my french skills and allows me to see,experience and remember the experiences I have had in France. There is no place else like it on earth.



Mark S. B.

Posted by: Mark S. Belnap | August 29, 2006 at 09:57 PM

Marie-Laure was my favorite character too. And I felt bad about how they all mistreated her during les vacances en Britagne.
But what happened to the actors that played the other characters?
Mireille’s parents, for example?
What about Cecile?
What about Oncle Guillaume (« Il a d’argent. Il a des relations. »)?
And the cousins Georges and Yvonne?
Perhaps Mr. Mayer would be kind enough to shed some light here?

Posted by: Eli | August 30, 2006 at 12:11 AM

OK, I just noticed Mr. Mayer’s comment that he lost track of the other actors. Dommage.

Posted by: Eli | August 30, 2006 at 12:24 AM

C’est vrai,on est tous libre ici sur le net. So just go about your posting and don’t worry about me and mine.

Posted by: Ed D | August 31, 2006 at 10:21 AM

Pull the boudin out of your ass Ed D and calm the hell down!

Posted by: Al M. | September 02, 2006 at 10:27 PM

Julie Arnold (Cecile) has been appearing in plays. Comedy parts. She has appeared in a number of movies before and after French in Action. Here’s a link to agent –

Here’s a link to other pictures of her.

Posted by: Sean | September 03, 2006 at 08:46 PM

I was lucky enough to take French in Action as a Yale sophomore when the program was first being developed (fall of 1982). Capretz himself gave a lecture and multimedia presentation every week, and I always looked forward to the video clips that featured the incomparable Mireille. As a still very adolescent teen, I was enthralled with her sophisticated blend of savoir-faire and simplicity, her charm, her occasional coyness, and her…perkiness. I took only two years of French, but it is still with me more than two decades later while whole other realms of my college learning have gone missing. I shall forever cherish the thought that I might someday meet the lovely Mireille and thank her for this enduring gift. Whatever else Valerie Allain may have been, Mireille is the role she was born for, and she will always be Mireille to me.

Posted by: CRR | September 03, 2006 at 11:13 PM

pisses you off don’t it!

Posted by: | September 04, 2006 at 05:48 PM

Wow – what a very strange, long and entertaining thread to come across!
All I can add is that Valerie Allain is working with some arts group in Paris – you can find info if you look hard enough – but I think she values her privacy…salut!

Posted by: Allan | September 05, 2006 at 09:25 PM

Sean, thanks for the info.

Posted by: Eli | September 08, 2006 at 01:28 AM

Wow. I haven’t been to the site since my last post on April 14 in order to end an argument that would not go away. I’m truly impressed to see the thread has doubled since then. The interest in FIA is a truly amazing phenomenom. I’m only sad to see that the individual I had argued with is still arguing with others from his lectern above us all. There is no alpha male role here. You’re a student of the 60’s … roll up a fat one and chill out dude. Peace.

Posted by: Mark | September 08, 2006 at 02:06 AM

Every time I open my mouth I get shit on, a clear indication that my « lectern » is above nothing.

Since that’s all you have to say, why don’t you just sign the guest book and move along–You’re holding up the funeral.

Posted by: E | September 08, 2006 at 01:36 PM

It’s a clear indication to get your head out of your ass, get down off your high horse and stop over-analyzing posts and belittling people whose opinions don’t match yours.

It’s a proven technique called –
Don’t start no shit – won’t be no shit.

Good Day.

Posted by: Mark | September 09, 2006 at 02:58 AM

Oh yeah, I’m on a high horse. You’ve made 2 posts since April and all you can talk about is me.

Get lost

Posted by: E | September 09, 2006 at 10:03 AM

YOU are the reason I haven’t posted since April, you arrogant dick.

You can’t see that you’ve become OBSESSED with FIA and this thread. This thread has become so much a part of you that it has driven you to think you own this site and therefore you must analyze and critique all input. You as Dr. Jeckyl has left a number of friendly helpful posts – but Mr. Hyde sure knows how to show his ass.

Ed, Four people have told you off in English and one in French. Are you blind?
Dr. Jeckyl is welcome…Mr. Hyde is the one who needs to « get lost ».

Posted by: Mark | September 09, 2006 at 05:44 PM

After teaching French for 23 years–using FIA for the last 10 years–I finally retired and decided to live a re-occurring dream: to own a home in France and spend a lot of time there. This June I found the perfect village in Southwest France. A little worried that my french might be somewhat « rouille », I boxed up all my FIA materials and sent them over. It’s amazing, how I sometimes use entire passages from those materials when speaking French over there. My french friends have remarked that my vocabulary is very good. Merci, M. Capretz! I don’t have any experience with the Rosetta Stone approach, but it would have to be incredibly effective to outdo FIA. Vive FIA!!


Posted by: Frederique | September 09, 2006 at 06:26 PM

If I’m the reason you haven’t posted, let’s hope it works again. You’re the arrogant one, and you have contributed exactly nothing to this thread period, yet you come here and start an argument with me after claiming that you just wanted it to stop. It’s ABSOLUTELY none of your business who’s posted to me or about me.

Stop telling me what to do and how to act. You’re creepy, there’s no other way to describe it.

Big EFF little YOU

Posted by: e | September 09, 2006 at 06:43 PM

Good for you Federique. It’s nice to hear that someone got what they wanted out of life.

Bon Chance

Posted by: e | September 09, 2006 at 06:54 PM

If my sidetracked and unintended posts have made you think twice before arguing with others, then I have contributed greatly.

This 5th anniversary is a day for all of us (including myself) to reflect on what anger and hate can bring.

Laissez-nous tout le mouvement vers la paix.

Posted by: Mark | September 11, 2006 at 04:42 PM

Ed…you’re a poopie head. Shut the hell up or go away.

Posted by: Al M. | September 11, 2006 at 10:33 PM


Posted by: e | September 12, 2006 at 09:21 AM

Tiens, actuellement, j’ai rate ma poste derniere d’aillure. Je devrait ecrire « La France, Ed n’est pas encore devenue roi, la bataille. Que je m’excuse.

Monsieur E. Tu as beaucoup d’inteligence et nous aimons que ce soit reflechi. Si tu quites ce blog ce ne serait pas si interessant. Ne quites pas, reste la, Sois sage et plus soigne. On veut bien connaitre tes devoirs et ton avis. Doucement, s’il te plait. Sans blague

Mark, on te sohaite la bien revenue. L’Amerique doit etre pret pour la prochaine fois. J’en ai assez de peur pour les Francais. Leur pays deviens un lieu de chaos avec tout les gens contre le USA politique et aux meme temps ils lutte avec des etrangers qui sont d’accords avec des terroristes. Les etudiants qui luttaient dans les rue de Paris en hivers, n’taient pas des etudiants, C’etaient plutot des jeunes etrangers sans boulo. Que ces chose sont dangereuse. Eh bien, Tant pis pour nous, anh.

Monsieur Capretz,
a une e-mail chez Yale Universite si on veut lui gener un petit peux.

Frederique – Tu as bien choisi, Moi, je suis tres jaloux. Que tu es chique toi! Ton nom, Frederique est tres, tres, tres, francais. Est-ce que tu as des parents francais?

Et bien,

Bon Septembre tout le monde.

Allez Salut.


Posted by: Markus | September 12, 2006 at 05:24 PM

Al M

You have 2 posts and they’re both about me. How about forgetting me and talk about FIA.

Just a suggestion

Posted by: e | September 12, 2006 at 08:46 PM

Ed, I DO want to READ about FIA but it’s not enjoyable anymore when you keep writing so much negative crap. C’est reulou, C’est m’emmerdant!

I’ll take back what I said…don’t shut the hell up (you have the right to say whatever you want) but PLEEEEEASE quit spewing so MUCH venom. In other words, quit being such a poopie head.

Posted by: Al M. | September 13, 2006 at 12:07 AM

Where on earth do you get hate and venom from anything I’ve said here. Hate and venom can be found at skinhead websites that attack people for various reasons. At the most I would characterize my posts as somewhat contentious but mostly defensive.

If you look back, and I don’t suggest that you do (waste of time), I was confronted with hostility first. Nonetheless, I maintain that the temperature of my posts never exceeded those of the other side and there was certainly no hate involved or intended. As far as there being so MUCH of it, given the size of the thread my posts actually constitute very little.

Obviously this is not a blog, where interaction is featured. This is a guest book where one is allowed to praise Professor Capretz, vow unwavering love of Valerie, and wonder what bacame of Virgine– and nothing else.

Your characterization of me as a poopie-head is comical. My daughter, who is now 25, used to call me that, or was it a dodo-head. Hmmm, nevermind.

Posted by: Ed D | September 13, 2006 at 06:59 PM

For the record, look at my post of April 2. This is what started the whole thing. The subject was a reunion of FIA and I said:

« As far as those that are clamoring for a reunion ‘for their [the actors] own enjoyment if nothing else’ they seem to be living in a romantic fantasy world ».

Where’s the hate, where’s the venom, for that matter, where’s the crap (it was an opinion)? The person I quoted took it personal and, as the following dialog confirms, came at me with « guns blazing ». It’s clear that I was on the receiving side and was more than defensive, I was downright appologetic, even trying to difuse the situation with humor.

By the way, I’m not obsessed with this thread, but it seems that some people are obsessed with me. I’m not the villan here.

Posted by: Ed D | September 13, 2006 at 08:52 PM

People, people, can you please stop the bitching at each other? Is no place on the internet safe from bickering, even something as out of the way as a French in Action thread! Come come!

Posted by: TonyBoy | September 16, 2006 at 05:48 AM

The actor and actress who played Hubert (friend of the family) and Cécile (eldest of the three sisters) were recently in a play together! Julie Arnold (Cécile) looks very different with dark hair, almost like one of those hauntingly beautiful Egyptian goddesses whom you sometimes see in a 3,000 year old tomb painting. Franck de la Personne (Hubert) looks just as you’d expect him to look after getting 15 years older.

This web site has pictures of our Hubert and Cécile hobnobbing with royalty after a performance:

This web site tells about the play:

(Individual pages linked above, because the web site’s navigation is broken.)

Franck Lapersonne is most recognizable when you see him in profile, as in this picture (which makes me think of the oft-repeated scene with Mme Belleau and the bouquet, in which we learn that Hubert is « bien élevé »):

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 18, 2006 at 08:07 PM

Cool to see those two. Hubert has the same smile after all these years. I have to say this is a unique site, where else could you find an audience of English speakers happy to see ‘how Hubert is doing these days?’

Posted by: TonyBoy | September 18, 2006 at 11:16 PM

I finally got a chance to see the last episodes. Does anyone else suspect that French in Action was meant to have 100 episodes? Episodes #51 and #52 have as much plot, and as much action, as the first 50 episodes combined. I think they filmed 50 episodes, and planned to come back the next summer to film another 50; and just in case the second batch of 50 didn’t happen, they decided to cram that whole batch of 50 episodes into #51 and #52 so the story would at least have some closure.

Just imagine how much more French language and culture they could have taught, with another 50 episodes. Thinking about that possibility gave me an idea.

Earlier in these comments, someone wrote: « This show needs to be remade in _bad_ way. New characters, new story, new content, same format. » I don’t like that idea very much. I can’t imagine that a « remake » with new characters would be any better than, or even as good as, the original. Why spend money to produce something that isn’t any better than what we already have? Even worse: PBS might stop showing the original series!

Here’s a better idea: First, leave the first 52 episodes as they are. Second, produce another 52 episodes, teaching more advanced concepts in French language and culture, which learners will watch AFTER they watch the first 52. This way we end up with twice the language and twice the culture, for the same cost as a « remake » of the first 52 episodes.

Here’s how I imagine « French in Action II » could begin:

In episode #53, we meet Prof. Capretz and his new cohort of students. In #54 we learn that Robert stayed in France, and is now happily married with Mireille. One of their children is about 19 years old, and will be one of the two central characters of French in Action II. As many as possible of the original cast will reprise their original roles, though they’ll be smaller roles, because the main roles will be played by actors and actresses who were in diapers when the original series was released. Just imagine: Charles Mayer returns as Papa Robert, and Valérie Allain as Maman Mireille. Virginie Contesse is Tante Marie-Laure who, we learn, grew up and stole the heart of an heir to the Renault fortune. « Tante Marie-Laure ne travaille pas. Elle a des loisirs, et elle est toujours en vacances. C’est bien ça, c’est agréable d’avoir de l’argent. Elle a de la chance! » Or maybe, instead of marriage, Marie-Laure achieved great success in some field of endeavor, because of her own pluck and spirit.

Just writing the paragraph above, imagining that Robert and the Belleau family have a future, gave me goosebumps. I don’t know why I care so much about these people who aren’t even real. I think these feelings might be caused or enhanced, somehow, by immersion in a foreign language. Maybe this kind of immersion makes it easier for a brain to form emotional bonds, like a baby’s or toddler’s brain. Possibly this could even explain some of the excess emotions that surfaced in some of the comments above.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 21, 2006 at 02:36 PM

Salut « autre Robert » et al:

You are absolutely right « I don’t know why I care so much about these people who aren’t even real. » I think that you summed up the feelings of many of us who follow/followed FIA. Who amongst us – the guys – not imagined having Mireille as a girlfriend?! I’m not sure if the girls felt the same for Robert or even Hubert. By the way, I always thought that Nicole was sexier but…in the end, Mireille does it for me.

I found the whole thing (FIA) so kitschy and corny that it really worked. The puppet – M. Guignol (sp) – show at the ends was priceless. I still watch FIA once in a while when I catch it in PBS to keep up with my French and it also brings me good memories from my UMASS Boston days.

Al M.

Posted by: Al M. | September 21, 2006 at 10:40 PM

You wrote: « I’m not sure if the girls felt the same for Robert or even Hubert. »

Or Prof. Capretz himself! A few years ago an article in an on-campus magazine described him as « sexy » even in his eighties. (That article also covered many of the same rumors and perversions that have been discussed here.) It’s on page 18 of this issue:

(Warning: Rumpus can be offensive and vulgar. Think of it as NC-17. It isn’t suitable for anyone who is younger or more innocent than the average Yale student. Even for that audience, Rumpus sometimes crosses the line.)

I hope that by linking to Rumpus I haven’t encouraged anyone to post offensive content here. When he started this discussion, our host wrote « I run a clean site here » (right after encouraging us to do a salacious Web search). We can honor his example by giving an appropriate warning when linking to anything that’s potentially offensive, and by not posting actual vulgar content here.

You wrote: « By the way, I always thought that Nicole was sexier but… »

I don’t remember anyone named Nicole.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 23, 2006 at 12:07 PM

Looking at old comments, I see some unanswered questions, a few of which I can help answer. Even if the people who asked aren’t here any more, someone else might be interested in the answers.

Tom asked: « After you finished all 52 lessons, how comfortable did you feel in your French? Did you still make mistakes? In other words, after lesson 52, could you pick up a french college textbook and read it without the help of a dictionary? Are there any other study aid’s you liked? »

See John Walker’s advice about learning French:

He learned French a long time ago, so his product recommendations are probably mostly out of date; but his other advice, and his cheat sheets, are still very useful.

Eleanor asked: « What happens at the very end???? I’m a high school freshman and really want to know…. »

I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, so this is encoded with rot13:

Gurl obgu orpbzr jung gurl jnagrq gb or jura gurl jrer puvyqera. Eboreg orpbzrf n sverzna, naq Zvervyyr orpbzrf n ahefr naq na npgerff. Jryy, abg rknpgyl– ohg Zvervyyr qbrf nggraq gb Eboreg va n ubfcvgny nsgre nabgure snyy sebz n onypbal, naq Eboreg erfphrf Zvervyyr sebz n oheavat ohvyqvat. Naq Zvervyyr ernyyl qbrf orpbzr na npgerff: gur « zna va oynpx » gheaf bhg gb or bhe Wrna-Pynhqr, jub jnf frag ol Cebs. Pncergm gb uver Zvervyyr gb fgne va Serapu va Npgvba.

julio franco asked: « i was just wondering why mireille never seems to wear a bra?? »

It’s just fashion. You can see the same thing in American TV shows that are a few years older than French in Action (search the Web for the sentence « When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting. »). In America, it went out of style before 1985; in France, apparently not.

Kats asked: ‘I also don’t understand why she would say that. Maybe it’s because the student addressed her as « Marie-Laure » instead of « Virgine »?’

When you read that letter, notice that all the details in the letter are details of Marie-Laure’s life, not the life of the actress who played her: two older sisters, a goldfish, and an aunt Georgette who has a dog! I wouldn’t expect that it was written by Mlle Contesse, unless someone at Yale said it was. It’s like seeing a letter signed « Clark Kent, » about being adopted and working at a newspaper: you don’t assume that it was written by Christopher Reeve.

Mark S. Belnap asked: ‘Charles, You obviously speak american,canadian english. Where did you learn your french prior to the 50 jours du « camping. »‘

M. Mayer is from Montréal, which is in Québec, which is part of French Canada. It’s the first place Prof. Capretz pointed out on his map of the world, in lesson #2, when he showed some of the places where French is spoken. I’ll bet that M. Mayer’s exposure to spoken French began on the day he was born.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 23, 2006 at 12:11 PM

Our host is hardly a man.

Posted by: Ed D | September 23, 2006 at 04:07 PM

The letter from Virgine Contesse and it’s origin are documented above. Believing that she, in fact, wrote the letter is certainly in line with the nature of this thread and has at least the same credibility as the posts purportedly from Charles Mayer.

Posted by: Ed D | September 23, 2006 at 04:19 PM

Autre Robert…I said Nicole, SORRY…I meant Cécile (Julie Arnold).

Posted by: Al M. | September 23, 2006 at 10:19 PM

Ed D wrote: « Our host is hardly a man. »

This discussion was started by David Moldawer. Some years later, he handed over the reins of his blog to his friend Liliana Segura. Somebody misconfigured something, causing her name to be put on all of his old articles. This was a bit embarrassing for her, because of certain of Dave’s « interests » which she doesn’t share; but apparently not embarrassing enough to get someone to fix the misconfiguration. If you browse the blog a bit, you’ll see what I mean.

It’s worth browsing; Mr. Moldawer and Ms. Segura are both Interesting People.

Re: « the posts purportedly from Charles Mayer. »

The author of those comments claims to be M. Mayer, and personally I believe him. I don’t suspect forgery.

Unless I missed something, the author of the Marie-Laure letter did not claim to be Mlle Contesse. I don’t suspect forgery, but I also don’t see the claim of authorship.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 24, 2006 at 01:42 PM

Al M. wrote: « I said Nicole, SORRY…I meant Cécile (Julie Arnold). »

She was incredible as a 23 year old blonde, and possibly even more beautiful as a 38 year old brunette. (I don’t know Julie Arnold’s true age, those numbers are based on Cécile’s age). I always thought there was a suggestion of the supernatural in her smile, that she’d be perfect for any role involving a race of beautiful magical beings who sometimes interfere in the affairs of men (e.g. Shakespeare’s Titania).

Now that I’ve seen her as a brunette, I will think of her every time I read about an Egyptologist encountering an apparition of an indescribaby beautiful goddess in a 3,000 year old tomb (this happens often in 100 year old British pulp fiction, a genre I’ve always enjoyed).

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 24, 2006 at 01:46 PM

I don’t suspect forgery either, to me that means I believe V. C. wrote the letter. I also believe that the poster claiming to be Charles Mayer is indeed Charles Mayer.

Do you know Ms. Segura personally?

Posted by: Ed D | September 24, 2006 at 04:16 PM

No, only by reading her blog and magazine articles.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 25, 2006 at 12:53 PM

I was googling Pierre Capretz and came upon this blog. I read all the comments and couldn’t believe finding so many people who shared my interest, OK obsession, with FIA! It was very interesting to read although most of the writers were at least a generation younger than I!

I taped all the episodes of FIA and studied them every night, making up my own study sheets. Eventually, a friend who was a French teacher, gave me a copy of the text which was a big help.

When I was in Paris in 1991, I looked up the hotel Robert stayed at – can’t remember the name (something with Latin in it?). It was still there and looked exactly as it did on the program. I went inside and they were renovating but the check-in counter looked the same and I did get to see a room which was similar to Robert’s.

A few years after that, my friend met Prof. Capretz at a meeting of French teachers at some hotel in the Catskill Mts. How I envied her! I’m so glad to hear Prof. Capretz is still at Yale and working on a new project.

Thanks to all for your comments.

Posted by: grandma | September 25, 2006 at 05:45 PM

Don’t be too sure about the age range here, grandma, I took my first french course in 1960. By 1987, when FIA first appeared I alread had one child out of high school (He also studied French along with 2 others).

I ran across FIA while I was on the road in Chicago; it’s not a big feature on PBS here in New Jersey. It renewed my interest in French for the 4th time (I studied with each of my children). I’m glad I found this site and the other web sites where the series can be viewed. I have the 2nd edition of the resource guide which is invaluable to the student viewing the episodes. The book is all in French also.

I personally like to hear of each posters favorite episode or what was going on in their lives as they watched.

Your post is touching to say the least.

Posted by: Ed D | September 25, 2006 at 06:23 PM

It’s hard to pick a favorite episode. I guess one of my favorites was when Robert first came to Mireille’s place for dinner and found Hubert invited too. I especially remember the 6 roses reflected in the mirror to look like a full dozen and Mireille’s father showing Robert the view from the balcony. At the time, in my own life, I was teaching math at a nearby college.

Posted by: grandma | September 27, 2006 at 08:27 PM

I believe that Robert’s hotel was « Le Home Latin ». I also remember the 6 roses in the mirror.

Posted by: Ed D | September 28, 2006 at 12:25 PM

The idea of having a single favorite episode never even occurred to me. After a few minutes’ thought, I’d say my favorite is the one in which Mireille and Robert are frantically searching for Marie-Laure in the Jardin du Luxembourg, while Marie-Laure is relentlessly pursuing the « man in black » through the streets of Paris and down into the Catacombs. It’s almost like a scene from The Third Man, except Marie-Laure is much cuter than Holly Martins.

Posted by: un autre Robert | September 28, 2006 at 12:55 PM

Hey, y’all,

I love all the parts where Virginie Contesse is available she is so cute. You know her little personality was somewhat genuine to her personal personality. I absolutely… J’adore j’adore j’adore ton idea Mr. Autre Robert. Si on avait beaucoup d’argent on pourait faire la recherche. Est-ce que quelqu’un connais Mr. Annenberg ou bien son equipe. Ou bien la Mary P. Cox foundation. je ne me souviens point. Je crois que les methodes de Monsieur Capretz montre son genie. Il est vraiment doue! Tu es si simpa Mr. Autre Robert. Merci beaucop pour nous avoir donne tes ideas. Monsieur Mayer n’avait pas l’accent canadien ou quebecquois il me semble. Son accent et plutot alsacien haut. Comme des belges peut-etre. Soyez fort toute le monde. Bons etudes.
Mark S. Belnap

Posted by: Mark S. Belnap | September 28, 2006 at 05:47 PM

Thanks, Ed D, for the name of Robert’s hotel, Le Home Latin. My memory is refreshed! I appreciated your comments to me and to les autres. Also, come to think of it, like un autre Robert, I did enjoy the scary scenes of Marie-Laure in the Catacombs – and for the same reason.

Posted by: grandma | September 30, 2006 at 04:51 PM

Just reading this weblog to see what is going on. Am in a rush right now – have to go off to work. Will check back later. Abiento?

Posted by: grandpa | October 06, 2006 at 08:57 PM

wow, glad to see this is still going. so cool to hear from Roberrrrr himself, too!

hey Robert, I just noticed something kind of funny, the exact hairstyle you sport in FIA ia back in style again here in the states with teens. thought that was kind of cool and shows how things are cylical in this world.

Posted by: anon | October 17, 2006 at 08:11 PM


I realize everyone here has watched French in Action, but I am also a high school French student and I watch a different soap opera from the book C’est a Toi and I was wondering if anyone else does. I am very interested in who the actors are and what they’re doing now but I cannot find anything at all on them.

Posted by: Aimee | November 02, 2006 at 08:40 PM wonderful to find this support group for FIA junkies!
I’ve been one for 18 years. I just spent an hour reading every post on here, top to bottom. Charles Mayer’s posts to this discussion made my night. I hope the discussion (the polite kind) continues and that Mr. Mayer will chime in again. Has anyone seen the recent work of Ms. Allain, comédienne? Her profession would suggest that she regularly has an audience. (I get a shiver when I think that if I call the number listed on her web page, she might pick up.)

Posted by: Aloysius | November 05, 2006 at 01:09 AM

this site is awesome…I love FIA!!!! someone had wrote: « I’m not sure if the girls felt the same for Robert… » I must say, I found this site because I was looking up « Charles Mayer » He is super hot! He really makes learning French fun. In fact, I think he is one of the most attractive guys I have ever seen. Too bad I was only 7-years-old and in California when he was 27 and in Paris making those FIA videos.

Posted by: doodle86 | November 07, 2006 at 11:45 PM

doodle: It’s never too late. Charles never said anything about his personal life…he might be available. He probably looks only more distinguished with those 20 years on him since FIA.

Charles…I’ve Googled you to no avail. Not a single picture of you online to be found! I hope I get to see some of your recent work soon.

Posted by: Aloysius | November 09, 2006 at 08:13 PM

I recently went to a minor league hockey game in Bridgeport and lo-and-behold there there two blue collar French Canadians sitting next to us. They have lived in Connecticut for 30 years but you’s have no problem picking out their native tongue even though they were speaking English. Very friendly guys but when I tried a little of what I knew one of them rolled over me with his kind of ho-ho-ho robust mon-ami French speaking enthusiasm in return. Will see them again at another game the end of the month and I’ll make sure hold my French tongue. While I know that FIA was a great course I am convinced that the only way to get the language down is to actually go live there for an extended period of time. FIA is a nice spring board but there is no substitute for jumping into the water. A happy upcoming holiday season to everyone on the site.

Posted by: grandpa | November 10, 2006 at 04:15 PM

I don’t think you have to live there but certainly speaking the language every day with a group of natives is the real emersion that is necessary.

This is why a real live class with a real live teacher is heads above a tv show or CDs or virtually anything else.

I remember going to my Italian barber, Tony when I was in grade school. Tony had an apprentice, Louie. Louie knew about 5 words in english (comb, razor, shave, etc). By the time I was out of high school, it was amazing, Louie could speak English with only the very slightest accent. I think this is because as we all know, barbers make it a practice of talking to you while you’re getting cut. It’s the perfect example of emersion. All day long, conversing with a host of different people.

You’re on the money Grandpa.


Posted by: | November 15, 2006 at 08:31 PM

Joyeux noel a chacun.

Posted by: Ed D | December 24, 2006 at 05:35 PM

I hate to see this thread die…my love for FIA will always live on.

Posted by: Aloysius | January 02, 2007 at 10:30 PM

Aloysius, if you don’t want to see the thread die. Post something. It’s as easy as that.


Posted by: Ed D | January 07, 2007 at 03:05 PM

Does anyone know about Valerie Allain’s background? Where in France is she from, how did she begin acting? Any siblings in the same business? How was she selected for the role of Mireille? The information is rather spartan on her wiki page.

If Charles Mayer is still monitoring this board, I’d love to know the same about you. You are a Montrealer? I love that city, even if it is a bit nippy in winter.

Posted by: Aloysius | January 07, 2007 at 08:38 PM

Does anyone know if it’s true that Virginie Contesse died from a drug overdose in her mid 20s ??

Posted by: Loki Sunrider | January 12, 2007 at 11:59 PM

Am I doing this right? Just testing.

Posted by: grandpa | January 13, 2007 at 08:53 PM

OK: I just wanted to say that I got a trip to Italy coming up in February and I find it funny that when I listened to the Italian CD’s I found myself responding in French first. The French has been so ingrained that I wonder how people learn several languages and can have their brain seperate them when the time comes? I’m landing in France first but will only be there for two hours so I’ll just get a chance to listen to the folks at the airport. As I have never been overseas alls I can say is Yahoo!

Posted by: grandpa | January 13, 2007 at 08:59 PM

Valerie Allain is currently with a group called Les Frigos. According to their website, they’re operating out of an old warehouse which has been converted into an artist colony. The place now contains many studios for various artists. There’s another blog (entirely in French-vie publique, vie privee) which actually contained an entry from her niece Rachel.

Posted by: FIA viewer | January 24, 2007 at 10:56 PM

I didn’t find out about Valerie Allain & Les Frigos until after I came back from my recent trip to Paris. If anyone is going to Paris soon, please see if you can stop by Les Frigos (91 Quai Panhard et Levassor / Rue Les Frigos). It’s next to the Francois Mitterand library. From the Les Frigos website, you probably only want to go here during the day. Doesn’t look like a friendly place for an evening stroll. It would be interesting to see if Valerie has an office in this place. On the vie publique-vie privee blog, a participant actually met her and they had coffee together.

Posted by: VA Fan | January 30, 2007 at 11:17 PM

This year French in Action turns Twenty!!!

Happy aniversary!!!

We’re waiting for the Special Edition DVD!!!

Posted by: Simon Le Bon | February 11, 2007 at 10:17 AM

I came across this page by searching for « Pierre Capretz » on Google, after my curiosity was rekindled just after watching 2 episodes of FIA back to back. I’m currently on episode #32 on my first run through.

I took 3 years of French in high school, but they didn’t show this series in my classes, and I never saw it on PBS. I first came across it via the streaming online links on, but the quality was so poor I sought it elsewhere. Being in a town with a major college, I found the library was very well-stocked with language materials, the most important of which were the complete 90-lesson Pimsleur series, and the entire 52 episodes of FIA on VHS! (Well, except for one tape which was missing. I alerted them to the fact, and they bought a replacement.)

At first, I had a lot of trouble with it, and I was taking the Pimsleur simultaneously. It was actually Capretz himself who got me to understand what I was doing wrong with the French back-of-the-throat R, with his demonstration, which I might not have gotten from the Pimsleur.

Anyway, my FIA viewings took a back seat to the Pimsleur, but after having gone through that series multiple times, I’m resuming my FIA viewings just now, and finding it much easier to understand.

This series is the most extreme case of time-shifting I’ve experienced yet. A glimpse of mid-80s Paris that we viewers have all experienced or are in the middle of experiencing at different times during the last 20 years! It’s true, this series does have an unusual effect on me, inspiring loyalty that the more recent French instructional sitcom « Extra » did not.

I must disagree with the earlier poster’s speculation about shooting 50 episodes with intent for 50 more. 52 episodes is a standard number of episodes for a series (they’re usually in multiples of 13, to fit with the number of weeks in a year). This would make 4 13-episode seasons (re-run 4 times in a year), or 2 26-episode seasons (re-run twice).


Posted by: Shawn | February 13, 2007 at 01:16 PM

I just stumbled upon this thread very late at night and i’m so happy to see that the last post was only from this afternoon! Vive the FIA thread and online fans!
And yes I’d love to hear more from Charles Mayer or have a coffee with Valerie Allain…. keep the interesting info coming and I will write more about my FIA feelings at a reasonable hour.

Posted by: Louise | February 14, 2007 at 04:23 AM

Woohoo, what a lucky find! :-)) I’m taking the course on my own — I’ve got the DVDs, audio cassettes, workbooks, and study guides, and I’m using ALL of them! The audio cassettes are especially useful. I’m only on Leçon 15, but it’s been going fast. I’ve actually been studying French on my own for years, so the vocabulary is almost all familiar, which helps a lot. But my listening comprehension is poor, and my speaking even worse, so this course is a real godsend to me.

My only concern was — would the vocabulary and the cultural material be out of date, 20 years after the course was taped? I did notice the narrator referred to a waiter as « le garçon » — oh, la la, ça ne va pas! On dit « le serveur »!– but aside from that, I don’t really know, and am hoping someone has the answer?

Posted by: Marthe | February 16, 2007 at 10:16 PM

According to the latest Berlitz tape, a waiter is now referred to as « monsieur, » definitely not « garcon. » Looks like France is also big on political correctness. Currency is of course now in Euros. Vocabulary shouldn’t have changed that much, except maybe for new words about the internet, etc… On the culture front, you may also want to check out Le Figaro, Le Monde, Paris Match, etc… online
to see what’s happening. I have a real hard time seeing Mireille (Valerie) as a woman in her 40’s, Marie-Laure in her 30’s, and Robert (Charles) almost in his 50’s. How quickly the years go by.

Posted by: FIA Viewer | February 17, 2007 at 03:02 AM

Thanks, FIA viewer. By coincidence, it turns out that Lesson 15, which I watched for the first time last night, has a big section on French money, pictures of various FF notes & currency — finally, a section I can safely ignore! 🙂

And yeah, I’ve also heard that in speaking to a waiter, you definitely use Monsieur now. Thankfully, I learned that before my one trip to Paris in 2002! « Le serveur », of course, is not used to address a waiter but only to refer to him, in place of « le garçon ». I’m glad they gave up calling waiters « boys »!

Thanks a lot for the culture resources, too.

As for the Belleau family — well, Marie-Laure will always be 10 years old to me. 🙂 And Robert’s father is undoubtedly still working in that same bank, don’t you think — ça fait 45 ans qu’il y travaille, n’est-ce pas? 😀


Posted by: Marthe | February 17, 2007 at 02:03 PM

Cher Marthe:

I learned to use « monsieur » to address a waiter by first using « garçon » and then switching to « monsieur. » He looked a lot happier being so addressed and I have used it ever since.

Too bad no one can find Marie-Laure (Virginie Comtesse). Of that whole very talented cast, she was unquestionably the star. Speculations abound, of course, but I’m hoping that she is raising kids right now and will reappear when they go off to la Sorbonne to study l’Art et l »Archeologie.


Posted by: Wright Salisbury | February 18, 2007 at 03:25 PM


Marie-Laure, la vedette? Mais non! For me, the star is not Marie-Laure, pas du tout; it’s definitely the one and only JEAN-PIERRE BOURDON! What a fun character! I find that I’m always hoping he’ll show up. (though he speaks so rapidly, he’s the hardest character to understand. Marie-Laure does get the nod in that department!)

What a fun course all around, really. Even the workbook is fun. 🙂


Posted by: Marthe | February 18, 2007 at 08:21 PM

The actor who played Jean-Pierre Bourdon is Riton Liebman who seems to have done very well. A lot of movies/TV roles since FIA according to his profile on IMDB. Marie-Laure was definitely the cutest member of the cast. But as a male fan, I will always have a soft spot for Valerie.

Marthe, you may also want to check with your local cable provider to see if they have TV5, which has all French news, shows, etc… I know that Dish Network has it. Depending on where you live, there may also be a local chapter of Alliance Francaise as well. Lots of ways to keep up to date with France and French culture.

Posted by: FIA Viewer | February 19, 2007 at 01:17 PM

I know that some of the phrases are definitely old-fashioned. Not surprising considering how old Capretz was already, then add 20 more years onto it since it was filmed! I used the expression « mystère et boule de gomme » to a francophone a while ago and his response was: « ^_^; That a VERY old fashioned phrase. »

The Pimsleur series has a revised lesson set out on CDs, which use euros and *I think* refer to waiters as « monsieur »…

Posted by: Shawn | February 20, 2007 at 08:45 PM

Ha, I’ll be sure to avoid saying « mystère et boule de gomme », then. If you know of any other out-of-date expressions in the course, be sure to let us know. I hate to think I’m memorizing expressions that are the French equivalent of « so’s your old man » or « that’s swell! » 😀

I’d love to get TV5! But I’d have to switch from cable to Dish, first, then pay extra for TV5, which isn’t included in their packages here, malheureusement — I’ve looked into it. We do get weeknight re-broadcasts of the France2 evening news on PBS, so I watch that sometimes. Of course there are French and Québec radio stations that you can listen to online, too. Which I keep meaning to do …

Thanks so much for the Jean-Pierre update, FIA Viewer! I’m so glad to hear he’s been successful in real life. He really plays his FIA part to the hilt. 🙂

A la prochaine,


Posted by: Marthe | February 20, 2007 at 10:15 PM

C’est tres interessant que ce blog continue. Moi, j’ai ecrit une petite note ici, ca fait peut-etre deux ans, et c’est incroyable que le site aille encore. Formidable! FIA tire les liens pour beauoup de gens! Nous sommes une petite societe!

J’ai une petite probleme, neanmoins, parce que j’essaie a regarder le programme sur le site d’Annenberg, mais souvent, le programme deviens interromptu. Il arrete et ne recommence pas. C’est embettant! Est-ce qu’il y a des autres qui ont le meme probleme en regardant FIA sur l’ordinateur?

Posted by: ol’eli | February 26, 2007 at 02:27 PM

It’s pretty clear that what we FIA fans need is our own fan site. I mean, are we gonna just keep posting to this old thread on this blog forever??

Would be great to have a leçon par leçon summary with some video still highlights. I watched a FIA just last night (I’m going through the whole series–I have it now on DVD–in order). I love being transported to Paris 1985. Mireille is always fresh as ever. Pierre Capretz is always engaging. Being a way to brush up my French, I can’t really call it a guilty pleasure!

Posted by: Aloysius | February 27, 2007 at 10:03 AM

The funny thing is that Wikipedia lists this thread as « a cult page » for FIA and Valerie Allain. If they see an actual website for FIA fans, they will probably call Interpol. Mon Dieu! We FIA fans are indeed une petite societe. Did anyone remember what Paris in the mid-1980’s was like compared to now? Being Marie-Laure’s age when the show first aired, and having only gone to Paris last year, I don’t know how the city has changed. Paris is wonderful and that was a great trip. One of my bigger regrets in life is that I didn’t take my family to Paris years ago. I would love to have been at one of the FIA parties that Charles Mayer talked about in his early post.

Posted by: Big FIA Fan | February 27, 2007 at 10:50 PM

This is a cult. So calling it a cult page is accurate. Whenever people get together and do what we do over a topic that would make the mainstream citizen of the world go…HMMMMM….you got a cult.

As for Valerie; it would seem that most, or perhaps a fair share of the posts are about her. Lately that isn’t the case, Charles M. and Virgine C. have their sub-cult, but in the overall I think Valerie wins.

I personally don’t think of FIA as a window into 1980s Paris. Paris is an ancient city and has evolved considerably but hardly in the last 20 or so years. With the exception of cell phones and other hand held devices, Paris, New York City, and the others haven’t changed all that much to the naked eye. There are even Punkers still left with feather-like mohawks just hanging around. The rest of fashion seems to be reverting to the 80s not the other way around.

Posted by: ed | February 28, 2007 at 03:10 PM

I would be surprised if any mainstream citizen would go …HMMMMM…. over what we’re doing here. This is just a thread where fans of an old TV show share their views/memories and ideas (« Professor Capretz, please begin filming FIA 2. »). Wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of the shows out there have some sort of fan clubs/blogs/web sites.

Posted by: Big FIA Fan | February 28, 2007 at 03:30 PM

Im writing a second 52 chapters for FIA. It’s going very slowly because my French is not that good and it’s difficult to think of plot lines as engaging as those in the original FIA. Everybody’s 20 years older of course, Mireille is married to Robert and has three kids, Colette is married to Hubert, whose family went broke (he’s now a barber) and Marie-Laure is engaged to be married to an older man, Jean-Michele, who is no longer a communist but has become a very successful and wealthy industrialist.

L’homme en noir is sculking around again, but we don’t know why.

Bizarre, bizarre!

Posted by: Wright Salisbury | February 28, 2007 at 08:49 PM

Im writing a second 52 chapters for FIA. It’s going very slowly because my French is not that good and it’s difficult to think of plot lines as engaging as those in the original FIA. Everybody’s 20 years older of course, Mireille is married to Robert and has three kids, Colette is married to Hubert, whose family went broke (he’s now a barber) and Marie-Laure is engaged to be married to an older man, Jean-Michele, who is no longer a communist but has become a very successful and wealthy industrialist.

L’homme en noir is sculking around again, but we don’t know why.

Bizarre, bizarre!

Posted by: Wright Salisbury | February 28, 2007 at 08:49 PM

I’m sure there are fan clubs/blogs/web sites for every show on TV. However when the show was an educational series that first aired some twenty years ago then it is surly a kind of phenomonon that doesn’t happen all the time (Star Trek comes to mind).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan too, and I don’t get upset at being called a cult.
Ed D

Posted by: ed | March 01, 2007 at 12:05 PM

Most of the posts are about Valerie who was definitely a critical part of FIA’s charm. I’ve always wondered why she hasn’t appeared in any movies since 2000. It must be difficult being a French actor/actress because of competition from all the American shows coming over. Maybe we should start a letter writing campaign to get her a role on Desperate Housewives so we can see more of Valerie. Of course, I prefer Madame Mireille avec les 3 enfants et son mari Robert in FIA 2. (Script by W. Salisbury)

Posted by: Big FIA Fan | March 01, 2007 at 11:37 PM

I studied at Bryn Mawr College’s intensive french program several years back and of course professor doner used french in action. It was wonderful. I still laugh with my friends and colleagues about it, about the lines, about the characters. Even years ago, we were all speculating what happened to the actors. I guess that’s still going on. These characters are like cult figures who die young: they never age, nor can we believe we have aged in the meantime. Chaque fois que je vois Mireille ou Robert, j’ai encore (toujours) vingt ans, en train d’etudier mon francais a Bryn Mawr avec Professeur Doner!

Posted by: chez moi | March 03, 2007 at 09:09 PM

Hello, I am a Freshman in highschool and I’ve been introduced to French in Action this year. Although I find it extremely cheesy, I still find myself wondering what happened to those actors since 1987? (and why we’re using Lazerdiscs and lecons plans from the 80’s, I think my teacher needs to become more up to date) But whatever happened to Mireille’s funny grandfather who, when being introduced, he creepilly stares into the camera and smiles? My whole class cracks up whenever we see that part. I’d imagine the man who played Mireille’s grandfather is no longer with us, but I’d like to see what he looked like 50 years ago or if he had a career to look back on, or did nothing before French in Action. And whatever happened to the mime? He’s my favorite character in French in Action, and I strongly wonder of what has became of him. I know I shouldn’t care about this, but it brings about a certain curiosity. I guess I’d just like to know what the lives are really like of the actors we see everyday. Especially because they’ve aged 20 years. It’s a little surprising and heart-breaking not one of those actors has grown to be in a hit movie or TV series or had a hit play on Broadway or the West End or even made six digits starring in commericials. They’ve just disappeared through time, which is surprising, because it seemed FIA was once a big hit, having 8 million veiwers, a huge number for an educational series. And I know what Capretz does now, but what was he likes, say, 50 years ago? Did he just teach at Yale? Because he must be 80 by now. I wonder if there’s a picture of young Capretz. Please, someone please answere one of these questions. Thank you.

Posted by: Freshman | March 05, 2007 at 09:03 PM

We finally have a Capretz fan joining the group. I found Professor Capretz’s CV along with a different picture on the Yale website ( FIA is now available on DVD (according to, so your school shouldn’t be stuck with old laserdics. Complete cast list for FIA should be available on IMDB. It’s not easy to make it big in the acting business, in the Etats Unis ou en France.

Posted by: Capretz fan | March 06, 2007 at 12:01 AM

To answer my own question about out-of-date expressions in FIA, I understand that the term « dans le vent » is NOT, shall we say, *dans le vent* nowadays! Of course, neither is the textbook glossary’s English definition of that expression: « with it ».

So if anyone was planning to go barging around France saying this or that is « dans le vent »: just don’t. 🙂


Posted by: Marthe | March 06, 2007 at 11:37 AM

For Freshman

You wrote « I know I shouldn’t care about this, but it brings about a certain curiosity. »

Caring about this (ie. what happened to all those people in FIA) is really what we are all doing here.

As far as the 1980s lesson plans, with the exception of a very few phrases which may be out of date, the Capretz method remains one of the outstanding vehicles for learning French. Cheesy notwithstanding, the soap opera format lends greatly to the whole learning experience.

I envy you being able to see and hear FIA in a classroom setting for the first time.

Regards and good luck

Posted by: ed D | March 06, 2007 at 01:45 PM

What an interesting find. And FIA is the best resource I’ve ever discovered for learning any language. Perfectly geared to the English speaker.

Posted by: KingM | March 06, 2007 at 03:53 PM

I asked my French-American boyfriend who is bilingual if he knew anything about « mystère… et boule de gomme » and he had never heard it. Then I asked his father, who was raised in Paris and he said, « wow, that’s a very old expression. » I asked him what he thought it meant and he said that it’s not like, « What a mystery! » but it’s more used for when someone says something stupid, kind of to brush off what they say as sounding stupid. It doesn’t seem like it is used in this way in the FIA series… any thoughts on this?

Posted by: Louise | March 06, 2007 at 05:52 PM

I found a website ( that actually has a brief discussion on « mystere et boule de gomme. » Just go to the site and type in « boule de gomme » and then click on « forum » to access the discussion.

Posted by: Mystere | March 09, 2007 at 12:18 AM

Judging from the interest here, I’ve created a forum for discussion of French In Action, as a subforum of my section on the Drowtales site. The site’s been around for years, so it shouldn’t be going away anytime soon. I’ve put an episode list up, as well as my personal experience, and I’ll be adding specific episode breakdowns gradually as I have the time. Also want to build up a FAQ for the show. Hope to see some of you there!

Posted by: Shawn | March 10, 2007 at 06:09 PM

Thanks, Shawn! See you there. After I look up the « mystere et boule de gomme » reference — though I’m pretty sure I’ve happened across that particular discussion before.


Posted by: Marthe | March 12, 2007 at 09:29 PM

I tried to register for your forum, but was then not able to log in; was then told my user name was NOT registered so my password, which I wondered if I had mis-typed, could not be sent to me;
then was not allowed to re-register with that same supposedly unregistered name … tant pis!


Posted by: Marthe | March 13, 2007 at 08:06 AM

I see you and a couple of other new accounts registered. Did you try it immediately? Because the registrations have to be approved manually, so it takes a little longer. Kern, the forum administrator, says he did activate you. If there are any other problems, please write to my at the address linked here on my name.

Posted by: Shawn | March 13, 2007 at 06:29 PM

My wife and I have just made plans to spend a week in Paris this summer. This is quite exiciting for me, since I haven’t been to Paris since I was a teenager. (A long long time ago…I’m a few months older than Valérie Allain, so my first and last time there was BEFORE FIA was flimed!) I’d love to hit as many of the sites featured in the series as I reasonably can. Please help me make a list of these. Here’s my start:

Les Jardins de Luxembourg
La Closerie de Lilas
Le Home Latin Hotel
La Sorbonne

Help me out! Anyone know the address of the Belot’s house and the door the front door they shot for scenes of Mireille/Marie-Laure going in/out? If I can, I’ll take photos of these places and add them to Google Earth. BTW, if you haven’t explored Paris with Google Earth, do so. It’s spectacular.

Posted by: Aloysius | March 14, 2007 at 11:04 PM

Aloysius, please also see if you can add Valerie Allain’s current work place to your itinerary. She’s listed with a group called Les Frigos (91 Quai Panhard et Levassor / Rue Les Frigos) next to the Francois Mitterand library. Looks like an old warehouse with lots of graffiti converted into an artist colony. Would be fun to see if she has an office there. Just walk in ask for an autograph and let her know that there are beaucoup fans of FIA hanging out at the website.

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 15, 2007 at 12:53 PM

Old FIA fan: We may do that, although I think our chances of getting to meet Valérie Allain are likely to be slim. Les Frigos, according to their website, is not open to the public except on special occasions. We can’t just walk in and find her studio. I dare not hope that meeting Valérie could be be possible…mais qui sait? My chances might be improved with my wife by my side (a new fan) who should serve to blunt an otherwise understandable suspicion that I am some kind of stalker-creep. If we go there, can I say that I am the ambassador of the FIA Fancy Robot fan club?

Posted by: Aloysius | March 15, 2007 at 02:15 PM

Congratulations on your appointment as the new official ambassador to Valerie from the FIA Fancy Robot fan club. Diplomatic credentials should be arriving shortly. I’ve been wondering about Les Frigos for a while. It does sound like the place is not open to the public, but on their website, there’s a « galerie et Restauration japonaise. » So, is the building open to the public? On the vie publique/vie privee blog mentioned in the old posts, someone actually met VA there and they had coffee together? Oh well, maybe Valerie, or Virginie, or Prof. Capretz will find us on Google and join this blog. Afterall, Charles Mayer briefly joined this group early last year. Have a good time in Paris. C’est une ville magnifique….

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 15, 2007 at 04:05 PM

Are you nostalgic over Mireille? Do you want to watch Vallerie Allain in all her glory?

Please go there:

Au revoir!

Posted by: Simon Le Bon | March 18, 2007 at 03:06 PM

I’ve checked that group on Yahoo and they’re not as active as us here. The presentation of the posts is also annoying because you can only see a portion of the message, without actually clicking on it. The best thing about that group is the picture of VA at the beginning. Fancy Robot is still the best FIA/VA fan site out there. Vive Fancy Robot!

Posted by: Old FIA Fan | March 18, 2007 at 11:59 PM

I agree with Old FIA fan, the Yahoo group is about leering old lechers on drooling over Valérie Allain videos. We are FIA fans first and foremost here.

Posted by: Aloysius | March 19, 2007 at 09:50 AM

« Leering old lechers drooling…. » sounds comical. Do you suppose that Valerie is not proud of her other work?

The sexual tension created by Mireille and Robert, along with braless Valerie and tight-pants Charles, constitutes a good deal of the appeal of FIA to high school and college students. Of course there is the 1% who watched purely to learn French and nothing else, but alas they will probably remain uncounted.

I don’t believe that viewing Valerie’s other movies (videos) is lecherous nor do I think it takes away from the primary mission of this thread: to investigate and wonder « What are they doing now ».

Posted by: ed D | March 19, 2007 at 08:59 PM

I have been watching FIA for about a year and a half, got the book Vol.2 and have been teaching myself French. My husband and I visited Paris last Oct. and we really enjoyed the Jardin du Luxembourg. I have to say that Prof. Capretz is a genius, and I learned more French than I did on that horrendously expensive Rosetta Stone CD collction. I received many compliments from the Parisians, and folks out in the Loire Valley.
Ed, you’re right..those of us ardent FIA fans DO want to know what has become of our beloved characters that we have invited into our lives and have culture shared with! They are the ones that taught us French as well as gave us a better understanding of French culture.
I appreciate Charles Mayer for participating in the blog.
My husband and I both think Virginie Contesse was a charming,precocious little girl and is very likely a georgeous adult woman now (I wish she would come out of hiding!)
We Americans show our puritannical upbringing when we focus on porn, and make much ado over nothing! In all of Europe, ESPECIALLY France nudity is perfectly acceptable, and is shown as a natural part of life. After all folks, we are ALL nude underneath it all. If we are fascinated over Valerie Allain’s’s okay to check it out.
I just melt when I listen to Charles Mayer speak French with his deep sexy voice, and I would love to see HIM in a nude scene, and it would not detract from my appreciation of him as I have gotten to know him as the character of Robert.
Just visit France for yourselves folks, you will then understand what I am taking about!
Au Revoir, Lis

Posted by: Lisa V | March 20, 2007 at 01:19 AM

My boyfriend is French, and he told me that it’s perfectly normal to be naked in France. He’s seen both his parents naked, but not his sister though, probably because the age difference is too small. I have all the episodes on my computer. I don’t know how and where my friend found them. From time to time, I’d watch them. Each time, it was such fun. By the way,Charles Mayer ís great. I just got an email from his today. So,write him.

Mon petit ami est français. Il m’a dit que c’est parfaitement normal d’être nu en france. Il a vu ses nus parents, mais pas sa soeur, probablement parce que la différence d’âge est très petite. J’ai toutes les épisodes sur mon ordinateur. Je ne sais pas comment et où mon petit ami les a trouvées. De temps en temps, je les regarde et je me suis amusée chaque fois. D’ailleurs, Charles Mayer est superb. J’ai reçu son email aujourd’hui. Alors, écrivez-lui.

Posted by: Helen | March 20, 2007 at 05:15 AM

Thank you Helen for taking the time to post in both french and english. I appreciate the opportunity to improve my french any way I can.

warm regards
ed D

Posted by: ed D | March 20, 2007 at 06:02 PM

I don’t think there was a whole lot of « sexual tension » in FIA, and what little was there wasn’t what made the show appealing. FIA was a lot more than the wardrobes of VA & Charles. The show, aside from teaching French, tapped into a fantasy for many people of being young, carefree, and in Paris. Please also read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, if you haven’t done so. Great book…. I agree that watching VA’s other movies aren’t lecherous. Although going through that Yahoo group, I was a bit concerned when the primary focus of many participants was to find pictures of her not fully clothed. That singular focus worries me. I think I’ll stick with Fancy Robot.

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 20, 2007 at 07:28 PM

I never meant to suggest that watching VA’s movies is lecherous, just that the singular focus on nude vid clips of VA that one finds on the Yahoo group and elsehwere on the internet is. Apart from Aria, are any other of VA’s movies available in the US market? I’ve been unable to find any.

I still need help creating a list of Parisian locales featured in FIA that I should visit. Anyone know the address of the Bellau family’s building?

Vive Fancy Robot et French in Action!

Posted by: Aloysius | March 21, 2007 at 01:24 PM

It’s kind of a long shot, but you may also want to email Charles Mayer ( and/or Pierre Capretz at Yale (his email should be on his profile These 2 gentlemen should be able to provide a pretty detail list of shooting locations.

Bonne chance…..

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 21, 2007 at 01:52 PM

To say that FIA was about being young and carefree and then claim that there were little or no sexual tensions between the main characters is at odds with the universe.

Even Marie-Laure and her schoolgirl crush on Robert gave in to adolescent sexuality. It’s like saying that there were no latent sexual feelings about Annette Funicello on the Micky Mouse Club. Young boys loved her and young girls loved her as well.

Appealing to the life drive in all of us is a tricky and subliminal way to present a seperate agenda; in this case French.

Once you got their attention…..well anything is possible. They still have my attention.

ed D

Posted by: ed D | March 22, 2007 at 06:56 PM

Can’t really comment on Annette Funicello, a few years before my time. Being young and carefree doesn’t automatically translate into « sexual tension. » FIA’s charm lies in its teaching of French in a very nice setting. How many of us wouldn’t want to be a young college student, carefree (oh, life before that mortgage), and spending our youth in Paris? Faire une promenade on the Champs Elysees, evening picnics with friends on the bank of the Seine, or perhaps a stroll through le jardin du Luxembourg. Valerie’s wardrobe choices aside, FIA’s setting and charming situations keep fans coming back.

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 23, 2007 at 12:04 AM

Right, young college students have no sexual tension, it’s all about the flowers.

Ahhhh, life at the monestary, tres bien.

Posted by: ed D | March 23, 2007 at 02:59 PM

Never been inside a monastery before, perhaps you can give me a tour of yours someday. It’s interesting you brought up this point. Based on all the recent court cases, there appears to be plenty of sexual tension inside monasteries, parishes, etc… Unfortunately they all seem to involve young choir boys and not our Valerie. It’s possible to find “sexual tension” in every single situation in life. Anything that has more than 1 person in it can have this tension. Is this the primary factor that drives the attraction that people have for FIA (Posting dated 3/19/07 8:59 pm)? Perhaps some folks just like FIA because of Valerie’s disregard for underclothes. I, and maybe a few other people, love the show’s charm, wit, and that wonderful setting. Oh, learning French was nice too…..

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 23, 2007 at 03:57 PM

You make no sense!!

Posted by: ed D | March 24, 2007 at 11:22 AM

can people just learn to ignore ed D’s taunting posts? if you scroll back, you’ll find that he hardly has any posts that aren’t challenging and argumentative, trying to get a rise out of people or otherwise. he talks more about what people say on here than FIA itself so let’s get back to the point! and if he responds to this post with some witty retort I will ignore it and change the subject–as you should all do too!

Posted by: Louise | March 24, 2007 at 04:23 PM

Everybody listen to Louise now.

Posted by: Suds | March 24, 2007 at 05:27 PM

My, my Louise. You seem to be exhibiting the same behavior that you attribute to me. After all you are saying things about me and not FIA. You’ve taken the time to research my posts and are generalizing them as you negatively preach to the others on the forum about me. I’ve never done that to anyone here.

Instead of trying to raise the masses against me you should take a look at how you deal with your own aggressivness.

Posted by: ed D | March 24, 2007 at 06:52 PM

Ed, forigve me for saying this, but for you to accuse other people of aggression is like the Taliban accusing other people of sexism…. Heh Heh…

Posted by: FIA Viewer | March 24, 2007 at 10:07 PM

So continuing on with my curiousness about the « mystère et boule de gomme » expression…

I have asked a few more people for their input on the expression. My French cousin explained it literally, saying that gomme= eraser and boule= parts/bits.
« Mystery and eraser bits? » I don’t think so!
I always thought « boule de gomme » meant gumballs. So, we have the literal translation, « Mystery… and gumballs! » but I’ve heard the following from various French friends and family:

How mysterious.
That’s so stupid.
It’s bullshit.
I can’t say, it’s a secret.

that site with the word reference that a few people had talked about here on the post, I couldn’t quite get all of the French, besides a rough translation of « how mysterious! » but from my other sources I gather it is more of a sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek expression.

Vive obsolete French expressions!

Posted by: Louise | March 25, 2007 at 03:13 AM

Way to go babe.

At least two apply.

Posted by: Louise’s friend 😉 | March 25, 2007 at 08:40 PM

I thought boule de gomme meant rubber ball?

Gomme=eraser but another old time name for eraser is a rubber (ie rub it out).

so maybe it’s the mystery of the rubber ball–it bounces.

Posted by: faNcy luRKer | March 26, 2007 at 09:17 AM

Ok I love FIA also and I found this web site like 30 mins ago, meaning it has taking me a while to read it all because it is sooooo long can you imagine if it had been started earlier WOW! Anyway tomorrow it the 4th anniversary of this blog, so kudos to all who contributed and Laissez le bon temps rouler!

P.S. also i enjoy this blog minus the bickering, and by far the coolest things to happen in all 4 years are Charles writting to us and the whole Sleepypie/Marie-Laure MYSTERY

Posted by: Hickman_Tea_Canal | March 26, 2007 at 05:48 PM

I was the one who posted the proposition that Sleepypie was indeed Marie-Laure trying to hide behind the pseudonom.

I still believe that it could be true. After all, Sleepypie/M-L has not posted again, at least under that name.

I also posted a letter that I found purportedly from M-L to a group of Yale students (4/30/2006). The validity of the claim that it was she was challanged but no supporting documentation was ever produced.

It remains strange that she is the only character that has virtually dissappeared, or so we think.

Posted by: Ed | March 26, 2007 at 07:49 PM

The Sleepypie post is very interesting and I’ve been wondering about the email linked to that address ( Isn’t Bellsouth a part of AT&T? I would expect Virginie to have a French email address such as, not a U.S. one. So can anyone get a Bellsouth email address or does one need to have phone service through AT&T? Does this mean that Virginie is living in the U.S.? Can she get the Bellsouth email while living en France? C’est interessant.
By the way, exciting news for Valerie Allain fans. Her email address is now available on the Les Frigos website.

Posted by: Old FIA fan | March 26, 2007 at 11:17 PM

I just finished watching FIA #33, it’s a favorite of mine. It’s the one where Robert goes to dinner chez Mireille only to find tha Hubert has also been invited to diner.

M. Mayer does a superb job of acting in the scene where Hubert is introduced to all that gathered. The fury in Robert’s face is classic. He reluctantly takes Hubert’s hand when introduced and says nothing, never taking his eyes from Hubert’s. You can feel the outrage, the body language portrayed by Mayer is tremendously accurate.

At dinner Robert also stares intensely at Hubert as he talks endlessly about wine and the good times and Marie-Laure is reminded to sit up straight or go to her room.

At the end Robert is about to blow up completely. With a great amount of anger in his voice he challanges what Hubert is saying about the modern age vs. the past. The soap-opera moment is very intense as Hubert reacts with surprise at, in his opinion, the unprovoked attack. Fortunetly, Mme Belleau defuses the situation by changing the subject.

It’s classic one-on-one soap-opera drama and illustrates completely why FIA is so popular and the Capretz method is so effective; the story is familiar. Other approaches which depend entirely on learning the language are lacking in this dramatic approach. Without knowing it, the student is emersed in the story, which is interesting in the human sense and not a simple travelog illustrating vocabulary. The student strives to master the language in order to understand the story.

Posted by: Ed | March 27, 2007 at 03:14 PM

Hey Ed, great deconstruction on episode 33. That’s a favorite of mine as well and yes Mayer definitely had the chops to pull the scene off.

Happy 4th Anniversay to this page!

Posted by: TonyBoy | March 27, 2007 at 05:00 PM

Hey Ed, great deconstruction on episode 33. That’s a favorite of mine as well and yes Mayer definitely had the chops to pull the scene off.

Happy 4th Anniversay to this page!

Posted by: TonyBoy | March 27, 2007 at 05:00 PM

This was the year that my wife and I celebrated the fact that I once again remembered our anniversary. Since this would be our fifteenth anniversary, we wanted to make it memorable by spending about three weeks in Paris—strolling, eating, seeing the sights…everything. But we had just moved to the Washington DC area, signalling the precise moment at which the US housing market bubble peaked—a civic duty that forced me to re-evaluate our travel plans.

Once I got Stephanie’s view on the subject (which was, precisely, “Ummm, no. Doing what you just asked me to do does NOT constitute a ‘vacation’, even if you put the Travel Channel on in the background…”), I reengineered the “three-weeks in Paris” concept into more of a “three days in the closest place full of snooty French speakers” concept. Since New Orleans still smells like vomit despite all of the flooding, Québec City was chosen by default. It was actually an excellent trip that we enjoyed as much as any other that we have taken (and, I might add, up there everything sounds like the travel channel…). And that place is really French-ish—they are not just pretending for the tourists.

I took a smug satisfaction that we’d be able to get around using my knowledge of the French language, but any of you that have flattered yourself in that same way will instantly recognize that your attempts to speak the native language will provoke one of only two responses from the locals. They will either (1) listen to what you have said, and then respond in normal conversational French. This is what I call “the Doomsday scenario.” Or (2) they will make the rather insulting assumption that you are not really a French speaker and that you are simply trying to show off the French II that you took in high school 22 years ago.

This really happened: One afternoon we stopped in at the bar in the beautiful Château Frontenac where Stephanie ordered a “white wine” and I asked in (as far as I can tell) perfect French, for a “Pernod, avec de l’eau.” While I was taking a moment to process and, as we say, “understand” her response, she stopped in mid-sentence and switched to English. When I asked her why she had done that, she explained, “I knew I needed to do zat because I saw you had zee Feesh Eyeez.”
Moments like those are why Stephanie encourages me to describe myself as bilingual.

Posted by: dipaolom | April 01, 2007 at 01:46 PM


Posted by: snoozy j | April 03, 2007 at 04:21 AM


Posted by: snoozyj | April 03, 2007 at 04:22 AM

Non, desole, pas Marie-Laure. Les filles sont trés jeune, oui? Marie-Laure aurait 30 ans, maintenant.

Les filles dans les photos sont tous trés belles.

Posted by: ed D | April 03, 2007 at 09:53 AM

Je ai voulu trés belles.

Posted by: ed D | April 03, 2007 at 09:57 AM


J’ai voulu dire « les filles dans les photos sont toutes trés belles » et trés jeune.

Posted by: e | April 03, 2007 at 03:26 PM

Désolée, mais c’est « très » avec l’accent grave… les accents sont très précieux!

Posted by: moi | April 03, 2007 at 06:22 PM

Aujourd’hui, le 3 avril c’est l’anniversaire de Valérie Allain.

Bon anniversaire, Valérie, et bon anniversaire FIA sur Fancy Robot!!

Posted by: Aloysius | April 03, 2007 at 09:53 PM

Aloysius, it’s part of the Sorbonne, but you may also want to add the Institut d’Art et d’Archeologie (3 rue Michelet) to your FIA visit list. I think that site was mentioned in a couple of episodes.

Posted by: Old FIA fan | April 03, 2007 at 11:49 PM

d’accord et merci « moi »

Posted by: e | April 04, 2007 at 12:50 PM


9 Réponses

  1. Dear Everybody,

    I’m so excited to write a comment for you. I just found this website, but I can see that this blog has been created since a long time.

    I’m the real Marie-Laure, Virginie Contesse before, and Virginie Castellani now (my husband last name).

    I can’t post a photo of me, but this is my e-mail : virginie.castellani1 (at)

    It will be a pleasure to talk with you and to send you a lot of photo !

    As I wrote before I’ve two childrens : Florian (21 years old), and Anais (17 years old), … I was married at 21 years old (that’s why my childrens are older than you can think).

    I try to understand all of your beautiful messages, and I want to tell you that only this message is written by me. (All others are wrong).

    My son, helped me a lot to write this message. I hope you will understand me.
    As I helped you a lot to learn French, I want to continue and I’m going to translate this message in French.

    I wish you all the best to everyone, and do not hesitate to contact me.

    Virginie CASTELLANI (Marie-Laure)

    Translation in FRENCH !

    Bonjour tout le monde,

    Je suis tellement excitée d’écrire un commentaire pour vous. Je viens juste de voir ce site, mais je peux voir que ce blog a été crée depuis longtemps.

    Je suis la vraie Marie Laure, Virginie Contesse avant, et Virginie Contesse maintenant (le nom de mon mari)

    Je ne peux pas poster de photo de moi, mais voici mon e-mail:
    virginie.castellani1 (at)

    ça sera avec plaisir de parler avec vous et de vous envoyer des photos.

    Comme je l’ai écrit avant j’ai deux enfants : Florian (21 ans) et Anais (17 ans), je me suis mariée a 21 ans (voila pourquoi mes enfants sont plus âgés que vous pouvez penser).

    J’essaye de comprendre tous vos beaux messages, et je veux vous dire que seul ce message est vraiment écrit par moi (tous les autres sont faux).

    Mon fils, m’a beaucoup aidé à écrire ce message. J’espère que vous me comprendrez.

    Je vous souhaite tout le meilleur, et n’hésitez pas a me contacter

    Virginie CASTELLANI (Marie-Laure)

  2. Bonjour à tous les fans de french in action je suis Marie Laure ( Virginie Contesse. ) et je suis tombée par hasard sur ce site .
    J ai vu les messages depuis plusieurs années qui m ont fait très plaisir . Aujourd’hui j ai 42 ans et je suis mariée , mère de 2 enfants . Je ne suis plus dans le milieu du cinéma aujourd’hui .
    Je vous embrasse .
    Marie Laure.

  3. Je n’ai pas de mots…(et pas seulement parce que j’essaie de répondre en français). Vous nous avez beaucoup manqué toutes ces années ! J’espère que vous me permettrez de vous contacter par email. Il serait super si vous pouviez nous dire un peu plus. Pour nous, vous êtes une vrai Super-Star et nous sommmes extatique de mieux vous connaître ! Bienvenue à notre site !

  4. I’ve just discovered on youtube French in Action. What a great way to learn a language! So nice to see here how many people were captivated by the characters..

  5. @ Alan

    Cri-Cri is just short for Christine. It’s a bit like calling someone named Joseph, Joe-Joe.

    Club de Rencontres has never been released on DVD though I know that it is available over the p2p networks. You could try searching at (you will also need some filesharing software like emule).

  6. Can anyone recommend an internet site where I can purchase the dvd of Club de Rencontres starring Valerie Allain? I saw it about 20 years ago on TV and it always stuck in my mind as a charming, sexy French romantic comedy. All I could remember was that the girl in it was called Cri-Cri (which is an unusual name – certainly to a non-French person like myself) – and that despite several disrobings and probably bed scenes she retained a sweet innocence about her. The music lingers faintly in the memory to – something like a sort of slowed-down version of Joe le Taxi if I recall correctly. It took some research to get this far – but the Cri-Cri name was a good clue.

    Look forward to some response – hope this thread is still functioning!


    Alan (a Frankophile)

  7. Has anyone begun to plan for the reunion? How about Paris during the rentree at the end of September, say next year 2009?

  8. Votre avis marche très bien, Caroline. Merci!

  9. Salut à tous!

    I’m from Brazil and i also LOVE French in Action and all the characters. I’d like very much to see how Virginie Contesse looks now. I’m happy that i found some other FIA fans over the world.

    Vous pouvez regarder tous les episodes ici:


    Il faut seulment changer le numero de l’episode. Par example:

    episode 1: mms://

    episode 2:


    À bientôt!

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