Christine Loÿs and Will Steger

Christine Loÿs, documentary filmmaker and author, lives in Paris, France. After working as a teacher, she became an independent journalist and has been a contributor to many kinds of media, including television, for more than 30 years. She developed her writing skills primarily in the medical press on health and medical topics. She has also written about current affairs and economics for women’s magazines like Marie-Claire, as well as more political ones such as L’événement du Jeudi under Jean-François Khan, Jeune Afrique and the Medef Magazine.

Christine became a filmmaker with Doctors Without Borders, encouraged by Dr. Antoine Crouan, who introduced her to the famous organization Médecins sans Frontières, and Dr. Marie-Thérèse Basse, who was the first woman to become an MD in Senegal. She has been involved in more than 50 broadcast stories for French National Television and played an important role in communications during the Transantarctica expedition led by Will Steger and Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne. This specific work got her acquainted with many other explorers in addition to Will Steger. It was also her first visit to Minnesota (1986).

Christine LOŸS fulfills her desire to travel by writing about President Obama’s reforms, as well as Al Gore’s movements. She recently wrote a book together with Will Steger and she is preparing a documentary about modern exploration. Her many past assignments provide her with a personal knowledge of the polar explorers, of whom she has written many stories, and with whom she has formed strong ties. Her numerous travels and contacts in the US and Canada facilitate work on various subjects concerning the history and culture of the French Voyageurs, and what is left from them through their descendants in Minnesota.

Photo: Christina Loÿs and Will Steger


AWP: Name the books and movies, works of art and music, fashion or cuisine that have inspired you.

CL: I have always kept three books close to me because I need to be able to read them again and again over time. They are:

Poèmes saturniens, by Paul Verlaine. The best piece of poetry in French.

Eloge de la Fuite, by Henri Laborit. Science and philosophy can be linked in a global view. This book keeps me thinking about life and science, which is an endless reflection.

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. This is a piece of science fiction that is still ahead of its time, though it was written in 1932. It brings a flavor of modernism, craziness and frightening, unknown developments that I feel can be experienced today.

In terms of cinema, I am much less philosophical and I love Robert Redford directed by Sydney Pollack in “Out of Africa” with the divine music from John Barry. Romance, travel, love relationships, friendship, racism, illness, war… all that makes life interesting is in this great film. I keep it with me anywhere in the world… I may have watched it 20 times already… and still counting. I also cry every time I watch “Ordinary People” directed by Robert Redford.

With respect to music, I am quite versatile. I love Bach’s Brandebourgeois Concertos and listen to them for months non-stop, then switch to country music, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Later I’ll go back to Vivaldi and Schubert… rock and roll over pop music … and I am open to any new piece. Recently, I have been introduced to Michael Monroe’s work, a Minnesotan singer and composer that I would love to have in my next documentary film about the French influence in Minnesota.

Most of all, I love live concerts and dance. I won’t miss any opportunity wherever I am.

AWP: What is the last book you read?

CL: The last book I read is Champlain’s Dream, by David Hacket Fisher. I am totally obsessed with my current project and I read every book related to it. It is all about French influence in North America, and what is left today from the time of the Voyageurs in the 1600s.

AWP: What is the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever given or received?

CL: “Quand je m’examine, je m’inquiète, quand je me compare, je me rassure” said Talleyrand (French diplomat in the 18/19th century). It means that you should never underestimate yourself yet remain realistic.

AWP: In your youth, what did you imagine your adult life would hold? What influenced this vision?

CL: I always knew I was a solitary person in spite of being very sociable. I wanted to be a lawyer because I thought women were the victims of men. They were victims of their times. Society has changed… I have worked on this issue but I did not become a lawyer. Funnily enough, my two sons became lawyers.

AWP: In your early teens, what formed your romantic fantasies of adventure and love?

CL: Books—I was always a huge dreamer with every book I read… especially when there was travel and exotic people as heroes. I was curious and still am.

AWP: What were your favorite childhood things to do?

CL: Reading, and reading and reading. Later writing and writing… and I still do both and, in addition, I got addicted to cinema and started filming.

AWP: What nourishes your passions?

CL: Teaching or writing. Meeting people from different horizons always opens my mind and inspires my projects.

AWP: How did you get your foot in the door at the beginning of your career?

CL: I have always been a teacher and a writer. Writing is a way of passing on my own experiences and discoveries. As a journalist the process is very similar. As a writer, I feel that the entire world is mine.


AWP: Was being stylish important to you growing up in your teens? Is it now?

CL: It has always been very important to me. It is a form of respect to the others to appear at one’s best and/or the closest to one’s own personality.

AWP: How do you define style or fashion?

CL: Style is what one is, regardless of fashion. Fashion is a style generally promoted commercially for the majority at a specific period of time. Fashion can fit into one’s style for short time—not forever.


AWP: Tell me about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.

CL: Cooking is important socially. Eating habits are changing with better knowledge of what is good for our health. As a French native, I never realized how traditional I was until I started traveling. I am open-minded and love new life styles. However, it is when foreigners try to understand my culture and traditions that I know how attached I am to them. Over time, I am creating my own traditions culled from people I have been happy with from countries I love. I am becoming more exotic with age.

AWP: What was your most memorable meal to date?

CL: Probably the first time I ate camel in Africa… It was good….

AWP: What is in your refrigerator right now?

CL: Never much. Butter, milk, eggs, yogurt, juices. I like having fresh food every day and don’t store anything in case I might leave precipitously…!!!


AWP: What do you live for? What do you love above all?

CL: I want to be there for my grandchildren and help them understand that life can be very different in other parts of the world, despite the fact that people are the same. Some are good, some are bad, everywhere. I can’t wait to take them with me in my travels. I hope they will want to come.

I love writing and creating. It is how I am.

AWP: What natural gift would you most like to possess? What talent are you most thankful for?

CL: I wish I were more patient. I also wish I could speak more languages. I keep learning. I am actually refreshing my German and Russian in view of a future trip to visit friends.

My best talent is probably to be adaptable. It comes with the love of traveling and my attraction to exotic people who open my mind.

AWP: What question are you tired of being asked?

CL: I am tired of explaining that my love of traveling and discovering places and people who will later nurture my writing does not mean that I am not happy to be French. It is the opposite. The more I nurture my mind with other countries habits and cultures, the more French and I feel.

French influence in Minnesota, ancient history or alive today?

As Christine Loÿs and Jim Brandenburg are working on their documentary EN AVANT, they invite us to discover what remains of the French in Minnesota with this panel discussion. The French were the first Europeans to move across the Midwest and to establish their political domination for over two centuries, from the 1600’s to 1803 when Napoléon sold the Louisiana territory to the Americans. EN AVANT will be shot throughout this year and will be completed in 2013.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® blog, Automobile Road Rallies in France: Women in the drivers seat (Camille du Gast Crespin, Michèle Mouton and Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, Moroccan desert), by Barbara Redmond who writes about the women who compete in a nine-day, off-road adventure in the sandy dunes of the Moroccan desert. And “Coeur des Gazelles,” the money generated from the race to help finance doctors providing medical care for people in the remote areas of Morocco.

The streets of Marrakech, by Jennifer Haug, world traveler and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Marrakech who writes about the French influence in Morocco and her teaching experience there.

Vive La Femme: In defense of cross-cultural appreciation. Kristin Wood finds Francophiles around the world divided about Paul Rudnick’s piece entitled “Vive La France” in the New Yorker magazine. As is often the case with satire, there is a layer of truth to the matter that is rather unsettling. Including comments from readers worldwide. (French)

French Impressions: Alice Kaplan – the Paris years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, on the process of transformation. Author and professor of French at Yale University, Ms. Kaplan shares her new book, Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, on the process of transformation. By entering into the lives of three important American women who studied in France, we learn how their year in France changed them, and how they changed the world because of it. (French)

French Impressions: Dr. Fatima Araki on the automobile rally, Rallye des Colombes in Morocco, created for women by women. Dr. Araki is the first Moroccan woman to be the president and founder of a motor racing club in 2001 (Union Automobile Club of Morocco) and the first Moroccan woman to organize rallies in Morocco. (French)

A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre

We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)

Text copyright ©2012 Christine Loÿs. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.