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The Thing About France is a podcast where cultural figures explore the fascinating and complicated relationship between France and America.
By hearing the personal stories of prominent artists and professionals who immersed themselves in France—whether intellectually or by living abroad—we’ll gain insight into how our countries are the same, and how they differ, on pressing topics including Me Too, climate change, and cultural appropriation—and much more.
Tune in every other week to hear new, inspiring stories on The Thing About France.
About our host, Bénédicte de Montlaur
As Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States, Bénédicte de Montlaur facilitates French-American cultural relations and supports French universities and arts, literature and education organizations in the United States. She also serves as the Permanent Representative of French Universities in the United States and develops French-American higher education exchanges, creating opportunities for researchers, scholars and students to collaborate.
A seasoned diplomat, Montlaur has held several notable positions as a political and human rights advisor and negotiator with her experience focusing primarily on the Middle East. Most recently, Montlaur served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, where she also taught international relations and diplomacy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. From 2008 to 2012, she was Political Advisor for the Middle East to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, after serving as a negotiator on Africa and the Middle East at the United Nations Security Council for the French Mission to the United Nations. Montlaur also held positions at the French Embassy in Syria from 2005-2008.
Drawing from her background working in the Middle East, Africa, and France, Montlaur aims to promote an image of France as a diverse and inclusive nation through French and Francophone cultural initiatives in the United States. She also strives to fuel a spirit of intercultural debate and mutual understanding between France and the United States.
Montlaur completed sociology studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm) and public affairs and Middle Eastern studies at Sciences Po, Paris.
Beyond her vast experience in international relations and diplomacy, Montlaur is a polyglot – she speaks French, English, Arabic and Spanish fluently – and a New York culture enthusiast. In New York, she served as Vice President of the Carrefour de la Francophonie, a social advocacy organization dedicated to New York’s French-speaking families, and spearheaded its fundraising efforts. She was also member of New York Times literary critic Liesl Schillinger’s book club and created an original exhibition of photos entitled “Islam and the City” on New York’s relationship with the religion. She also ran the New York City Marathon in 2011.