Audrey Chapuis is a native Austinite and has lived in Paris since 2014. Audrey holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she has worked in libraries for over twenty years. She has held positions at Widener Library and the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern University School of Law, and she is now the Director of the American Library in Paris. Her writing has appeared in the anthology That’s Paris and on Literary Hub.
Here are Audrey’s answers to Vingt Questions.
Favorite place to visit in France, and why?
Ile de Re is magical. You can bike the entire island and discover devastatingly beautiful landscapes.
Favorite place to visit in America, and why?
Chicago, the city I adopted as my home as an adult. For the architecture, the friendly populace, and the great libraries.
What do you think the French can learn from Americans?
The simple joy of smiling at strangers on the street.
What do you think Americans can learn from the French?
The art of the three-hour lunch.
Favorite French film?
I’m still thinking about the The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) years after seeing it.
Favorite American film?
Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. It was my mother’s favorite movie when I was a child, so it’s close to my heart.
Favorite French actor or actress?
Karin Viard – exquisitely good!
Favorite American actor or actress?
Charlize Theron brings all the chops.
Most important French figure in history and why?
De Gaulle. Read Julien Jackson’s superb biography to find out why.
Most influential American figure and why?
MLK for diagnosing a nation’s ills and showing us a way forward, both practically and spiritually.
What is your favorite American luxury?
Burritos at Chuy’s in Austin, Texas. I promise, it’s a decadent luxury.
What is your favorite French extravagance?
Perfume by Serge Lutens
Favorite American food?
I’ll cheat — my favorite Tex-Mex food: enchiladas.
Favorite French food?
Bouillabaisse, Chez Michel à Marseille
The quality you most admire about the French and Americans?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Bringing people together around books at the American Library in Paris.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To speed-read AND retain everything I’ve read.
Name three people, dead or alive, who you would most like to have dinner with?
William James, the author behind the pen name Elena Ferrante, and M.F.K. Fisher.
Relative to your field of study, what is the most important tradition to keep alive?
Reading print books, of course!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Learning through conversation AND walking miles and miles discovering a new city or new parts of a beloved city.