Behind the Instagram HandleQ&A

Behind the Instagram Account: @thefrancophiles

by Erin Austen Abbott

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

I love Instagram and following anonymous feeds that stick to one subject. While one might be an entire feed dedicated to floors, another might revolve solely around a certain color. As I scroll through the pretty pictures, I’ve been left to wonder: who started this feed or that one? What goes into running a feed that is really just there to be viewed? There are so many great ones that I thought it was time we get the backstory on some of these accounts and go behind the Instagram account.

Susan Hutchinson has this thing with France and it’s now part of her everyday, as the face behind the handle, @thefrancophiles, a gathering place for those who love all things French. “There was (and is) an abundance of accounts with pretty pictures of Parisian cafes and the Eiffel Tower, but nothing I knew of that was focused on French culture and its influence around the globe. I wanted to help people get their French fix, wherever they are in the world — you can often find a little piece of France in your own neighborhood,” Susan shares. Her ah-ha moment came to her in the middle of the night in late 2015, which had her jumping out of bed to immediately secure the Instagram handle and web address. “I wasn’t sure how or when I would be able to make it happen, but with the help of friends and fellow Francophiles Kirsten Alana and Lindsey Tramuta, the first post went live on Bastille Day, 2016,” Susan says. Scroll down for a Q & A with Susan and a few images from the hashtag #thefrancophiles. Enjoy! — Erin 

Image above: Susan Hutchinson photographed by Ashley Ludaescher Photography

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Tell us about yourself. We only know you by the beautiful images that you post. What is your background, where are you based, what do you do, etc.?

First of all… merci! I’m a 38-year-old interior designer, blogger, wife, and mother of twins. I launched my design firm in 2007, and started my blog Fleurishing eight years ago. I live in a historic suburb of Philadelphia, and while I’ll always yearn to live abroad, Pennsylvania has my heart, too. I grew up surrounded by French culture — my maternal great-grandparents immigrated from Strasbourg, and my father lived in France for some time (hence my French half-brother). I’m proud of my French heritage and it has been a significant influence in my life.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Image above: Parisian tartes. Photo by @lostncheeseland.

How do you select what images you will post?

Anyone who uses the community hashtag #thefrancophiles on their French-inspired images has a chance to be featured on the account. Occasionally I will spot something and reach out personally, but the majority of the images are community generated. The support and participation has blown me away — nearly 10,000 images have been tagged since launching!

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Image above: Sezane in NYC. Photo by @charissafay.

What is it about the French aesthetic that you are drawn to?

I love the (seemingly) effortless elegance of French people, places, and objects.

What has starting this account meant to you, and how has it changed your life?

My love for France knows no bounds, and creating + curating a community for those who share the obsession is intensely rewarding. I’m learning so much, and connecting with incredible people along the way.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Image above: French literature. Photo by @obviousstate.

What is your goal with each image that you post?

The goal is to inspire, inform, and unite Francophiles around the world. I’m always thrilled when a post resonates with the community — whether it inspires someone to travel (near or far) to get their French fix, teaches them something about the French culture, or simply connects them with others who share their passion.

What are some cities outside of France, or Paris specifically, that you feel have the largest French influence?

There are quite a few stateside — mostly historic cities such as New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Boston. Many have strong French communities, such as New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. It’s amazing how far the French influence can be found, and since launching the community I’ve learned so much. For instance; Melbourne is rich with bistros, French pastry chefs abound in Taipei, and Budapest has a wealth of French architecture.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Image above: Jackson Square, in New Orleans. Photo by @fleurishing.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Albertine Books, in NYC. Photo by @charissafay

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Balthazar in London. Photo by @alpana.deshmukh.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Cafe chairs in Philadelphia. Photo by @likewantneed.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Copper pots. Photo by @thecooksatelier.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

French architecture in Washington D.C. Photo by @jjonthan.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Friendly flags. Photo by @fleurishing.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Gift from France. Photo by @cestchristine.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

London floors. Photo by @littlelottieloves.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Musee Bourdelle in Paris. Photo by @daniellemuller.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Parisian Interior. Photo by @cakeboyparis.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Speculoos cookies. Photo by @pardonyourfrench.

@thefrancophiles on Design*Sponge

Strasbourg. Photo by @kirstenalana.

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  • Ms. Hutchinson, I adore your blog and I’m so glad to learn about it! (Thanks, DesignSponge!)
    I’ve always had a question about French aesthetics and you seem just the expert to ask… OK, forgive me, I am going to say the “A – word”: *Amelie*.
    What is it called, that nostalgic, eclectic, country-tinged style in which her apartment was decorated? I think I once read someone call it “chien”?
    I want to research it, but I don’t speak French and don’t know what terms to use.
    I’m following your blog now and can’t get enough of it already! Thanks!

    • hello (et bonjour) Kips, thank you for the kind words! I am by no means an expert, but the decor of Amelie’s apartment is very much – you said it – eclectic. from what I remember, she has many animal portraits which would explain the “chien” part. ;)

    • Hey there,
      “Avoir du chien” in French simply means “having swag”, so it would be too generic for you to search.
      Instead you can look for “Pigalle” or “Montmartre” decoration styles and maybe get the results you want ?
      Bonne chance dans vos recherches :)

  • YASSS, i’ve been following susan hutchinson since my college days at WCU (circa 2011) and once recognized her husband and precious twins from afar at the west chester growers market and had an inner fangirl freak out. as a phoenixville native, i love that i recognize a lot of the places she goes and posts on her insta! she definitely fuels my obsession for all things french. hi susan!

  • My mother’s family tree has been traced back to a wine maker in France in the 1600’s. Her father was one of
    the first in his family to marry a woman who wasn’t French (she was German). I too am proud of my French heritage and am happy to learn of your blog and Instagram account. You have a new follower. Merci!

    • how amazing to trace your lineage back that far Tina. since my French heritage is Alsatian, I very much identify with Germans as well. welcome to the Francophile community!

  • Great to discover your Instagram!! I’m an Irish gal but married to a Frenchman and living in Provence.

    Looking forward to lots of beautiful images!
    Ruth @familleribeaucourt