Our family

Our family
  • Harriet Welty Rochefort grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa and studied in the Midwest, earning a B.A. at the University of Michigan and a M.S.J. at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A lifelong attraction to France led her to visit Paris during college. She moved to France permanently in 1971. As a freelance journalist in Paris, she contributed articles on French business and culture to major newspapers and magazines including The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The International Herald Tribune, European Travel and Life, France Discovery Guide and Time where she reported for the Paris bureau for eight years. She teaches journalism at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. She has lectured extensively on Franco-American cultural differences to many groups and universities, in France and in the US : see her website. Her first book, French Toast, an American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French was published by St.Martin's Press in January 1999.

 Philippe Rochefort and Harriet Welty Rochefort (2009)

Together or separately, Philippe and Harriet speak about Franco-American Intercultural Differences : click here for information. They live in Paris in the XXth Arrondissement.

Her second book, French Fried, The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris was published by St.Martin's Press in March 2001. An adaptation in French of French Toast was published by Editions Ramsay in May 2005. Currently, she wrote a cyberspace monthly "Letter From Paris" for The Paris Pages website. Her third book Joie de Vivre. Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French was followed by a novel Final Transgression, published in 2020.

  • Philippe Rochefort , 79, was born and raised in Paris. He graduated from Ecole Centrale de Lyon with an engineering degree, holds a doctoral degree in Economy from the University of Paris and studied management at Columbia University. He worked for many years for Dexia Credit Local, a Franco-Belgian bank (Head of Structured Finance then Head of Risks and for his last position Head of Compliance) (see his resume). He taught economics at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées and Ecole Centrale de Paris for many years. He has published many articles on urban transportation, the field he was involved in at the beginning of his carreer and later on economy and now on history. He was President of the French Parking Association until 2010 and he is a student (History) at the Sorbonne where he obtained his Ph.D. in History in 2013 (read his diary of an old new student). In his spare time, he works on this website understandfrance.org in the hope of explaining France to Americans and fostering better Franco-American relationships.

And our sons :

  • Nicolas, 52,is a neurologist in Marseilles, after his internship as chief-resident ("chef de clinique") at Hopital de la Timone is now a "Praticien Hospitalier" (senior hospital doctor) in Marseille. He has two daughters, Judith (born 2001) and Rebecca (born 2021) and a son, Hadrien, (born 2006). See the picture of the three Rochefort sons.
  • David, 41, earned a doctoral degree (D.E.A.) in Philosophy at the Sorbonne. After having worked as editorial assistant at Flammarion, a major French publishing firm, he was a literary agent in Paris ; now, he is the editor of a scientific review and and a writer. His first novel, La paresse et l'oubli was published in 2010 by Gallimard/NRF followed by a second one Le point de Schelling and a third one Nous qui restons vivants in 2019. He lives in Paris with Rachel and daughters Hannah (born 2010) and Elsa (born 2014).
  • Benjamin, 45, is a graduate (Ecole Centrale de Paris) of the French "Grandes Ecoles" system (see Harriet's book French Toast or our site understandfrance for the explanation) ; he is a software developer at Dassault Systemes, one of the leading French software firms and lives in Montreal with wife Gwenaëlle, son Alexandre (born 2006) and daughter Juliette (born 2010).
  • See the pictures of our French and American ancestors !

Our hobbies


Our hobbies include

  • For both of us : various activities linked with Franco-American relations such as lectures and speeches, wine & cheese tastings, etc...
  • For Philippe : a dedicated website understandfrance.org, writing his Ph.d. in History at Sorbonne, obsessional genealogical research, painting (very depressing : see picture), collecting stamps, postcard, etc...
  • For Harriet : writing about France for US media see her site

We would like to know more about the families we have encountered in our genealogical research, particularly the early settlers in Pennsylvania in the early XVIIIth century (surnames : Welty, Biddle, Loney, Switzer, Hunsaker, Beaton,...) or in New Amsterdam in the early XVIIth century (Schenk, Monfoort, Wyckoff, Cool, ...), see a few biographies, particularly of early settlers, the family tree and click for family pictures.

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 Order Harriet Welty Rochefort's books :

  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming events, testimonials, etc..) and on speeches by Harriet and/or Philippe Rochefort on intercultural differences

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This is our family site. Visit our intercultural Franco-American website