I have had a “love affair” with France since I started travelling in 2006. It was that feeling of walking down the champs elysee for the first time that got me hooked….
My love affair with France
Ever since I stepped foot onto the Champs Elysee for the first time in 2006 whilst on Contiki there was something that drew me towards this country that I do not have with other places I have travelled too. I remember my first time as if it was yesterday, as hazy as that Contiki trip was I will never forget my first time in Paris, France. It was raining actually, pouring down, and of course I didn’t have an umbrella. I was just in shorts and a T shirt. But the Parisians were out in force, every café and bar was packed, the boats and cruises along the River Seine were streaming up and down the river, the vibe was just how good is it to be in Paris.
I was ever the tourist, walking down the main streets, traversing the arrisdissonemonts, I remember walking in the pouring rain into a little café to order a croissant, it was packed with tourists, but I remember the male waiter, engaging me in French, the menu also in French. I pointed to a ham and cheese croissant and an orange juice (not very French, but I didn’t drink coffee at the time).
The French people are proud of who they are, their language and their culture and if you show some effort towards engaging in their language they will really appreciate you. At first this waiter was quite abrupt towards me, but when I made the order and attempted to ask how he was in French, as awful as the attempt was, he appreciated that fact and was much more engaging from then on.
Why I keep going back….
Since my first trip in 2006 I have been back to France on another three occasions. My most favourite trip was last year when I went further south between the French & Swiss border. This trip solidified my dream of living in the south of France. I travelled to some little known medieval towns of Chambery & Annecy. Annecy was this beautiful little medieval town on the banks of Lake Annecy and separated into little canals in the middle of town. It had the most beautiful old buildings and little walkways and had a market on each day. At the time I was their it was also hosting an animated film festival. This little town had so much character, on the main banks were the tourists lining the bars and cafes but take a walk down a laneway and their was a little art museum teaching 6 and 7 year old children how to paint. I remember myself and my friends walking in there and watching the class take place. The teachers and students were more than happy to have us around.
Below is a picture taken in Grenoble France which was about a 30 minute drive from the town of Chambery in the south east of France. I remember my friends exploring a cave system which led to a zipline that overlooked the town. I myself, being ever the social, found a group of French people that were having a picnic with a view of the town below. They spoke little English but I was their taking some pictures and they approached me and two friends I was with, we had some photos and then I proceeded to explore the caves. But I didn’t want to go on this zipline, I had this burning desire to hang out with these French people who were having drinks at 11am in the morning, music blaring and just having a good time. I wanted to join them and that I did.
I proceeded towards their group, shouted in a high voice Bonjourrrrrrr and was handed a Captain Morgan. Well for the next few hours we had a few drinks and they played some Australian music from their Spotify account (from memory it was Jimmy Barnes and we all sang the chorus of Kasan in unison). We have stayed in touch to this day and have free accommodation in Grenoble.
Their way of life appeals to me…
Their is a lot of opinions of the French, but one thing that you cannot fault is their approach to life. Whether its Paris, Annecy or Grenoble they view life the same, that life is not a rush and to enjoy the company of family & friends to make experiences each day. That is something I truly love, which is why I have a burning desire to spend an extended time living like a French person. My dream is to spend an extended period in the city of Bordeaux which is the home of Red wine, which I believe is a gift of the gods!!!! Ultimately I would like to have a little chalet or chateau that I can take my family and friends too and give them the experiences this country has given me. I only have the most wonderful memories of this beautiful place they call France.
I say to you, come join me one day and experience it for yourself.