La vie en France, c’est si bon!
Ahh the French, a taboo that us American’s have been taught certainly since day one to treat with disdain. Whether it be food, the films, the people, and dare I say it, the language, ahh the French, an enigma of sorts. But nay my American cohorts, I am here to tell you, yes, I too am one of those college-converts that made their way over to the mother country and found the true beauty that is, ah la vie en France. With ma ma and pa pa armed hand and hand (and me basing all my knowledge on the French language on every piece of French counter-culture film and subtle nod to the cuisine I might have stumbled upon on during my escapades through life) I was truly thankful that my mother had chosen French as her language of choice back in the 1970′s…we later found out that this would serve us very little service. Now, many of my study abroad counterparts chose far away lands of exotic locales for their destination of holiday, but I decided to go with not only the ordinary to the European vacationer, but also something entirely foreign to me and entirely uncomfortable to myself and my entire family. In past vacations, my family had spent a magical two weeks around Italy. With only a basic high school knowledge (sense a theme here) and just the right amount of gusto, we set off with nothing but our guts and well, our stomachs to find the beauty that existed behind every cobblestone path. We wanted to re-capture that very feeling we found in Italy with Paris.
Upon departing the Eurostar, we found it was best to limit our butchering of the French language to a minimum. Euro-travel tip one: try and type up all important reservations if you have made them on a paper and have them handy at all times, for access to cabbies, and people on the street in case you are lost and need some help. The point and direct always works!
Similar to the hotels and general rooms in London, it came as no surprise that the living arrangements were close quarters. Make sure you are tight with those you are vacationing with! We were very lucky to have our hotel within walking distance to the Louvre and made use of that by walking down at least two times during our short stay.
Aside from dwelling on the beautiful sights and sounds of the city of Paris, which were beyond comprehension, I wanted to remark on surprising nature of the people. As I mentioned before, we are almost engrained with this idea that the French hate us, the French are notoriously mean and rude, and aren’t willing to help. While perhaps some Americans might have had a chance encounter that had ruined their experience at a given time, we must not go on that one experience alone. Like a bad movie review or a critic at a restaurant, until we fully encounter the experience for ourselves, full body and mind, then we are the judges. I am a testament to the fact that my tune is changed. Bistro, Brasserie, Patisserie, no matter the occasion or establishment we were greeted with kindness and warmth. Like dinner being served at your mother’s house, the waiter meticulously broke down the menu into what was the freshest and what was the best, and patiently worked with us, even with our horrible accents.
Even outside the eatery sphere, the French culture of appreciating time and one’s surroundings can be reciprocated by merely taking a stroll in the park or taking it slow in the museum and truly basking in the marvel that is right in front of your very eyes.
While my vacation was truly a gift (a part of my birthday celebration while I am here abroad), it was also a wonderful experience that I was able to share with my parents. Anyone can take part in a European vacation or “staycation” right at home. Take the time with your loved ones and find a local museum, take a walk in a park when the weather is just right. Eat outside even when it’s a bit chilly out, enjoy the breeze! And appreciate every delicate and delicious bite that this life has to offer. There’s a world of tasty treats to try. So quit the carb counting and stop punishing yourself for once, live how the French do! C’est la vie!
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