Sunday, April 29, 2018

10 things I learned in France

We are back from our rendezvous in France! Don't take me as excited because France is one of those places where I could've stayed forever. I loved every ounce of our vacation-  mostly because it was stress free but France its self is one astounding place. To summarize my trip I wanted to share the top 10 things I learned during our time abroad and what I brought back with me.

1. They are HUGE into farming. Some of you might know this. During our train ride to Avignon (Provence) there was nothing but lush green pastures...some vacant...some full of white cattle and sheep. This time of year you'll pass the vibrant yellow canola fields- I don't think I have the words to even describe the beauty of the bright yellow fields. There seems to not be much development and it's a nice change from where we live where there's nothing but tearing down, building up and absorbing what was once beautiful land. I love that farming is still heavy in France and it shows with every meal you have there.

2. They put pride into taking care of themselves. Everyone is sharply dressed, well put together and you don't see much of sweatpants or gym clothes unless someone is honestly working out. Me, I wear yoga pants to Target just because... It was a nice change to see people actually putting themselves together - even if running in for a baguette. I know most of you will disagree with " oh but they smoke"... while some do smoke... it's actually not as common as it here in America. However, when the French do smoke... majority roll their own cigarettes leaving the harmful chemicals behind. Walking- You'll notice parking is very scarce there- leaving many people preferring to walk- which is GOOD! We all need a little exercise instead of fighting each other for the closest parking spot at the grocery store.

3. They appreciate their " Green" Space. With Provence being very rural... you'll especially notice this fact in Paris. With all the many gardens or Jardin's there are to see in Paris- you'll notice that any time of day each one will be full of people. You could be sharing a picnic with friends, sitting by the fountains with a good book or sharing romance with a bottle of champagne. I appreciate a little quality time outdoors - especially in beautiful gardens. This is something I think we could implement!

4. City of Romance. Paris is in fact the most romantic city. Everyone there is lovey dovey- our cab driver even mentioned this to us. It's so true- you'll see couples holding hands- sharing a romantic afternoon at the Tulleries with a bottle of champs or a couple sharing a picnic and book under the cherry blossoms. It's like a beautiful love story here...

5. The food is GOOD. Yes, this is true. I will tell you why their food is good... You see my number 1 up there? This plays a huge part. Because they utilize their fresh quality produce from local farmers. You can probably find processed food in a casino shop but doubt you find it in a restaurant. The french take pride in their food and what they are serving their clientele. Complain all you will about the cost but I'd much rather have a 14 euro burger than a 2.00 mickey d's special. I felt like I was doing my body a favor in France...even if I did eat croissants everyday... I knew that everything was organic and locally grown with no bi product.

6. Architecture. Now, you can argue with me on this one as we all have different taste...but... they do it better over there. They aren't demolishing historical buildings to put up some lame shopping center or to build a plethora of cookie cutter homes. Nope. They are preserving the beautiful buildings they have... they are doing everything they can to make sure they are in working order and keeping them in tip top shape. The buildings are beautiful- some full of shops, some full of swanky apartments and then you have the most beautiful french cottages... most built hundreds of years god they are beautiful. The fact that these homes and buildings are still standing is pretty impressive compared to the advance in building we have today- a house built in 1998 will probably crumble before a house build in 1772. You know I'm right... Even the detail is impressive... google Versailles and let me know when you can hand carve all those details...

7. You need to speak their language. No, I'm not talking about becoming totally fluent in French. It's not necessary- in fact you don't really have to speak any of it if you don't care much about taking in the experience. I think it's very important to learn the basics, like, Hello- Goodbye, How much, How are you...and a few other phrases. Chris and I did a quick start guide and listened to a CD and used a booklet. It was very helpful in some instances where there was actually a language barrier. Try to learn a few things from Menus as well... like chicken is Poulet...this way you have an idea what you're ordering or else you'll be google translating all night long. I think trying to speak their language is super polite and respectful and believe me- they appreciate this! Plus it's fun to learn and try it out!

8. The French/Parisians are NICE. Yes, I said it. You hear all these stigmas about how the french or Parisians are just rude. Sorry, but I didn't have that experience and I went in thinking they were going to be so mean to me. In fact, people were nicer there. For example- it was raining one night and we went out in Avignon for dinner... I walked into the restaurant and asked for a table for 4 being wheelchair friendly- the restaurant was absolutely packed mind you. The owner without hesitation said of course! She ran outside in the rain- grabbed a table from outside, wiped it down, took chairs from other tables inside for us to use and asked people if they would kindly move the table a bit to fit us in. Everyone was very willing and happy to help her. We sat down and let me tell you- the service was incredible! The funny thing is- most were all like this! More people helped us along in Paris- were kinds to us, befriended us- it was truly amazing everywhere we went. 

9. The French value their time. You can expect places to close between 12-2 pm during the day. Dining hours are roughly between 7:30- 10 pm... Sundays, everything is closed and usually even Mondays. The french don't appear to overwork themselves - I could be wrong. From what I observed they focus on having a life and not so much working their life away. 

10. When in as the French do! I mean this literally. It's different there and it's a nice change. Try something new, whether it's a dish with the house sauce, a french cocktail  or just their way of doing things. I think this was the biggest one for me because I love to dive into a different place. I'm excited to explore, learn and see- I want to have a "real" experience and I think that's very important when traveling somewhere new. I know we can all be set in our own ways but you won't learn anything until you decide to step out of your comfort zone and try it. I wanted to do as the french do- I sat at the cafes with my cafe au lait, I had my day baguette, I had no idea what I was ordering sometimes but I ordered just the way it came. For restaurants, I didn't want anything remotely touristy or American... I wanted the real deal french food. I wanted to sit out in the gardens for hours or walk the streets in search of new finds. A good experience is one you can really dive into- so I challenge you all to do this on your next world travel!

Bon Voyage!

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