I have not been feeding my Francophile soul as much, probably because I have Italy on the brain- planning our upcoming trip and all.
But don’t worry it’s still there. C’est vrai. And today, we have someone guest posting that shares my passion for my France. Julie writes the blog WhyGo France, and I asked her to stop by and write about her love of the country and to tell us how she fell for it.
So, let’s give a warm welcome to…..Julie!
I fell in love with France much the way you fall in love with an enchanted forest in a childhood fairy tale. My grandmother is French and despite the fact she moved to this country after World War II nearly 60 years ago, to this day she speaks with a rather heavy accent and is still much more a French lady than an American one. Growing up, my Grandmere would feed us French food, speak in French occasionally and tell us lots of stories that started “Well, in France we….” Long before my family made our first trip to the other side of the Atlantic, I’d already imagined the seemingly magical place that we’d heard so many stories about.
You’d think with so much build-up and hype, I would have been disappointed with France when I got there. This did not happen. Although France was not the idealized version of 1930s Paris in a chic 17eme arrondissement penthouse apartment, which my Grandmere described, it was nonetheless a completely enticing and enchanting place to me. As I got older and my French got better (I studied the language starting in 5th grade and majored in it college), I promised myself I would return to this country where the baguettes were always crispy and you could truly experience the French joie de vivre.
When I was 16, I participated in a Rotary Exchange, which assigned me to live with a family in France for the summer—ideally with a French girl in the house about my age. I got paired with a fabulous family who lived outside of Annecy in a little town called Menton, right on the beautiful Lac d’Annecy in the Alps. The girl, la petite Marion, was one year younger than me and we became fast friends and remain in contact.
That summer, I did a one week trek through the French Alps; floated on a boat on the Seine and went wine tasting in the Loire Valley (yes, I was 16 and yes it was legal, see why I fell in love with France…); went swimming in the lake, and pretty much had the best summer of my life—all while totally improving my French conversation skills.
That was when I truly fell in love with France. It was during that summer in the mountains that made me promise myself to go back for an extended period of time. That promise led to my year in Paris studying at the Sorbonne. When I left Paris after that time (you can not even imagine how emotional that was), I vowed to return for an extended period of time once again. This has not happened yet. In fact, finishing college and getting a job has interfered with me making it back to France since I left—leaving a little hole in my heart I know won’t be filled until I am once again back to my pastry-a-day habit in my kind of homeland (and lots of walking those metro stairs to make up for pastry consumption and trying to stay looking as fly as those damn thin and stylish French ladies).