I have no idea where my interest in France came from but I do know why I’ve maintained my passion for it. There’s just something about the French way of life which speaks to my soul. The French take the concept of living the good life and elevate it to an art form.
I’ve read about it for years and finally experienced it for myself in 2014 when we took our first trip to Paris. Notice how I said “first trip”. I am determined it won’t be my last. David and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary next year and we’ve been planning a 2-3 week European vacation, much of it spent in France.
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Why I admire the French way of life
Appearance – The French are known round the world for their personal style and this reputation is well-deserved. David and I spent many an hour sitting in cafés people watching. I’ve since heard David tell many friends that the Parisians are the most beautiful people he’s ever seen – even the men. It’s hard to explain just how they manage to look so stylish but the stereotypical scarf is certainly part of it. Almost everyone we saw was wearing one. There is something adorable about a two-year-old with an expertly knotted scarf. And the elderly men managed to look quite debonair in their well-fitted clothes, a scarf casually tossed around the neck and perhaps a hat or fancy cane. No one looked overdressed or fussy…just casually attractive.
Appreciation for simple pleasures – A tiny cup of espresso sipped slowly at a sidewalk café, strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg, watching the boats on the Seine, walking arm-in-arm with one’s lover, three-hour lunches…these are things which make life pleasurable.
Conversation – I don’t think I ever saw anyone staring at their phone in a Parisian restaurant. Rather, everyone seemed to be engaged in enthusiastic conversation. The French do enjoy engaging discussions. The Parisian salons of the 18th century really couldn’t have happened anywhere but Paris.
Priorities – Few of us can have everything, no matter where we live. The key to a life well-lived is to make deliberate choices. The French seem to have a knack for this. The average French person lives in a smaller home or apartment than the average American. They have fewer clothes and in general, less “stuff”. But they tend to choose quality over quantity. The French also value time spent actually living. As a nation they have decided that fewer hours spent working each week and taking a month of vacation each year are important and they guard their rights with passion. And strikes.
Food and Wine – France is justifiably famous for their cuisine and wines. From the flaky breakfast croissant to the perfect potatoes served with dinner, everything we ate in Paris was delicious. And the bread! Oh, my goodness. It was sheer perfection. The wine was wonderful, too. A glass of table wine is cheaper than a soft drink and so much better. We indulged in a glass with each lunch and shared a bottle with our dinners. There is truly not much better than a three-course meal and a bottle of wine shared with the love of one’s life in a Parisian restaurant.