This is the story of how I came to love France
I think I can trace my love of France back to a moment on Friday 18th June 1993. How can you be so specific? I hear you ask, well let me explain. I was walking along the pit-lane of the Circuit de la Sarthe, host of the world famous Le Mans 24 hours race, On the Friday before the event. I was tailing behind a group of newly formed friends, glass beer bottle in hand, marvelling at the level of access you had as a normal spectator.
As I stepped away from a garage, a huge French official bowled over and started to gesticulate to my beer whilst attempting to explain the issue. Unfortunately, my French was limited to ordering a beer. As I struggled to understand this giant of a man who looked like a character from Asterix, he turned into Marcel Marceau. He explained, in mime, that the issue was not the consumption of beer, but I needed to take care not to drop the bottle in the pit lane. I nodded my acknowledgement, and he left me, beaming a huge smile.
A wonderful introduction to the warmth of the French.
Vive la difference
The weekend was fantastic, despite a lack of sun cream (Who knew I would need it in the middle of summer when I was out in the open all day!), the horror of the French ablutions and the absolute exhaustion of watching a 24hr race.
I enjoyed it so much I returned every year until 1999. Circumstances changed, and the annual pilgrimage ended.
Then we both fell for France
We returned in 2001 for a weekend break to Sancerre. After that France became a regular destination. Whether that be a mini-break on the Eurostar rail service, or part of a longer road trip. To date, (July 2016), we have had 4 mini breaks & 6 separate road trips, covering large parts of the country. The good news is that there’s still plenty to explore.
So it’s all roses then?
Afraid not. There’s the occasional moment when the ‘entente cordiale’ breaks down.
We have never had an issue in Paris, and I think a surly waiter is all part of the experience.
Sometimes you have to go with the flow, learn enough French for the basics, plus pleasantries.
However, the worst experience was during a road trip in 2010. Our last destination was Arras, which is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais. Somebody decided overnight to run a sharp object, probable a key, along one-side of the car. I picked up the bill of nearly £1,000. That was just not nice, but only the action of an individual.
But you still love France right?
Of course, there are some wonderfully frustrating things that amaze me. Planning a trip still needs a bit of care as the French love to do things their way, but we love them for it.
Inspired to visit France?
And why wouldn't you - Don't say 'because of the French, that's not nice...). It's a beautiful country, with so many beautiful regions to explore from the Alsace, to Provence & the South, to the Champage region, the historic Normandy, and greay cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and so much more.
So what are you waiting for?