Five Questions About France I’ve Been Asked This Week


Questions about France

Well, after a rather long count down, our trip is finally here. We try to travel to France at least once a year and we are spending almost five weeks there this time. This will be our longest stint ever in France – and I just can’t wait to get there.

I’ve got to tell you though, whenever I’ve been telling folks that we are spending more time in France I’ve been getting stacks of questions about France.

These queries are many and varied. And I thought you might be interested if I shared my answers to all these questions with you here on the blog. So let’s go.

Why France? 

I fell in love with France long before I ever visited. In fact, I knew I was a francophile before I even contemplated travelling to France.

I remember being at work one day years and years ago and hearing a little voice inside my head tell me that I was going to be a francophile. I was young at the time and anything but worldly. Apart from being concerned about hearing voices (I wasn’t very in tune with my intuition back then) I promise you that I had to look up ‘francophile’ in the dictionary (yep, this was before the time of on-line dictionaries).

Research completed, I made up my mind to become a francophile.

When we finally got around to booking the flights that allowed us to spend three and a half weeks in France way back in 2008, friends were very concerned that I’d feel let down. Or disappointed. That France – and Paris in particular – wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

They needn’t have worried.

I remember a jet-lagged me waking up early (actually it was the middle of the night) on our first full day in Paris and sitting by our apartment window with a blanket wrapped around me. I was waiting for the dawn to break. Eventually it did, and I continued to sit, mesmerised as I watched the pale golden light play on the rooftops. I was smitten from that very moment, and every subsequent adventure has just cemented my adoration for France and all things French.

Didn’t you go there last year?

Yep, we sure did. And the year before that too.

In fact, when we returned from that first trip Scott and I made a deal that we would visit France at least annually. So far – except for one rather disappointing 12 month period – we’ve managed one or two trips a year since 2008.

Over that time, we’ve learned a lot about France and how to make travelling there easy and super enjoyable. Of course, most of those lessons were learned from the mistakes we made. We’ve made many, many errors when it comes to packing, planning, budgeting, booking and moving around. And then there are the numerous ways we’ve butchered the language….

And I’ve not even mentioned some of the fashion faux pas’ I’ve made. Seriously, I can’t even describe how bad my sartorial choices were on our first trip. The memory makes me shiver, it’s that frightening.

So, safe to say that if you can name the blunder, we’ve made it. But the good news is that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we have. Many of the tips and hints I share on Distant Francophile come as a direct result of our experiences. I’m more than happy to share my pain simply so you can avoid it!

What’s to love about France? 

The short answer is everything.

The longer answer involves me delving into things like the architecture, the colours and the light, food, wine, fashion, style and history. I also love the fact that there is something new to become enamoured with every time we visit.

If I had to pick just one thing, I’d call out the people. I don’t why the French have such a bad reputation for being rude. In all the years we’ve been travelling to France, we’ve found everyone we’ve encountered – including waiters – to be friendly and helpful.

I’ll never forget a waiter taking the time to tell us all the ‘kid friendly’ things we should do in Paris, way back when our son was a boy rather than a man. Or the stern looking man who winked at me, before switching to English after I’d done my very best to book train tickets in French (seriously, my French must have been horrendous). And then there was the taxi driver who took great pleasure in pointing out the all the highlights on our trip between Cosne-sur-Loire and Sancerre. The vision of Sancerre perched upon its hilltop is etched in my memory forever thanks to her.

Yes, I know I’m showing my bias, but to my mind the French are kind and generous, as long as you remember to be polite.

Do you have family there?

Sadly, no. I wish we did, but both sides of our family have long histories in Australia and only limited links to France.

If any family members would like to consider moving to France, we’d be very grateful. We also promise to visit you very regularly. Whether you would like us to or not.

Do you only visit Paris?

Again, no.

I’ve been surprising people this time round when I tell them that we are only spending one night in Paris.

We always try to explore different parts of France when we travel. While Paris is beautiful and easily my favourite city on the planet, all parts of France are remarkable in their own way.

Travelling outside Paris gives you a more balanced feel for the French and their culture. And the further we get off the tourist trails, the more insights we receive.

I would encourage anyone visiting Paris to also try to include one or two regions of France beyond the capital. I promise you it will expand your understanding of this fabulous destination.

I’d love to hear how your francophile journey started. Were you instantly in love with France? Or did the country grow on you over time? Perhaps you are still waiting to visit. No matter which category you fall into we’d love for you to share your story in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

 

P.S. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be writing from either the UK or France. I apologise in advance if you don’t hear from me for a few days. I promise I’ll be back soon with all the highlights of our trip.


About Janelle

I believe that every woman can bring French style and joie de vivre to her life, no matter where she happens to live in the world. She only needs to know a secret or two to be on her way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll learn the style and grooming secrets that will help you to dress with the confidence so many French women seem to have.


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10 thoughts on “Five Questions About France I’ve Been Asked This Week

  • Roz

    Okay, you asked for this (were you instantly in love with France?).

    At sixteen, living in a UK city the first time I was allowed to leave home, I met a French man of eighteen. My god, was he sexy. I fell in love with him instantly and he with me. I wanted to move to Paris. He wanted me there. My father (I can say this because he is no longer alive) told me that if I went, I wasn’t to come back because I would not be welcome. Quelle horreure ! I chose to stay in England, got married, one child, eventually divorce. Having travelled extensively during my life, I still love Jean Pierre. I still come over all goose-pimply when I wonder what might have been!

    My favourite book is still Francois Sagan’s “Bonjour Tristesse, my favourite film “A certain smile” and my favourite song the haunting theme of the film “Les parapluies de Cherbourg”…and I’ve got to admit it, when in Paris, I still trawl the area where I would have been living, had I been brave enough at sixteen!

    Five weeks in France? Treasure every moment.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks for the kind wishes and more importantly, thank you for sharing your France/French story. It’s a true love story and I’m grateful to you for being open enough to share. It’s little wonder you are a francophile…and your French favourites are simply lovely. Thank you again.

  • Graham Welch

    This made me smile. Like you, people often say to me, ‘Do you only go on holiday to France?’ The answer, of course, is no, but I guess at least half of any trips abroad each year are to France, so I understand why they think that. My last two trips overseas were to France and the next three will be too…

    I can’t quite put my finger on why I am a Francophile. The language, food and wine for starters. Oh, and Paris, of course.

  • Patricia

    Bonjour Janelle, I also adore France and have since I first hitchhiked around Europe in the 70″s!!! I stayed in a small Parisienne hotel at the end of my trip – by myself, as my travelling companion went home. I had to go down 3 flights of a dark twisting staircase to the bathroom. It was about $10 a night if I recall. When I think back, I see a brave 23 year old !! Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec (but now living on the West Coast), I think the whole French thing is just part of my DNA. I am addicted to looking, reading, listening to anything FRENCH !! I love looking at properties for sale and imagine winning the lottery and purchasing a small house in Provence !!!! Anyways I could go on, but I mainly want to thank you for your writings . I am planning France for next September with my sister who has never travelled to Europe. We will head right to Provence and may fly through Paris. I am very excited about doing a sister trip !! Have a wonderful time and I look forward to your future posts about your trip. Bon Voyage et Amusez-vous Bien. Patricia (One day I would like to house sit in France and live like a local).

    • Janelle Post author

      Bonjour Patricia! Thank you for sharing your francophile story and for your kind wishes regarding our trip. It’s interesting how many DF readers found their love for France early in their lives. It seems that we have many brave souls in this community – and you are clearly one of them. In terms of your future plans, a sister trip sounds amazing. I’ve been promising my sister that I’ll introduce her to France for years now. I really, really must get around to that soon. And your idea of winning the lottery sounds just perfect – and then you could also live like a local!!

  • Gretchen

    Your “Why France?” answer could be my own story to a tee. I even wanted to major in French in college, but because back then my high school only offered Spanish, I felt I would not be successful and majored in journalism – big mistake. Fast forward some 30 years later, one of my goals in life is still to become fluent in French. I did take the necessary two 5-hour classes in a foreign language to graduate from college, and I have periodically through the years taken refresher courses at local colleges and even at Alliance Francais in NYC. Now with so many online, free courses like Duolingo, I feel I will one day become fluent.

    Paris just is. There really is no way to ever describe it fully to someone who is not a Francophile. I just live in the moment.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment Gretchen. Your French language journey sounds a lot like mine. I have jumped around all over the place…but I never lose faith that one day I will be close to fluent. And you have summed it up perfectly – Paris just is.