We recently woke up in Arras, an hour south of Calais and had a realisation. I really like France!
This was quite an epiphany for me, as I have always discounted France as a favourite as it is just well France. I think it has a lot to do with my childhood and the reoccurring family holidays to Normandy and Brittany. It wasn’t that they weren’t beautiful and fun, but I just didn’t want t be there – I wanted to be in America. I had also visited Paris on numerous occasions with school and work, and had enjoyed them but not as much as recently.
Megan and I took a weekend break to Paris a number of years ago and loved it, its such a vibrant and eclectic city. Wandering the streets, popping into every passerine and boulangerie we could find was simply the perfect way to spend the weekend. Of course we also vastly explored, from the Moulin Rouge to the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee to Notre Dame and of course the beautiful Louvre. It became a certain special place for Megan and I.
We have since together travelled through the battlefields of World War One, with Vimy Ridge and the Somme being the highlights. The stunning scenery and historical significance really did strike a chord with us.
Recently however we got to experience a number of French towns and cities we had no experience of previously.
First up was Strasbourg, which we only visited for lunch on the drive from Luxembourg to Basel. However what a find, the city has a gothic feel to it with the central piece being a huge church. We sat and had lunch opposite the architectural marvel, watching the crowds go by in the sunshine. We then wandered the windy streets of the World Heritage site for a couple of hours and were very impressed.
After finishing our Swiss adventure we drove over to Dijon, simply because we knew it from its infamous Mustard. Again for no reason in particular we found another glorious gem of a town. Dijon is a wonder… The centre is full of windy streets packed full of cafes, restaurants and quaint traditional shops. The architecture ranges from Gothic to Art deco, and every corner has something worth seeing. We found a local market that was just brilliant, offering a huge range of local merchandise, from fresh fish to pastries, sausage and fruit… there is no place like a french market. One thing the French know is food! I honestly can’t wait to taste the mustard…
From Dijon we took a lunch stop at Beaune in Burgundy, another picturesque french town. Beaune is small and walled and the surrounded by vineyards, it really was a beautiful quaint town.
Next up was Chablis, the infamous Chablis wine making region… Ah what a beautiful tiny village surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see. Its simply stunning! It was here that I suddenly realised how much I like France. The food, the wine, the beer, the hidden beautiful villages, even the language to a degree – it’s really grown on me!
Finale was of course a return to Paris, with a boat ride down the Seine in glorious sunshine! There really is something special about this place – I wonder if we will have the same experience with our children? will they only want to visit America or Australia while we take them over to France? Only time will tell..
I can say that all of a sudden a return trip to Normandy and Brittany to create some more Wandering Memories is starting to really appeal.
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