Happy new year. Bonne année !
The French love giving flowery messages in January, wishing complete strangers good health, wealth, luck, joy, peace on Earth (or at least in France) and of course love to all (or at least other French men and women).
This is my 21st year in France. I arrived here a naive youth, with a poor palet, bad dress sense, a misunderstanding of basic fundamental concepts of how to kiss the French on the cheek (which cheek to start with? How many times? Where – near the lips, near the ears? What happens if I don’t kiss anyone?), and I can now pride myself on the fact I can go a whole day without making a French person groan in agony at my accent or at some intercultural faux pas.
Yet there is still so much to do. France is by surface area the largest country in Europe, and therefore there really is a lot to explore.
It also is full of history, of culture, of people, of food, of drink, of cheeses. It’s just so full. It constantly surprises me.
So I thought it’s high time I write a bucket list of interesting things to do in France. Some of them you may have heard of, some of them not.
They’re in no particular order, and I don’t promise to get all of them done in 2018, I’m not that amibitious (or capable).
Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
1. Go on a barge on the “Canal de Midi”. The canal stretches from Bordeaux to Sete. It’s very quiet and sedate. You can hire barges or boats, or even take a cycling holiday on the paths.
2. Go on a tour of the champagne vineyards. I love champagne. At first I treated it as fizzy white wine. I looked at the bubbles and ho-hummed. Now I bow down to it’s subtlety and finesse. I’d love to find out more about the different champagnes out there and how to tell the difference between them.
3. Eat some brie and camembert and try to enjoy it. Readers of this blog might already know that I’m not a great fan of cheese. I think it ruins a good desert. You’ve had a starter, opened a good bottle of wine, onto the main course, are looking forward to finishing it off with a nice desert and boom, a huge platter of cheese gets passed around. So one day, I’ll look up, open my arms and my plate and wolf it all down with a huge smile on my lips. One day.
4. Flirt with a French woman in French. Now, now, now, before you get any fancy ideas, I’m married, and very happily. At least that’s what my wife tells me. But surely the ultimate challenge of one’s capacity to speak French is to do so in a situation that is so frightening that it brings on the sweats? That, for me, dear reader, is to flirt. And, worse, for it to work.
5. Grow a vegetable patch to make my own ratatouille. That’s not very French, I can hear you splutter into your breakfast cereal. Anyone, anywhere can grow a vegetable patch. Ah, but I live in France, and I want to grow French vegetables, you see. Peppers, aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms, tomatoes… And no bugs.
6. Learn to roll the “r”s probably when I speak French. It’s funny, because a lot of French people say that my accent is worth keeping, it’s part of me. But I think that’s the last frontier, it’s my Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
7. Go to French Polynesia. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re saying. Everyone wants a nice trip to Bora Bora and Tahiti. Well, I don’t want to go to scuba dive or flop about on the white sand, I would be going to study the impact of education on job-seekers under the age of 25. *Clears his throat*.
So there you go, if you have some fairly realistic dreams of things you’d like to do in France, I’d love to see them in the comments section below.
Bye for now!