Friday, January 08, 2010

Of the 101 things I love about France...

and about my region (the Languedoc) in particular, #10 would have to be the buzz I get from living somewhere that is surrounded by so many interesting, historical places, and that is in such close proximity to so many other countries.

Even after 10 years, I still get a child-like thrill at seeing all of the license plates from countries like Slovenia, Poland, and Denmark pass me on the motorway. I love the fact that doing my job here means that one day I may have English clients, the next French or Swedish, and then maybe some Dutch or Germans the next day. Most of all, though, I'm grateful that when friends or family come to visit, we always have plenty to do and see.

My dad and uncle loved the fact that while they were here, they managed to fit in Paris, the Spanish border, St Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, northern Italy and Carcassonne. Not a bad initiation to Western Europe for my uncle's first visit. Although had they stayed longer, we may have been able to fit in the Pont du Gard, Arles, Avignon or even Marseilles.

Europeans are always asking me why Americans seem to travel abroad so relatively little compared to the rest of the world. While I can't speak for the entire American population (no, really, I can't....), I know alot of it has to do with the sheer distance involved. When I lived in California and went to university in Iowa, I had to drive for 30 hours twice a year. According to mappy, if I drove half that time from my house here in France, I could be in Budapest, Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, or Zagreb.

I like the fact that my little ladies have traveled more in their first 5 years than I had in my first 20. I remember quite distinctly how I felt at the end of my semester abroad, when I should have returned to my small town university in Iowa, that after having seen Rome, I just couldn't bare the thought of leaving Europe. While I do miss America from time to time, I feel lucky to be living where I do.

Now I'm just wondering if my old Peugeot would actually make the trip to Budapest....

12 comments:

Betty C. said...

I've got the travel bug right now too...in December I went to Germany and Paris (for work) and Amsterdam (with my family.) However after living here for NEARLY 20 YEARS, I must admit I haven't taken advantage of the proximity of so many foreign countries. I had better make up for lost time soon!

The Duchess said...

Sounds like you've been getting around well enough (you know what I mean!lol). We are lucky to have so many different countries and cultures around us, don't you think?

Loulou said...

The first few years we were here we went to Barcelona so many times I feel like I've lived there. And Italy is only a 6 hour drive. I love that!
Berlin is next on the list. Hopefully in 2010.
I know exactly what you mean about answering the question regarding Americans not traveling to foreign countries. There is so much to see in America that many people decide to see it first before they get a passport and cross the ocean.
I'm not saying that is a good thing, just reality.

The Duchess said...

Loulou, Aren't we lucky to live so close to Barcelona?!? (Although to my ultimate shame, I have to admit that my first port of call whenever I go is the Dunkin Donuts on Las Ramblas....lol).

Betty C. said...

I've only been to Barcelona twice, and didn't really like it either time. Do I see an expat escapade in our future?

deedeeinfrance said...

Barcelona? Did someone say Barcelona? I only went there once (for supper!) back when I was in France as a tourist and had to get my passport stamped so I could stay another 3 months...marriage fixed that problem.
I do love that I can hop in my Twingo and be in Spain or Italy in a couple of hours.

The Duchess said...

I love Barcelona! If I were 15 years younger, not married with kids, would seriously consider living there, but then again, I'd consider Rome, Madrid, Berlin, London and Amsterdam too!lol

Betty C. said...

Just got back from a trip to Amsterdam between Christmas and New Year's -- that would be a great place to live too. I've always felt that deep down I'm a city gal, but I agree with the part about raising kids -- not so easy in big cities unless you make a lot of money. So for the moment here we are in Rodez, Béziers and somewhere in Provence...

The Duchess said...

I lived in Paris as a student, dirt poor, we managed alright, but to really live in a big city, and raise children I think would be hard without the right income. Plus, way too many people, too many sacrifices, and not enough space for me at my ripe old age of 36!:-)
But who knows, maybe when we are older and the kids are gone we'll fancy heading back to a city...

lindsay said...

Hi Rachelle, thanks for dropping in on my blog. It helps in this experience --- both working in France and maintaining a blog--- to make a concerted effort of focusing on small things, like French onion soup.

I agree with what everyone is saying: Europe is as complex and vast as the tip of any continent can possibly be. To only think what we would be capable of if we had endless amounts of time to draft travel itineraries on the backs of old maps and then set off to retrace and recross our steps many times over in the same year? The best part of traveling is coming back to a place that you've been before.

My dream route is the Basque country, Burgundy, Vienna and the entire Italian peninsula complete with islands.

The Duchess said...

Sounds like a good itinerary, Lindsay! What you said about Europe reminds me of a quote by TS Eliot (which we actually used in our wedding program):
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Lindsay said...

I like it. Much more uplifting than The Hollow Men.