As a little girl, France meant 1 thing: Paris. Outside of glowing images of the Eiffel Tower, bustling bistros and baguette, I’ll admit I knew very little. My horizons were broadened once I began studying French in school and even more so when I spent a semester at the Sorbonne. But only since packing my bags and moving back here after graduation have I truly been able to look beyond the city of lights to the other regions of metropolitan France, each of which boasts a unique character – a “claim to fame,” so to speak.
It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been learning French for about 10 years now. My reaction to this realization? I’ll refrain from any cliché commentary on how fast time seems to pass and focus instead on the overwhelming wave of pride I felt wash over me. It has taken a whole lot of resolve and patience to persist for so long in the pursuit of a language whose grammatical complexities elude me more often than not.
In other words, learning French is hard.
I’ll also admit, however, that I felt a slight sting of shame. 10 years is a long time and, even after two stints living in France and many hours spent in the classroom, I have most certainly not attained a level of mastery over the language. Am I conversational? Maybe. But fluent? Absoluement pas.
They say the Provence region of France is blessed by the gods. I’m inclined to agree.
With sun-soaked hillside villages overlooking sweeping lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards, “charming” is certainly an understatement. In fact, I think “enchanting” is more appropriate.
When it comes to coastal cities in France, La Rochelle is a must-see. Commonly referred to as “La Ville Blanche” due to its characteristic limestone facades, this port city sits in the Poitou Charentes region of southwest France, a short 2-hour drive from Bordeaux.
My kitchen here in France is the farthest thing from fancy. It’s an industrial, stainless steel setup complete with two hot plates, a sink, a refrigerator and a mini oven that looks deceptively like a toaster oven but lacks the ability to toast.
And that’s about it. No microwave to be found.
Of course, I could have purchased one myself, but I spent the first 18 years of my life sans microwave, so the thought never seriously crossed my mind.