We dined outside during warm, sunny mornings and chilly, rainy afternoons. We enjoyed the quick, efficient service of the staff to begin our meals, and the
of dining with each other without being rushed out the door. And the food, the food was incredible!! Quite unlike home where dining can feel like a sprint to be the first to finish and dash out the door! So, when traveling to France, I’d highly recommend you pad your schedule with some extra time during meals, so you can truly enjoy a leisurely meal while relaxing, drinking wine, and people watching.
There’s a horrible misconception that the French dislike and are rude to Americans. And I can attest that we didn’t experience anything of the sort during our visit - no, not even once.Quite the contrary! We found the French to be very lovely people; kind, helpful and so gracious, especially during our poor attempts to converse with them in their own language. We met many people along our journey that shared stories with us, recommended things for us to do, and whom we had the pleasure of getting to know on a more personal level. I believe it's important when traveling to relax, experience the local culture, and be respectful in our interactions with others in their home. And that, my friends, is how you earn the respect of the locals and enjoy many wonderful conversations and experiences!
How could I write a Top 5 Favorites list without mentioning the immense and colorful history that is French culture! As I mentioned in the introduction, we visited the major historical sites, and they did not fail to impress – each and every single one of them.
There’s something about taking a guided tour to get a better understanding of the culture, and to interject personality and life into each story, but the audio tours are almost
just as impressive! Rather than mentioning every site we visited, I’ll simply tell you about my favorite – the Château de Versailles (or the Palace of Versailles)! I absolutely insist that you simply cannot visit Paris (or the surrounding cities/towns) without at least a day trip to Versailles.
This sprawling and magnificent estate was originally built in 1623 as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII, and then enlarged into a royal palace by Louis XIV (after which followed many additional expansions). We explored every area we were permitted, beginning with an audio tour of the grand and opulent main Palace, to an alfresco lunch in the beautiful and immaculately kept gardens, followed by strolling along the pathways to explore the Grand and Petite Trianons, and rounding out our visit with Marie Antoinette’s Estate (which was absolutely darling and like something straight from a fairy tale!).
I teased my husband that it was a miracle we made it through the day without running into something or someone, because there’s so much to take in that your head is on a swivel! We learned about the History of France, the political and royal struggles and triumphs, and explored many fascinating works of architecture and art. It was more than impressive and I would absolutely visit Versailles again upon returning to France!
5) Getting Lost:
One of our favorite things to do when traveling is to spend some time getting lost– on purpose! And France is an amazing place to do just that. We spent time getting lost in both Paris and Nice and happened upon some wonderful things.
From strolling through open-air markets with fresh flowers and pastries, to finding quaint cafés off the beaten path to sip an espresso and people watch, these were some of our favorite adventures. This is the true opportunity to get away from all the touristy areas where everyone speaks English, to attempt to converse with people whose language you don’t know. And to enjoy a few laughs in the process! To envelope yourself in the true culture and pace of life, and to enjoy the soft murmurings of conversation going on around you. To live, if only for a few hours, as someone else lives, and to experience life through their eyes.
These simple moments, though not as extravagant as a trip to Versailles, are the grain and the fibers of truly visiting another land and another culture. And these are truly some of my favorite memories to hold in my heart. So, when traveling to France, be sure to take a day, two days, or even three, to simply walk the streets and wander around the city you’re visiting. You’re guaranteed to happen upon something quite remarkable, and yet so familiar at the same time.
Thank you so much to Annick for the opportunity to share my experiences of
France! I hope this article inspires and excites you to visit this lovely country, full of life, history, culture, energy and passion. It was truly my pleasure to provide you with a personal glimpse into some of my favorite experiences.
Ashley Cox is the owner of Ashley Cox Photography, where she provides small, local businesses with product and brand photography, along with professional headshots, for all their business needs. She is also the owner of sproutHR, where she helps creative entrepreneurs learn all about how to hire, train, and grow a thriving team. Whether you feel like you’re in way over your head hiring your first team member, or you’re looking for someone to help you create a strategic long-term plan, she partners with you as your personal HR expert! She’ll help you feel more confident in your abilities, while saving you the time and frustration of trying to figure it all out on your own.
Ashley, and her husband, Mike, love everything to do with adventure
. They also enjoy spending weekends refinishing old furniture while jamming out to their favorite tunes, exploring local hidden gems, and playing with their spunky rescue dog, Myla!
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