The shores of France are a hop and a skip across the channel from the south of England, but even though France is our closest neighbor, I’ve never been. I’ve traveled all over Europe and further afield, but for some reason, I’ve never set foot in France. After turning 50, this got me thinking. Why have I not only never been to France, but never felt the pull to go? France has never been on my list of must-do places, or even “one day” places. I think there are some complex, and some not-so-complex reasons for this, but one thing’s for sure, now that I’m older, I want to find out for myself if those previous reasons for not going are valid or not. So here’s why I want to go to France for the first time, at 50.
The French Language Is Beautiful
I’ve heard many times over the years that in France the French prefer you to speak their language. It’s fair enough and totally understandable, but I don’t speak French so I’ve always been put off by the thought of struggling with a nation of people with whom I can’t easily converse. When traveling in most other places in Europe, you usually find plenty of English-speaking locals. It does make things easier, but perhaps it also makes us a little bit lazier. The French language is beautiful and I’d really like the opportunity to be immersed in it and to learn to speak and understand it. There’s no better way to learn a language than being in its country of origin, and visiting France would force me to try a little harder at learning French. The last time I was in a French class was when I was about 10 years old, so I think it’s time to pick up where I left off.
It’s Good To Get To Know Your Neighbors
There’s a perception in the UK that the French don’t like us. We hear all the time that the British and the French are natural enemies and that we just don’t get along. This has perhaps been the thing that’s put me off going the most. I don’t want to visit a place where I’m not welcome; I don’t want to feel as if I’m not wanted there. But actually, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize that this perception isn’t based on any facts. We may have had our differences throughout history, but so have many nations, and I really don’t believe those historical events still live on in the minds of people today. All the French people I’ve ever met, who’ve been visiting the UK, have been lovely, warm people, and I never got the sense that they think we don’t like them. I’m not sure where this idea of dislike came from, but I think it’s time I got to know my neighbors and found out for myself what they are really like and how we really get along.
I always thought visiting France would be expensive. I’ve always had this image of swanky Parisian boutique hotels and lavish rural French farmhouses that cost dearly to stay in. In fact, you can stay at both of these kinds of places at extremely reasonable prices, and the choice in places to stay and varying types of accommodation means there’s something to suit everyone. I took a look at EBooking for some inspiration and I was very pleasantly surprised to find rooms for a week’s stay in Bordeaux and Paris for under $600. This is a lot less than I expected and pretty similar to prices for rentals and rooms in the UK. When it comes to dining out, it seems on par with the UK, and like anywhere, you can find more expensive restaurants and cheaper ones if you take some time to look around. There is a choice, so if you’re on a budget you just need to shop around a little. It very much depends on where you choose to stay, but staying in France is much more affordable than I’d previously thought it would be. If you’re on a tight budget, you can simply refine your search on EBooking for price and find the rooms and properties that suit you. If you want luxury, you can easily find that, too.
The Cuisine Is Different
This is both a reason for going and a reason for not going to France, depending on your attitude and feelings towards food. Some people love trying out new dishes while others prefer to stick to what they know. French cuisine is often seen as elitist, and sometimes strange, but that can also be translated as artistic, creative, and unusual. We’ve all heard of the French dishes of frog’s legs and snails, but actually, French food is often hearty and wholesome, and even if it’s nouveau cuisine, it’s going to be something special and very tasty. I haven’t eaten a lot of French food in the past, probably because I’ve never been to France so I haven’t had much opportunity to, and this is definitely one of the elements of travel to France I am most looking forward to. I love discovering new dishes, and when discovering a new country for the first time, a whole new world of food is right there. Then there’s the wine, of course. French wine is famous all over the world, and while I have tasted many different French wines here in the UK, I’m sure being in France will give me the chance to taste some I’ve never come across before.
The French Are So Stylish
No matter how much you think you keep up with the latest fashions and no matter how well dressed and presentable you think you are, chances are you’re going to feel like you fail in this area when you are amongst the French people. Unless you’re staying in a super rural area where everyone works on a farm, you’ll find the French people are incredibly stylish, perhaps the most stylish people you’ll ever come across. It seems to be a natural and innate skill they have and while you can’t hope to compete, you can pick up a few style tips and admire the flawless looks. The French are so effortlessly well dressed and preened, walking around the streets and people watching is a bit like walking around an art gallery or at least being in the middle of a high-end fashion show. This can be a bit intimidating if you let it, and while I have always imagined I’d feel inadequate next to beautifully dressed French women, now that I’m older, I’m much more comfortable in my own skin and I really don’t mind if other people are more fashion-conscious than me. I’m happy to be a spectator in this area, and I think it will be fun to observe. I might even go shopping for a whole new French look!
It’s Easy To Get To
For me, anyway, this is why it’s so surprising I’ve never been. I can catch a ferry from the southern shores of England, fly into Paris in no time at all, catch the Eurostar train from London, or drive all the way through the Channel Tunnel. It really is incredibly easy to travel from the UK to France, and yet, I never have. All the reasons above that I might once have had for not going, I’ve now turned into reasons to go, if only to find out for myself how much truth there is in these presumptions. It doesn’t take long to travel to France from the UK and it’s not especially expensive. So there really aren’t any excuses!
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