They are both integral parts of France’s culture.
Strolling through the stands, saying ‘bonjour‘ and ‘bonne journée‘, chatting with vendors, visually taking in what is in front of you are part of French daily life.
For me though, these rituals are gifts. A gift of experiencing history…..of seeing and holding things that are older than the countries that many of us live in.
When we come here on vacation, we have a set amount of time…..and we try to cram in as much as we possibly can in those few days. We are in a hurry, even on ‘vacation’…..it’s not much different than what we have left behind in our daily lives.
Here in lies the reason for the advice……
France won’t be rushed.
It has thousands of years of experience that have made it the way that it is. A visitor with a tightly packed agenda is not going to change that. It will only lead to frustration.
I know the feeling of wanting to not miss a single thing. But what is overlooked is that you are missing something. That something is what France is really about.
During a visit to a village with my son, I asked if he wanted to stop in a cafe for a coffee. His response was “Why? I had one this morning.” When I asked what it was that we needed to do. His face lit up and he said “Oh, I get it. Why not, have a coffee?”
We then spent half an hour chatting and people watching. It was the best coffee of my life.
Part of being ‘French‘ is taking the time to enjoy whatever it is that you have chosen to do.
Enjoy a relaxed meal (I still struggle with this one).
Stroll, not rush, through Paris or a village. Look up, not just ahead…..saints and friezes are hidden in plain site.
At the brocante, try to enjoy the experience. Soak it all in…..remembering that no one person can take everything home with them. Believe me…..I have tried.
Let France, its beauty and its culture seep in.
You will be forever changed.
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