I’ve been a little bit in love with France since a school trip in Year 7. Surprisingly, really, considering the trip consisted of multiple assault courses, thunderstorms, and evening meals of such dubious composition that they inspired an ill-advised attempt at vegetarianism. Still, since that amazing holiday, there have been far lovelier trips, including four to Paris. Highlights have included two weeks in a beautiful yurt in rural Calvados, five days spent exploring the Normandy/Brittany border (bonjour, Mont St. Michel), and a comprehensive tour of the prettiest seaside towns the North of the country has to offer.
Despite these numerous visit I have but scratched the tip of the French iceberg; there are many more places that I would like to see.
Provence for the lavender, Monet’s garden, a vineyard or two; skiing, even. A villa in the south, a chateau in the North. Borders and peninsulas. Camping. City breaks. Mountains and countryside. So much more to see and do.
I am fascinated by the draw of other cities; how do they compare to Paris? Are they as loud, as sleepless? Do they cater so well to children? I would also like to return to Paris. When we stayed with the children three years ago, there was just so much to do. We treated ourselves at a chocolate museum, scaled the Eiffel Tower, skipped along the Champs Elysee, rode a carousel in the Tuileries, marvelled at the love locks on Pont des Arts and visited the Pompidou Centre for yet another spectacular view. There simply were not enough days for museums, boat trips, parks and shops. We could stay a month, I am sure, and still not see it all.
Not only is it a country full of vastly differing landscapes and vibrant people, with culture and history aplenty (not to mention incredible food), France has the benefit of being that little bit closer than many other desirable destinations. Accessible by car, boat, train or tiny little aeroplane (seriously, tiny), it is barely any time away at all. Yet those few short hours spent travelling seem to take us worlds away. For France is indubitably England’s far more sophisticated and, dare I say, beautiful big sister.
Holidays in France have been a huge, happy part of my life for 17 years, and I hope that never changes. We had intended to camp near Cherbourg this summer, though James’ work is so seasonal that it is looking unlikely that we will be able to get away at all. Undeterred, we will plan something; perhaps not for this year but for next, at least. Whether it is a few days somewhere we have not visited before, or a week in a familiar place, we will make the most of our French vacation.