Vive La France


I was in the car with the little travellers last week listening to This American Life – the episode was one of my favourites An American in Paris. It begins with David Sedaris and Ira Glass, I’d heard the episode before and remembered Sedaris but I’d forgotten about what came next; proving once again that my listening skills cater to what I feel is important at the time. This time it was a conversation with author Richard Klein which had me sitting forward in my seat.

You know, the French have a much more uncomplicated and much less guilty relationship to their body, beginning with eating, not only the way they eat, but the pleasure that they take in eating. I mean, the American notion that food is medicine, for example, is totally repulsive to the French. And yet, increasingly in America, that’s all you hear. I mean, people eat only as a function of what they think is good for them. And nobody in France would eat strictly as a function of what was good for them...

Yesterday G and I walked through the old city of Annecy. It is breathtakingly beautiful, perhaps the prettiest location I have ever seen. It’s like all of my favourite places rolled into one – the mountains and lakes of Canada, the cobblestone streets of Paris with the warmth and buzz of an alfresco coffee in a heaving inner city cafe in Melbourne. And although I am sure there are tourists here, I can only hear, see and smell France. Dogs with heads the size of small cars sit calmly outside of restaurants. Couples bask in the sunshine thinking nothing of ordering a bottle of wine at 11am, with a plate of cheese and pot of mussels. I have not seen a kale chip, a gluten free biscuit or a probiotic yoghurt shake, but I have stopped to smell eleven different types of cheese with a sliver of prosciutto by their side.

For the past month I’ve listened as friends have planned their family holidays for the summer.  As Australians we’re once again in a tricky space, it’s winter for us, our friends will be at work and school. And as I’ve listened to others plans of summer camps I’ve wondered if I’m doing my little travellers a disservice by not providing a more appetising summer offering for their plates.

Three days in Annecy has my mind at ease. It’s a three day stop but I feel that France has provided me with the biggest reminder at the most opportune time. Holidays are about soul replenishment; good food, good wine, long walks and sitting in the sunshine. G and I are holding hands, we’re walking for miles, stopping when we want to and sleeping in the afternoon. Vive la France – and thank you for the reminder.

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