Jackie likes to travel. A lot. And she loves France, which is where I happen to live.
In summary, I like Jackie, and I think you will too…
So, I’m obsessed with France. Straight up obsessed. I am therefore obsessed with how France-tastic Sara’s blog and life are, and I’m sure you’re all obsessed too. France was the first stamp on my passport, meaning it was the first place I ever saw that wasn’t home. I think that the first foreign place any of us visits is magical just for that reason, no matter where in the world it is. It’s the first time we get to see a place where the street signs are different and we can’t understand the accent of the person talking behind us on the bus. It’s the first contrast we have to home.
But the fact that my first new place was France — and not just France, but Paris, of all places — gave my seventeen year old self the idea that the world outside my house was entirely glamorous, beautiful, and mysterious. Everything was exactly as I’d seen it in the movies and I was shocked that these famous places I’d only ever read about — the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees — I was shocked that these places actually existed in real life. As if, you know, someone had only invented them for the sake of making a movie set look good. Logical!
Now that I am older and have traveled a bit more, I obviously know better. I know that the entire world outside of home isn’t like Paris. I’ve been to several places I love almost as much, a few places I really hate, many that I’ve found to be ridiculously beautiful and only one or two that I thought were pretty ugly, and I’ve also been back to France three times. These travels have convinced me that you won’t always get that magical feeling, and not every country will make you feel like the world is awesome and more glamorous than things should be in real life.But they have also reinforced my belief that France will do that. So far, France has kicked the ass of every other country I’ve been to.
I studied in the French Riviera for a summer, and right before leaving for that trip my boyfriend dumped me. I was so sad. Embarrassingly sad. And then I went to France and frolicked around the beach and hopped from one art museum to the next and I felt wonderful — and that was right when Eat, Pray, Love came out and everyone was on a yay-for-traveling-as-a-way-to-cure-a-broken-heart-and-encourage-female-empowerment kick, before everyone randomly turned against Elizabeth Gilbert. For me, that’s what this trip to France was — something worthy of a book, not real life.
My next trip to France was after the worst three days that anyone has ever spent in Vienna. Vienna kicked my ass. I literally stepped off the plane in Paris and started crying because I was so happy to get out of Austria, and I knew that no matter what happened in Paris, it would make me feel better. It felt like I was coming home, even though I’d only been to Paris once before. Since France was the first place I’d ever been, it still had that innocent, magical aura surrounding it — it was the place that had made me fall in love with traveling, and so naturally it was the place that could restore my faith in traveling whenever I began to doubt it.
My next and most recent stop in France was in the Normandy region, where I stayed in a Pride and Prejudice-esque manor in the middle of nowhere. Well, actually, this would have been the middle of nowhere had it been anywhere else, but since it was in France, it was in the middle of a gorgeous, majestic countryside. I was staying with my boyfriend and his family, and they’d swapped houses with a French family like in that movie The Holiday. This French house was not only massive and beautiful, but it also came complete with a private apple orchard and silo (this family brewed their own cider), an ATV, horses (and their own private field), and a pond area. Oh, and the husband collected dinosaur bones and ancient Chinese funerary sculptures that he kept on a shelf in the living room. Of course. I was reminded of my summer spent recovering from a broken heart on the beaches of the French Riviera — how was it possible that any of this had actually taken place in real life?
I’ve decided that these kinds of things only happen in the movies and in France, and this is why I’m obsessed with this country. France is as close to magic and as close to living in a movie as we’re going to get, guys. Currently I’m living and working in Chicago in the US, but I know that at some point down the line, I’m probably going to end up living in France. I think I almost required to do so if I’m this obsessed with it.And writing this post has unexpectedly inspired such France-withdrawal that I actually have a plane ticket search opened up in a different tab right now. Maybe I’ll end up there sooner than I thought?
Well Jackie, if you do end up back in France sooner than you thought, make sure it includes a visit to Le Petit Village. And all of you guys make sure to pop on over to Jackie Travels and visit her too.