The Time She Left New York: France

Cows...cows everywhere. In a country known for their cheese and the etymology of the word ‘pasteur’, I’m not sure why I was surprised by the amount of cattle. If you’ve ever taken a road trip in a rural or an area with farm land, chances are that someone in the car said,  “cows” or “horses”. Imagine saying that but every 5 minutes. One does, however, have to keep up with the cheese-demand.

I could tell that everything was fresher here. The bread especially. I was never bloated, I’m sure you were wondering. I never, ever had a stomach ache or anything. My friends from outside of the U.S. would often say how sweet our bread was here in America. Tasting the difference now, I realize that it isn’t necessarily sweetness but the taste of a true recipe and the craft baking. There was heart but routine and authenticity but speed. For the bakers, this was their job, not just a paycheck.

Restaurants will be open only at certain times for meals. It’s common that you’d see restaurants open 9a-2p but closed until 7p after that.There are few reasons for this. So many restaurants are small, family owned which means there’s limited staff and minimum wage in France is amongst the highest in the world. With stricter and shorter hours, that means less outgoing payments.

We noticed when were dining out, the service was wonderful yet remarkably slow. Meals in Europe are an occasion or an event. This might be old news to many of us but you know how I love reminders. Taking your time is a privilege that is hard to acquire but it is achievable. 

The Food

The People

Paris & Co

We took an Uber from CDG Airport into Paris which is about a 45 minute drive. Once we got into the city, I was shocked. I didn’t expect it to be so consistently pretty. New York is pretty in places like the west village but then there’s also 8th avenue with an ‘I LOVE NY’ gift shop on every corner. Which gives me anxiety thinking about it. Paris, however, I was speechless. It was all spectacular.

 

Pointe du Hoc & Normandy Beaches

“History is present” is what my mom kept saying as we walked around. The French are so proud and impressed by their culture, they display it on their buildings, in their art, their attitude and their menus. Their pride doesn’t waiver and it was never obnoxious.

You'll notice the German graves towards the end of the gallery. While we were on our way to the German cemetery, we weren't sure what to expect. But we kept thinking, "they had to be buried somewhere". Another thought was, the soldiers buried here were not all Nazi's. Some Germans lived in France and died and had nothing to do with the Third Reich.

Almost 75 years after D-Day, I'm still somewhat associating German's with Nazi's. It's inaccurate and it's unfair. It's like equating all Muslims to ISIS or Al Qaeda. 

It is, however, just as horrifying that history seems to be headed for a repeat. One that, I hope to God, we have learned from. There were 6+ million lessons we need to learn from. Maybe not 'we' but our elected officials. I didn't think I would ever have to see similar things to what my grandfather fought against, in my own country, so many decades after we beat the evil we thought would never rise again. 

 

One of the more common cliches we hear is; “In your twenties, you should travel!”. I felt that because I had moved to New York, a melting pot of culture, I didn’t need to travel. After this trip, YES! I absolutely need to travel. I realized this because of one thing I noticed here that I have never truly seen anywhere else; how the French take their time. They have two hour lunches and soak up the sun or cozy up when it’s raining. They do not wait to live. They don’t wait until they’re higher up at a company to live, they don’t wait until they retire, they are present, they are in the moment, in every moment. They may not smile at Americans (they think smiling at strangers is superficial...understandable) but they are using the time they save not smiling at strangers, very wisley.