Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Falling in Love With France

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I've written some guest posts for the FranceBookTour of my novel Paris Runaway. I thought I'd share one of the posts that I wrote for bookwormerz which ran on Sunday. It tells the story of how, after a
rocky start, I fell in love with France.

Falling in Love With France
I visited France for the first time at age 20. My college boyfriend and I went on one of those 21-day tours where we visited 14 countries, or maybe it was a 14-day trip with 21 countries. Either way, one of those countries was France.
I’d gotten sick in Rome, with Montezuma’s Revenge, and it lasted into Paris. I remember visiting Notre Dame and desperately searching for a bathroom nearby. What I found was a Turkish toilet.
Those are hard to find in France these days, but a Turkish toilet was a stall with a place for your feet to go on either side of a drain in the floor. I still can’t work out the mechanics for a woman that doesn’t result in damp underwear. That experience could have ruined my love for France, but it didn’t.
A year after college graduation I was working at a newspaper and dating a photographer, whose sister was married to a Frenchman. The sister, who was pregnant, her husband, and their two little girls had tickets to go to France for the summer, when the sister was ordered to bedr est. Someone needed to step up and travel with the girls. I volunteered.  
Here are the two girls and their grandfather, along with a couple of cousins, on the balcony in Corsica. 

I told my boss I was going and that I didn’t care whether I’d have a job when I returned. Picture me as a bossy, impetuous 22 –year-old. (Luckily, they found a summer intern and my job waited for me.)
So with two little girls and a Frenchman I didn’t know, we flew to Paris. The first few days could have ruined my love affair with France as I took the girls on a bus to their great-grandmother’s apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris. But the bus went the opposite direction that we needed and we ended up on an impromptu, hot, diesel-fueled tour of Paris, getting off at several stops in hopes of finding our way.  Another day I got separated from the girls when they stepped through a Metro stall with sliding doors, and the doors closed before I could follow them. A flight attendant behind me had an extra ticket and used it to reunite me with the girls.
But every negative experience melted away as I traveled with the girls and their grandparents over the next three months. We flew to Corsica and spent our days splashing in the Mediterranean and enjoying each meal as a symphony of tastes and textures. 
Me, on the beach. There are probably naked, or at least topless, people right behind me. 
Our evenings filled with concerts and tennis matches and nights on the veranda watching the star-spangled sky for the slowly moving space station.
When we returned to mainland France, we stayed one night in Aix en Provence. I can still remember the thrill of coming home that rippled through me when I stepped onto Cours Mirabeau, the wide boulevard lined with plane trees.
For a month, we stayed in the family’s country home near Bourges. The house came into the family during Napoleon’s reign, and it had served as a base for the Germans when they invaded during World War II, then the Americans when they drove back the Germans. The numerous sets of French doors opened onto a yard, which led to fields of sheep and flocks of chickens. We walked to the village for bread each day, stopping to feed a pony.
Here I am, prepared for dinner, as I sit on the terrace writing. I wish you could see my
adorable ankle socks and aqua shoes that matched my top, but this print is not the best quality.
Finally, we returned to Paris and the grandparents’ apartment in the suburbs. The grandmother urged me to explore the city while she watched the girls, and, oh, what adventures I had as I wandered alone.
I’ve included memories from this trip in all of my novels set in France – The Summer of France, I See London I See France, and Paris Runaway.
In each of my French novels, I try to recapture the magical experiences of that first immersion into France – the trip that taught me the importance of savoring each bite of luscious nectarine, rather than worrying about the juice that ran down my arm.

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Please leave your name and blog address in Mr. Linky below, and leave a comment letting me know what  you think about my love affair with France, or your own love affair. And consider visiting the blogs of others who play along so we can all share the love. 

I'm also linking to Paris in July. Hope you'll play along with both Dreaming of France and Paris in July. We can't have too much France love, right?


Sim Carter said...

My Dreaming of France post is a casting suggestion for the part of Luc, the young exchange student in your book, Paris Runaway.
Here’s Dreaming of France post

Such a lovely post today, Paulita! I gave it a shout out on my site.

Paulita said...

Thanks,Sim. I'm racing over to see who should play Luc!

Anonymous said...

What great memories! I loved this.
BTW, Turkish toilets still exist. Our village primary school has them. Ladies, get your knickers around your knees to keep them dry.

Paulita said...

Francetaste, Thanks for the tips on how to use Turkish toilets. I still haven't managed to master them and I hope I never have to.

Esme said...

I would have loved that opportunity. I first saw France from the sky and the runway as a 10 year old and knew I would return. As a 21 year old backpacking I loved Paris and Nice.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...