Vignettes of a (cultured) voyager in France

My experience with France started as it does for so many Irish and Britons – by taking the ferry across the Celtic Sea as a child.

I remember sunny beach days, the clatter of buckets and spades and the sharp smell of garlic emanating from buckets of another kind – mussels – as their generous servings formed part of long, lazy lunches.

For a child whose favourite Disney character was Belle from Beauty and the Beast, my imagination sparked into overdrive touring the magnificently massive chateaux of the Loire Valley.

In Paris, my childhood whimsies amidst the Tuileries’ pigeons matured into a deep appreciation for the city’s art and ambiance. The historic streets, once a playground, grew alongside me; now whispering tales of revolution and romance.

Normandy‘s shores, where World War II’s history echoes loudly, I found, offered a solemn reflection on the past. The stark white rows of war graves mark more than just time; but how war ends lives that were once full of promise.

Bordeaux was a solo chapter, where I explored the city’s culinary offerings and found joy in the presence of my own company. It was a contrast to the shared laughter and late-night debates with friends spent on the grounds of a chateau in the Dordogne, where the wine flowed as freely as our conversations.

My connection with France expanded to living a while in the south, where I tried my best to weave myself into local life.

I fell in love with Avignon‘s storied walls, the bustling street market and bougie stores of Toulon, and Antibes‘ sun-kissed elegance. Nice‘s pebbled beaches, Cannes‘ cinematic glamour, Provence’s fragrant fields, and Arles‘ ancient arenas became integral threads of my French narrative.

France, with its enduring charm and layered history, has been a constant companion throughout the years. I hope it will remain a steady companion for many more.

South of France