The French lifestyle

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Oh the French lifestyle is appealing! They just know how to live so well. As we all know, one of the best ways to experience a place is to indulge in its cuisine. How convenient for me!

I’ve found that plenty of the French stereotypes are, happily, true. I’ve long given up counting how many people I’ve spotted carrying baguettes because I simply couldn’t keep up. Most businesses close from 12 until 2 for a leisurely lunch. Dinners start late and are lingered over. And, of course, wine is always present.

One of my absolute favourite things here in France is Cafe Gourmand, an espresso served alongside a selection of small desserts. Believed to have started in Paris in 2005, I’m happy to have found it further south. Thank you Wikipedia Its original purpose was actually to speed up the dining process but I love it because it offers a variety of sweets and an element of surprise as you don’t know what it’ll be until it’s set in front of you.

It seems to be more popular in Provence, where I’m traveling now, than the Menton area so I’ve only had it twice thus far. Most recently I ordered it at a cafe in Gordes and it was lovely, a peach tart, a honey and date square and caramel gelato topped with whipped cream. Just as I’d hoped!

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Oh France…

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We’ve made it to Menton, our ‘home base’ for the next 3 months. Referred to as the “pearl of France,” it’s busier & bigger than I’d expected.

We’ve spent the last week or so traveling between Azille & Menton, covering much of France’s country side. One quickly passes by acres & acres of vineyards to then arrive in yet another beautiful, quaint French village always consisting of a patisserie, boulangerie & cafe.

Almost a month in I’ve, of course, made more observations:

Contrary to the reputation the French may have, I’ve encountered very friendly & helpful people.

France’s well signed highway system & its use of round abouts has made navigation relatively painless even with my severe lack of a sense of direction.

This trip consists of a very tight budget as we’re both (at least for the moment) without paid employment. Therefore, we’ve been very strict about meals out. A majority of meals have been consumed (& created) in hotel rooms, the rental car, or parks & have been delicious.

Restaurant meals have largely been underwhelming save the aforementioned meal in Paris & my birthday dinner at La Fourchette in Avignon where everything from the service to dessert was fantastic.

High quality raw ingredients are readily available & for a decent price making dining in very enjoyable (traveling with a chef also helps) but clearly venues for meals out need to be chosen more deliberately. Simply being in France does not guarantee well prepared food! On this same note, I’m still waiting for a really great coffee & croissant.

Finally, my French skills need work. I can handle basic, short conversations but would really like to improve. It’s difficult when most people default to English. However, advances must be made as there have been some translation mishaps. Turns out I’ve been telling people like restaurant servers & my brand new French tutor that I’m “sexually aroused” not simply (& innocently) “excited” as I thought! Oops. First lesson’s scheduled for tomorrow.

Menton is situated on the water & right near the Italian border making for an interesting mix of people. The next challenge is to acquire accommodation at a reasonable price, which may prove difficult as it’s entering its high tourist season.

Time for more photos!

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