Living like a Frenchman while exploring France was the only objective. I wanted to stay in French homes, eat only French food, drive a French car, buy a French pipe, read a French book (tried and failed…) and drink all the French wine (succeeded with some regret…). Oh, and be in France in the fall. Check.
I didn’t expect Paris to become my favorite city (on earth, not just in France…) but it did. Every building is limited to just seven stories, which lets light pour into the streets evenly throughout the entire city. The slate roofs giving way to pale limestone facades; copper rain spouts offset by wandering vines. All of it was a dream.
Though my heart was in Paris, I didn’t want to only see Paris. So I rented a small car and drove east. Then west. The best decision I made on this road trip was to tell Google Maps to ‘avoid highways’. France is found in the countryside. France is found in the little shops that dot little villages, the perfectly symmetrical beechwood forests in between and the chateaus that hide among them. Never again, whilst time permits, will I take the highway route when driving through another country. That small setting made all the difference.
So here’s my best attempt to preset France beautifully. You’ll see Paris, Lyon, the Countryside and Dinan. All different from one another and all worth spending a dedicated trip to explore each on their own.
My ticket back is already booked for this summer.