french culture

(French) Words with Friends

No, I'm not talking about the extremely popular app/game that so many people play. I'm talking about spending time speaking enormous amounts of a second language with new friends and how speaking foreign words with friends can be intimidating, but offer great experiences and cultural insight if you can get past the fear of sounding like a buffoon. I think that no matter how good of a traveler you are, it's hard to meet locals. Yeah, you can stay at hostels - but you're meeting travelers, and while that's fun, it doesn't provide the opportunity to really get to know a culture. I've been fortunate enough to have family stays in Senegal and France, and was able to gain incredible cultural insight to those 2 places during college. But it wasn't until I found myself reconnecting with the one French friend I made while living in Strasbourg that I realized just how difficult it is to meet and befriend locals when you're constantly on the move. I am also extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to study a second language to the point of near-fluency because without it, traveling in francophone countries wouldn't nearly be as interesting.

Reconnecting After 10 Years

Toulon & Six Fours Les Plages

I can't tell you if this marathon socializing exists all over France, but it was great to experience it mixed with what life is like in small town cote d'azure/french mediterranean coast life. It's August and so everyone is still on vacation. This means more time for sitting and chatting for hours, beach volleyball and driving around to visit friends. I took part in all of this (minus the beach volleyball - they're kinda serious about it) and again while I felt exhausted by all the chatting, was happy to see how people enjoy life during the summer.

Toulon is a nice mid-sized city. Six Fours is basically a beach village, and the real gem of the area is Sanary which is complete with a tiny wood-boat filled port, winding streets, charming shops and the relaxed atmosphere you'd expect of Southern France - without the luxury of the Riviera (that's coming in the next post). It was the non-glitzy part of the Cote d'Azur and I'm glad to have experienced it.

Next stop is Rome. Yes, Rome. I arrived this evening. I can't even imagine the grandeur and enormity of this city and am nervous and excited to see it all at the same time.

Until then, bisous et à bientot.

Reflections on Being in France (again)


I'm once again saying goodbye (for now I hope) to France. Each trip here is different and while walking around the old town of Nice in search of late night food I had a few thoughts on my upcoming departure and recent stint here. I Love Speaking French

I do. It's empowering to speak a different language, and getting to the point where you've learned to converse means opening a whole new world of cultural learning and connections with locals. The quick inundation of English at the hostel makes me really appreciate having spent a week speaking nothing but French with old and new friends. I will miss it once I'm in Italy and understand nothing!

France is regionally diverse

I had never been to the south of France prior to this trip, save a short few days with Jon to Aix en Provence in the spring. I'd never seen the coast, the famous Cote d'Azur and the French Riviera. Being here makes me appreciate how diverse France is geographically and among it's regions. We love fois gras (despite it not being a friendly practice) but you can't find that here. Want red wine? Yeah it's France you can find it, but you come to the south to drink Rosé - and it's delicious - even the cheap bottles. Having lived in the north in Alsace, to spending the spring in the center to now seeing the south, it's no wonder people call this Europe's Club Med - it has so many different things to offer in so many wonderful ways.


All at the same time I have a love/hate relationship with France. I love the food, the cities and villages, the environment, the fact that it's France. But it also frustrates the heck out of me. The fact that people seem to not know how to walk without obliviously getting in the way; the bureaucracy is out of control; and yeah sometimes people are outright rude (but not everyone - I've spent an amazing week with new friends!) - it irritates me. I also have a strange surge of American patriotism every time I come here. I just love my country so much when I'm in France. I find that interesting... hmmmm.

Saying À Bientot

All in all there's a feeling of sadness every time I leave and I experience it now. When it's all said in done, I know how to be in France. Of course not as much as my own country, but I can get around here, talk with people and even make friends. There's always something interesting, old, funny, dorky, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time.

So I leave France now saying, 'see you soon' because I hope it won't be too long before I come back. Merci encore la France pour toute les plaisirs!

PS: I can't be that sad because I'm going to Rome tomorrow. ROME!!!