I know, it’s been a while since I’ve been here. My stories haven’t quite caught up with my whereabouts, but I guess a story wouldn’t be a story if I didn’t tell it from beginning to end. This little one began in Paris and ended in Provence. Somewhere between the two I realized though that in this little tale I found a thousand. I can’t help but get a bit emotional driving across this country. In the time I spent away in the last year I realized how paramount France is in my life. I’ve never been the expat type to contemplate and write about the peculiarities of life in a foreign country. I just arrived here one day and started trying to make something of it, perhaps the same or different than I would have elsewhere. It was never an experiment, just a life. On this trip I realized just how much of mine I’ve spent here. Not in years but in friends and memories. Everywhere we went there were pieces of them. Staying with friends of friends I’ve made in the past six years, with former colleagues turned friends from past jobs, stopping by to say hello to old acquaintences who settled in a quieter place than Paris, even just familiar faces in my favorite little village restaurants from summers past. I embarked on this road trip with the hopes of taking beautiful photos and perhaps making a little film. Neither of those really happened. Half way through I kind of let go of that and realized that I must have needed to do it for another reason, something more personal. Most of the time I just put down the camera and tried to enjoy it. On our last night before heading to Italy, we ate at my favorite little restaurant in the whole world. On our way home through the countryside between glowing little villages we did what I always love to do in Provence: drive through the night with the windows down, warm night air billowing into the car. Our favorite song came on and we turned it all the way up. I looked over and Audrey had her head out the window eyes turned up to the sky breathing it all in. I thought this is it, one of those moments you’ll never photograph because it’s so simple and altogether too big to fit in a photograph, all at the same time. I feel lucky to have even just handful of those in this country. It’s still nice to have a few photos too though. I hope you enjoy these.
A FEW TIPS FOR ROAD TRIPS IN FRANCE
A few tips for road trips in France. You can rent cars anywhere and drop them off at a different location. Don’t forget that renting an automatic car costs more in Europe than a manual, and supply is limited of them because they are less common. Gas costs about 70 euros for the average tank (lasting about 350 KM) and tolls roads which is pretty much every highway cost about 12 euros for every 100 kilometers. Basic amenities can be a bit limited in terms of accessibility. Things like pharmacies close for a good chunk of the afternoon and earlier in the evening. Make sure to get what you need when you come across it. It’s not easy to find everything you need. Some villages are more lively than others. The Villages Fleuri are the most beautiful, and have been awarded as the 100 most beautiful in all of France. If you focus on seeing these villages, you will not be disappointed. You can find them all here. In all of these towns there are what is called Chambre d’Hotes. Some are more beautiful in a bed and breakfast style by many are quite basic. They are all over the countryside and the best places to stay. We stayed with friends most of the time, except for in Provence where we stayed at Le Domaine de Mejéons and in the Loire where we stayed at Le Moulin Brégeon. The Moulin is an entirely special spot unlike any other.