Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Simple Beauty of France






Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point.

I spent a whirlwind five days in France this past weekend. My love affair with this country began when I was sixteen, and like all affairs it burned strong in its early years. I spent three months there as an exchange student, then returned for a Christmas visit four years later when I was studying in Belfast.

Twenty years swiftly passed by and although I held the fondest of memories, the ardour faded in the midst of day-to-day life and child-bearing. Then one day, an invitation arrived: my exchange partner was going to get married! 

Armed with a kick ass dress and a good camera, I promptly fell back into love, hard. Seeing loved ones for the first time in 20 years is a very strange experience. Lots of tears and laughter. 

What is it about France? Everything seems simple. Minimalist. Tasteful. Sporadic flowers growing against mute stone walls, pops of colour in the shape of doors and shutters, the scent of lavender wafting up as you walk by a garden. Simple meals shared outdoors, hours-long and ripe with conversation and word-play. A respect for tradition and culture in a rapidly changing world.

 My hostess giggled when she saw my photos of "les volets" (shutters) because they are among the most commonplace of sights in France. I know that when she inevitable visits me she'll take pictures of my log barns and of the pine trees that grow in our yard.

My love affair has been reignited as if it never burned down. Love is like that, isn't it? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps. But France feels like home to me; when I expressed this to my French "maman" (the woman who mothered me during my three months there as a teenager) she said, "It IS your home.

Et voila. Home is where the heart is. My heart is in two pieces, it seems, never to fully settle in one place or the other. I feel blessed to feel at home in two countries and plan to get back to France before another 20 years goes by.

In the meantime, the above photos will be framed and displayed to keep my love alive.


7 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about New Zealand, having lived there for a year and a half when my daughter was a preschooler. Part of me continues to live there...and it will forever be in my heart.

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  2. So wonderful that you were able to return! I've never been to France but always dreamed about it being my home one day. I loved following your trip on instagram. Welcome home!

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  3. So glad to hear you has such a lovely time!!

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  4. Wow! Just gorgeous! I have never been to France but would love to go someday. I've never been to Europe but I have the sneaking suspicion that when I do finally get there it will be very hard for me to leave. I tell my husband all the time that I think our little family would fit right in in places like Finland, Norway, Sweden.....Only one way to find out I suppose!

    So glad that your trip was so lovely and I do so hope you return to France very soon! xo

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  5. oh my gosh, love the last photo. beautiful.

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  6. My husband has been to France several times and really wants to take us to his favorite places. But we seem to go back to the same place in Switzerland we love as a family.

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  7. Those chippy shutters make my heart feel just right. I understand your desire to capture them. Beautiful photos. I'm glad you had such a nice trip.

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