I’ve probably been asked this question more than a hundred times since getting back to the States and every time my answer consisted of a Napoleon Dynamite worthy sigh and heavy shrug. “How can you not have a favorite?” they ask. “How can I answer that?” I say. It’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child and any mom will say that the answer changes every day.
Is it summer in the Northern or Southern hemisphere?
They call that beige rock a ‘french’ baguette?
Is that Malbec really 20 USD?
Do I feel like mountain biking or snorkeling today?
My answer inevitably depends on mood, time of day, time of month (when nothing sounds better than a pain au chocolat, you can’t shut me up about La Sirene in Bormes les Mimosas), who I’m with, whether I’m thoughtful or ready to party, whether I want to dance or do yoga or sit and watch the hummingbirds.
It’s not until recently, after being away from the elegant chaos of travel that I’ve noticed certain places popping up in my mind over and over again regardless of the aforementioned moods. Paris, Bormes, Nice, Bordeaux…the one place that has taken my mind hostage demanding for ransom two return tickets is France. Land o’ wine, baguette, love, cheese, three-hour lunches, beaches and oh-so-French people.
I dally between the azure waters of La Londe, Nice and Le Lavandou. Remembering those topless, warm days watching families play in the gentle surf, running up to the chapel, our mornings in the garden and how lucky I feel to have all my fingers and toes despite the many sharp, whirring tools we played with. The three-hour aperos, lunches and naps. The amazing public transportation…Southern California TAKE NOTE!
Then my mind floats up to Paris and the totally un-Parisy suburb, Montmartre. So many of my dreams came true there…Straight up Robert Langdon-ing the Louvre, kissing under the Eiffel Tower, mass at the Notre Dame, drinking wine in the rain at a boulangerie, walking along the Seine having just finished “A Tale of Two Cities” and imagining all the blood, feet and wheels that once flowed along the same path.
And Bordeaux. Oh Bordeaux, the fairy tale proposal so perfectly planned by Jeff yet so perfectly botched by my utter shock. How I wish I was more graceful and elegant. I said yes of course, but only after a slight panic attack, five or six “HOLY COWS!” and a few tears.
La Tupina on the banks of the Gironde and the duck-fat french fries that haunt my inner fat-kid. And the wine, that goes without saying. The hype about it being among the best in the world is definitely true, but the pricy, snobby stereotype is generally not.
Unfortunately, will not be able to pay my mind’s ransom immediately, so I’ve developed a French alter-ego, Jolie, to morph into when I start going all stressed-out American again. Jolie channels that sexy, suave French woman who I know is inside me somewhere, and that hedonistic lust for life, wine, food and anything that makes me smile.
So, to all those who have asked about my favorite place and received a disappointing shrug and sigh, here it is in print: MY FAVORITE PLACE IS FRANCE!