Exploring France

France is full of history, art, culture, gardens, beautiful fresh produce, stunning jewelry, couture, gorgeous women, charming men, postcard-worthy children, seaside resorts, Alpine adventure, war memorials, castle fortresses, lazy rivers, rivers with purpose, picturesque villages, pre-historic cave paintings, fields of lavender, ancient monasteries, grand cathedrals, small country churches, great bread, expensive wine, cheap wine (both delicious), and food. Cheese, and more cheese.

Provence lavender

Paris is and should be a bucket list item for everyone. But after that romantic venture (and there is no more romantic place on earth), I highly recommend that you board a train or rent a car and GET OUT. Get out of Paris. And I say that with nothing but love. Because to see France, to understand France, is to understand the world order today.

small-shop-honfleur

OK, perhaps that’s overstating it a bit. But it is a most enjoyable lesson. It is that rarity of rarities that one can buckle down to read about the Hundred Years War while snacking on the perfect almond croissant, seated on a terrace at the foot of an 11th century castle that Richard the Lionheart once scaled. Or wander through the spa town of Vichy, drinking sulfurous water and looking for remnants of the collaborationists. One of my favorite moments in many years of traveling in France was driving up a hill in the Auvergne and discovering a frites stand at the top. Of course we stopped.

So get out. Find your own personal frites stand. Canoe down a river. Drive through fields of lavender. Fly through the Squirrel Forest (Foret des Ecureuils ). You’ll see what I mean.

tillson_cycling_1_with wine

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