One at a Time…

So, lucky, lucky me, I’ve recently attended the Festival du Roman Feminin in Paris (Festival of the Romance Novel). If you ever get a chance to go… GO. I had a marvelous time, met many wonderful people including both authors and readers, and I am so very glad I went.

I was in France once before, 40 years ago for a few days. I don’t recall much about it, except a general sense of awe. Now my sense of awe is more specific. I’m in awe of the history, the natural beauty, the integrity of the culture, the reasonably priced fresh good food, and the kindness of the people. Everybody has been unfailingly gracious, patient with my four words of French (all mispronounced), and good-humored.

I’ve noticed something else about the little slice of France I’ve seen that I also respect tremendously: People here do one thing at a time, with a very few exceptions. If they are sharing a meal with a friends, they aren’t also checking texts. If they are walking down the street, they walk down the street, they don’t talk on the phone at the same time. They enjoy their food, they interact with their children (who are much in evidence), they occupy some of the ubiquitous benches along the parks and boulevards, and to a much greater degree than my American neighbors, they simply enjoy the park without getting out a device and tapping a screen.

In one of the largest cities on the planet, the pace felt slower to me than it often does in my sleepy Maryland backwater town. Waiters don’t hover to chase you away from the table when you’re done eating, cars wait for pedestrians to get out of crosswalks, museum staff take the time to make sure your questions are answered. And yet, the French, with their 35-hour work week, five weeks of annual leave, and a dozen federal holidays, are a more productive work force than we hard-charging Americans are.

My sense is, this culture is both more focused and more relaxed than the one I live in. I like that focused/relaxed approach better than the scattered/anxious tone I can slip into at home, even when I’m in the solitude of my own home. To be around other people who can maintain focus on a conversation, who can eat good food slowly, who can walk down the street without setting land-speed records, helps me be more relaxed and focused.

I have really, really enjoyed being in Paris, which surprised me. I associate cities with hurry, noise, and over-stimulation, but I have not found that true of Paris at all. My data sample is tiny, of course, so I will doubtless have to return to Paris to gather more information.

Is there someplace you simply enjoy being? Why? The people, the landscape, the food, the weather, the entertainments? Would you live there year-round if you could? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 e-gift card.

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15 comments on “One at a Time…

  1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed Paris. I enjoyed it quite a bit myself about 50 years ago.

    I can no longer travel. No sense in crying about it. I’m fortunate that I got to see as many places in this world as I did. I cannot honestly say that any one place is so much better than another. They all have their good and not so good points. I have always had the ability to enjoy whatever place I was planted. Nowadays the people in my life mean so much more to me than the physical surroundings.

  2. I enjoy the arts colony in Northern Wisconsin we go to almost every year for vacation. We usually rent a house and cook–or not–and relax and enjoy the slower pace.

    Nature is at its best with flowers brighter, it seems, and interesting plants all over the area. The sun sets later because of the more northern location, and that later sun shine seems a bit more golden to my mind. We attend concerts, go to art galleries, hike and bike, and take the occasional lighthouse tour. Mostly we rest, read and write, play many games of Scrabble and watch old movies.

    As much as I LOVE the area–Door County–I don’t think I’d want to live there full time. Winters are more brutal than here in Chicago (if you can imagine that). It would lose some of its specialness if we had to do the day-to-day drudgery that is regular life. I think we need an oasis from the day-to-day and this is it for us.

    P.S. How is Notre Dame, Grace? I was touched, as many were, by the Parisians kneeling, singing hymns as they watched 850+ years of their history burn before their eyes.

  3. South of England or northern Italy. Thanks to the Air Force, I got to experience both. Both places had a wondrous effect on my health & spirits thanks to the people, climate, food, lifestyle… I invariably lose 7 pounds my first week in either place, sleep like a baby & have an incredible boost in creativity. If only the budget allowed!

  4. I enjoyed my couple days in Paris 35 years ago. It makes me shake my head when people are on their phones so much, especially when they are with other people!

    I enjoy our family visits to beach houses, especially if I can sit in the shade & watch the ocean. I’d love to live in one year round.

  5. I love Cape Cod!
    Love to visit in the late Spring when the flowers are in bloom and it’s not too crowded. Love walking through Chatham and window shopping. I plan to visit a glass and pottery shop on my next visit. Lots of great places to eat and watch the water.

    I’d move there in a heartbeat- husband says it’s too isolated in the winter.

    Glad you enjoyed Paris!!!

  6. I would certainly love to live in Paris! But since I’ll probably have to stay in the US, I will head back to the West Coast when I can. While I’d prefer California, it’s become pretty expensive so I will probably pick Oregon or Washington to settle. I have relatives/friends in all three states so they’re all good choices for me. And, yes, the more liberal thinking in those states is as appealing to me as the fact I have people there I already know.

  7. There are many places I where I really enjoy being: Rome; several places in England – among them London, Bath, and the Cotswolds; many National Parks especially Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons; the beach any beach really. Could I live at any of them full time? Neither the mountains since I don’t like snow nor the beaches since they get so stupid crowded with overly energetic party people during summer and worse spring break. Ironically, I think I might be able to live in Italy or England year round even with the crowds. There is so much history and so many historical buildings in Europe that I would love to spend all my time exploring them. You could spend a year in Rome just visiting the churches and still have more to discover.

    I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to Paris before the fire in Notre Dame.

  8. As with Mary T., I loved Paris nearly fifty years ago. My roommate was an art teacher and we went to art galleries and churches all through Paris, actually all Europe. We were gone for nearly three months and visited ten countries. It was great! In Paris, I met a man who was an assistant teacher. I was also a teacher in Detroit. We went out to dinner three times, twice to a Tunesian and once to a Viet Nammese resturant. He spoke English and I spoke French. It was delightful! We walked for hours. It’s a good thing I did that when I was twenty-five. I couldn’t do that now.
    Another place I loved was Quebec City in Quebec, Canada. My husband and I walked around it for a week. Never used our car once we parked it. We wished we could move there and find jobs.
    I think that when we’re not riding in a car, we see so much more. We talk to people. We eat with them. We learn about each other. That’s a good thing.

  9. I remember when I went on holiday a few years ago with my sister brother in law and niece to a small Greek Island called Cephalonia.It was like going back in time everything was at a slower pace but work was being done.The Island is beautiful and the buildings are built not very high but strong because of the threat of earthquakes.The last big one was over fifty years ago.The locals are friendly and helpful.Cats seem to be many,sleeping peacefully on garden fences or rooftops watching the world go by.The beaches are small and Sandy and busy with people sunbathing and they soon realise that the local goat herds man has right of way when he herds his goats along the beach.You can smell them before you see them The lead goats have bells on them so you have plenty of time to get out of their path.Food is very local,the restaurants good and reasonably priced.I must plan another trip back ,I hope it hasn’t changed to much.It was so near perfection and seemed so unaffected by the pace of modern living.A break there was really a break Relaxation Rest Recoup.Must visit Travel shop tomorrow.

  10. Andalucia. I spent time there as a young person and it just fit me. In this case it was large town/small city and I loved the rhythm of the day, being embraced by family, the way generations interacted, breaking into sevillanas at gatherings, healthy delicious fresh food, the mountains and olive groves. I loved that the focus was not on striving always, but on enjoying what one had together with those you loved. I was too young to be in the workforce, I might feel differently if I were working there, but I loved being there.

  11. Oh man, I would love to live in the Netherlands. I love the food, the architecture, the fact that everyone bikes where they are going. I would totally live there if I could!

  12. Happy Wednesday! I love the accepting Ohana of Hawaii. Everyone is family and treated warmly. The food is great, everyone enjoys life. Have a blessed week! ❤️❤️❤️✉️

  13. I found myself very much attracted (soul wise) to Scotland. I had expected it to happen in Ireland, as that is my heritage, but my soul embraced Scotland. I think I could live there, in the summer. (Cold gets to me these days).

  14. I have fallen in love with St. Lucia and Barbados! I can’t see living there year round, but if I win the lottery, I would love to visit in the winter every year!

    I also absolutely adore the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I haven’t been back in 30+ years, but it left an impression on me that has stayed with me all of these years…