A lifetime love affair with France

A lifetime love affair with FranceThis article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info

I have a long running love affair with France. It started several decades ago as a child and continues today.

How does it happen that you grow to feel passionate about a country you have never visited and then when you do it exceeds your expectations in every way?

Growing up in Australia, several thousand miles away physically and even more culturally, it would be natural to expect that I would have an affinity with Britain. And of course, due to my family background, this is definitely the case.

My love affair with France was on a slow burn though and has only increased as I have got older and visited more often. Here is the story of how I fell in love with France.

My love affair with France

in love with paris - a love affair with France

Childhood stories about France

Can you remember the books you read as a child. The ones that stood out for me were those that brought a sense of the unknown and exotic. I adored Babar, the adventurous elephant who overcome tragedy to live a life full of adventure.

And it was impossible not to fall in love with The Happy Lion who found a gate open at the zoo and went for a walk through town.

But my favourite was a book about a cheese loving mouse called Anatole who helped the cheese makers of Paris perfect their craft. I loved his stylish outfit and his determined quest.

As I got older I moved on to lovable Gauls Asterix, Obelisk and those pesky Romans. The stage was set for a developing interest in all things French.

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Classroom inspiration

At high school we were extremely fortunate to have two brilliant French teachers who fueled my growing interest in France. Algerian born Madame Smith (she had married an Australian) had many adventurous tales to tell of journeys all over the world. She taught us about French current affairs and we discussed the linguistic nuances of Jacques Prévert’s poetry.

Later, Madame Cooper, a stylish Parisienne, introduced us to Baudelaire and Rimbaud. Somehow I felt sophisticated and intellectual in that class. Sadly, I wasn’t either of those things but I was spurred on to learn more about the French history, language and culture.

The stunning interior of the Musee D'Orsay

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The spark of passion for France

I enrolled in European Politics and History at university in Manchester with a strong emphasis on all things French – even though I had not yet visited the country.

I quickly rectified that situation. Not even queueing for hours for a visa and an overnight bus from London Victoria could dampen my spirits when I first set foot in a wintry Paris.

There is a photo of me somewhere in storage sitting on the fountain in the Place de la Concorde in the drizzling rain grinning like the cheshire cat.

I recall feeling elated that I had finally made it. On that first trip I pounded the cobblestones from one major landmark to the next. The spark of desire for a country I barely knew was lit. I was hooked on France.

scenes from paris - a love affair with France

Stoking the fire for France

Through luck and determination I have managed to spend a lot of time in France and have had all manner of experiences, each of them different and exciting.

Highlights include a road trip with my aunt from Brittany to Provence via the Loire Valley. We could not have laughed more as I drove our hire car through the narrow crowded streets of Carcassonne without a scratch.

In the Loire Valley we stayed in a château in a room that bore her name – Queen Margot!

I discussed the Australian political system in (very bad) French with taxi drivers and was invited to house parties as I drank cheap wine with girlfriends on our hotel balcony in Paris.

One business trip I toured the cocktail bars of the Marais with a friend (thanks Samira!) and managed to navigate the Metro less than sober on my own.

I have had exciting times in France and yes I tried all the food – from garlicky snails, to galettes, choucroute and beyond.

the romantic fortress of Carcassonne France

Meanwhile, back in Australia, I continued my French fling by consuming all things French. I even bought a Renault. Probably not the most popular brand of car in my country due to lack of parts among other things.

But I loved that car, so much so that I bought another. It was all part of the plan to fully frenchify myself.

And so my French romance continued


I read a lot of French books

 

 

 

 

 

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I listened to French music

 

 

 

 

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I watched French movies


 

 

 

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And ate a lot of French food – especially cheese

love affair with France and its cheese

Burning flames for France

One of the things that excited me most about moving back to London was the ability to skip across the Channel to France. I quickly planned a few trips to explore the areas of France I had not yet discovered and now my love of the country is a burning passion.

From the foodie paradise of Lyon to the spectacular beauty of Mont St Michel, the wine regions of Bordeaux to the soaring French Alps, and of course Paris, I love this country and its way of life.

spectacular french alps

I have barely mentioned my food journey in France as that probably warrants another post entirely. It is enough to say that my palate was awakened but the flavours of France, the cultural respect for seasonal local ingredients and for eating in general.

There is nothing quite like breaking the end off a freshly baked baguette or smelling the aroma of rotisserie chicken being cooked as you wander through a French produce market.

love french cuisine - cheese and pastries

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Non, je ne regrette rien…

Lucky for me, I feel my passion for France is requited. This country has not let me down once. Each visit I feel inspired by the natural beauty in each region, its elegant cities and stylish citizens and of course the wonderful gastronomic treats. And for those reasons I will return again and again.

Actually I do have one regret about my travels in France and that is my laziness to speak the language. Certainly my French is good enough to communicate at a basic level and I can understand a lot more than I am prepared to speak. Shame on me. I need to do better. After all, it is the beautiful language of a country I love.

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fall in love with france and its cities Lyon

Read more about France by Untold Morsels

My travels around France have been a huge inspiration for this blog and unsurprisingly I have written a few posts about our travels there

Paris:  Paris, is always a good idea How to plan your ultimate foodie trip to Paris | Paris for kids

Bordeaux: Grape discoveries on a Bordeaux wine tour Bordeaux wine museum – La Cité du Vin | Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux

And beyond..
How visiting the Somme changed my perspective on ANZAC Day
14 ideas for a quick family stopover in Lyon
An impromptu trip to Normandy and its beautiful coast
Visiting Picardy – parts one and two

Favourite French blogs

Blogs are a great way keep in touch with happenings in France. Here are some of my english language favourites:

✪ Discover the South of France with Lou Messugo, a wonderful mix of culture, travel and local insight from Phoebe who runs a site or holiday rental on the Côte d’Azur

✪ Learn about family life in the Charente Maritime region of South West France via this charming blog

✪ There is nothing ordinary about Messy Nessy Chic – a quirky and cool guide to Paris and beyond

✪ On A Year in Fromage, writer Kazz weaves stories of her life in France around her passion for the cheeses of France

✪ I always get hungry reading photographer and food writer Caro’s blog The Taste of Savoie

✪ My all time favourite blog is by David Leibovitz, an American pastry chef living in Paris


How about you? Are you enamoured of France? Or do you feel at home somewhere else? What brought about your love for somewhere other than your homeland?


This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you click these links and choose to make a purchase. There will be no additional cost to you. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own based on personal experience.


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36 Comments

  1. 14th July 2016 / 7:37 PM

    I love this, Katy! It’s wonderful reading how your interest in France grew through literature, French lessons and finally visits. You’ve got me thinking about all sorts of blog post ideas now. It is so fascinating following an initial interest in a place through the years and visits and why they become so very special to us. Bravo, c’est formidable!

    • 14th July 2016 / 8:27 PM

      Merci beaucoup Clare! It will be interesting to see which countries our children become interested in wont it? Maybe they will rebel and be complete homebodies.. I hope not! Eek!

      • 15th July 2016 / 2:29 PM

        That really would be bad. Fortunately no signs of a lack of interest in travelling the world so far from my two… They still think the most exciting place on earth is being at an airport ready to board a plane.

        • 15th July 2016 / 7:53 PM

          Excellent parenting Clare – I am taking notes!

  2. 14th July 2016 / 8:17 PM

    Very similar to us. My daughter is obsessed with all things French and we are trying to plan a trip soon. I love how you included your childhood book inspiration.

    • 14th July 2016 / 8:22 PM

      thanks so much Amanda. Our children love France and I’m almost embarrassed to say one of their first words was croissant. I know you will have an amazing time when you get there

  3. 15th July 2016 / 1:22 AM

    Loved this post, it is amazing how a country like France can speak straight to your soul! I lived in France for three months in high school and have never been back, but wow, would I love to!!!

    • 15th July 2016 / 8:54 AM

      That would have been a fantastic experience Emily. I hope you return to France soon. Thanks for your lovely comment

  4. 16th July 2016 / 1:28 AM

    What a lovely post, a loved how you incorporated your influences with food and even your childhood books!

    • 16th July 2016 / 8:26 AM

      thank you for visiting Cristal, I think it is fascinating to explore how our childhood interests influence our future passions

  5. 16th July 2016 / 1:55 PM

    Great post! I can relate to this, I was always fascinated with Australia as a child! Was great to live there for a year!

    • 16th July 2016 / 2:23 PM

      Thanks Tom, glad you enjoyed your time in Australia

  6. 17th July 2016 / 6:28 PM

    Katy, loving your post. I, too have a love of things French. Would love to live there for a year and perfect my language skills if I could figure out the visa situation. An added bonus: lots of impromptu wine and cheese excursions.

    • 18th July 2016 / 2:16 PM

      Thank you Linda, I do hope you manage to fulfil that dream. There is nothing better than impromptu wine and cheese runs

  7. Amandas_Wanderlust
    1st August 2016 / 10:39 AM

    I love this post. I particularly like the way you go through the various stages of your developing love for France. I’d like to read more about the food side of things. That baked Camembert in the picture looks amazing!!

    • 2nd August 2016 / 6:46 AM

      Thanks so much Amanda. The camembert was amazing but I have no idea how my husband finished it all on his own. Very rich! There are so many wonderful food discoveries to be had in France arent there?

  8. 1st August 2016 / 10:50 AM

    I have a love affair with France too! Wish I could live there. Will have to check out that French music you listed!

    • 2nd August 2016 / 6:44 AM

      The music really does transport you there Sarah

  9. Chantell
    1st August 2016 / 2:10 PM

    This was such a nice read! I love hearing other people talk about things they are passionate about – and it’s amazing to see how much you adore France. Good on you for speaking French! (Even if you think you could do better). Speaking a second language is really really hard. I know it’s something I struggle with so I am super impressed that you can talk politics in your second language. Well done! 🙂

    • 3rd August 2016 / 9:01 AM

      Chantell it was pretty funny. The taxi driver was asking why we still have the queen as our head of state in Australia. I muddled through it OK by showing an intense interest in the philosophy if la republique!

  10. 2nd August 2016 / 8:09 AM

    I love how you outlined this post. Very interesting to read even though I’ve never been interested or inspired by France. It’s probably last on my destination to visit.

    But oh I love Asterix! And TinTin, two comics that made me learn about other countries and want to visit them.

    • 3rd August 2016 / 9:02 AM

      Well if you ever do visit I would be interested to know if you change your mind. It is a wonderful place

  11. annettelucycharlton
    4th August 2016 / 6:20 AM

    Hi Katy, I love your collection of countries. I feel we have a lot in common. I’m an Australian living in NSW, I’ve visited London 13 times and have a holiday home in Brittany. I am so pleased to find your fabulous blog – all my favourite places and topics in one blog. My love affair of France started quite differently than yours and I share this on my blog. I will definately now find a copy of ‘Anatole’ and ‘Paris to the Moon’ to read. I am really looking forward to reading more from you… Annette

    • 4th August 2016 / 8:29 AM

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Annette. You made my day! Heading over to check out your blog now while I dream about galettes ?

  12. 4th August 2016 / 5:24 PM

    So lovely to hear how life’s rich experiences (books, food, learning) led you along the path to feel that France is home. So many connections are made through experience, no? Thanks for sharing, pleased I’ve discovered your delightful blog!

  13. Arnie
    4th August 2016 / 6:04 PM

    I love this! I can so relate to it having had this love of France too, much to the chagrin of my German mother and family. Not to say I don’t love Germany (on the off chance they somehow stumble upon this, I want my bases covered;-), but France stirs my soul.

    • 5th August 2016 / 8:11 AM

      Thanks Arnie, I would not want you to upset your mother! I am rather fond of Berlin but haven’t explored the rest of Germany much at this stage. Looking forward to exploring more though

  14. 5th August 2016 / 1:39 PM

    So lovely! Inspires me to keep up my love affair from abroad 🙂 Mine started later in life, but better late than never. #allaboutfrance

    • 5th August 2016 / 1:53 PM

      I have a feeling that affair will not fizzle out Lillian. Hope all is well in Scotland, I have been thinking of you.

  15. 10th August 2016 / 8:58 PM

    Thank you so much for mentioning/recommending my blog, I’m delighted you enjoy it so much and it’s great to hear how your love of France started. What I want to know is how come you went to Manchester uni rather than one in Oz? As you know I love France too and have Australian and British roots…I feel we have heaps in common and I hope we meet IRL one day.

  16. 27th September 2016 / 5:45 AM

    I feel like such a fangirl admitting this but I must’ve read over this point about ten times in the last month! It’s one of those pieces that I keep returning to because my travel blog style is more about the journey and less about the destination. I don’t think I’ve gotten around to telling you yet how envious I am that you have loved one place so dearly enough to research everything about it. I wish I had dedicated myself like that to one location as well. Do you like to read travelogues? If so, I just finished ‘Lunch in Paris’ by Elizabeth Bard and ‘Paris Letters’ by Janice MacLeod. I think you would like these books 🙂

    • 27th September 2016 / 8:25 AM

      Thank you so much Izzy. I am so thrilled you liked this piece as I loved writing it. I will definitely add those books to my to read list. I had not heard of them but they suit my reading style perfectly. Have you been to France? You really made my day with your lovely words. Thank you

  17. aandj8804
    14th November 2016 / 12:38 PM

    Love France! And Paris! I think it might be my favorite country in the world (not that I’ve visited many). I can’t wait to return (not that I have a date in mind). It was interesting going through your list of books from childhood; I remember reading a few, but I didn’t remember that some of the stories took place in France! What a fun memory jog! 🙂

    • 16th November 2016 / 2:34 PM

      Thanks so much – I do hope you make it back to France soon. It’s only been a few months for me but already my feet are itching!

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