Country Girl City

I grew up on a dirt road that followed the wanderings of a creek (pronounced crik 😉). My dad built our house on a hillside that overlooked more hills and if I walked up the fields behind our house, I could make it to the top of our hill. I climbed trees with my schoolbooks and did my homework there. I collected eggs from our chickens whose house I helped my dad build. I helped set the posts and string the wire for our livestock pasture. Then I grew up and raised four boys in a house that we built on a hillside and the story repeats:  collect the eggs, set the posts, string the wire, and milk the cows. I'm country through and through. But, this old country girl went to Paris, the most known city of cities throughout the world, with all the hustle and bustle and noise and absolutely l.o.v.e.d. it!!

If you are reading this and you read my last post from months ago (geesh!) you might remember that I said I would continue with posts about my trip, and then I disappeared.
Because I am such a country girl, and do not have a whole lot of experience with city life, I'm not sure if the "cool" things I was noticing in Paris and other cities along the way were french or just city. The experience was the same, new and exciting and so much to see, and of course, I'm just going to call all the new-to-me things I saw, french!

When our days in Paris were over, we boarded a train out of a beautifully immense train station for the city of Nantes where my brother lives. The story here is that we had lingered too long before heading to the train station. Like a scene from a movie, we were running, suitcases bumping along behind us, to catch the train we had already bought tickets for, only to arrive at the platform, with the train right there in front of us but not allowed to board. As more ticket holders gathered the volume of dissatisfaction and outrage increased but to no avail, we were not allowed to board. What's vacation spending money if you don't get to spend it - wait, what? On new train tickets? How about more croissants instead?

Oh well. The two hour train ride from Paris to Nantes took us through the countryside with fields yellow in bloom, herds of Jersey cows (the Island of Jersey where the Jersey cow originated is located off the northern french coast), and hamlets surrounded by stonewalls was invigorating to this country girl's heart. In this part of France, stone and cement are the most common building materials, so imagine old stone houses with clay tiled roofs and stone walls, and John Deere tractors!
I loved every minute in France and can't wait to go back. We traveled down to the southern coast but not inland to the Provence region, so I have to go back so I can smell the lavander! We visited Arcachon, known for oystering, Bordeaux, and yes the wine is wonderful, La Rochelle, a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, the Breton town of Paimpol in the northern region of Brittany, the special little Breton community of Plouha, St Malo, famous for so many things but also the book entitled, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and many places in between. Out of St Malo, we boarded a ferry that took us to Jersey. For years, I kept Jersey cows, here on our hill, so it was a particularly happy day spent chasing down cow sightings on their home turf!

Because my brother lives in Nantes, she is the city that I had the most time to explore. There's an old part of the city complete with castle and moat, and medieval timber frame structures, and the home of the famous writer, Jules Verne, and the delicious LU shortbread cookie, but it also has a very modern vibe with technological wonders, grand buildings and beautiful public gardens. I walked those gardens, wandered the streets both old and new while eating delicious baguette sandwiches wrapped in paper.  Oh, so french.
I didn't carry my coffee (oh so American 😆) but took time to sit outdoors at many cafes leisurely sipping on countless espressos alongside my french counterparts. And I loved every minute of it!

This was my first experience abroad and it stretched me in so many ways. I am so very grateful for all the experiences during my month long stay in France.
And that's a wrap! (Ok, I'll probably sneak in a few mentions from time to time, but I don't want to be obnoxious about it 😉😎)

P.S. One of the many treasured memories is when my mom danced with the accordian player!


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