5 Things to Know About Visiting France When You Can Actually Go There
WORDS: Peter Minkoff PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied
The European capital of romance, the land of cheese, wine, azure shores, ski slopes, and above all, its authentically temperamental people, France has always appealed to the entire world as a top travel destination. For couples looking for a romantic getaway, for married people celebrating their anniversaries, for art connoisseurs, for nature lovers – you name it, France has it all. It’s not just Pairs, it’s the entire country, filled with sights, rich in history, and customs that are worth immersing yourself into at every turn.
However, if you come from Australia or Asia, for example, you might find their culture a bit contrasting to what you’re accustomed to. Then again, maybe you don’t speak a word of French so the streets will be abuzz with strange, but melodious words floating past you. Now, as the pandemic prevents us from traveling whenever we please, you can at the very least prepare for the next opportunity that will hopefully be soon to travel to this amazing country and impress its natives. Here are a few things to know when the time comes to book your ticket to France!
The rudeness thing – not true
If you are rude to anyone in France, sure, you can expect some rudeness in return, but that much goes for most places in the world. However, if you are polite, as is expected, and you start by greeting them in their language, you’ll make a good impression and be in line with their cultural expectations.
So, no matter how it may seem, kick off all interactions with a decent “Bonjour!” and thank them when they help you with what you need, even if the rest of the conversation is conducted in English.
Make an effort to learn some French
That said, this is the perfect moment to work on your French, because even learning some conversational phrases will help you connect with the locals and find out about more of those hidden gems only they know about.
No time like the present, so you can learn French online in the next several months to prepare yourself properly. Taking up a few lessons will help you learn to listen to French, as well, which will simplify your communication when it’s time to go abroad.
France is more than Paris
The villages in Alsace and Brittany, the coast of the Cote d’Azur beyond Nice and Cannes, these are the places that your next trip should take you. Different regions in France are brimming with wonderful, yet hidden opportunities ideal to help you escape the crowds and absorb the true beauty of this European country.
Make some time to hop over to Riquewihr and Colmar, two Alsace villages that are known for their authentic architecture, the memorable Christmas markets, and the medieval spirit that has survived despite advancing modernization.
Art is more than the Louvre
Absolutely, the Louvre has become the pillar of all things art-related in the entire world, and a must-see when in France. That, however, is far from the only spot where you can be impressed by hundreds of years of art, which is why you should expand your cultural explorations to more than this particular museum.
For a decent dose of impressionism, head straight over to the Musée Marmottan Monet, home to about a 100 pieces of Monet’s finest work. Get to know Salvador Dali in Espace Dali, in the center of Montmartre. All in all, you’ll find that France, and Paris in particular, is perfect for art lovers even beyond the crowded rooms of the Louvre.
Food is more than ratatouille
There’s a reason why French cuisine is considered one of the finest and most diverse in the world. Even the names of many dishes have remained in their original, French form in other languages, as if the words retain the flavor of the recipe itself. However, as far as clichés go, too many Aussies stick to what they know and love when visiting France – the exact opposite of what you should do when exploring this country.
Make sure to add some of those French staples to the menu, but also ask about local delicacies and favorites. That will help you go beyond the souffle and the ratatouille. Try a plate of frog legs, and of course, l’escargot, also known as snails. Add macaroons and apple tarts into the mix just to balance the insanities out when you’re trying out local restaurants.
France is the perfect destination for people wanting to have a taste of Europe in all of its romantic, historic, delicious glory. Remember to add France to your list when the pandemic passes, and do include these listed ideas into your itinerary, both for preparation and for when you’re there. It will help you get a true glimpse of France and enjoy its many sights!