“Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you’ve come to mow its lawns.”
– David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day
This is my first real visit to France. I’ve stopped in a time or two on the way to somewhere else, but never stayed long enough to truly meet the people. The only French man I know happens to be one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet though as an American, I was told virtually my entire life that the French would be rude should I visit. I should’ve known better and tsk tsk on me. How is it that I can go my entire life defending us “obnoxious” Americans while abroad, yet, because of what others say, have a preconceived notion of what the French are like. I feel rather stupid, to say the least.
In fact, having been to Italy more than a dozen times, I never quite fit it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love the country. I love the history and I love the people. Although my Italian friends tell me that I don’t look or act Italian. I stick out like a sore thumb; I don’t wear that much make-up, my personal style (which I do love fashion) has always been more conservative or “vintage” and lastly, I talk and smile with people – I’m friendly. Here in France though, nobody stares at me like they do in Italy, I dress the same as most women here and when I smile – they smile back, they hold doors, they say thank you and even the women wish you a good day – and no, you don’t need to be purchasing something to gains smiles and chatting.
This morning at breakfast I sat and chatted with a nice German couple on their way to see the areas around Grasse. The owner of the Bed & Breakfast, Monique, showed them on the map how to get to their destinations. I found myself envious of their plan – I had none. After they left, Monique asked me what I’d be doing today. I told her I had no clue, maybe Cannes, and asked what she recommended. “Cannes is full of tourists. You don’t look like you would like that. I see you don’t like those things. Let me show you where I go.” she responded. Music to my ears.
By the end of the day I had driven through the beautiful countryside, chatted with numerous locals and in some villages, felt I was the only one in the streets – completely safe and decided that my trip to France would be the first of many yet to come. My relationship with Italy is by no means over, it’s just a good friend now, instead of a lover, that’s all.