Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thoughts on France

Well, we've been in France for about 10 days now and here are some of my thoughts on France. France is probably my favorite foreign country. It is a beautiful country with fantastic food and wine. The French people get a pretty bad rap in America, but they have been very friendly toward us, even in Paris. If you've never been to a country that speaks a language other than English, France is a good country to start in. Not all, but the majority of French people know at least a little English. Enough to where they can get their point across. This is not how it works in all European countries, as we found out in Spain back in December. "Parlez vous Anglias?" is a very useful phrase to know, but, often, we didn't even need to say that. Just say a couple phrases in French and after they pick up your accent, they just start talking English.

Normandy was incredible. Mauri and I did a 2 day tour of the D-Day beaches and it was worth every penny. Every American should see Normandy in their lifetime. Battlebus was the name of the tour we did and I would recommend them to anyone. In Normandy, we have found that the French people have definitely not forgotten the sacrifice the American military (as well as the British and Canadian militaries) have made for them. There were monuments everywhere, mostly paid for by the locals. To see the pictures of our D-Day tour, follow this link (there are about 140 pictures over the 2 days):

Paris is a beautiful city and it is huge! I would recommend taking a walk along the Seine River as the city is lighting up at night. Of course, you have to see all of the big sites (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc), but visit some of the outdoor markets they have there, too. After all, you didn't come to all the way to Paris to be with a bunch of other tourists, you came to see French culture. Also, beware that, as with any tourist area, there will be plenty of parasites hanging around attempting to separate you from your money. You need to be a little cautious. Don't put your money in your pocket, use a money belt. I have not had anything stolen from me yet, but I have noticed people looking at my pockets. If someone randomly tries to give you something or do something for you, don't accept it. They will want money. If they have a friend with them, they will try to distract you while the friend gets into your pockets. This is with any tourist area in Europe, not just France (we saw this in Grenada and Madrid in Spain as well).

If you like biking, visit Tours, France. They are very bike friendly and have plenty of trails in the beautiful Loire Valley. Mauri and I saw a beautiful French Chateux while on a ride. We are now in Avignon in Provence, near the Italian border. We took a bullet train to get here. We went from Paris to Avignon (about the same distance as Pittsburgh to Philadelphia) in 2.5 hours. Their public transportation is pretty good here. They also have 5 weeks of vacation every year, 35 hour maximum work week, full pensions at 40, and universal health care. Their president wants to change the pensions to 41 and they had nationwide strikes and protests last Thursday as a result. We saw one of the protests in Tours. It was massive.


Mom said...

Joey your post was very interesting and informative. It is so sad that so many brave soldiers died the way they did with the odds against their survival. Love Mom

Lexi said...

5 weeks of vacation-I'm moving to france!