Wednesday, September 16, 2009

France 101

Some things I learned on my travels through France...

My previous Canadian notions of what an *old* building is has been forever changed. I stumbled along cobblestone roads in medieval villages that were so old they were hard to walk on! What was life like back then for the people who inhabited these wonderful villages? My imagination took on a life of its own as I wandered old alleyways, touched ancient stone walls and tried to peer into vacant windows.

Castles aren't just the stuff of fairy tales...they really do exist! I saw my very first castle (been waiting all my life to see one) on the plane, flying over France on my way to Lyon. I was adamant that I go visit that very castle, all in stone, nestled on its own hilltop. It wasn't until I was on the ground that I realised castles and chateaus and old churches were EVERYWHERE.

Riding trains is fun fun fun! I have always loved trains. It's a childhood thing. The smells and sounds of old freight trains reminds me of camping when I was young. The train would come by every morning and every brother and I would race to put our pennies on the tracks and frantically search for our flattened treasures once the train had come and gone. Well, passenger trains are just as wonderful! They are so fast, and so smooth you would think you were gliding. What a great way to take in the landscapes of France and England.

Paris is much larger than I thought.
The Mona Lisa is much smaller than I thought.

The mountain that I climb every morning isn't really a mountain to me anymore. I think of it more as a wee mogul compared to the peaks I summited in the French Alps. But if it weren't for that little daily mogul climb, I don't know if I would have made it to the top of these crazy rocky towers! The cliffs at the top were straight vertical drops, right to the bottom. I had to get on my tummy to look over the edge. The views were breathtaking. And the sweet flocks of sheep that grazed the grassy mountainsides with their little bells around their necks were adorable. One in particular grabbed my heart as he just stood there, for the longest time, head slightly turned, ears out sideways, just staring at us. He was so cute, I wish I could have taken him home.

No matter how beautiful France may be, I realised that there really is no place like home. I have never been so far from home. I have never been away from home so long. And although I saw and experienced some unforgettable things, I am happy to be home. So I say a fond farewell to the rolling hills of endless sunflowers, corn and vineyards...and warmly embrace my trees of turning leaf and oceanside haunts...oh how I've missed my ocean.

Oh, how I've missed you!


  1. Travelling teaches a lot about ourselves, the place we visit are also places we visit within ourselves. The mountains, the Ocean....each one of them with their songs, thump and dance.

    Sometimes people go far to get closer, and sometimes they get close while everything else gets further.

    As for me, there's only one place i travel to....i travel to a heart that walks by the Ocean,to a star that speaks to the moon, a grain of sand that is swept by the shore as foot tread and go.

    And it is true, Home is the best place for most people.

    Home is where the heart is!
    Take care of you Jaime!


  2. I almost cried when I saw you were back, and then these pictures - those mountains and those sweet sweet sheep! And the hills and the castle! And I swear I almost cried again. But I didn't - I smiled instead. I wanted to touch a castle also, lay my hand against old stone - I think Tara at Paris Parfait once said some wonderful something about touching old buildings, making me wish I, too could do so. Now you too.

    Welcome back. You were missed.

    :) Debi

  3. oh wow such beautiful scenery. i long to go there - so badly. i'm sure you had an amazing time, but still there is no place like home. thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh! I have missed you! So much. I am so glad you are home and happy to be there. More, I am so glad you had the chance to go. And, these images. My. Oh my!

  5. I know oh so well your feelings as you walked over ancient roads and amongst centuries old castles. Its a feeling of awe and an awakening, isn't it? A number of years ago a friend and I (who had planned to go to Europe while we were in college, but life raced by until we were both mothers and wives before we got the chance) went to England and Wales. Following the initial anxiety attack at being so far from my home, husband and children, I walked through places that took me to other worlds. I remember walking on the walls of Conwy Castle in Wales and thinking... maybe the knights walked here! Thank you for taking me back, and as always your photography is stunning. xx Vicki

  6. Welcome back to cyberspace, Jamie. And thanks for sharing your experiences. Hope there is much more to come.

  7. Beautiful images..and mementos of what looks like a wonderful trip. And yes - there is no place like home. Welcome back!!!

  8. Welcome back. these images took my breath away. Glad you enjoyed your trip and really took it in. So much history there, makes Canada seem like a babe in the woods.
    missed you and your glowing images too.

  9. so glad to see you here my dear, so glad you learned all those important things while in france :) i learned something s too but at the moment i cannot remember one single thing due to looking at these amazing photographs i see you have not lost your touch ;) good to have you home!

  10. your photos are amazing !
    I can't even imagine how many more you have, along with many more stories...

    what a memory to last a lifetime....

    and now I want to hop on a train !

  11. Your comments made me cry. I love you, sweet friend. I've missed you. I'm dying for more peaks, too. Tell me a story, won't you? Please.

  12. Tears on my cheek... your whispers on the wind...
    I have missed you so, so much. And yes, a phone call is long overdue.

    I thought constantly of your beauty as you were traversing the countrysides and mountaintops of the country I have only traveled to in my dreams...
    I love you so very, very much and until we can verbally share our heartstrings, I say "Welcome home my tender troubadour, the sea and the stars and my spirit... we all whisper, welcome home"

    xoxoxoxoxo forever

  13. Your photos are so beautiful they break my heart. I am so glad your time in France was so wonderful. Welcome home.

  14. what beautiful pics! is that you sitting on that very precarious ledge? i'm afraid that i would never ever be able to do that in this lifetime. the vertigo alone made me dizzy looking at that one particular picture. LOL! the pics are breathtaking. i so want to one day visit europe and see france and italy and spain. my dream. i'd love to go for a month though so i can leisurely enjoy it to the fullest. oh well, better get back to work now and start saving my pennies if that dream is ever going to happen! Hehe!

    And I know what you mean about being home. Whenever I travel, regardless of how beautiful and wonderful the trip has been, the feeling that I get when I land in New York is like none other.

  15. What amazing photos you took...the light *sigh* France is so beautiful...sounds (and looks) like you had wonderful trip.

    Welcome home...

  16. So great to see you back Jaime.. your photos of France are just stunning!


  17. those photos are amazing - i feel like i was there with you - but i especially love the two photos of the sheep on the hillside.