17 August 2014
It was over 50 years ago when I first fell in love with France. It was a school exchange and I was a shy, gawky14. Jacqueline Brient was a surprising 21 and very chic. She shared a bohemian flat, with its ornate tiny balcony overlooking the Left Bank. Across the street was a noisy, eclectic marketplace so redolent of Paris. Strong French cigarette smoke trails into my memory, together with that first meal. Haricot verts sizzled alone on the plate. I looked down and waited - surely there must be more? But no, so I ate and was amazed. The most delicious thing I'd ever eaten, mixed with what I now realise were baked garlic and onion. And then the train journey to the countryside around Blois where her parents lived. Walking through waist-high fields, golden with yellow daises, wild blue sage, cow-parsley and marguerites. Ah, such memories. But now? After nearly 10 years of living in France, have I fallen out of love? Certainly, the old loves still remain: le bien manger, le soleil, la qualite de la lumiere, coupled with the amazingly efficient health service. But, c'est bien evident: I have fallen out of love with les francaises. Just too cold and reserved, making me feel unloved, miserable and dejected. For the future? On verra.