Those words sung to the tune of “Walk Like an Egyptian” have played through my brain ever since my trip to France. Now granted, I was only there for three weeks and didn’t get tight with any French women. My language skills are sketchy at best. I don’t know the culture from the inside out. So there will probably be generalities and faulty assumptions in this post. But, hey, I’m a fiction writer. Making things up is what I do best.
Having said that, there were several things I learned about French culture I decided to bring back to the O.C. with me. Here they are in no particular order.
Relax and enjoy life more.
I don’t know if it’s an American thing, or just a Greta thing, but I have a hard time resting and playing. I tend to feel guilty if I’m not banging away at the computer producing my 2,000 to 3,000 words a day. The French close up shop from 12:30 to 2:00 every day. Many stores close on Sundays and even Mondays. I’ve decided to chill a bit, take at least one day off a week. I have to eat, take a shower, and water the plants so I might as well enjoy the process! Which brings me to my next take-away.
Go to farmers markets, buy fresh and local and elevate cooking to a joy and an art.
Right before I left on vacation, I was doing a Keto diet. It does have benefits, and I lost a bit of weight. However, there isn’t much joie de vivre in the lifestyle. The French are generally thin. Instead of “dieting” they live a disciplined lifestyle that revolves around quality over quantity. Portions are much smaller in restaurants, something my husband had a hard time adjusting to. But most of the food was fresh and well prepared. I’m on it.
I’ve walked miles every week for a number of years, but before I left I felt walking was a poor substitute for running. While we were in France I ate carbs, drank wine every day and walked. A lot. I came home thinner and stronger.
Embrace my feminine self.
California is filled with athletic women dressed in leggings, running shorts and Yoga pants. I’m often one of them. But the New Yorker in me has always missed fashion. I like dresses, and flowing skirts, and the occasional floral blouse. I’ve decided to change my wardrobe. There’s nothing wrong with Yoga pants for doing Yoga, but a sundress makes me feel pretty.
Get rid of stuff.
Just like food, the concept of quality over quantity seems to extend to many other things in France. The home we stayed in had only one of things we have two and three of, but the one was nicer than any of ours. I enjoyed having less to take care of, less decisions to make. We did a major de-clutter before we left home, and I’m trying to keep it that way now that I’m back.
We visited many chateaus, museums, and cathedrals. The older they were the more fascinating and beautiful they were. The town we stayed in was just one in a nest of tiny villages many of which still had structures that had lasted since the 1500’s. If things are taken care of elegance can accompany age.
We have a throw away mentality on the West Coast that isn’t good for our planet or our psyches. We often want to trade in homes, cars, clothes, and body parts for new and improved versions rather than caring for the ones we have. I’ve decided to trade in my perspective.
Please don’t think I’m throwing the U.S. under the bus—au contraire. My trip was awesome, but it’s good to be home. I’ve been struck anew with the beauty of Southern California, my love for my family, friends and pets, and the wonder of air conditioning.