I’ve been trying to figure out the right way to post an article about my week in France. To find the words I want to say, to describe my emotions throughout the trip, to explain the emotional path I went through – am still going through… and yet, I’m still feeling the feelings and cannot write about them (just yet).
So, I shall simply make a photo essay with comments added and you, if you are there, can make your own thoughts about the trip (or not, and that’s fine too!).
What I CAN say is – I loved it! It was exactly what I needed! My worries of not belonging have faded, I even still feel that part of my heart is there. In my country, with my family and probably on that smelly-cheese-next-to-red-wine-at-lunch table.
I took the ferry from Dover… something I used to do every year (sometimes twice) with my mother at school holidays. Driving from Newcastle to Troyes (about a 12 hour journey). I used to get so ridiculously excited to come to France! It meant being surrounded by family for over a month, feeling the hot sun warm my skin, swimming in the Seine river with my cousins and playing cards far past my bedtime with my grandad.
My sense of not quite fitting in during the school year in England was all forgotten once my feet stepped on that ferry on route to France.
It was freezing! But I insisted on standing outside until the coast became faint – a tradition of ours.
Driving the French motorway went very well, hardly another véhicule in sight and 130km speed limit!
I was warmly welcomed by my uncle, we had a glass a red wine and watched some Johnny Halliday videos on YouTube whilst catching up.
Felt like I’d never left. People are missing from my childhood, that’s why I often make my trip shorter than I want (Incase it’s too difficult) but every time I arrive – I don’t want to leave. Next time, I won’t book my return ticket.
The next day I set off to Paris by train to pick up my Japanese friend (who moved to Paris a few years ago), we met whilst I was living in Taiwan, through mutual friends.
Before I met her I allowed myself some time to visit some old sights… I have a lot of history with the city. I used to visit my dad when he worked here as a teenager, I used to go on day trips with my mother during the summer holidays in France and I lived here as a student for a year.
It felt great to be back, but also to just be visiting. Now I know I don’t want to live in a big city, I no longer yearn to live in Paris again. But I can appreciate for the séjours I am here 🙂 full circle.
Lovely to be reunited again. She travels a lot too – we’ve met in Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Texas and now France.
The next day we visited some more old spots I used to hang around in when I was a student. I didn’t know many people so I’d just walk the streets and visit the shops of wonderful things. Pretending I was a cool bohemian, working on her career and seconds away from bumping into the love of her life (who obviously owned a German Shepherd).
My mother’s favorite Paris shop.My fathers favorite Paris shop.
Next! The train to Troyes for a big family reunion dinner of cousins and their families at my uncles. My friend joining me on the next part of the journey.
I have no words for how wonderful it was to all be reunited. I still can’t describe it.
Ah! La famille.
The following day – Natsumi and I went to Reims for the day to see the cathédrale and drink champagne. My mid-way through the 6 week trip. Allowing a little silly-ness.My uncle showed me some old photos – one of my uncle in from of the same cathédrale. Full circle.
And back to Troyes!! My French hometown…
My uncle guided us around the city, we wandered and we wondered how it all used to be. Troyes is just a beautiful city of history and great architecture.
They got on really well!!
Walking with my uncle 🙂
And then to Lac Lusigny… a favorite summer time getaway just outside the city. I used to think it was the sea…
And bird-watching.. just a perfect day.
The following, I took my friend back to the train station, said our ‘see you soons’ and my uncle and I returned to my grandparents village. A bittersweet day of heartwarming memories and ‘isn’t life sad’ moments.
To quote Mr Gump “that’s all I have to say about that”.
On my last night, I was able to catch up with another cousin, this girl I used to hang out with during my teens each summer. We’d sit and ‘chill’ in the villages, go to lakes, kayak, water ski, jet-ski, listen to French reggae and talk about life. Wonderful.
It’s so so incredible to be able to still catch up. Not as often as I’d like – but I’m working on changing this. More grounding moments.
The week went by so fast.
And like I said – my heart is still there.