By Marie Sherlock
First World Problem Alert! I wrote this back in the fall of 2015 when we had the privilege of spending a full month in France. I penned this during the fourth week of our adventure.
Before I launch into this blog, I need to make it perfectly clear: We are still having fun! We are still glad that we planned and executed this somewhat unorthodox vacation! We do not have “vacationers’ remorse” and we will remember this journey fondly! (Editor’s Note: Indeed, we returned to France in the fall of 2017 – for a five week stay.:)
Having said that, we have noticed a few things in this final week of the trip that may indicate that a three week period (versus the four weeks we opted for) may be the “Goldilocks” time frame – not too short, not too long.
Here are our observations (these are in no particular order, except number 1):
My dear husband (and traveling companion) Marty is bemoaning the fact that around the fourth week mark, you start to run out of personal hygiene items, you may need to clip your fingernails (not a true vacation pastime, you know?), and you start missing English (the subtext here is that Marty is just tired of only having ME to talk with). (He mentions one more “fourth week hazard” – see the number 1 reason below.)
You have time to check your VISA statement. My advice: DO NOT DO THIS. It will only bring sorrow, weeping and gnashing of teeth.
You start worrying about your gutters clogging (back in Portland!) due to the combination of a Halloween deluge and all of those leaves from the humongous *%$#^+@ heritage tree across the street.
Your attitude may become distorted (see # 8 above – we actually LOVE that tree!)
Your face lights up when you hear bad/mediocre/overplayed American/English music in stores or on the radio. Think Journey, Pharrell Williams,Robin Thicke and Queen. (True confessions: I LOVE Queen, even in America.)
You begin to think it’s acceptable to pay 20 euros for the privilege of driving on the highway (and that’s basically every time you hit the freeway).
My sainted husband has quadrupled the number of French words he can say. He began with “Bonjour” and “Merci” (pronounced – by him – as “Mercy!”) and now can say, seamlessly, “Deux pains aux chocolats, s’il vous plait!”
This SOUNDS like a good thing – Marty embracing the French language – but you have to realize here that pains aux chocolats are French pastries.
Bottom Line: Beware the boulangeries!
You begin to revolt – just un peu – against French culture. An example: The French are very aggressive drivers. Marty acknowledged this for a time and adjusted his driving to accommodate them, pulling over when a French driver tailgated him, etc. He is not inclined to do this any longer. He sometimes slows down (passive aggressive, oui?). Or he will yell “go ahead and pass us already, ass hat!” (Actually, that’s me yelling that, not Marty. )
You become immune to many of France’s charms. This is a HUGE RED FLAG that you are in danger because this magical appeal is a big reason why you came here. For instance you might drive by an 800 year old church or a delightful medieval town – and you don’t try to take a photo, you may not even slow down (why should you? The French don’t). Marty started saying “looks like Oregon” (A LOT) as we drove through the transcendent French countryside.
And the number 1 sign you’ve stayed in France too long:
Three words: Marty going commando. (JK – it didn’t actually come to this. Close, though…)