Travel Moments In France

Or, half the fun is remembering later


 I’ve been thinking a lot of a trip I made to France with my friend Sonia a few years ago. These are a few of the little moments I’ve remembered recently:

—Sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Nice. It wasn’t on the beach, but on a wide street, like a promenade, a few blocks away. The sun was hot, high over head. The buildings were several stories tall all around us, with windows and balconeys open to the breezes. Their walls were ocher and tangerine and blue and yellow. On a corner not far away was a McDonalds and I kept wondering how it would be different, and why you’d want McD’s here anyway. Sonia was eating a chocolate crepe, one of the most decadently lovely creations I’ve ever seen–too rich for me, though I loved smelling them. I can’t remember what I was eating. We were writing postcards after walking all day along the colorful shore with its Medeterranean palms and bright colors. An American sailor, geeky and lonely, heard our accents and said, “Hey! You’re American!” We talked for a little while and wandered off.

–In St Andres de Alpes, we settled in for lunch in a cafe on the town square lined with shops and dominated by an old stone church. We ate outside and there were dogs everywhere. One came up to me, a midsize multi colored mutt with a wolf-like face and a black and yellow muzzle, and eyed my jambon hopefully. I’d found it too raw for my taste and happily gave it to him. He put his head in my lap. He was wet from wading in water somewhere.

—Dogs everywhere. I have a series of photos of French dogs, sitting in shop doorways and sticking their noses out of baskets or purses and tucked into the indulgent arms of their owners. Big dogs loping along cheerfully by themselves, and tiny dogs with bows sitting on a table while their owners drink cafe cremes. It’s impossible not to love a country where dogs are so treasured.

–the old woman on the train from Paris to Nice. She had a big picnic basket on her lap and inside was a very, very big gray cat. Every so often, the old woman opened the basket, petted him, cooed to him and gave him treats. His tail, long and fluffy, trailed out of the basket like scarf.

I’d like to hear moments from your travels. If you want to play, go to the message boards and tell us about a great hour you spent somewhere you loved, or about an hour you spent in place you loathed.

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