Summer in France

 

I think everyone’s wish after finishing school is to continue to have summer vacation as a member of the working world. Good news is that if you decide to work in France, summer vacation comes with the package. For a country that is already known for its lax work environment, short work weeks, and plethora of vacation days, Summer Vaca is no cooler than the two weeks we get off in October. But for an American working in Paris, summer vacation is just what the doctor ordered come August. We turn on the auto-responses, pack up our city lives, and head to the countryside or beautiful Mediterranean to drink rosé and live the simple life.

Last August, I spent three weeks driving around the beautiful island of Corsica. In our little rent car, we drove from the “Cap Corse” in the North of the island, to Bonifacio in the South and saw nearly everything in between. From the five star La Villa hotel, rose petals and candles, to one-room “gites” and farm houses, we experienced it all.  We stayed in an old convent-turned-b&b with a view of church towers, the Mediterranean, and beautiful mountainous valleys.  We drove through forests and mountains, beaches, and cliff-side villages. The roads were scattered with underfed cows, cemeteries overlooking the sea, vineyards, and tour busses who didn’t realize the roads were so narrow until they got too far. We ate three star meals, and prepackaged sandwiches, beachside picnics of fine Corsican cheese, and one of the grandest meals of my life in a farmhouse perched on the top of a hill.  (I will write a whole post about the wonderful places we ate and slept in Corsica!)

This August, I am spending a full thirty days in the Southwest of France, the Languedoc region. Hidden away among the vineyards and olive trees is my little village, Ginestas.  There are about 1,000 residents of the town (less people than I am friends with on Facebook…). We have one boulangerie, one café, one newspaper shop, one little grocery shop (which is generally out of all of the necessities) and of course, one church.  The region is littered with tiny villages like this, some of which are more bustling thanks to their placement on the Canal du Midi. The canal is the longest man-made canal joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and depending on which branch you take, you could even end up on the Seine in Paris.

Village life is calm and very family oriented, which is such a relaxing break from the bustling life I have in Paris. There’s no cool new restaurant opening to attend, no movies in the park, but we do have village Paella parties, and my favorite- a once-a-week market in a town 20 minutes away. Each Tuesday we head to Olonzac to buy the beautiful tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, blueberries, bread, homemade goat’s cheese and freshly butchered meats for the week.  It’s the little traditions like these that make you realize you’re definitely not living in the US anymore.

A couple of times per week we head to the local swimming hole, a portion of the river which runs directly from the mountains, where the water is super crisp and clear. Or, we head to the sea, to a little slice of paradise called Biquet Plage in Leucate. Typical French beach club, with mattresses and big umbrellas to rent, a great restaurant, and plenty of chilled rosé.

While my days down here this month may consist of chasing kids around the beach rather than posting up on une chaise lathered in oil, it’s summer vacation nonetheless. So, here’s to taking the time to relax, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time with loved ones this August.

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