I could, if I put my mind to it, think of 1000 reasons to love France! I live in a rural village in Pas de Calais. There are no shops nor bars, but they are not far away. There is glorious countryside, fresh air, room to breathe, no traffic jams, the nearby seaside towns are uncrowded. The bread is delivered to our village along with many other food products. People love to party. They honour the past and their heritage. There are so many reasons to love France…
Why we love France!
Cheese! Camembert, Brie, Comté, Epoisses, Munster, Tomme – even Vieux Boulogne, officially the smelliest cheese in the world.
Banks where you get to speak to a real person.
Croissants: flaky, buttery, sweet and soft, the perfect start to the day.
French people. It can take a while to make French friends, but once you do, it’s for life.
Eiffel Tower: Meant to last for just 20 years, built in 1887, the Eiffel Tower is today one of the most photographed sites in the world.
French language: Croquer la vie à pleines dents literally means bite into life with all your teeth but really it means “To embrace life to the fullest.”
Gateaux, cakes that look like jewels and taste like heaven made by master craftsmen.
La Mairie, the town hall – one stop shop for all your questions about life in your village or town.
Metro-boulot-dodo – work-life-balance – key to the good life in France.
Quatorze-Juillet as the French call it, Bastille Day as everyone else calls it: fun, food and fireworks.
Street markets being a way of life, ensuring local producers are supported and people can buy fresh, seasonal, local produce.
Two hour lunch breaks being normal!
Crêpes: thin, sweet and crispy or savoury galettes from Brittany, what’s not to love?
Wine: Red, white, rosé and even yellow wine from the Jura region. There is a wine to suit all.
French book shops are still going strong. Nothing wrong with buying books online but there’s something reassuring about seeing books on shelves.
Sarlat, a pickled in the past, postcard pretty town in Dordogne.
Brocantes, vide greniers, marchés aux puces: flea markets are a national obsession and a cultural connection for visitors.
Baguettes: Tucked under your arm, sticking out of a basket, nibbling the end, smothered with butter – a taste of France. Bread is a cultural experience in France.
The French passion for heritage and deep-rooted support for the arts.
Christmas Eve dinner lasting until 5am.
Community spirit in country villages.
Shops that close at lunch time and on Sundays, and are not open all night long…
Politesse (politeness): saying bonjour when you walk into a shop, shaking hands with everyone in the local bar.
French philosophy: Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup. It means eat well, laugh often, love abundantly… I think we all agree with that then!
Supermarkets which have an aisle dedicated to local produce.
Architecture: Baroque, Hausmannian, Le Corbusier, Auguste Perrett, French Renaissance, Gothic, Romanesque, Gallo-Roman, Beaux Arts, Belle Epoque and more…
Café culture and people watching, it’s a way of life in France.
Laid back lifestyle in rural areas – not necessarily in the cities.
The weather – in the south at least.
Superb health service.
Ease of access to the rest of Europe. France shares borders with 8 different nations.
Ile de Ré a gorgeous little island off the coast of La Rochelle that feels like stepping back in time and you can’t help but fall under it’s spell.
Beaches. Such a diversity of coastline from the Opal Coast starting at the border with Belgium to the Mediterranean.
Shutters. It’s a way of life to have shutters over the windows, keeping it cosy inside in winter, cool in summer.
Festivals. The French need no excuse for a good knees up from world famous carnivals to village parties.
The mountains. The French Alps are monumentally wonderful.
Cakes. All of them.
Trains. The fast TGV service means you can board in Paris and alight in Bordeaux 2 hours later. You can travel all over France by train.
Uncrowded roads in rural areas. No toll roads in Brittany. No motorways in the Gers.
Church bells. You hear them everywhere from Notre Dame in Paris to the smallest village. There’s something very special about the sound, it anchors you to the past.
Art. So many museums from the Louvre in Paris to the Louvre in Lens.
L’heure du goûter. French people don’t really snack that much except at the socially acceptable late afternoon hour when it’s de rigeur to pop to a boulangerie for a sweet treat.
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life