If it’s Friday, it must be France …
In preparation for Amazon’s October relaunch of my first two Love in Provence series novels, I’ve been writing blog posts and reminiscing about how my love affair with France evolved.
The summer of 1967, was a special time to be young and in Europe. (Note to self: dig out some of those old photos and slides.) I often smile at the irony that today I write novels set in Antibes when that area was where we stayed (camping or in youth hostels) for a while back in the day. Who knew?
To the beat of an endless soundtrack from the Beatles, the Stones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Cream and the Doors, to name just a few, and fuelled by the writing of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, hordes of young people began to travel to western Europe in the 1960’s. Just out of school, we wanted to see what we had been missing. Today, travel is far more expansive but this was where the first doors opened for the average voyager.
My best friend and I stopped off at the Montreal World’s Fair, Expo ’67, and then ventured off to Europe, Eurail passes guaranteeing our transportation: a rite of passage for many Canadians in those days. After spending a few months working in England, we crossed the channel by ferry to Amsterdam . We met up with other friends for a while and set off in our rented Volkswagen to explore our way through France to the Costa Del Sol in Spain before circling back through the south of France (where my addiction began), over the Italian and Swiss Alps to Germany. What a time we had!
It seems to me I was smitten from the moment we first crossed the border into France. Those crossings were a major event entering every European country in those days. English was not as widely spoken, the currency was completely different and it could often be a slow process.
With frayed copies of A Moveable Feast and Tender Is The Night in hand, we followed (or stumbled … being good Canadian girls, now 21 years old ~ drinking was legal! ) in the footsteps of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, Stein, and others of the so-called Lost Generation of 1920’s Paris.
Affordable airfare from North America was now available and we were guided by Frommer’s Europe On $5.00 A Day (crazy as it sounds today!). Seriously! Read this article on Independent Traveler.com and see for yourself. Their post brought back a truckload of memories! Suddenly the dream of overseas travel was possible for a younger generation.
In those days E5D, as it became known, was the bestselling travel guide on the planet. It wasn’t until 1972, that Frommer re-issued the book as Europe On $10.00 A Day. In 2004, the title was up to $85.00 a day. I’m not even going to guess what the title would be in 2016 … my bank account cringes … but on we go …
That’s one reason I’m such a supporter of home exchange, which can often make a big difference to the budget and is a wonderful opportunity to ‘live like a local’. Click here to read an interview with me about exchanging and also find links to the sites my husband and I use. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions. I loooove to share information about this great way to travel.
The good news today is that people are able to visit all over the planet, by virtual means, with excellent documentaries and travel shows on pretty much every destination imaginable. So even if we can’t leave home, we can enjoy many aspects of travel and see the world.
If anything, I’m even more enamoured with life in France today. Although I’ve been fortunate to visit many other countries through the ensuing decades, and experience the excitement and pleasure of their history, culture, cuisine and photo ops (as you know, I’m an incurable shutterbug), France holds the key to my heart.
Call me crazy, but sometimes I feel as though I lived there in another life. There’s just a feeling deep within … Has that ever happened to you?
There’s still so much of this diversely beautiful country to discover. However, no matter what new region we visit, we always settle for an extended time in the Côte d’Azur. Alternating between Nice and Antibes, it’s difficult to adequately put into words the allure for us of this coastal area and the villages that dot the hillsides beyond.
At the same time, no stay in the south is complete without a foray into the more pastoral areas of the Var and Luberon, all easy drives from the coast.
Sometimes I still buy a Frommer’s guide, but more often these days I turn to Rick Steves’ guides that can be downloaded and carried with you on your tablet or phone. Google maps and a good GPS help keep us on track … although getting lost often adds to the adventure and ends up with memorable surprises.
The times they are a’changin’. But one thing that hopefully will never change, is the lasting beauty of so many places we love to visit. I’m thankful for every opportunity to travel … and for digital photography!
I love sharing photos and seeing those that others have taken. It’s one reason why I am in love with Instagram! If you haven’t tried that free app yet, I recommend it. It’s so much fun! There’s every imaginable type of photography shared and some of the travel contributors are beyond amazing. Join me @patricialsands, if you are there or check out my Instagram page here on my website.
Do you use guidebooks when you travel? Are they print or downloads? Did you begin your wandering ways when you were younger or are you new to travel adventures? Often some of the most beautiful places are right around the corner from home or just down the road. Where are you going next?
Bon weekend, everyone!