Ah La France! What a country! It constantly evokes emotions and reactions. I once read a quote from a US-based investor concerning the alternative Gallic approach to Commerce and the Economy – “If France were a Stock I would sell it!” In terms of the economic model, and how it contrasts with the prevailing Anglo-Saxon version, it will leave people in The City of London and Wall Street scratching their heads. However when it comes to the softer side of life, the joie-de-vivre, France is a spectacular 547,030 square kilometres.
I prefer the quote that Chris Patten referred to in his book Not Quite The Diplomat, which The Lord Chancellor, Elwyn Jones had used “A Year without a stay in France is as disappointing as a day without sunshine.” Just listen to the soundtrack from the film ‘A Good Year‘ in order to get the pulse racing. Not to mention Marion Cotillard! A former French Boss, while we both worked for an American company in France, justified the investment in la campagne profonde, made under the EU Common Agriculture Policy, by explaining that if such sums of money were not used to support the French Countryside then we would all not be able to enjoy its pleasures.
The luxury of having France a short trip away across The Channel for Summer holidays is a treat, which many compatriots enjoy on a regular basis (we missed it in 2012, when we stayed for the London Olympics) – plus a great number of Dutch and Belgians, if the numbers of cars on the Autoroute are an indication! The variety of beautiful regions is what always strikes me about France – from Paris to The Alps, from Bretagne to Alsace, from Le Loire to Toulouse. The local Markets for quite exceptional food (which tend to rotate around the region during the week) – Foie Gras, saucisson-sec, cheese, the best fruit and vegetables you’ll ever see (the melons and nectarines taste devine) and beautiful ceramics for those touches in the house back in the UK. Then the numerous Wine Domaines scattered around the countryside. This year I stocked up on Gaillac wine, which is a lesser-known gem! Cahors wine, the Black Wine, is also very good. Eating a Plat de Jour for lunch at a local Bistro is a delight, as it is prepared with a finesse only found in France.