2017 is already shaping up to be a good year, and it’s only just begun. Somehow, incredibly, I’ve already got my summer plans figured out.
This is unprecedented.
Last year, in particular, I had such a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do, and I became frustrated by my indecision. I have this somewhat unique opportunity to spend two months of my year doing whatever I like, and I was letting myself become stressed over the decision. I felt ridiculous. And yet, I went back and forth a dozen times, wanting to do it all: wanting to return to my favorite places and experiences, and wanting to try something brand new. I wondered if I should travel to some place other than Europe, I wondered if I should stick closer to home.
You already know what I decided (England, France, Spain, Scotland), and it ended up being the perfect balance of all the things I was craving out of my summertime adventure.
This time around? A few weeks ago I decided to see what flight prices to Paris might be like for June/July. And what I discovered nearly took my breath away: the cheapest prices I’ve ever seen on round-trip, direct flights from Philly to Paris in the summertime. (Well, that’s not entirely true, I got an even cheaper flight back in 2003 but that was a long time ago).
So I did something a bit out of character- I ran into my bedroom, grabbed my wallet from my purse, and before I knew it I had purchased the flight.
Then, I shot off an email to the owners of La Muse (the writer’s and artist’s retreat I visited last summer), and asked about availability. There’s been talk of a few of us from last year reuniting again in July, plus there was an attractive holiday discount being dangled around. The next day I got an email back- “We’d love to have you return!!” and before I knew it, I had myself booked in a room for three weeks.
And then, after a week of browsing through Airbnb apartments in Paris (which was way more fun than I ever expected!), I found a tiny little space on the 7th floor of an old building in St Germain, that has a balcony with views to the Eiffel Tower.
This year, there was very little of the indecision that I’ve had in the past. There are still so many things I want to do and so many places I want to travel to, but for whatever reason, this year’s choice felt easy. I’m going back to France, and I’m going to spend the entire summer there.
I love France, you already know that. Each of my trips to Europe these past four summers have included some time in France (and a mandatory jaunt through Paris, even if only for a day, like this past year). I can speak French- not well, but I improve the more I have the chance to speak. I studied abroad in Toulouse back in 2000-2001, and at the end of that year I said to myself: “This could be a problem. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I have a feeling that instead of going to new places, I’m always going to want to come back to France.”
And it could almost drive me mad, the thought that I was existing in the world and Paris was existing too but that I was not there.
Some people, when they travel, will always want to go somewhere new, and I can understand that. “Why return to the same place when you’ve already been there? There are so many places in the world to explore!” they say. I think I will continue to travel to new places throughout my life, but I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I’m a creature of habit. When I find something I love, I don’t often get tired of it. I can go back- again and again- to the same things and places and learn to love them more fully. And I experience so much happiness when I return to a place that I love.
And so, I’m going back to France.
The trip is going to have three parts- La Muse and Paris, but what would a summer trip be without some walking? You knew this was coming. But instead of squeezing in a trip to Spain, I’m going to stay settled in France, and try a couple weeks on one of the Camino trails through this country. My plan, for now, is to walk the Le Puy route, which cuts a sloping line, east to west, sort of through the southern half of France. I’ll begin at the start- in Le Puy-en-Velay- and walk as far as I can in two weeks. I’ve heard that this is the most beautiful and popular Camino route in France, and that some parts may be challenging but I suspect that it’s nothing I can’t handle.
A walk in France isn’t a walk in Spain; there will be some big differences. France is more expensive, I’ll need to make reservations each night, there won’t be nearly as many people on the trails (though I sure had a large dose of isolation on the San Salvador!), and most of the people walking will be French.
The walking will kick off my trip, then I’ll take a train to La Muse and continue work on my writing and my memoir. The summer journey ends with a week in Paris, and this feels just right. It’s my favorite city in the world, and I certainly have more exploring that I need to do there. But settling into an apartment in the heart of a city that I’m already familiar with gives me the chance to just… be. To drink coffee on the little balcony and stare at the magical views. To make my way to a different café every day and scribble away in a notebook. To keep writing in a city where so many greats have gone to write. To wander, to roam.
It’s going to be a very French summer, and I have to tell you, I’m so excited for it. 2017 already feels like it’s going to be a big, incredible year, and having this trip half-planned sure helps. So as they say in France: Bonne Année! Let’s all make it a good one.
Sounds exciting! Happy travels!
Elissa | Sometimes She Travels says
You are such an inspiration, Nadine, in so many ways. You have a wonderful summer to look forward to. Un besazo.
Thank you so much Elissa! How are you?? What adventures do you have coming up next?
Sounds like a fantastic summer plan! Looking forward to reading about it. Enjoy!!
Thanks Nicole!! Now that it’s planned, I wish I didn’t have to wait 6 more months…
Mani (A New Life Wandering) says
This all sounds so wonderful. Good for you for jumping at it and feeling right about it.
Thanks Mani! I’m getting a bit better at actually listening to my gut when it’s trying to guide me…
Good for you, I also love France, but have only returned a couple of times, Portugal sees to continue to call me back these days.
Hi Arlene, happy new year! I know what you mean- I think certain regions or experiences just call us back, time and time again. One of these days, I need to get to Portugal… I only hear incredible things!
Yay! I’m so excited for you. We walked Le Puy in 2015 and it was magical. Particularly Le Puy to Conques (http://renesusan2015.blogspot.ca/).
Make sure to meet Jeanine Trémouillere, in Sauges, the local pilgram cheerleader and sign her map.
Stay in Sauvage at the Domaine du Sauvage coop and support the local economy.
Stop in at Chez Germaine for a piece of pie, even if it’s 11 am, in Aubrac.
Spend a night in Conques at the abbey. Food’s not 4 star, but the stay is worth it.
And prepare for Sunday and Monday grocery and restaurant closures-but you know that!
We’ll be thinking of you. Can’t wait to hear about your travels.
Thank you so much for these recommendations!! They are amazing, and once I begin to plan for this walk, I may be reaching out to you with some questions- is that okay? Thanks again, I can’t wait to be back on a Camino!!
beth jusino says
You’re going to walk the Chemin du Puy! You’re going to love it! (And in July, there will be plenty of people, especially compared to your Salvador walk.) The first two weeks will take you through fairy tale country like no other. (I’ve done Le Puy to Finisterre so far, and if I could so any stretch again, it would be Le Puy to Conques.) If you have any questions about where to stay, please message me.
(And with luck, a few weeks after you get back from France, I’ll be off to follow your footsteps on the Norte/Primitivo. I should really get onto buying those tickets, while everything is so cheap.)
beth jusino says
(While I’m thinking about it, the first two gites on my Top 5 will be in your section: https://caminotimestwo.com/2016/05/02/5-unforgettable-gites-on-frances-chemin-du-puy/
And ditto what Susan said about the abbey in Conques.)
This is so wonderful, thank you!! Your descriptions made me want to be on Le Puy NOW!! I’ll definitely make note of these gites, and in the meantime I’ll make sure to go back and re-read some of your blog posts. (And let me know if you have any questions as you prepare for the Norte/Primitivo! You’ll love it!)