At this point, I would say that France has been fairly underwhelming. It’s not that we don’t like it. ??It just hasn’t impressed us as much as, say, Italy or Russia. Since I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer, I’ll tell you about the good parts.
We enjoyed a beautiful train ride from Barcelona up through the Pyrenees to Toulousse. Once we were there, we couchsurfed with Louis, a 22 year-old avid skydiver who owns his own catering company. The first night we were joined with two other guests, Patricia and Fernanda from Brazil. They are both currently living in France and were just taking a weekend getaway. Louis had to work most of the time we were there, but he did spend one afternoon showing us “The Pink City,” which is Toulousse’s nickname because of its red and pink brick buildings.
From there we moved on to Bordeaux, a well-known wine center that has a fairly heated rivalry with Paris. In contrast to Toulousse, all of Bordeaux’s buildings are white. There are many shops along its cobbled streets and a large part of the city is a World Heritage Site. It was extremely hot while we were there, so we both decided to get haircuts. My hairdresser didn’t speak English, but I’m still happy with the results.
After that we went to La Rochelle, which is about the cutest French seaside town you can imagine. It’s a major port city and we saw many expensive yachts floating in the harbor. There are several lighthouses and medieval defensive towers along the coast. They also have excellent and cheap mussels, which we discovered at lunch one day. I ordered the??moules frites??and was very surprised when the waiter delivered an entire bucket of mussels to our table. They were by far the best mussels I’ve ever had, but I was stuffed before I could even see the bottom of the bucket! Brad joined the efforts and we did get them all eaten, but I think we had to spend the rest of our day digesting.
So, since we’ve had fun and seen some nice places, you might be wondering what the problem is. The truth is, we don’t really know. We like France, but we just don’t love it. Like Malaysisa, it’s lacking the “Wow!” moments. In the next few days we’re going to ride a bicycle through the Loire Valley, so maybe we’ll change our minds, but at this moment, I would have to say that we should have spent more time elsewhere.