france: the motherland

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris”

-Oscar Wilde

In 19 days I will be back to my most beloved place on Earth, France. Ricardo is going with me making it my first big trip with a significant other. I’m psyched.

I know that many wonder what my obsession with France is and why I keep going back, “but they hate Americans,” I hear or “why don’t you try a cruise to the Bahamas?” Not to mention the heat I’ve felt after planning this trip after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Well, the French are actually not rude at all. They are the most polite people I’ve come across in all of my travels.  I once met a group of French girls in the south of France that treated me like a celebrity for being American. As far as that tropical paradise? I’m not interested in a beach vacation or a cruise, I enjoy the life changing experiencing a trip to Europe has to offer. Plus France has St. Tropez! Finally, I’m not any more afraid of going there than I am of living my life here. I choose not to worry about that. All in all, the truth is that when I go there, it feels like home to me.

“Paris is a place in which we can forget ourselves, reinvent, expunge the dead weight of our past.” -Michael Simkins

As a child I always knew I was weird. I was the oldest sibling and didn’t feel much like my parents, my friends, or my neighbors. I was something I couldn’t yet understand. I wore silk slips instead of pajamas. I divulged in beauty products long before my teen years, wearing rose perfume by 5 and lipstick by 6. I ordered cleansers, moisturizers, hand creams, and cellulite creams through my magazines from Yves Rocher when I was barely 10. I had an early love for lingerie, makeup, and wearing all black. I could never get enough of bread, butter, and cheese. My family still laughs at how I would bring a purse into the resteraunts as young as 4 so I could take home the leftover bread and butter. It wasn’t until my late teens while reading a book that I was able to identify these discrepancies between myself and everyone else. I was French.

Sure I always knew I was of French descent, my father is French and so is my last name, but it was while reading this book that I realized I was French. I felt relief. Like I belonged to something. I became determined to get to France.

The first opportunity I got, I went. I remember being terribly nervous about disappointing the French (???) it makes me laugh now but I was in a severe panic that I wasn’t going to be allowed in.

I prepared for my trip miraculously, listening to French music, taking French lessons, studying French cuisine, buying a weeks worth of perfectly Parisian neutral clothes. I showed up dazzled and wore heels for miles and miles every day, bleeding on the streets. I stared at every French women, admiring their effortless beauty. I watched them ride their bicycles and sing-song “bonjour!” in the shops. I was in heaven.
Everytime I went to say something in French or ask for a table for two, they spoke to me in English before I could begin. Some salesmen would even greet me saying “ahhh America!” I couldn’t understand what was giving me away. I would ask and they would tell me in their words that they couldn’t quite put their finger on it, they just knew. I studied the women closer and observed two important things: they never smile, and they smoke. So I stopped smiling and I bought a pack of French cigarettes. And I never passed on that bread which is meant to be eaten with the meal, not before, and not to be smuggled home in your purse. Problem solved.

I knew I loved France in three specific memories throughout my first couple of trips.

The first was the moment I first saw the Eiffel Tower. I cried. It’s an image you see throughout all of your life but nothing can prepare you for its extravagance and beauty. Even with a thousand people surround it, in that moment it was just the Eiffel Tower and I, and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride.

The second was during my first trip to Nice when it was time to get on the train to start out journey home. Nice was amazing in the sense that I felt so safe being there. I had no worries separating from my friend and having dinner alone or with strangers. It was the most beautiful town I had ever seen. When it was time to leave, my friend and I looked at each other and almost didn’t go. We seriously considered skipping our train and our flight and staying there.

The third was when I was having lunch with my best friend and I questioned why she was looking at me so intently. She said that I just really fit in there. I looked around and felt that I really did feel like I was home.

I hope everyone gets to experience France once in their lifetime (at least!) I love France so much.  I can’t wait to share my travels! If you are planning a trip and need any advice, let me know!! More to come soon. Bonne Nuit. 😘

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More about Erika Lauren

Erika Lauren is a Boston born French girl spending her days as a workin girl and dog mom, and her nights as a nocturnal writer. She's a content creator for The Haute Mess, XOJane, and Email:

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