Wednesday, 7 September 2016

France as I Would like to Remember It

Ocean waters with three demarcating shades of blue. Fields of lavender as far as the eye can see. Secluded castles made of stone. A canyon with breathtaking views of the turquoise river cutting through it. A bridge so high you have to drive through clouds. And, rocky beaches with innumerable pebbles to skip on the water.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the South of France, or Le Sud de France, as the French like to call it.

Not surprisingly, nowhere during the course of beholding this vivid imagery would you have imagined the place to be France.

"France? Isn't that the country where Paris is located?"

Yes, yes, that is perfectly true.

"Then, what is this you are describing? Are you sure it's France? Are you sure you don't mean to talk about the Eiffel Tower? Or the cobbled streets? Or the uniformly constructed buildings? Or the narrow shopping lanes? Or the River Seine? Are you sure it is France you are talking about? You probably have it all wrong!"

Ah, if only I could convince you enough!

How about a mini-glimpse into the country as more nationals would probably appreciate you see it?

Behold the world of South France, where nature and man are once again reunited in multiple glorious ways. Enter, the beaches of Nice, whose pebbled coasts may sound deterring, but offer comfortable resting spots for someone looking for a reclusive day away from the worries and stress of the world. You may be surrounded by other visitors, but only you know how much in your own world you feel when lying down and gazing out at the ocean which never fails to stupefy you with its tricolors, though these all happen to be shades of blue.

Moving further south on the coast, we approach Cannes, with water so clear and blue that you start wondering, "Am I dreaming? Is this real? Somebody pinch me." Cannes, with boats and yachts dotting the French Riviera and producing a sight so "out-of-the-movies" that for a moment you forget that you truly are in the town which hosts an international film festival every year. Cannes, where cafes and restaurants plague the streets which are otherwise free of pedestrians, wrapping you with a calm so soothing that you feel like roaming the streets and taking in the sight before you till the last ray of sunshine waves the city goodbye. Oh, what irony! Few a town can claim such widespread fame, yet otherwise tranquility.

Traveling northwest from Cannes, we venture into the hilly territory. The smooth sand of Cannes’ beaches make way for steep, rocky twists and turns, each bringing into view a breathtaking angle of the Gorges du Verdon. "A canyon with sights so sublime? May this dream never end! Here too, you will find the paths leading up and down the gorge scarcely frequented. Often, though, you will come across parked caravans and travelers who have driven over for a weekend camp out with the family or for a lone hiking trip. It is here that if you are lucky enough to interact with the locals, will you experience what France is truly about.

Who said that the French are snobbish? Who said that they only love their language at the expense of all others? Who said that they do not know how to speak English? Who said that they dislike tourists? Fortunate enough to meet a French mother-son duo equally confounded as we were with regard to the French roads while navigating about the canyon, we realized that not all stereotypes are meant to be believed and not all countries can be generalized based on what may be going on in their capital.

Written by Priyanshi Sheth
"Namaste!" from a creative, Indian soul who aims to keep herself motivated as she writes, travels, photographs, and thereby, shares her knowledge.

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