Lessons from the French Countryside

After international trips, I like to slowly review the experience and look for the life lessons. Because if I don’t learn anything, then what’s the point of travel? I enjoy seeing different cultures and witnessing how the rest of the world lives. It keeps my mind open to new things and helps me see the value in different ideas.

Being in America for so long, it is difficult to take yourself out of context and evaluate the rest of the world. Some of us believe we know the correct way to live life. We should go to grade school, complete college, and build a career. Or, we should get married and have children and create the perfect home life. Or, we should take a year off and do a little soul searching. We forget that other parts of the world do not have this luxury. There are parts of the world that are so small that traveling for enjoyment and choosing to have a career is not something they worry about. Some parts of the world are family focused.

Like the French countryside.

Sure, there are wineries that are business-centric and worry about the bottom dollar. For every successful one, there are waves of local producers that just want to make wine to enjoy with the family. For every Michelin starred restaurant, there are multiple local eateries that just want to share their family recipes.

Important Takeaways:

Enjoy the moment. This was kind of forced on us because service was slower and stores/markets close early. After a few days of this, we got the point they were trying to make and stopped trying to fill our days with activities. We started to day our day one hour at a time. When we had unexpected free time, we drove around and really took in our surroundings.

Dinner is a time to review the day. I am used to quick dinners where we just grab food and eat in front of the TV – because nighttime is the only chance I get to catch up on my favorite shows and relax from the day. In the countryside, dinners are full drawn out courses because they want you to unwind and enjoy yourself, not eat and go to bed. I am not fortunate enough to have this opportunity nightly as my husband travels for work, but I believe in the lesson. You spend the whole day being separate from your loved ones out of life obligations/passions – it is wise to use the evening to reconnect and come back to that family unit.

Follow your internal clock. This one takes a little bit of work to follow. The lesson is to sleep until you wake up and use your time wisely. We are always going against our internal clock. We get coffees to force us awake and sleeping pills to reverse the effects. I am surprised that no one actually questions this norm and found another way. Outside of medical issues, your body knows what it needs. If you feel the need to nap in the afternoon, you are either bored, not getting restful sleep, or not getting enough energy from nutritious foods. It takes a little bit of an adjustment and routine building, but when you wake up at the same time every day without an alarm, the day starts much more pleasant.

Perfection is overrated. Stop worrying about having mismatched plates – they are just there to hold food. Stop worrying about having the correct wine glasses – the best part is inside the glass. Worrying about having the perfect everything takes too much brain space. In the end, the people that matter do not care about your things.

Be presentable. I have noticed that even though the town consists of farm work, manual labor, and housekeeping, the people are always presentable. While they have no makeup and their hair is un-styled, they are clean and wearing real clothes – a far cry from wearing pajamas in the grocery store and sweats while running errands.

Sincerely, Tania