Friday, June 21, 2013

5 Reasons I Love Dijon and France

Today I bought a chunk of hot, freshly roasted pork smothered in its juices to eat at dinner tonight with a side of cheesy heaven – gratinée.  Someone gave me a beautiful free apricot I think because I remembered to smile and say bonjour before placing my order for four bananas.  Tonight is La Fête de la musique, which means 50,000 people dancing in the streets.  Tomorrow I buy red geraniums for my window boxes.  Sunday morning we rent bikes to ride out to the canal.

Another wonderful weekend in one of my favorite places in the world – Dijon, France.

In the Atlanta airport on my way to France I met a man who said he had been in 92 countries between his family’s travels when he was young, his military service, and now his government service.  And he didn’t seem the least little bit tired of the travel.  I understand his love of having a piece of every part of the world.  As for me, though, I do like the balance of home and road.

That’s why France has become one of my favorite places.  I’ve been lucky enough to achieve a home and road balance that rivals my attachment to St. Louis, where I was born and raised, left, came back again, and where my suitcase is stored in between all my other trips.

I love the weirdness or Portland, OR.  I love the breathtaking beauty of the natural places of the United States.  For a long time I thought London and the United Kingdom would be my favorite place.  Nothing beats barbecue in The South.  There’s hardly a place I’ve been (even Des Moines) that I haven’t like it.  But let me give you five reasons why France holds that special place for me.

5)  They understand that grocery shopping is always made better with a short break for wine.

4)  Flowers, flowers, and more flowers.  I know a lot of big cities in the U.S. promote their green spaces.  I, too, proudly tell visitors that I live next to Forest Park, which is larger than Central Park in New York.  But flowers spilling out of every window is something completely different.  It’s like the city has put on a jaunty summer bonnet.

3)  The food, from a simple kebab shop on every corner to Michelin restaurants.  My favorite, however, has become Picard, a shop the size of a basic U.S. 7-Eleven store filled with frozen food and only frozen food.  However, it puts even gourmet supermarkets to shame with its offerings.  I could skip the fancy restaurants and just make all my meals from Picard.  Their selection is jaw-dropping.  And most of it is preservative free.

2)  Their strawberries.  I fell in love on my first trip to Dijon after my first trip to the market.
1)  My apartment.  It’s small, but it’s filled with the most important furnishings – light and the sound of foreign voices outside my open windows.  There’s quiet when I seek it and action when I’ve sat a little too long.  I may not understand the directions for retrieving messages from my French phone, but the bells of Saint Michel ring at seven every evening in my neighborhood and there is no translation needed for that message.  My heating system may be temperamental, but the people have been warm.  Today I got FOUR French cheek kisses this morning from my dapper friend, Mohamed, to welcome me back to one of my favorite places.

And so, I never tire of asking this question:  What is your favorite place - whether a park bench in your neighborhood, a country, or a room in your house? or, if you prefer, What is your least favorite place?  Share it with us in the comments box.  And while I’m here for a few weeks, tell me what you’d like me to show you or what you’d like to know about France or my town of Dijon.  I’ll see what I can do about it.

If you have a traveller’s love of new places, visit the websites of these other writers blogging today about places they love.

If you if you think it’s too late to learn to speak Italian or Arabic or Gaelic, check out all the fun ways to make it easier in fellow Burgundian Lynn McBride’s new e-book, How To Learn a New Language With A Used Brain.

And if you want to experience my favorite place for yourself, check out great accommodations in the heart of the city.



Ellen Gregory said...

Oh, my, you do paint a LOVELY picture of France and Dijon in particular. I haven't been to Dijon.... yet. If I were not already in the throes of planning a trip to the UK to attend the World Fantasy Convention in October, I might almost be looking across the channel ~ heh. Have a lovely time in paradise!

Nadine Feldman said...

Ah, it's summer again in Dijon! I'm looking forward to all your stories.

It's hard to beat where I live, with its views of both mountains and water. Last weekend for Father's Day we took a hike, and the trail was just a short car ride away. The town is quirky, artsy, and fun, and the biggest problem I have is finding time to get my work done!

the fly in the web said...

So you found Picard!

The owner of the chateau restaurant near us used to buy in from Picard...but not the branch in the local town in case his customers spotted him.

Rossandra White said...

Do you need a maid? Free of charge? Willing to travel? I live in Laguna Beach, California, which I love. But I always fancied by now I'd be able to live part of the year in France, but it's not happening and probably won't unless riches come my way. Until then I will return to France when I can.

Kim Griffin said...

Dijon sounds lovely! France is on the top of my list of places to visit and, when I make it, I now intend to visit Dijon!

Wine in the middle of a grocery store? I mean, come on, that is awesome and reason enough to go ;)

Julie Farrar said...

Nadine, you do live in one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It has such a visible arts scene as well as gorgeous nature.

As for restauranteurs buying from Picard, I know it's a hidden issue in France now. I'm not sure how you tell which ones do it.

And yes, Rossandra. Come when you can. Better than nothing.

Josie said...

In two months I will be headed to Dijon for the school year. I love finding articles or blogs that have little snippets of fun facts and info that will help me prepare and keep up my excitement. My French language skills are poorly lacking, did you find it hard when you first arrived in Dijon?

Julie Farrar said...

If you have to take care of official business, Josie, like banking or other paperwork and they don't understand ANY English, it can be a bit nerve wracking. However, I've found the people to be pleasant and helpful if I just remember the basic niceties like "bonjour", "s'il vous plait," "merci," "au revoir." Always smile and say "bonjour" when you enter any business - even a grocery store because someone will be saying it to you first. Always look at people as exiting and say "au revoir" even if you didn't buy anything in that store. Relax and don't be afraid to try your French or feel bad if they correct you because that's how you learn and that's how you meet people. Bon chance in Dijon! Keep up with my blog because I'll return in October and I'll be happy to talk to you in person.

Julie Farrar said...

Oh, and Josie, you can always contact me at the e-mail address on my blog.

Unknown said...

Oh what a fantastic writer you are. I am coming to Dijon in September. I can hardly wait after reading your beautiful blog.
My first time back after 30 years
when last there. Thank you for
all the beautiful descriptions.
I am going to Love Dijon that is a certainty!

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