Why We’re Going Back To France

Please don’t take this personally.  Whenever I say to someone here that we’re longing to go back to France, I feel like a rat.  Of course it’s not you we want to leave, and we’re not saying that where you live happily somehow isn’t good enough for us, and we’re not saying that we’re such misfits that we can’t find a way to be happy here.  All we’re saying is that we loved our life in France and we want it back.

I feel it the most keenly, speaking with friends in Europe, trying to explain to them how it’s possible that we almost missed having a health care bill, how the insurance companies wanted to weasel out of covering sick children.  It’s like science fiction to a European, that such a thing could even be possible. And congress people getting death threats for their votes?  Like a cowboy movie, right up there with the fact that we have coyotes here on the island, something from an old Western.

Last night we watched Food Inc.  We missed it when it came out, but we’d heard a lot about it.  Even still, it was beyond appalling.  Shel says that he kept thinking “this could never happen in France” and I think he’s right. The French have a spirit of resistance that I find totally formidable.

People here joke a lot about French strikes and protests, but I love them. I love the fact that it’s part of the French national character to stand up and be counted, to fight back against social injustice, to struggle to maintain their quality of life, including the quality of their food and of their medical system. The French believe in sticking together to defend what’s important, in solidarité, in a way that’s nearly impossible to explain to an American, for whom the very word solidarity conjures up images of McCarthyism.

But to the French, solidarity is what makes society function, what makes life livable, what knits the country together.  And when we lived there, we were knitted into that web, in a way I’ve never experienced in this country.  Sure, we were in it for the wine, the cheese, the antiquities, the cool French cars, the beautiful language.  But what we’re really missing, and why we really have to go back as soon as possible, is the feeling of living in a culture where relationships between people are the highest value.  It’s a remarkable thing to be part of and we’re going back to find our place again in that enticing French web of life.

Although given today’s date, I can’t tell you exactly when this will all happen, or if it’s only an April delusion.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America

13 Comments on “Why We’re Going Back To France”

  1. Nina Says:

    I want you to be able to go back as much as I want us to be there to enjoy our annual September in Paris and the Lot.

  2. Eden Says:

    I have faith that you will get back there even if it’s not as soon as you’d like & in the meantime we’ll enjoy your company while we can :>

  3. irishherault Says:

    You’ve put the finger on it. The wine, cheese and language are all great but the biggest difference is the people. We’ve just had the same feeling, just back in Ireland after a lovely snowy, wet then sunny March in the Languedoc.

  4. HELLO THERE. I have to tell you that as a Frenchman, your post made me proud. Really. I like the way you describe the “culture” here – it is always “outsiders” who have the sharper eye, isn’t it. (But are you still an outsider ? 🙂

    Two things, though. I am sad to admit that the French have co-invented the pathetic model described in Food Inc. As a people, we now want to get out of it, and protect our farmers – but the truth is that agribusiness was partly invented here… 😦

    The second thing is: our health care system is under attack – because politicians over the last 30 years have not made the tough financing decisions that were required. We are all aware of the problem now, and things will get sorted out (presidential elections coming up in 2012). Now, irrespective of the financial mess, people get helped here – all of them. Still.

    Voilà! Hope to see you back ASAP then…


    PS: Could I re-publish part of this post on http://www.discover-uzes.com? Thx for letting me know 🙂 Best.

  5. Ujwala Samant Says:

    You said it! I hope you and Shel go back. I miss our community. Even in Lyon when we lived in downtown, the cafe owner, the baker kept an eye on Nevenn. We met every Friday evening for drinks at the cafe which was otherwise closed in the evenings…. Nevenn learned to select vegs and meat locally. We’re all “France-sick” and he tells us he misses his life and friends in France and can’t wait to go back. Pascal is going back to Brittany next week and we’re all wishing we could go back too… I hope Shel and you get to go back and this is not an April delusion…. xo

  6. zuleme Says:

    I think it is wonderful how you fit into living in France and I really really hope you get to move back soon. That’s sounds kind of clumsy but what I mean is, I read so many blogs about non-French struggling to feel at home in the culture and you just seem to do it, make a lot of friends and love being there. Part of it might be that it is hard to move to France if you need to work but I think a lot of it is attitude.
    People seem surprised when I say I have French friends in France, but for me the most wonderful part of traveling in France last year was meeting French people. That said, I have been working to learn the language better because I found on my last trip that just knowing what I did made a huge difference.
    I hope to go back and stay for a while. We will be going back in 2011 I know.
    How did you transport your cats? I have two that must go with me if it is for a longer time.
    Best wishes for your return

  7. geri Says:

    You are very, very fortunate to be able, financially, to have all these dramatic options…in health care, travelling and time freedom.
    Also, the quality of life you describe you had in France is good for one’s health, happiness and peace….a good investment for both of you! I do wish people here in the PNW were more ALIVE in the way you describe French culture….we desperately need to be closer out here and stop making excuses for not being
    more connected. Drinking coffee, reading and overdoing the cocktail culture are a significant part of this ‘separation’ problem IMO.It’s remarkable how sad people look just walking down the street…and if you say hello to them they more often than not ignore you or give a strange look in response!

  8. astheroshe Says:

    i am sooo jealous ..I would move there in a heartbeat. If >>>>>i could find a job, spoke french! …and could convince my family .

  9. Caryl Says:

    Abra, you must always go where your heart leads !! In 1997, after doing all the geneology research & discovering family still in FR, I took off on my first visit & returned every year for 10yrs. I have never “lived”in FR but my cousins have always made me feel welcome in their homes !! I can no longer travel & my body is here in OR but my heart is ALWAYS in the SW in the Gers and in Carry-le-Rouet on the Med.! I understand how much you miss it as I SO want to return also! Have a pastis for me !

  10. Lovely and touching article. There are many here that are quite jealous (in a good way). I adore France and wish I could live there as well. Wishing you the best.

  11. Lynda Says:

    I completely understand your feelings. I lived in Europe for 18 years before moving back to the US with my Danish husband and Swiss-born children 3 years ago. It was a work related move for my husband, otherwise we had no intentions of living full time in the U.S. We long to return abroad, missing the simple and authentic way of living in Europe.

  12. sherry Tennyson Says:

    I want to go back. with my heart and soul to France with Cleo and junior also petunia and tigar duex.

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