Don’t Go To France
Okay, you might have some of those delusional ideas tucked away in the far reaches of your brain up there that France is this romantic, charming and beautiful place. That Paris is for lovers and some other Woody Allen inspired mush… But just give me one second to explain why this assault on your senses just ain’t worth it.
Oh sure, you can think of the Eiffel Tower, or the riviera or all those darn castles on the Loire, but have you stopped to think of what visiting them would actually be like?! I mean the country is pretty dam big, believe it or not! Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and hope it doesn’t collapse (after all it was only supposed to stand for one year many decades ago), and even on the sunniest of days (which there aren’t many) you won’t be able to see the French Riviera or even One of all those castles on the Loire… Not one French vineyard or Mont St Michel or that cave where those cavemen invented art and became the first snooty French people… None of it! Oh sure, you might be able to spot the Louvre, The Sacre Cœur, Notre Dame and maybe even Moulin Rouge… But come on! It’s Europe, you should be able to see it all from one high vantage point!
The thing that you might not realize is that France is full of the French! Oh sure, you might find it romantic when there’s one in a movie with a charming accent… but have you thought of what happens in a country where they all speak French? Suddenly that English thing you’re speaking becomes out of place, and your ‘accent’ might even be the one considered ‘charming’! Can you imagine?! Accent?! Charming?! How utterly patronizing. You know that they know that you know that they can speak English… You just know it. Some of them admit it, but others… Even when they’re drunk, they ‘pretend’ to be practicing English in this infantile manner… Stand your ground, you make sure that they know that you know that they know that you know!!! Don’t you give up! If people call you arrogant and close minded, it only means that you’re getting closer to making them admit what everyone knows… or something like that.
The stinky French! That’s right! You didn’t think I was going to forget about this did you?! Oh, heavens no! I mean it might not be as bas as pepe le peu from the old Disney classics that first started exposing our young minds do this well known stereotype… If you need proof, than just go to the local cheese vendor and stick your nose into some of those cheeses (don’t worry, it’s totally customary out here, people won’t find it strange at all… if anything they’ll think that you’re embracing the culture)… Yeah, those smelly cheese… they eat those! Some of them don’t even shower every day, something about caring about the planet. Now picture yourself in this ‘romantic’ country straight out of a Woody Allen movie, with your nose overwhelmed by smelly cheeses, waffle stands and roasted chestnuts and people who haven’t showered that day, ears assaulted by French accents that somehow don’t sound as pompous as you had expected while you walk down the Champs Élysées without the slightest … Still unconvinced… Well it gets worse!
French gourmet food. Doesn’t sound that bad does it? Well it is! The food isn’t the bad part… in fact, the food is so delicious that you are going to find yourself lacking great food after your little vacation…. THAT, my friend, is the problem. Sure, the decadent sauces and long dining culture may be just fine while you’re there. The wine may be delicious, local and cheap, the cheese may be smelly and tasty, the desserts may be mouth watering… but what about when you return? Did they think of that… I think not! The rest of your life, as you gobble down burgers handed to you through fast food windows, and as those burgers drip their greasy sauce on to your new tie, you’ll be condemned to always remember the incredible French food culture…you’ll lose your right to be blissfully ignorant… That’s right, I said it… They’re going to take away your opportunity at bliss!!! Those bastards!
The worst part of all… is that it might not even feel like you’re having a bad experience. That’s how they get you… They’ve mastered the art of the cultural labotamy; the artsy brainwash; the remorseless eye-opener. There’s a certain je ne sais croix that you won’t even be able to explain to your friends when you return home. Ya, somehow you’ll end up looking at architecture differently, noticing art through a new lens, and even think about going to the theatre… Stay long enough, and they might just change the whole way that you feel about your own culture… Do you know how hard it is to live with that? Knowing that your culture isn’t perfect?!
So please, it may be too late for me… but save yourself. Sit back with your juicy steak, in front of your T.V. and feel free to gush over the romantic notion of France and the charming accent… But don’t ever, ever go to France.