List: One Year On

One year. One whole year. It was this day, 365 days ago that I left to go on my big exchange adventure. Where has the time gone??? And, although I traveled to many other amazing, incredible, beautiful countries, France, my home for one semester, is the place I miss the most.

Top 10 Things I Miss About France (in no particular order):

1. The pastries. Hit me with the mille-feuilles, les pains au chocolat, les brioches (espcially brioche praline which are a Lyonnais specialty, just the lightest brioche with a pink sugary walnut-infested mixture injected into it and baked to go all crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside).

2. Markets. I loved the markets. The hustle and bustle, the regularity, the boisterous stall keepers, the chatter, how you can tell the changing of the seasons by the produce. In Lyon there was a market on every day of the week.

3. International friends. My Australian flatmate, my Argentinian neighbours, the English pair down the hall and all those gorgeous Scandinavians.

4. French people. They’re a little bit fabulous. They’re snobby and proud but they have reason to be, they live in the best country (in their opinion) and are stuck in their wonderful two-hour-lunch-break ways. And when I did get into a pickle (missing the train, going to the doctors etc) they were super helpful and made sure that I was going to be fine.

5. Paris. Now that deserves a whole blog about it, I’m sure there already is one. I still think about Paris nearly every day. I cannot describe why it is so special. I think it has something to do with the buildings, the art, the fashion, the lifestyle, the fame, the history. So, it’s everything really. I’m definitely going back to live there one day.

6. Art. That’s everything from the quirky street art of Space Invader, to the masterpieces of the Louvre. I soaked it up like a sponge. Every place – city or town – I visited I went to an art gallery. I couldn’t get enough of it. I still can’t. Even now, just walking into an art gallery (not that it’s the same here, at all) I get this overwhelming sense of calm and happiness.

7. Architecture. The mélange of styles in the big cities in France is stunning. Obviously Paris takes the cake but the majesty of the old buildings and the brash, industrialisation of the new. Especially French blinds, all newish apartments have these weird roller blinds that can completely black out your room. But everyone has them.

8. The freedom. Classes were fairly easy and not that important, my university only requiring that I pass everything. So it didn’t matter if the sun was out and I missed a couple to explore the city. I had three day weekends, every weekend. I took off to where ever I wanted.

9. Speaking French. It’s a language that rolls off the tongue like a … croissant, really, it’s smooth with a few flaky, slightly harder bits on the base. It is so much fun to find yourself conversing in another language, especially one like French.

10. Beauty. In France, there is so much emphasis on beauty. Beautiful buildings, art, food, design, people. Having a beautiful life. France taught me to see the beauty in the every day, in the small things like the perfect loaf of bread but also the awe that can come from witnessing a truly stunning event like a David painting or the Chateau Versailles.

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