Wednesday, 20 January 2010

What France means to me...

Patricia over at Papillon Bleu is hosting a bit of a French party this week. She's invited bloggers from all over to share a bit of what France means to them, and it's been wonderful to see everyone's take. France holds a very special place in my heart. I arrived in Paris, CDG airport a few days before Christmas in 1995, a very young, very naive and very shy 22 year old, on my way to become a jeune fille au pair for a family with a little girl, 6, and a little handicapped boy, 10.
I left Paris from Orly airport in March 1997, a bit older, a lot wiser and so much more confident in myself with a lifetime of wonderful memories.

The family lived in St Tropez, in a beautiful, character filled old farmhouse called la Ferme de la Moutte. La plage de la Moutte was down the lane...and it was a nudist beach - Imagine! These are snapshots from my photo album. I thought of scanning pictures , but I didn't think the quality would be much better than this and this way you get to see more. My room was set apart from the main house, that's my window in the top left pic. My folks visited while I was out there, which was lovely.

I met some of the most amazing girls from all over the world in St Tropez, and while our charges were at school, we would met up and go to the beach, or into town to the farmer's market on the square. On our nights off, we'd hit the bars and clubs in town, and hopefully meet a few mecs who'd pay for us to get in to Papagayo! Here I am with Tammy from the UK, Louise and Claire from South Africa, and my hair the longest it's ever been. (And we won't say anything about how much less I weighed back in those days!)

The family I worked for had a boat, which we would often go out on for the weekend to the nearby islands. Port Cros was one, and Porquerolles another. I only have to hear Vangelis's Conquest of Paradise to take me straight back to those days, with Jacques at the helm and the music playing full blast, as we raced back to St Trop, crashing over the waves at top speeds!

I left the family in July, and headed to Paris for the remainder of my stay. I was incredibly lucky to have my French teacher from SA in Paris at the time I arrived, and Aude was instrumental in getting me there safely and set up with job applications and metro tickets. I managed to get a job at Planet Hollywood on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which was fantastic fun. I bumped shoulders with George Clooney (really, and he apologised!), saw Geena Davis, Jean-Claude van Damme and Samuel L. Jackson, and got up to all sorts of mischief and fun with some wonderful people, again, from all over the world. I stayed at the YWCA in the 8th arr. and metro Villiers was my stop. This little market lane was just off from the metro, and the shops sold the most amazing bread, and cheese, and meat, and wine! The bottom pics are the Avenue des Champs-Élysées at night, at Christmas time.

When I first arrived, I stayed in the grandparents apartment at the Pont de la Tournelle. They had the top floor with a roof garden, and the view over the Notre Dame was breathtaking. This is me on a later holiday to Paris, in 2004, just in front of their apartment building.

Thank you Patricia, for giving me an excuse to share these old photographs, and for reminding me of what a wonderful country it is. I love France with all my heart.

6 comments, come on, leave me some love!:

Kim 20 January 2010 at 15:04  

What a wonderful post- I love to see all the pictures too-thank you! How lucky you are to have these memories of France :)

miniacollection 20 January 2010 at 15:15  

Great post ! You had a great stay in France in lovely places. You were a lucky girl, what wonderful memories you must have.

Wee Cute Treasures 20 January 2010 at 16:43  

Super photos Jo. You look so French in that last photo. Tres chic! When you have time, please pop over to my blog to collect your award. Carol x

Papillon Bleu 20 January 2010 at 19:09  

What an original thought! This is such a great idea to have accepted to share these souvenirs with us.
I hope you will like the way I introduce your post.
Thank you so much for sharing!

Liberty Biberty 20 January 2010 at 23:33  

Wow!! Wonderful pics! What a wonderful place to have worked and fantastic memories!

Jill 21 January 2010 at 02:58  

Great post! It's fun to look back at our adventures when we were younger. I've never been to France, but I would love to go someday. I adventured to Japan when I was 21 and lived there for a couple of years. I still treasure the experience--every day.

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