Going Deep (she said)21 Jun 2012
This week, the Canal de Bourgogne leads us deep into the heart of the forested countryside southwest of Dijon. I’ve been considering the fortunate turn of events this past week, specifically our delightful picnics with Dijon natives Marianne and Jean-Pierre and American ex-pats Lynn and Ron. We enjoyed touring the countryside with our new French friends who, in-spite of our grammatically terrible and slow French, patiently took us on a tour of the countryside to see several château near Dijon. And, it was a thrill to meet a pair of fellow Americans who, after nine years of living in France, have ventured deeply into the country and culture. I’m beginning to believe these and other experiences occur precisely because we travel deeply rather than broadly.
Instead of skipping from city to city in country after country, we remain commited to France. Après Ski is our tiny little piece of France, rural France more often than not. And focusing on France also means focusing on the French language. When folks speak to us in English (we’re obviously English speakers thanks to our atrocious accents), we respond in French. Conversations are like a game of chicken — who will give up and go native first? We tenaciously hold on to French as long as we can, and the more time we spend in France and the more words and phrases we learn, the more often we win that game!
France rewards us with new friends who don’t mind conversing in kindergarden-level French, journeys through the many different regions of this amazing country, and the pleasure of learning about the subtle and astonishing variety of her different regions’ food, wine and culture.
So while you may want to see the world, consider seeing one, special part of the world very, very thoroughly instead. Take multiple trips, learn to speak the language as best you can, strive to understand the culture, learn the rules of popular sports. Having gone deep into France, we become more than tourists. We’re travelers who, undertaking a journey, can enjoy delights, sights and celebrations beyond the guidebook. Beyond the façade for tourists, we find a country of friendly, open and welcoming people, amazing gastronomy, rich history, and beautiful landscapes and monuments.
A world beyond Lonely Planet and Rick Steves awaits those who commit the time and make the effort to journey deeply.