It is truly spring, and sandal weather, and as I walk by the guest room with its French balcony doors open, the breeze sends me a whiff of the honeysuckle scent from the flowering lemon tree. I’ve always wanted a lemon tree, and now that I live in the south of France, I have one.
Sometimes, I am asked what I miss from the US. After all, we’ve been here just about three years (is that all???) without a return, so we’ve had plenty of time to register what’s lacking in our lives in France.
The answer? Not that much. There are big differences, of course, and frankly some of those are less than pleasant on the daily.
Nevertheless, overall, I am grateful to be here because I am never bored, have lots to photograph and stay very active because of the walkability of the city and the good weather. Nice is starting to feel like home, albeit one with all the frictions of being a foreigner.
So, if I were to return to the US, actually, Oregon, what would I enjoy reliving? Here’s a list:
A good naturopath. There are a few here, but I don’t know that their training is as rigorous as it is at the school that certifies naturopaths in Oregon.
Micro-breweries. France cannot compete, nor does any brewer here seem to want to, with the great beers of the Pacific Northwest. We found a few micro-breweries in Brittany, and there are a few in this region, but there isn’t the cult of beer here that is necessary for the great stuff to proliferate.
US-style dental hygiene visits. It’s pretty basic here, essentially plaque removal with a sharp instrument and that’s it.
SIDEWALKS CLEAN OF DOG POOP! Everyone who moves to France complains about the filthy sidewalks. Few dog owners pick up. And everyone has a dog.
Really great food. Yes, you read that right. Nice is not known for culinary sophistication. As in the US, my favorite eateries here are “ethnic.” I’ve got a favorite Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, North African and Italian. But in August, I miss the sweet corn tamales and soft tacos I used to get on Powell Blvd. Sometimes I lovingly recall the Korean dumplings in Beaverton; the Middle Eastern grocery store and its butternut hummus and fresh baked pita; the sour cherry ravioli at the Russian restaurant; the steamed clams and Dungeness crab dinners on the Oregon coast. Inventiveness and the diligent use of exceptional ingredients in cooking has moved to spots like Portland in the US. French menus are often tired, and that’s because restauranteurs know their clientele and their devotion to traditional french dishes. I’m not taking about Paris, here, which is a different story.
If you are planning to visit us from the US post-Covid, I’ll have a list of things for you to bring!