France Travel Emotions A-Z

Having just returned from a French vacation almost a month ago, I decided to put together a list of emotions and stories experienced from that trip. It's my way of summarizing my vacation – the good, the bad, and the ugly. :) Of course, in the future I will go further into detail, but for now I thought listing my emotions and experiences A-Z style could be fun. Call it a throwback to A-Z April, if you will. :)

Plouha, July 2016

A – anxiety.

Stubbed toe. It hurt. I had to sit down, so that I wouldn't faint. But no big deal, right? A stubbed toe? Seriously?

Two hours later, toe starts turning blue. Share my concern with the hubby. I over-react to everything. He pokes at the toe, decides it's not broken. We move on.

Another hour later, a friend notices my blue toe. She asks "Is it broken?" I tell her no, using all of my inner-strength to believe what it was my husband said. The toe is turning more and more blue/purple as the day goes on, and it's really starting to worry me. But it's not broken. It can't be.

At the end of the day, the only other person we are traveling with, the same guy that made fun of me for being in pain over my blue toe earlier (jerk!), asks if it's broken. The toe is now almost completely blue/purple.

That's it. I lose it. Any inner-strength I had? Gone. And I know I'm over-reacting. I feel sick to my stomach and like I'm going to faint. Maybe Justin is wrong; maybe my toe is broken. It's not like Justin is a doctor…

Friend realizes his mistake. Says to drink wine and eat sweets. Is that anything like being told to take a bath? (In my experience, all men say "take a bath" if they think a woman is stressed out. Like that really helps! Psh!)

Either way, I can't consume a single thing more. And there is no tub. I'm worried and can't gain control of my mind, so I google.

Nothing good ever happens when you google (in situations like this).

Google says that blue toes are never just blue toes. If your toe has turned blue from being stubbed, it's losing oxygen and you need to visit the emergency room stat! If you don't, you will lose a toe.

Luckily, Google was wrong. I didn't lose a toe.

But I did deal with anxiety. Thanks Google. :(

B – burned.

I put sunscreen on, but I mistakenly put on too thin of a layer. End result? sunburn. Woot. Luckily it didn't hurt. I was just very rosy for a bit. Then brown. Eh. Could be worse. :)

Mont Saint-Michel, July 2016

C – curious.

Isn't that always how you feel on trips to new and exciting places?

D – disgruntled by the music on the radio in France.

I heard DNCE's "Cake By the Ocean Floor" only once during my entire trip! And it was just starting as we were getting out of the car. :(

Instead I got to hear Imany's "Don't Be So Shy" over. and over. and over again. Is that song even played on US radio stations? It doesn't seem upbeat or G-rated enough. :-/

E – excited.

Our trip to France to see the Bastille Day fireworks and French beaches (with friends) was a dream come true. It was nearly everything I could ever want all wrapped up in a vacation. I was thrilled to be going, and the trip (once there) didn't disappoint. :) I'd happily go back and relive it, if that was even a possibility.

F – fickle.

Of course I was picky during this trip. When am I not? … But when someone says "you're picky", you start to wonder what they mean. Was it said as an insult? Or … not?

I see "picky" in two different ways:

1. Not being open to new experiences. Closed off. Living a sad, sad life.

2. Choosing very specific experiences. Getting the best that life has to offer and not settling for anything less. Choose your own adventure, if you will?

I like to think of myself as someone from the second category. I may not try everything, but I tend to make good, well-informed decisions when I do.

G – grasping.

At the end of day one in France, I was exhausted. A combination of jet lag and waking up early was settling in. But! I couldn't go to sleep. I had to wait on the Bastille Day fireworks! That was our main reason for coming to France in the first place. :)

Feeling like a rag doll due to my immense exhaustion, I pulled a chair over to our hotel room balcony, in which we could see the Eiffel Tower from. Positioning the chair sideways, I leaned against the back of the chair with my knees to my chest, my head resting between my knees and the back of the chair and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders. It was the perfect position for a very tired me to watch the fireworks from.

I was definitely grasping for energy though.

As soon as the fireworks ended, I made a beeline to the bed where, fully clothed, I laid down and fell asleep. Almost immediately.

It was comforting to be surrounded by so much magic and beauty. It was, as almost all good experiences are, like the childhood magic of going to Disney World, but in real life and not dressed up as a theme park. Truthfully, I cannot imagine a more perfect way for us to have ended our first full day in France. (Except that there were a lot of those while we were on vacation. I did a good job planning!)

H – hot.

And not in the sexy way.

More in the I left 90ºF weather so that I would be cooler in 70º weather, so why am I sweating like a pig? way.

Seriously. Why?

Île-de-Bréhat, July 2016

I – informal.

When I was packing, I was trying to keep my luggage minimal and only pack what I actually thought I would use/wear. Remembering past experiences, I decided against packing heeled shoes. My first time in Paris wearing heals left me with blisters and practically falling all over myself due to the cobblestone roads we found ourselves on. And traveling with friends? Well, they never take time to change for dinner. Plus, we were going to be in a beach town. Surely flip flops with a dress can't be too uncommon, right?

Well, it is. Sorta.

Even if Europeans go trampsing around in their birthday suits on the beach, they actually seem to care about their footwear in public. Argh.

J – jolted into real life.

While in the train station waiting to head toward Brittany, France, Justin ordered, in French, a quick lunch for us to take on the train. As he walked away from the sandwich stand, a glass bottle of fruit nectar fell out of his bag hitting the ground and breaking. As he went to clean it up, the lady at the sandwich counter tried to be friendly and helpful, but when she realized neither of us actually spoke French she gave up, exclaiming, in English: "You're in France! Speak French!"

That is the first experience I have ever had where someone has actually gotten angry with us for not knowing their native language.

Yes, I agree that I should learn French. That was never a question. But the truth of the matter is, I went into this experience without any expectation that she could speak English. I wasn't asking her to revert to my way or my culture, I was just (we were just) doing the best we could to respect her culture and way of life with the little bit of knowledge that we did have.

From that experience, I could see and understand why Americans think the French are rude.

Overall, I still think that, for the most part, the French are wonderful. Kind, generous, sweet. I don't speak enough French to know when or if they are talking bad about me, so I just go on by the way they treat me. A waiter going out of his way to give me the WiFi password is in no way rude or condescending. People offering to speak English to us and give us directions when we are lost is also very nice.

Of course, it only takes a few "bad apples" to give the French their reputation. Either way, I will continue to return to France and Paris. I have experienced far too much "good" there to consider otherwise. :)

K – kind.

Justin says this is what I was when I called my grandfather to wish him a happy birthday from France.

And it must be true, because I really had no interest whatsoever in calling anyone. I never do.

L – laid-back.

When traveling with friends, you have to take on a laid-back approach. There may be a few things on your must-do list (see the beach, watch the Bastille Day fireworks), but the trip is not entirely your own to control. If your friends pick out a crazy red and green apartment from AirBnb, unless you have any true objections, go along with it; why not? It may be better than it looks. Besides, who cares where you lay your head at night?! (Unless there isn't any air conditioning…)

Gardens of Versailles, July 2016

M – magical.

That moment when I saw the sunset over the gardens of Versailles for the first time. :) It's like being a kid and spotting Mickey at Disney World, only much, much prettier. Definitely worth getting a glass of expensive French champagne to celebrate the moment. :)

N – nervous.

We were traveling with friends. And those friends just happened to have car trouble. So one decided to take the car to the shop while the rest of us went exploring.

In my experience, that's just not what you do.

When you travel with others, you stay with them. Through thick and thin. Going to get the car fixed or shopping for wedding gifts that no one took the time to get before traveling.

So when it was suggested that we part ways, my mind was blown. How will we meet up again? How do you explain where you are?

Turns out there is a button on Whatsapp where you can share your location.

Aren't you glad I told you? ;)

July 2016

O – orderly.

That's what it felt like packing for this trip.

Of course we used our packing cubes, but we also used ziplocks for toiletries. And each necklace had to be separated so that it wouldn't tangle with any of the others. Putting together our luggage was like putting together a puzzle.

And we did it again and again and again as we went from hotel to hotel to hotel. It's especially crazy when you start adding in souveniers. You have to actually work at not forgetting anything.

P – private.

That moment when you say "It's a long story…" and your husband, in front of your friends, is like "we have time." Argh. :( The whole reason I said that it was a long story was because I didn't want to tell it. Duh. ;)

Q – questioning.

Any time our European friends suggested doing something that isn't typical of America, I felt "questioning" and confused. "Why are we doing this? It makes no sense…" Until it does. I feel like there are a lot of European "quirks" that I would miss out on, or overlook altogether, if there wasn't someone from the EU there with me showing me the way.

R – restless.

I'm used to sleeping in a temperature controlled 68ºF climate, so when Justin and I found ourselves in a different non-temperature controlled climate with hard beds, sleep was a bit more fitful. (Not that soft beds would have aided in that experience.) I temporarily considered sticking my pillow case in the freezer before going to bed. :) How do people live without AC?!!

On the upside, it meant our days started earlier. No one likes to waste a good vacation day. :)

Gardens of Versailles, July 2016

S – spoiled.

That moment when you teasingly ask for two pieces of ice (out of five) and get it while everyone else only gets one. :)

Or when you suggest going to the Palace of Versailles to see fireworks and your husband is on board.

For that matter, getting to visit France for your birthday.

Yes, I'm spoiled.

#BestHusbandEver #BestFriendsEver #BestLifeEver :)

T – tasty.

Red sauce. Mmmm…

At one of the restaurants we went to, we ordered a crépe with ice cream, peaches, and "red sauce"; it was amazing. Probably the most unique thing I tried in France, this time.

I also was surprised when I ordered an omelet with fries for lunch. It was the fluffiest omelet I have ever had. And since I'm not a huge fan of eggs, it was surprisingly delicious too.

French food is the best.

U – under pressure.

As soon as we had an idea about when to travel to France in our head, I went from having hardly any work to having my days filled to the brim with activity. I had been asking my boss for a schedule for weeks, and she gave it to me right as I'm picking travel dates and figuring out flights. And that schedule? It didn't provide for any travel research time… So I was stressed. Thankfully I'm married to an awesome guy who keeps my head on straight even when I feel like I'm about to lose it. I planned what I could, in detail, and left the rest to fate.

And it worked out! So yay!

Mont Saint-Michel, July 2016

V – volatile.

Me = always assuming the worst.

So when someone says "Yes, I want to travel with you. I'm doing X, Y, and Z; you can join me or not" I get defensive. I'm thinking But you said you wanted to travel with me? How is it fair that you get to choose all of the activities and I get to choose none? Furthermore, if we are traveling together, shouldn't we do activities together?

So, I respond something along the lines of: "we don't have to travel together if you don't want to…"

And the response I get back is "I do want to travel together; why don't you understand me?!" (or something like that.)


And so my emotions were up and down and up and down again.

Language and translation is confusing. Especially when you are me and always assume people think the worst of you.

W – weary.

Up until the last day, I had the "I'll sleep when I'm dead!" mentality. I was excited to get up every morning and go on a walk with the hubby to get bread from the bakery. What would they have today? Then, we would go and go and go… I'd read in the car, because how else can you get through a 700+ page book on vacation? Destinations would be hot and miserable, even at 70ºF. There would be walking, climbing, exploring, and picturing.

By the time it came time to board the plane for our return home, I was legit weary. Before the plane even took off, I fell asleep, unable to keep my eyes open one second longer. My husband had to wake me for meal-time. Luckily, we arrived home at 8PM, so I went from sleeping on the plane to sleeping in my bed. It was a great way to end a very active trip! :)

Ploumanac'h Lighthouse, July 2016

X – xoxo.

Buying souvenirs for my nephew. <3.

Getting an extra ice cube in my water. (This was a big deal for me!)

Having unique dinner options prepared just for me.

Getting hugs and hearing words of encouragement from my husband after a stressful work text. <3.

God preparing beautiful sunsets to end my day(s) with. :)

Y – young.

Playing at Le Village Gaulois, an African village based on the children's comic Asterix and Obelix, was one of the more childish things we did in France. And yet, even so, it gave Justin and I a keen awareness of the differences between childhood in France and the US. We got to explore, play, and have fun. And at the end of the day, we were probably better for having had the experience. Nothing brings out the curiosity in a person, which is useful to have when traveling, like childhood play. :)

Z – zealous.

That's how I felt knowing I would get to see the beautiful French beaches. While I was worried about not having as much time to plan as I would have liked, I knew that we would have fun no matter what. And truthfully, no American beach (that I've seen) comes close to the loveliness found on the French coast.

So that was our trip to France and the 26 emotions/memories I have associated with it. During travels, have you experienced some of the same emotions (excited, anxious, weary)? Would you ever consider summarizing a trip in this way?

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