11 March 2014

Escaping to France

So you met Becky awhile back when she shared some pictures for a Photo Lovin' Friday. She's back to visit with a little more about her adventures in Paris. I'll let her take it from here...

If you have a week to spend in Paris, you will find yourself scrambling to see, do, taste, and experience everything. You will be overwhelmed by the endless numbers of museums, shopping options, and aromatic restaurants with Michelin stars through the roof or Tripadvisor/Lonely Planet "top choice" stickers in the windows.

If you've got 8 months to spend in Paris, however, you're going to find that eventually, you have been to all the noteworthy museums/churches/venues. Eventually, you will have gotten the gist of what the food is like in a typical restaurant, even if you haven't tried nearly all of them. Eventually, (or in my case, from day one) you will realize you can't really afford to go shopping in Paris all that much. Frankly--eventually--you will realize that no stone of Paris has really been left unturned by the 40 bazillion tourists pouring in each year and that it's not quite so...magical.

You might remember me from a few months back when I popped in to Chesson's blog for a bit of a sight-seeing photo-studded guest post. I'm the travel-junkie behind beckygoesabroad.wordpress.com, and I'm about 6 months in to my 8 month Parisian stay right about now, and I'll be honest--even a month or two ago I was beginning to find myself in the position described above.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that sometimes, in order to enjoy la vie en Paris…you have to actually LEAVE Paris. Or at least, the immediate vicinity.

All around the city of Paris itself lie the banlieus, or suburbs, of Paris, and all together this region is called “Ile-de-France.” To both the East and West of Paris in these suburbs lie enormous parks known as the Bois de Vincennes (East) and the Bois de Boulogne (West). A couple of weekends ago I journeyed to the former for an unexpected adventure—a day at the horse racetracks, right outside one of the busiest cities in the world!


To be fair, I might never have known about the Hippodrome de Vincennes (with a corresponding venue in the Bois de Boulogne) if it weren’t for an actual French friend of mine who invited me to attend these races with himself and his American girlfriend one sunny Sunday afternoon.


It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, as a matter of fact—quite warm for the middle of February (sorry to all of you suffering in the icy grip of winter in the USA right now!) with children taking pony rides next to the race track and people sitting outside waiting for the next race—all 30 minutes apart—to begin to see if they would be collecting any money off of their bets.



Betting is indeed the name of the game here and the reason why most people attend—the races happen every weekend, so it’s not like it was some special event--and are supported by the gambling community. You’re even given a voucher to place one bet for free when you enter. (Turns out, I should have—I picked several winners of the day the few times we chose to place “bets” amongst ourselves!)


We managed to avoid spending any money at all, in fact (besides the very low entrance fee of a few Euros each) by bringing our own little French picnic, which we were relieved to find was allowed. A bit of a fresh baguette and some dried sausage (there would have been cheese, naturally, except on Sundays all of the shops close early and we missed it) and of course, wine…which we naturally served ourselves in some classy glasses as per the grace of my French friend. (Upon seeing my surprise that he actually brought GLASSWARE, he gasped, “What, do you think we’re going to drink wine out of plastic cups?!”…Someone remind me never to show him an American tailgate.)



We passed a few pleasant hours watching the horses trot around the track (Standardbreds, so no galloping allowed), picking our favorites, chatting, and enjoying a beautiful warm glow as the sun finally set on Vincennes. It was an experience I would never have expected but am hoping to repeat at least once more in the time I have left here. So should you ever find yourself exhausted by the repetition of Paris—just remember, a new French adventure could be only a few metro stops away!


1 comment:

  1. Oh, I just love it :) there's nothing like traveling and adventures!

    ReplyDelete

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