I love France, French is the first foreign language I studied, though that was a long long time ago, so I don’t speak it. But I promised my friend Juliette’s mother (from Chantilly, France) that I would return in 2015 and speak in French! So while I had time to kill before starting my Asian 2014 trip, I left Brussels and took a bus to France to meet my friend Juliette, whom I met in the summer 2014, when she and her friend Anh-Claire stayed at my place in Barcelona (where I was living with my friend Ramon, at his apartment in Barca). Since those crazy few days, I promised them I would visit when I could, and the time finally came! So I arrived in Paris, where I met with Juliette. We did a quick stint of sightseeing, that took us to the Notre Dame, and then we went to her mother’s house in the idillic town of Chantilly, just north of Paris.
Her mother was so incredibly welcoming and was the most amazing host, I can’t think her enough for allowing me into her home. We spent the first night with dinner around the table, and though her mother didn’t speak too much English, between what she knew, my little bit of French, and Juliette translating, we had an absolutely wonderful dinner and great conversation. It was then that I promised her I would return to Chantilly to speak to her in French. The next day, we took a quick tour of the town, seeing many of the stables and famous places like the Château de Chantilly, which once was the home of the Princes of Conde and is now owned by the Institute of France and houses the Musée Condé, which has an art collection second to the Louvre in Paris. We didn’t go in, but it looked impressive from the car!
I got to meet her sister, Adélaide, who is a champion with horses, as Chantilly is home to the best race horse training in France. The city is surrounded by stables, including the Chantilly Racecourse, and has the Living Museum Of The Horse, celebrating horse and equine culture. Juliette herself works in hospitality and she showed me her school, a well known hospitality management school, located in town, and the five star hotel where she works. She is actually now finishing up her studies in hospitality in Birmingham, UK, so for her, mastering English is a must and we had many great conversations about her love of the language. I help her here and there and she was definitely my main translator for the duration of my stay in France.
During most of my time here, I had to work, so night two I wrapped up and went to Paris to meet some of Juliette’s friends, including Marion, who ended up having drinks with us till.. 430 am? We started a really cool dive bar, of which the name escapes me, and ended up at Marion’s apartment. Really cool girl, and though Juliette had to translate, again, had a great conversation!
Night three was the last night and we went to Amiens, a town north of Chantilly, to meet up with Anh-Clarie, Juliette’s best friend who was with her in Barcelona! I was so happy to see her again, and I got to meet her friends Alice, her roommate and we went to a birthday party, then to the city center. Amiens is a college town, so the scene was quite electric. I met some of Anh-Claire’s friends and everyone spoke English so we just drank and share stories. Overall, it was a pretty low key night, but a great night of catching up with old friends and making new ones. Finally at 6 am, they took me to the bus station where I made my way to Charles De Gaulle airport to fly to Manchester. Short trip, but totally worth it and I miss my French friends already!