Jackie and Kristi

Kristin Espinasse gets to the bottom of her daughter’s change of heart about La Belle France

On the last day of our two-week holiday to the US, we huddled around the breakfast table in my sister’s Colorado home. Our suitcases scattered across the room, we had a long voyage ahead of us – back home to France. Amid the chaos of our departure my daughter looked dreamy. Pushing away a box of giant American donuts, Jackie made a surprising declaration: “Finalement, La France n’est pas si mal que ça.”

Vraiment? Did she just say: “France isn’t so bad after all?” Since when did our starry-eyed girl change her mind? Born in Aix-en-Provence, our little Franco-American set her sights on l’Amérique early on. The Land of the Free seemed to have the same magnetic pull on Jackie that La Belle France once had on me. I’ll never forget questioning my teenager about her preconceived notions. Why, in her opinion, was America “le meilleur”? Didn’t she see the authenticity of her father’s homeland?

La France est tellement VIEILLE!” France is so OLD! Jackie complained. And now, suddenly, France wasn’t all that bad? What had led to this change of heart towards her pays natal? Just when did old fuddy-duddy France woo this millennial back? I studied our now 20-year-old, who was too busy texting to offer up any clues. Hmm, devinons

L’ATTENTE

Was it the long wait at restaurants that lead to Mademoiselle’s disillusionment?
At a popular pancake house, after we’d squeezed into a designated salle d’attente, Jackie made a funny observation as she looked around at all the customers en train de patienter. “It’s kind of like waiting at the doctor’s office back in France…”

Jackie in Aix-en-Provence

LE BRUIT

Or could it be the noise that bothered our little Frenchie? Finally seated, we had to shout at each other in order to be heard above the din, which often included blaring music piped in through who-knows-where (if I knew where, I’d rip those baffles right out of the wall! No wonder everyone eats so quickly – they want to leave and find peace!).

MATRAQUAGE PUBLICITAIRE

The non-stop commercials on TV and the billboards galore left our Mademoiselle itching to try new things– like giant beignets (donuts) in all shapes, colours and sizes. But when she pushed that box of donuts across the table on our last day, I could already read her mind, which said: “Bof!”(Translation: “Meh. What’s all the hype about?”)

Was our girl now seeing the humble croissant in a new light? Was old-fashioned France taking on a newfangled charm? My daughter’s eyes sparkled as she anticipated her return home to France (to calm and quiet? to longer meals? to…) …to Jérémie, Jackie was saying.

“What’s that, Sweetie?” I replied, waking from my own rêverie.

“I said I just sent a text to Jérémie…”

Et ben, oui! Now I understand why France was suddenly pas si mal que ça. Because Mademoiselle was now seeing it through the rose-coloured glasses of l’amour.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

VRAIMENT? = really?
LE MEILLEUR = the best
DEVINONS = let’s guess
L’ATTENTE = the wait
EN TRAIN DE PATIENTER = in the process of waiting
BRUIT = noise
UNE BAFFLE = speaker (music)
LE MATRAQUAGE PUBLICITAIRE = advertising/commercials

From France Today magazine

Read more of Kristin’s popular columns here:
Le Dernier Mot: A Passage to Corsica
Le Dernier Mot: Desperately Seeking… Dessert
Le Dernier Mot: Sirène Again!
Le Dernier Mot: Milking the Breakfast Bar
Le Dernier Mot: Saperlipopette
Le Dernier Mot: Uninvited Guêpes
Le Dernier Mot: An Exception to Every Rule

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Delightful reading about your daughter! I enjoy
    Your writing so much making my day a little dreamy
    and joyful. How I long for another visit to France, rent
    a little car and be turned loose to explore and embrace
    French culture! Mercie!

  2. France is a nation with millennium long colorful and varied history and culture. But at twenty years old there is much to learn and appreciate about the United States and where to find quiet places with speedy service to eat. A visit to the Normandy beaches is a daily remembrance as well as Versailles and Marie Antoinette/Louis XVI of U.S. and French cooperation in defense of freedom and the beginning of that freedom with French assistance to defeat the British in the Revolutionary War. Otherwise, there might not be a United States in 2018, whatever its contemporary shortcomings, for enjoying a holiday trip.

  3. As always when I see one of your articles-from years back-I find them charming!
    Hope your daughter will want to return to the States again in the future. But understand and appreciate some of her feelings.
    I discovered Paris when I was 20-Junior Year in Paris. Have never lost my love for it!
    Best wishes to you and your family!
    Helene

  4. Our dear Kristi,
    Your writing never fails to fill us with delight and this one is no exception.
    Dear Jackie is as lovely –absolutely like her dear Mom.
    Blessings to you all.
    Thank you!

  5. Very enjoyable article. My husband and I moved from Seattle to Aix with our two young daughters in July 2010 , and we’ve experienced many of the same conflicted feelings within our family dynamic in the years since. We’ve always tried to encourage them to appreciate the best in both, while also realizing that it can be challenging for them to find their place in how they identify with each country.

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