To France or Not to France?


I’VE BEEN BUSY PLANNING a solo trip to Europe for the month of March — a more mature version of the Mediterranean Eurailpass journey I wanted to take in my 20s, but never did. A week ago, I was excited, deep into guidebooks, reading about Zaragoza and Aix-en-Provence and Vicenza, all places I’ve never been before (that’s the theme of this trip). I was spending time on YouTube, watching ‘how to pack for a month in a carry-on’ videos.

Then came Charlie and Hypercasher, and now I’m deep into articles about anti-Semitism in France, where I had planned to spend two of the four weeks. I know the history of the Jews in France; I’ve written about it for The Forward and elsewhere. So no surprise there, and there’s so much else about France I do love (art, food, language).

I’m still going, but I’m thinking of shortening my time in France, cutting out Marseille and Lyon; I’ll probably avoid synagogues. I have friends with trips to Paris and the Dordogne in the planning who wouldn’t dream of canceling (which crossed my mind). In fact, one is especially eager to go and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie.’ Not me. I’m trying not to be a nervous nellie, but I’m afraid my joie de voyage got up and went.

Any words of advice, support, en(dis)couragement? They are welcome. What would you do in my sensible walking shoes?

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in TRAVEL and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to To France or Not to France?

  1. flusspferd1 says:

    Don’t let what happend in Paris scare you in canceling/altering your plans. Hell, Paris is probably safer now than before! Hope you enjoy the city as much as I did, p.s I’ve heard Lyon is a beautiful city 😉

  2. Go, of course!!! And have a great time!! It would be nice to hear from you. Are you NOT returning my phone call and email on purpose or just busy? Do let me know.

    Love, Tzip

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Irvina Lew says:

    We who love travel are always weighing our choices and there’s no doubt that if we let our politics dictate all of our travels, we’d have to stay home. And, sometimes, the terrorists or criminals get us there, too.

    I had a similar choice before going to St. Petersburg, last spring, and wrote that “sometimes art trumps politics.” I detest Putin and his corruption and the aggression, but loved the paintings by Matisse and the Faberge and the architecture and the onion shaped domes and, and, and, the food…

    The Black Shirts were in Bangkok when I was there and I didn’t go out wandering the streets the way we did in Seville, but I loved experiencing the city. I could go on and on… Israel, for one? We went; others didn’t.

    To the point: because food is not your personal priority and you may not want to go to the resistance museum at the moment, I’d skip Lyon.

    As for Marseille, we were warned about the dangers and spent three happy nights there and took public buses and local trains to Aix and only missed Arles because it poured that day. The Marseille rail station is about as nice as Madrid; the harbor and old city are beautiful and there are new museums…worth a day or a few hours en route or in between Arles and Aix and Nice… And, you can overnight in the smaller cities…but the Radisson Blu on the harbor was comfortable and convenient with a big strong security guard at the front door. ($179???)

    I will note one thing about safety issues. You might want to consider taking some taxi money for those occasions when you might not have used one; avoid American hotels–which I am sure you planned to do–look European, which you already do… and savor Van Gogh and Cezanne and the cobbled streets and geraniums and the pastel colored houses and the sea…

    Amuse-toi bien!

  4. Christine Scheartz Hartley says:


    The Dordogbe is wonderful but do not cut out Marseille! My parents moved there 4 years ago (in their 70s) and they LOVE it, all its aspects, including my mother reading to kindergarten classes in the projects. The new museum, muc em, is a sight to behold, as are the old ones and the Canebière and the Panier! They have a spare room with its own bathroom and would be happy to host you and take you around, as they did for my PT when she was in town with the Merce Cynningham dance co. (For which she was the PT). They also have a house 3 min on foot from the beach in a tiny village on the riviera, 1:30 hrs away, which they will happily lend you. Please reconsider!!!

  5. Christine Scheartz Hartley says:

    Plus they live in an area with synagogues and kosher markets and a happy and lively Jewish community — you can have kosher pizza across the avenue if you like!

  6. Jeff says:

    I agree with ff1–France will be like the streets around Yankee Stadium on game night–swarming with gendarmes…

  7. Cheese and Curry says:

    Hi.. My husband is French and says there is definitely no reason to cancel or even shorten your trip to France. For all you know, it should be safer now than ever. March is a long time from now too. On the places you would like to visit, try Avignon and the Provence in south. Better choice than Marseilles. If you have time, also go to Normandy – its beautiful and plenty of places to visit – D-Day beaches, Mont St Michel, castles etc. Bon voyage! :) If you want more suggestions to plan your trip in France, feel free to reach out.. !

  8. Nancy Mclain says:

    You have to keep doing the thing’s you love ,but use your common sense .Paris is my favorite city & I will continue to go there & alter a few place’s I go to , that better suit’s the situation. Enjoy your next visit!

  9. cara says:

    Thanks, all, for the happy thoughts. Some new people reached out, too — welcome! Irvina, your comment was longer than my post. Your point is well taken about not letting politics dictate our travels, though I have sometimes done just that (haven’t visited Israel since the ’90s because I hate the government). Fluss, I’m not going to Paris this time around. Going to stick to the south, where the weather will hopefully be sunny and warmish. Lyon is a maybe. CSH, I’d love to check in with your parents in Marseille! I’ll probably do it as a day trip from Arles, but will definitely follow up on that with you. Cheese and Curry, no Normandy this time, or Avignon
    (done that), but Provence for sure. Nancy, hi there!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Uzes and/or garcasoone. probably misspelled.
    this is Brian, we almost bought your LI cottage; now living in europe.

  11. I had been pondering a spontaneous overnight trip to Paris for the day after the attack, and of course I canceled that. But now I feel I would go without (or at least little to no) hesitation. I’m sure I will go in the next month or two. I’m a worrier too, and of course it’s important to use caution, but it would be a shame to cross an entire country off your list because of that tragic incident. I hope you blog about your trip!

  12. cara says:

    hi Brian, so it all worked out for the best! You wouldn’t have gotten much use out of a Long Island cottage. B to B, glad to hear from you and to discover your blog. Of course I’ll blog about my trip!

  13. Cara says:

    BTW B2B, i’ve already crossed entire countries off my list, come to think of it. Entire continents and subcontinents, in fact. I have no desire to see 1001 places before I die. But not FRANCE!

  14. I see what you’re saying, and you are right. I have done the same. But for me it’s mostly places that I have never been to and that are totally foreign to me that I have sort of mentally crossed off the list. But places that I already love and have some familiarity with? It doesn’t seem right. Especially FRANCE :)

  15. And I mean crossed them off only if I would feel unsafe or uncomfortable visiting them…

  16. votre-cousin-pamela says:

    I hope by now, after all these lovely posts, you are once more enthusiastic to do the trip you planned. I completely understand your hesitation but it should be momentary. It is going to be a wonderful and remarkable trip for many reasons. Looking forward to hearing — and reading — about it during and after.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Cara! We were in the south of France 3 months ago (before the recent events). Friends advised us to skip Marseille & Aix, which we did. We visited smaller towns – Fontvielle, Les Baux, St Remy, Chateauneuf du Pape, L’Isle sur la sorge, Vaison la romaine, Gigondas, Roussillon, & Ville Franche (plus a day in Nice)… There was plenty of art & food to enjoy.
    Definitely go!

  18. Becky says:

    Go! Savor! Report! Becky

  19. Anonymous says:

    Do what Americans and New Yorkers wanted tourists to keep doing after September 11th, show up and support the economy. If you love France enough to be interested in visiting it, that’s what you should do. And if you “are not Charlie”, well, as a writer, c’est dommage!

  20. Nancy McLain says:

    I just found this in my saved emails . Please continue to send your interesting articles , I love them especially about France ! I don’t think I got the follow up on your last trip there . If you could send it & any others , I would appreciate it . Also I’m from Oakdale , L.I. Any thing on Fire Island & more
    on the less expensive Hamptons , thank you .

    Sincerely , Nancy McLain

  21. cara says:

    hi Nancy, why don’t you subscribe to the blog in order not to miss anything? You can do that on the home page
    There’s also a search box on the home page where you can enter terms like ‘Fire Island,’ ‘Paris,’ and so on, and the relevant posts will come up. Thanks for your readership; glad you like my posts!

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s