There is something really special about travelling to Paris.

Those of you who have been there will understand. We’ve all heard about Paris, of the city’s rich history, great food, deep culture, and of the beautiful Seine river. Some of the world’s most iconic events have taken place in there.

It seems like only yesterday

After a quick train ride from Milan to Strasbourg, I transferred and took my first train into Paris. I remember that afternoon when I arrived and the special feeling I felt knowing that I was in such a special city.

I spent most of my university days learning about the rich history of France. It was a treat for me.

But this blog isn’t going to talk about the deep history of France and all the beautiful travel locations. I don’t need to sell you on those because we all know how great they are.

I’m going to talk about something else instead

You see, coming from Canada, I speak a certain degree of broken French. I wouldn’t call myself fluent, but I am capable of communicating at a more than basic level.

All my life I had always been told that the French are rude and difficult to get along with.

That wasn’t the case for me

I met some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in France. The people there are wonderful and they will appreciate you if you make even the smallest effort to speak their language.

My time in Paris involved seeing many of the famous landmarks, walking along the Seine, checking out some of the city’s vibrant art scene, and of course, enjoying a glass of wine and good bread. Who could say no to that?

But my most fond memory will surprise you

I decided to rent a car and drive to the Normandy region instead of taking the train. If you plan to visit France, make Normandy one of your stops. It is beyond beautiful.

As I drove through the countryside, my phone ran out of data and my Google Maps stopped working. I was lost on my way to meet with a family friend who lived in the region.

It didn’t look good

At some point, I ended up in a small French town, unsure of what to do. I put the car in park and approached a young woman and her children as they were tidying up the front of their house.

In my broken French, I explained my situation and asked them if I could use their WiFi to figure out where I was.

I never expected this to happen

The mother invited me inside of her house, offered me a meal, a Coca Cola, and whatever else I wanted. She saw us as royalty.

Do you want to know why?

She was so proud to have a Canadian in her house. To her, it was an honor and she gushed about the opportunity to share such a story with her friends.

As it turns out, the French still have a deep love for Canada and what they did for the country during World War II. The war may be long over, but the memories still exist.

It was that little moment in a small French town that made the trip form me. I will never forget it. That tiny act of hospitality made me realize the joys of travel and meeting new people.

Here’s the thing…

It changed the way I view travelling. Sure, I love to visit a country and experience its landmarks. That desire hasn’t changed.

But now my priority is to meet new people and to create little memories like the one I described above. It’s the human experience and the little interactions that make travelling so amazing.

I did so much in France while I was there, but it is that tiny memory in a rural French town that will live on with me forever.

You have to break out of your shell

The next time you travel, make an effort to speak a foreign language, to talk to people, and to learn a little bit about their life stories.

Travel is a wonderful thing and a great change to build a better you. The world is a big place and there are a lot of opportunities out there.

What are you waiting for?

As Canadians, we are lucky. Our passport is the gold standard and it allows us to travel with ease.

So make use of it. I challenge you to pack your bags, order your ticket, and start stamping that passport. Create your own memories in a tiny French town.

Happy travelling.

Eric Carriere

Founder of WriteOn

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