First, Joyeuses Pâques. Happy Easter. I hope you’re having a lovely weekend, whether you’re newly back in lockdown or emerging from it. A few months ago, I had the pleasure to interview Beth Haslam in my occasional series, Ma Vie Française. Beth writes a very successful series of memoirs about her life in France, ‘Fat Dogs and French Estates’. She kindly returned the favour by inviting me to write an article for her website. I thought you might like to read it.
Beth gave me carte blanche to come up with a topic and an incredibly generous word limit of 2,500 words! After floundering about in my usual indecisive way, I hit upon the idea to explore why France is a gift for writers.
When I say writers, I don’t mean only authors of fiction, but also writers of non-fiction. I straddle both genres, as do many others.
And, of course, what makes France a gift for writers also makes it un cadeau for anyone who visits. In the article, I explore France’s scenery, history, language, people and cuisine. Even with such a generous length allowance, I was obliged to leave out a lot. After all, you could write books on the subject; many have.
Also, I make no apology if the article has a slightly rosy-tinted glow about it. Having lived in France for nearly 25 years, I have a pretty good grasp of its downsides. But, in present circumstances, I found it better to focus on the positive sides, of which there are many.
Here are the first couple of paragraphs.
My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in Southwest France nearly twenty-five years ago. My various careers all involved some form of writing. Then I turned to penning non-fiction (a blog, magazine articles) before launching myself into the deeper waters of historical fiction.
In normal times, France is the world’s number one tourist destination. Few countries offer so many attractions and advantages for visitors. France is also a happy hunting ground for writers. When Beth kindly invited me to write an article, after floundering around for a subject, I thought, “Why not explore what makes my adopted country, and my region in particular, such a writer’s paradise?” Here goes…
Read the rest of the article.
While you’re there, do take the opportunity to explore Beth’s blog. Her posts about her life in France, the animals she and her husband rear and protect and her visits to local places are fascinating. Bonne lecture !
You might also like:
Ma Vie Française #10: Beth Haslam, finding a French estate
Favourite blogs about life in France
The ups and downs of life in la France profonde
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Hi Nessa. Finally got round to reading your article on why France is a gift for writers – enjoyed it and very funny about the pile of manure faux pas! I usually write a few travel articles most years for various mags but the pandemic has killed that over the last year, Am hoping to get out there again and get some articles on the go over the summer. I’ve missed writing them and also the planning of them which is half the fun. MJ.
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Thanks for reading it. We have made plenty of faux pas in nearly 25 years! I used to write a lot of magazine articles, but I’m pretty much retired now and focus on my fiction writing. I enjoyed writing that piece for Beth, though. Good luck with getting back to them yourself.
What a lovely article, Vanessa. You have captured what we so love about France. It is a country that has so much variety between the different regions. I cannot wait until we can return to wander around.
Take care in lockdown. Hopefully with vaccinations we will see a downturn in the infection rates.
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Thank you. I’m pleased you enjoyed reading it. I had to leave out a lot, of course, but I wanted to convey the diversity, if nothing else. We hope the vaccination programme in France is being stepped up, since the infection rates are pretty bad in some regions. Take care.