Ten Reasons Why Writers Love France

Writers have always found solace and inspiration within the French culture and among its people.  Americans, especially, have a rich history of flocking to Paris to exercise their creativity.  In the days following the attacks on free speech, I have been thinking about this and have reached a few conclusions.Essoyes - Rue Voltaire Sign

We love France because of its open-minded people.  Ideas, affairs of the heart, race, religion, sex, are embraced freely.Essoyes - Micheline, Lena, Maurice, Karin, Ann, and me

Street performers are full of personality.Paris - street performer

The light in France is dreamy; soft, glimmering, often filtered through grey clouds or reflected off of golden facades of limestone, bounced back from colorful stained glass, (Troyes has a museum dedicated solely to stained glass.)

Troyes - St. Peter's light through stained glass Troyes - St. Peter's golden sunlight on side of bldg Troyes - St. Peter's stained glass  Troyes - St. Peter's lit by the golden light of setting sun

Courtyards, like rabbit runs, embrace us while giving just enough room to exercise our bodies and our minds.  Ancient roots heave upward from the ground.  Ivy creeps along the stone walls, threatening to take over.  Troyes - Champ des Oiseaux - courtyard garden from the garden

Architecture is brilliant, whether castellated towers, medieval houses, Gothic churches, or stone farm sheds.  We can run backward through time as easily as taking a walk in any village.Troyes - Architectural quarter with famous houses Church of Saint Remy Essoyes - School Troyes - Half-timbered buildings

Paris - Renee with Napoleon's tomb Paris - Sacre Coeur Paris - Eiffel Tower from Montmartre   Notre Dame 5

Details — downspouts, doorknobs, metal work, studded heavy wooden doors, window boxes full of flowers, wares fabulously displayed in store windows — all seen by the French as opportunities to be decorous.

Troyes - iron studded door Troyes - Catholic School Building with colored roof tiles and iron gates Troyes - Buildings with Timbers, shutters and iron Troyes - St. Nizier - Gargoyle kept company by pigeonsTroyes - Flowering pots Essoyes - Yellow flowers and lavender against dark wood and stucco with rounded door - gorgeous!

Reflections through a glass window in Troyes Essoyes - Window Display of the Wine Shop

Art is ubiquitous and displayed not only in museums and churches but often on sides of houses or reproduced and placed on easels where the original was created.

Essoyes - Gabrielle's House Essoyes - Drunk Frenchman bottom right with his 'box' of wine Essoyes - Pierre Auguste Renoir's place of burial Essoyes - Renoir Reproduction of Gabrielle on the entire side of her house

Paris - Rodin sculpture  Paris - Sculpture with Eiffel Tower

Even the metro walls are painted.metro art 1 metro art 3

And sometimes sculptures pop out of walls.Paris - art

It is easy to travel around France.  Trains are fairly dependable.  I say ‘fairly’ only because of the propensity of the French to strike and shut down or seriously reduce schedules.  Buses are available, as are private shuttles, rentals, taxi cabs.

Le Metro cafe ruc metro entrance

The markets in France are opportunities to give all of the senses a workout.  I can’t imagine anyone experiencing writer’s block when there is a market nearby.  Such an orgy of colors, textures, sounds, smells, tastes would seem to defy a writer to pass by without jotting notes on slips of paper.

Troyes - Las Halles - market fruit basket  flea market3

Paris - chickens  Paris - market

Food, food, food! Eating well is perceived by the French as a basic human right.  I wholeheartedly agree.

Paris - dessert Paris - chocolates Essoyes - cheese cart Essoyes - dinner Essoyes - tart Essoyes - dessert

Champagne!  (Needs no further explanation.)

Champage in a glass Champagne Tasting

Sensations of the past ride a continuous loop with the present.  Stone steps are worn concave in the center where generations of feet have left a cavity.  Bakeries and vineyards have existed in their foundations for centuries.  Craftsmen and artisans use old world techniques and are proud of it.

MSM facade Morrison Paula Renee catacombs9 Essoyes - Old tuileries structure Essoyes - Street scene with Boulangerie Champagne Press Essoyes - Village Road MSM group

Essoyes - grape vines Troyes - cobblestone street scene

French philosopher Rene Descartes penned the idea: Je pense, donc je suis; I think, therefore I am.  Today, I believe he would amend this statement to say:  Je pense, donc je suis Charlie.

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.   

About reneejohnsonwrites

I have recently returned from University of Iowa's Novel-Writing Intensive during their Summer Writing Festival. Other credits include two stints at The Essoyes School in France, two terms at a writer's residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha's Vineyard, and a retreat in Italy. Join me in 'writing the world.' -- Renee Canter Johnson, author of "Herald Angels", "The Haunting of William Gray", and "Acquisition" published by The Wild Rose Press. Coming soon--an international intrigue set in Venice, Italy--where adventure and danger are as masked as the characters.
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50 Responses to Ten Reasons Why Writers Love France

  1. gene3067 says:

    I just explain it in one word, France. 🙂 Great points there.

  2. France has never been on my “I want to go there” list. You’ve made me reconsider this. You’ve also made a wonderful tribute to “Charlie”.

  3. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs, Renee. I’ve never been to France, but now I kind of feel like I have.

  4. candidkay says:

    I have Paris on my vision board this year:). Your photos make me want to go and travel the French countryside also! I hope I am not disappointed. I imagine feeling at home, save for the French being spoken all around me . . .

    • The further into the countryside you go, the more spectacular the views and the people, but the more French you need to speak as well. Enjoy it, Kay. I’m planning on going back this year as well.

  5. Elyse says:

    Thanks for the trip back! Lovely country.

  6. Beautiful photos! The first few lines of your blog made me think of Hemingway (and Hadley), I’m reading The Paris Wife right now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your top ten list.

    • I loved The Paris Wife. My writing teacher suggested I read Hemingway’s ‘The Moveable Feast’ first and it was wonderful advice. If you haven’t already read it, get the original version and fall in love with him as I did.

  7. Sherri says:

    Having been to Paris and the rural villages in the Dordogne I totally agree that France is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos Renee and your top ten list…especially now… ❤

  8. Look behind Notre Dame and its flying buttresses. Follow the bridge to the Rue Saint Louis en l’ile and you will cross Rue Poulletier where I lived back in the early 70’s when I attended courses at the Sorbonne. Add students to that. Writers and students love Paris.

    • I love this about you, Georgette! You are such a smarty — studying at the Sorbonne. Wow. I’d love to sit down with you, sipping a good wine (French of course), and hear all of the details of life in Paris in the 70’s. What a story it must be. I’m jealous just thinking about it! Yes, writers and students love Paris!

  9. Each trip to France seems more enticing than the one taken just before. Each time my work took me there, I’d tack a couple of days on both ends for extended exploration and was never disappointed. Of course, I also spent 2 months just outside Paris where my cat had surgery and I had a wonderful time. If you’d asked Morti, I’m sure he would’ve told a different story.

    • Poor Morti. With that aside, I am so happy for you that you could spend that much time in France. What a treat. I bet you have some interesting stories to tell.

      • Renee – The tragedies that have occurred in France make my heart heavy but my memories are strong and fast tucked into my heart. When I was there with Morti, I didn’t have any real work responsibilities other than to write a few legal briefs so I was pretty much a free agent to roam the cities and the small villages. When Tom is able to travel, France is still on our travel destination but we are watching the violence issue also. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around France and violence in the same sentence. It hurts. A beautiful country with beautiful people, customs and so friendly. It hurts to see how they are suffering. I still want to go back. Thanks for the post. You flooded me with great memories of my many times there and brought smiles to my heart.

      • I am so happy to have brought the good memories back to you at a time when all of our hearts are breaking for our beloved France. It makes me want to go back even more than ever in order to show that tourism won’t be stopped either. You sound like you had the perfect arrangement — a little work, a lot of sightseeing! That’s the job I want Sheri.

      • It was the perfect career and I’m glad it was mine but it definitely belongs to someone that’s a workaholic and doesn’t have other obligations.
        We will return to France and Belgium – the de Grom ancestors are in Belgium. We just don’t know when. I sincerely believe being a tourist in DC will be just as dangerous as anywhere else.

      • Unfortunately, I think you might be right. We just have to keep going forward, in faith and good spirits. Anything can happen at any time. I’d go back to France tomorrow. In fact, I plan to this year!

  10. Very nice, Renee. An elegant tribute to a wonderful people.

    • Thank you, Janet. I know how much you love France, and I bet you recognized a few of these pictures from Essoyes. Whenever I think of our time at The Essoyes School, it feels almost spiritual and perfect.

  11. Wow. What a feast for the eyes! Total and complete overload. Such details and overwhelming beauty everywhere! Just wow.
    ~d.

  12. rangewriter says:

    Oh boy! I am so looking forward to my second visit to France, coming up this summer!

  13. Aquileana says:

    Stunning post… Oh la la, La France!~ I much enjoyed the reading !
    Thanks for sharing!. Happy weekend to you. Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  14. Great photos and you’ve built up a wonderful picture of France as an inspirational place.

  15. Sheila says:

    What a beautiful post! I love Paris in particular, always feel like I need to spend more time there…my two trips have barely scratched the surface! I truly feel for the plight of the French with the political/religious/terrorist issues that have unfolded. It seems there are no easy answers, and a lot of uncertainty on the horizon. I am horrified by the tragedies of senseless killings, and hope that whatever solutions can be found bring dignity and freedom of speech for all! Vive la France! ~ Sheila

  16. Artists have always loved France too and probably for the same reasons. Love all the great photos, Renee. 🙂

  17. melissa says:

    What a lovely post, Renee! I have seen much of our country, many states and brief glimpses into Canada, but have never left North America. It is my dream to travel, and France is definitely on my list. I spent all four years of college learning the language — and only wish I had someone with which to practice it today! I recently started teaching my children French, in the dreams that we may all use our language skills someday on a grand journey abroad. I have bookmarked your lovely post, and hope to return here and study your pictures! Thank you for the inspiration! 🙂

    • You are the best mom! Teaching a foreign language to your children is a gift they will never lose. I took French in school but it wrestles with me — perhaps sounding less than ideal since I am southern and have a definite drawl. Thank you Melissa. I hope you get to visit France soon.

  18. Renee,
    what a STUNNING, magical, Amazing feast for the eyes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to write in France while sipping expensive red wine and delectable pastry? WOWWWW. xx

  19. estelea says:

    Great post, thanks for the lovely tribute to my home country! Just got back to the Philippines and you already managed to get me homesick 😉

  20. Great post. And I would say that for the same reasons photographers are in love with France as well.

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