What’s It Like to Live in Fraaaance!?
It’s the first time in all these years to have missed the annual Bastille Day celebrations at the “Bals des Pompiers” and the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower…for good cause. Bastille Day celebrates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, a symbol of the birth of a modern French nation…and we here in “Nouvelle Orleans” celebrated the birth of my mother on July 13th, 1917. She was born here in the American city that was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.
Named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who was Regent of France at the time, New Orleans was ceded in 1763 to the Spanish Empire and remained under Spanish control for 40 years. Louisiana then reverted to French control in 1801, but Napoleon sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase just two years later. Little did he know…
Today, it is recovering from the devastation caused by the flooding after Hurricane Katrina almost two years ago. We took a driving tour one rainy afternoon, while sheets of water turned the already humid air into a waterfall and the broken-up streets became massive pools of summer rainwater, to see how the city was fairing. I’d have to report that there are positive signs of devoted residents rebuilding their homes, but still lots left untouched. The family home situated one block from one of the levees that broke remains a shell of its former self, while my sister’s house has been totally rebuilt to perfection. The French Quarter didn’t suffer so badly. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s new/old home in the French Quarter looked stunning behind the drops of rain (we couldn’t resist taking a peek).
I’m the only one of the family that has chosen to live abroad, so I guess that makes me a bit of an oddity. Relatives and friends wanted to know what it’s like to live in “Fraaaance.” I just love the way New Orleanians say “Fraaaance,” with the “a” high in their nasal passages. It’s so particular to New Orleans, that a few years ago, there was a local commercial on television with a little boy who said it emphatically, “I live in Fraaaance!” just like that, and it stuck as a local joke.
Those who had seen the new Michael Moore movie, “Sicko,” wanted to know if the French health care system was as good as it’s cracked up to be. Fortunately for those of us on French social security or with inexpensive French private health insurance and the care of health professionals who aren’t so concerned with the ‘bottom line,
‘ the answer the yes. My health care has never been better and I’ve never been healthier, thanks to lots of natural exercise climbing 70 steps to my apartment and a healthier diet of normal sized portions. After almost a week in New Orleans, it will take several additional weeks to recover from the excessive eating of fried foods we’ve tasted…and tasted…and tasted. One restaurant is better than the next and you don’t need to spend more than $10 to be blown away by the party that takes place in your mouth with every bite. No where can you eat better, even in France, but I didn’t say healthier.
They also wanted to know if I’d ever move back, to the U.S., that is. The answer to that is a fairly emphatic, “no!” It’s difficult to go in reverse to seeing the world with blinders on after living on the other side of the pond, but the fact is, there is only one place I’d ever consider, and that’s New Orleans.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. We’ll be back in Paris on Wednesday, settling into the charming Marais apartment we call home, ready to bring you news of all that’s happening in Paris. To rent your own high-quality, luxurious Paris apartment for your next visit to the City of Light, visit /parlerparis/apartments.