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  • Writer's pictureJamie Elmer

France Observations + Thank You...(July, 2023)

How are you? How is your summer going?

I hope you’re feeling rested, staying cool and doing well.

Last month Tobin and I went to France.

I went to Paris with my dad 24 years ago, and Tobin has visited a friend in the south of France a couple of times in the past few years, but we hadn’t been there together. We planned the trip around outdoor activities, including mountain biking, and even brought our mountain bikes. No small feat!

We rented a car in Paris and promptly headed southwest out of town.

Highlights of the trip were La Rochelle, on the Atlantic Ocean, and visiting the Pyrenees mountains. Loudenvielle was particularly exceptional.

As I’ve thought about writing this email newsletter, it is apparent to me that I could easily write about how great France is, and how it was hard to come back to the US. But as we all know, nothing is black and white, and there are pros and cons to every country. That said, I’m going to simply share the stand out aspects of the trip as they come to mind. In no particular order, and as neutral as I can be…

I’ll gladly pay more in tolls to have smooth roads. The roads where we were were absolutely amazing. No pot holes. No garbage. Have any of you driven through St. Louis recently? We do every year, and you’ll be lucky to make it through without losing a wheel!

More people smoked and vaped in France than I was expecting. I’m surprised by how many people smoke and vape in the US, and was even more surprised to see so many smokers there. ALTHOUGH, nobody dropped their butts on the ground.

Like most places, if we didn’t initiate eye contact and a Bonjour, people would probably not look up or say hello. Although, like anywhere, if we initiated a Bonjour, people lifted their head, made eye contact, gave a big smile and said Bonjour in return.

People were on their cell phones less in public. A lot less. Employees weren’t on their phone, they were busy doing their job. So lovely.

Most everything was smaller and simpler, including roads, meal portions, homes and vehicles.

18 wheelers were going the speed limit, stayed in the right lane, and overall nobody was speeding. We drove over 2,250 miles while there, including through rush hour in Paris a couple of times, and honestly saw no aggressive drivers or any road rage. Can you imagine?!

Overall food quality was higher for the money.

The obvious weight and obesity issue in the US is shocking after being in France. A more sedentary lifestyle and lesser quality of food is taking its toll.

I didn’t see ONE plastic utensil or styrofoam anything the entire trip. We did use disposable utensils that were biodegradable wood. Why are we still using plastic in the US?

Music wasn’t blasting in public places like gas stations, restaurants or stores. We could hear each other talk. Delightful.

Paying almost $8.00 a gallon for gas was hard to stomach.

Staff in the restaurants, hotels, and out and about were direct and to the point (which I think can sometimes come across as abrupt to us Americans), but friendly and efficient. Tobin and I talked about the the fact that more people in France had what I would describe as a presence. Clear. Focused. Confident. Embodied. Presence is one of those qualities, I believe, comes with someone who is in their body, with a clear mind, not stressed and focused.

Being in France really made us appreciate our mountain bike trail systems here in the U.S. We had some excellent riding there, but it wasn’t the planned, organized, purpose built MTB trails like we’ve experienced in the states that are so fun.

I’m not saying that France has it all figured out(!), but the true stand out qualities were:

Generally people seemed more calm, they’re taking more action on environmental issues, and they’re not dealing with the obesity crisis that the US is.

That is my rundown in case you’re interested.

We had an absolutely awesome trip and can’t wait to go back.

In other news…

I have new audio classes, meditations and breathing practices available for you on my membership site. Those of you that are already members…Enjoy!

I’ll be holding an End Of Summer Giveaway soon. You’ll be able to enter a year long subscription to my membership site. Keep an eye out in your inbox and on social media for that giveaway. And, feel free to spread the word about it!

Stay in touch. Take good care of yourself and each other this week.

I hope you and your’s are well.



PS. Thank you to those that recently gifted a scholarship of the streaming site. If you’re interested in gifting my site to a friend or loved one that could use some support in taking care of themselves, please let me know! $60.00 gives someone a membership for a year.

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