Could a French Photography Workshop be your ideal vacation for 2014? Well, whether you’re a photographer or not is hard to imagine how it couldn’t be, isn’t it? Since everyone who hasn’t been living in a cave is aware of the many human, scenic, culinary, Historic and cultural treasures that France has to offer.
But is it an “ideal” vacation? Naturally that depends on your definition of the word. However I think you’ll know the answer if your idea of “perfect European vacation” includes the following:
1. Food. While it’s obvious everyone has to eat, the French have elevated the preparation and production of Food into an Art. (Some would argue a “religion!”)
The old saying is true: “The French don’t eat to live – they live to eat. “
What this means to the traveller is that serving good food – food free from chemicals and (in most case) made on the premises, is a matter of National pride.
Important for every French person. But especially for those who cater to overseas visitors. Bottom Line: Almost impossible to get a bad meal in France. (Or a bad cup of coffee!)
2. France has Ten major wine growing regions. And too many of the smaller ones to count. Virtually every Frenchman/Woman in the countryside has a plot of grapes. No matter how small. Whether or not they actually make the wine themselves.
This abundance of “mom n’ pop” vignerons (winemakers) is definitely one of the great advantages of French Wine production. Since it allows you to buy directly from them. At embarrassingly low prices (by North American Standards).
The other side of the “wine Coin” for those with an interest in wines from the Ten major growing regions, is “A. O. C. ” (Appelation Origine Controle) This is the French Government system of regulation and control which ensures the authenticity of the wines produced in a designated area.
For example, Grapes grown in Bordeaux cannot be (legally) included in a A. O. C. Fronton Wine.
3. History. While every European country has it’s share of interesting History, none seem to captivate and enthrall us more than French History. Perhaps because it’s so varied?
Consider the “Knights Templar. ” Most widely known for “the Crusades” – the unsuccessful attempt to convert the Arab World to Christianity in the 1Oth century, the Templars were also Europe’s first bankers. They issued “letters of credit” (in effect, the first travellers cheques) to Christian pilgrims travelling a “holy” land infested with bandits.
French Royalty, like most royal lines was not 100% French. In fact, during some periods of History, an English Born King “ruled” both countries. Notably King Henry the Sixth, son of King Henry the Fifth. On the other side of the coin, the Duke Of Normandy, invaded England in 1066 (yes, the Battle of Hastings!) and became King of England. His name: William the Conqueror.
French History is riddled with mystery. Perhaps the greatest being that of “The Man in the Iron Mask”. First of all, why “iron?”. The mask was velvet. And more to the point – why the mask? Why protect the identity of the prisoner? Was he really the “un-royal” Father of Louis 14 as many have speculated?” Imprisoned because of the young King’s striking resemblance to him?
4. The Landscape. France is divided into 96 “departments” and 27 regions. Not an exact parallel to “states”, but close. More like ‘mini-state. ” In every one, you’ll find a different topography. A different Landscape. A different heritage.
Can you say: “Photographers Paradise?”
As you travel through France, every 50 kilometres, everything changes. The landscape. The Light. The Food. The Wine. Only the people remain the same. Friendly. Hospitable. And dying to show you the wonders of their little corner of paradise.
Sounds like an “ideal” European Vacation to me. With or without a camera. And you?