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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Homeyer: Return To France

Life is full of uncertainty, but I refuse to limit my activities just because there’s the possibility of danger. After all, I could get hit by a car driven by a texting teen while I’m walking to the post office. Or I could simply fall down a set of stairs and end up like Humpty Dumpty. So I’m not about to deny myself the joys and learning experiences of travel – especially to France – one of my favorite places to visit. For starters, there’s the food. On previous trips, I’ve found that little family-run cafes and restaurants serve wonderful food at reasonable prices – even in Paris. I love testing new dishes and trying to figure out what's in a sauce so I can try to duplicate it when I’m back in my own kitchen. I speak passable French, so I’m able to ask my waiter what the ingredients are if there’s a flavor I don’t recognize. And I’m clearly not a chef trying to steal their secrets.

Then there’s the architecture. I plan to visit the Cathedral de Notre Dame - a truly awe-inspiring building – and an amazing example of construction done without cranes and heavy machinery. I’ll go despite the fact that recently a car full of explosives was left near it – though thankfully, the car never exploded. If I compute the ratio of minutes in a year to the time the car sat outside the cathedral, I think I’d have a better chance of winning the Mega-Bucks than running into trouble during an hour’s visit.

I’ll also be hiking another section of the Chemin - a meandering trail that travelers in the millions have been walking since the Middle Ages. Unlike our own Appalachian trail, this 500-mile journey has places to stay all along the way, so there’s always a bed and a great meal at the end of the day. Granted, these are mainly hostel-like accommodations, which means sharing a room with other hikers most nights - including some world class snorers. But getting to meet and share meals with people from other countries is part of the joy of the walk for me.

I look forward to hearing what people think of our current political circus. I like learning how other societies deal with questions of race, age and education. And last year I even met a fellow gardener along the trail who sent me home with some great tomato seeds!

Henry Homeyer is an author, columnist and a blogger at the
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