Updated: Aug 8, 2021
In May of 2018, I spent 2.5 weeks travelling through three wine regions of France for a field school. Throughout these 18 days we visited the Champagne, Burgundy, and Northern Rhone wine regions and 5 cities: Reims, Dijon, Macon, Vienne, and Paris. Having a basic knowledge of French vocabulary and sentence structure, this trip definitely allowed me to test my knowledge, solidify my language skills, and left me feeling as though I needed to come back and continue working on the language and further my education. So that’s the plan, eventually… To attend the Burgundy School of Business in Lyon, France for a one year Master’s in Business program that would allow me to specialize further and continue stretching my French language skills.
Each of the cities were enchanting in their own special way. Wine culture was a the major industry in each of them, all of the streets were designed for sun-shiny days where people could sit on restaurant patios for their lunch and dinner meals accompanied by a glass of wine. As someone who was just getting into the acquired taste of wine, I was constantly the only one without a wine glass for every meal, it simply is just the norm to appreciate a glass of wine with your meals, a norm I quickly picked up. As the first country I arrived in, every city was new and intriguing. All of the history that was built into the architecture from 100’s of years ago, something that Vancouver Island has very little, if any of. Constantly, I just walked in awe as a result of the sights, relishing on how difficult creating these pieces would have been without modern technology or equipment.
Dijon is where we spent the majority of our time in France. This city was adorable, there really is no other way to put it. There was a great deal of history, and all throughout the city little triangle plaques with owls were placed on the sidewalks every few meters, directing you to a historical sight. We never did find out the significance of the owls, but nonetheless, they definitely lead us to sights we would never had stumbled upon otherwise. The rooftops in this city set those apart from any other in terms of a class system. The ones that were yellow, green, red, and black were deeply rooted into the city’s wine culture. It was only the people who were wealthy that were even allowed to have a shellacked roof of these colours: the green representing the vineyard leaves, the red representing the Burgundy wine region that produces a majority of red wines, the yellow representing the colour of the countryside in late autumn when the leaves are beginning to die, and the black representing the colour of the grapes.
Macon didn’t quite leave me speechless as many of the others did. This was the only city that I ever felt unsafe in despite continuing to wander the streets, just with a heightened awareness and never alone. It’s difficult to pinpoint what it was about the city that wasn’t as exciting other than that there was simply much less to wander through, so I spent my evenings working on assignments that I eventually had to get done.
Vienne, not to be mistaken for Vienna, was a nice shift, back into the beauty of France, despite that it had a noticeably Roman influence. With a Roman museum that we wandered through and the ruins that were adjacent to the museum, and numerous occasions of Roman influenced architecture including a coliseum were many of the highlights of the city. Entering into Vienne definitely felt more as though you were in Italy than France, with Margherita pizzas both easy to come by and authentically delicious.
My time in France was treasured, but I’m sure I’ll be frequenting the country again soon, and maybe, just maybe it’ll be for my Master’s.