France for optimists – some of the good things about France

I moved to France at the very end of 2001 and lived in France for five years I am able to appreciate many wonderful things about France. Read on.

me in the Pyrenees

The Outdoors
I have always been a fan of the outdoors and here I am on a long hike through the Pyrenees. France is fortunate to have such a wide variety of geography in such a small area. Superb beaches all arounds its coastline, some serious mountains including Europe’s highest mountain – Mont Blanc.

Claire Chazal

Natural Beauty
French women are famous for their beauty and here is an excellent example. This is the gorgeous Claire Chazal, a newsreader on TF1. In addition to being gorgeous she also has a wonderfully sexy voice.


Natural Beauty (Geological)
The Cirque de Gavarnie is an amazing site + the authorities have done an excellent job by making tourists walk about 4km to see it. Yes, 4km from the car park… You can cycle to Gavarnie from Lourdes without too much trouble.

French health care

The French medical system is expensive but very efficient. When I was knocked off my bike I made an appointment to see my doctor within an hour and was sent for an x-ray which took another 15 minutes. Compare that to Britain…


Wild Food
Blueberries! Since my time in the Czech Republic, I have been very fond of blueberries. In the Pyrenees they are huge, very tasty- and there are no mosquitoes to come along and pester you. It is possible to buy them in the market but a lot more satisfying to climb the mountains and pick them yourself.

French camping

There are around 10,600 campsites in France, some private, many run (very well) by the local councils. They provide inexpensive accommodation and an important part of French life with comparatively few French people travel abroad for their summer holidays.

Tour de France

The Tour de France
It is not often that the world’s most famous cycle race passes your front door. In July 2002, I left my house to find out where the tour would be passing through Pau, to find the area outside my door a hive of activity. Less than half an hour later, the riders whizzed passed in a blur – or is that just my dodgy camera work?

Pau Market

French People Take Their Food Seriously
The market in Les Halles. How refreshing to be able to buy your leeks from the old man who grew them and probably pulled them out of the ground that morning. 6 days a week, all the produce is local – wonderful. Who needs supermarkets?

Quiet French road

Considerate Drivers (For Cyclists)
Yet another busy French road full of traffic… French drivers are definitely more considerate to cyclists when out in the country compared to other nationalities.

French cheeses

French Cheese
French cheese is famous around the world and rightfully so. How they can produce such an amazing variety of cheeses (at least 400) from a few different kinds of milk is incredible. My favourite is the artisanal brebis cheese from the Pyrenees.

Cirque de Lescun

Great Climate – Snow and Sunshine
This picture was taken on December the 22nd, 2002. I wore a T shirt as it was 21 degrees. The pension I stayed in cost 10 euros a night and the weather was even better in the morning! The climate of South West France is wetter than along the Med but that makes it a green and pleasant land.  To see more, have a look at Lescun in Summer or Winter.

Things aren’t all perfect in France. There are one or two things which, in my humble opinion, should be improved. Want to see a pessimistic view of France?

Or maybe you’d like to see some photos of my cycling in the area?

Col du Tourmalet       3 days in Western Pyrenees    South West France Coast cycle  Col du Portalet and Spain      Lourdes to Gavarnie

Or more things about France?

A 2 day hike in the Pyrenees     Chemin de la mature     French food

Or something to read in French?

I’ve written a French joke book and three novels in easy French so if you fancy brushing up your knowledge of French, take a look.

Learn French with jokes (now with audio). 

Parce Que Je T’aime     L’amour par internet      Bruno et l’amour