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How a Google Search Led Me to an Unexpected Region of France

Treasure Aamayah

Is it Germany? Is it France? No, it's Alsace.

Two weeks after landing in Paris, I found myself fleeing the city in a first-class train seat, headed towards the Grand Est. I sat frozen in my seat as I watched the city of Paris fade into the distance, giving way to the green countryside. But no amount of beauty in that moment could shake the quiet desperation of my thoughts.

Now what?” I repeated the phrase over and over. Paris was my plan A and like a typical millennial, I didn’t bother with a plan B.

I watched as the scenes outside my train window transformed from cityscape to countryside, countryside to village, village to farmland and back again. It was completely hypnotizing and luckily for me, calming. Slowly my mindset shifted in a positive direction with my thoughts turning towards the magic of the unknown. I didn’t know much about my destination city, Nancy. In fact, the only reason I was going there was due to an impulsive Google search for “cheaper places to stay in France than Paris.” I clicked on the first link, it recommended Nancy and then I was on a train. You can call me Captain Spontaneous from now on!

I didn’t know much about my destination. The only reason I was going there was due to an impulsive Google search for “cheaper places to stay in France than Paris.” You can call me Captain Spontaneous from now on!

Settling into my Airbnb in Nancy was the easiest thing I had done that day. There was an immediate ease and a knowing sense that I was exactly where I was meant to be—for the moment at least. A few days after I arrived, I wandered down to the jewel of Nancy’s city centre, Place Stanislas. This is a large square which is lined with theatres, bars and restaurants with bustling alfresco dining. I sat down outside and was promptly greeted by a waiter who handed me a menu. Something I immediately noticed was the multitude of different beer options and the somewhat lack of wine options. I thought it was odd, given the fact that I was in France which is known to be the land of wine and exclusive champagne.

Now, beer has never been my drink of choice but I remembered a saying “you don’t eat fish at steakhouse” and so I ordered les bieres rouge and crossed my fingers. It was here, in my search for a home in France, I began an unlikely love affair. One of numerous dalliances I have experienced in this country, however, I have a feeling this one will not be so short-lived. I love red beer! It’s like cherries and red apples mixed with bitter malt. That description may not be appealing, however it’s absolutely delicious and this simple beverage excited me enough to delve deeper into the history and various cultural aspects of Alsace.

Prior to coming to France, I’d seen beautiful instagram photos of Christmas markets in Strasbourg and quaint cottages in Colmar, but it wasn’t until after I drank that beer and started some research that I realized how close Strasbourg was to Nancy and they were in fact part of the same region. The Alsace region comprises four main cities: Nancy, Metz, Strasbourg and Mulhouse. I happily explored three out of the four in my search for a French home. I found that Strasbourg had the strongest German influences. Whereas Nancy was the most French with a diluted amount of German, which leaves Metz squarely in the middle.

The day I travelled to Metz was a public holiday and the shops were mostly closed, so I ended up boarding a train to explore Luxembourg (a completely different country!) for the remainder of the day. Regardless, out of the three cities I explored in Alsace, Metz is the one city that I could have seen myself living in. It felt more French than Strasbourg and it felt larger than Nancy without being as overwhelming as Paris. The only deterrent was the weather. In comparison to Australia, I have learnt that spring in Europe is a fallacy; it’s just extended winter. I’m an Aussie who needs sunshine to function and so I concluded the Alsace region wasn’t for me.

Alsace may not be my home but it is a region full of beautiful moments, which have become core memories for me. Travel has the ability to bring about an unrivalled amount of spontaneity not found in everyday life. It opens you up to the most unexpected experiences. It’s these experiences which become core memories that you look back on and cherish. It’s these memories that are your unwritten story and shape your evolution as you move forward through life. Nervously, my adventure continues onwards.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Treasure Aamayah

Treasure Aamayah is an Aussie living the dream in the south of France. She is a storyteller, lover of engaging conversations with strangers and known for being a perpetual nomad, with her current move to France on a working holiday being her fifth international move. Follow her at @treasureaamayah.

Website: www.coddiwompleandco.com

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