France, and the Inherent Beauty of Travel

Photos and blog post by Diane Raaum.

For me, the anticipation of taking a trip is usually as much as fun as the trip itself. But not having ever traveled to Europe, I was apprehensive and did have many questions about my upcoming trip to France. In preparing to go I began to wonder if it would be worth all the effort. But alas, France and all its beauty did not let me down.

Authors, artists and musicians have worked for years to portray the beauty of France. But to experience it myself, was to better understand why they have worked so diligently to capture this splendor. From the food, architecture, art, landscape, scenery, to the beautiful people in their beautiful attire -there is beauty.

Strolling down the streets of Paris I experienced all this beauty first -hand.

Walking through the Louvre Museum knowing Mona Lisa’s beautiful eyes were following me wherever I stopped.  Eating chocolate croissants for breakfast, which were delicious, works of art themselves. Window shopping in the designer shops along Champs Elysees, and admiring the gorgeous fabrics, styles and leathers in the clothing, accessories and shoes.  

Standing in line for hours, to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see the evening lights of Paris which sparkled like jewels below. 

Lighting candles for my deceased loved ones in the churches of Saint Chappelle and Notre Dame with all their stained glass magnificence.  Hiking to the top of Montmartre where modern day artists were selling their striking paintings and musicians were playing.

Southern France offered a beauty of its own. Every corner I turned showed real life imagery from paintings which artists, such as Van Gogh, and Cézanne, had years ago captured on canvas. The coastline, where the vivid blue sky meets the vivid blue Mediterranean Sea, offered world ports cities such as Marseille and Nice.

But, also smaller coast towns such as Cassis, showed a more simplistic lifestyle of living by the sea and absorbing the warmth, sounds and smells.   Roussillon, which was located in the mountains and one of the largest ochre deposits in the world, offered up tangible beauty in the shades of paint pigments which could be purchased to create your own beautiful masterpieces. Walking over the Pont du Gard aqueduct, built in 1 A.D., and sitting in an amphitheater in Arles, built in B.C. times, was to see beauty that had endured and transcended time. 

The author, Diane Raaum.

Hearing “The Bridge of Avignon” play in my head as I walked over the actual bridge and seeing the fort ahead that was built around the town of Avignon were concrete beauty as well. 

Oh but the food is not to be missed in its beauty either! Lobster, mussels, shrimp, seafood pasta, and tuna steaks from the sea, what’s not to like!

I could almost still taste the sunshine on the delicious fresh fruits, vegetables and cheeses from all of the markets. Bakery goods and wine from various regions were all remarkable food too. 

And I will never be able to just drink a cup of ordinary coffee again. 
Walking up the 84 steps to our “eighteenth century condo” on our last night in Aix en Provence I was already planning how to go back again!  

A special thanks to my travel partners Jolene, Kathy and Carolyn whose past travel experiences in France were invaluable in knowing the country and all of the beautiful places to visit!  

Diane Raaum loves travel. She is the publisher of the award-winning Coulee Region Women magazine, based in La Crosse, Wis. You can enjoy the full magazine online and learn about advertising opportunities at  

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