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Susan Mayfield's Guide to France
An vintage but entertaining alternative guide to France, where to go, what to see,
as well as a full listing of naturist resorts, beaches, and clubs in France.
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I've been having a love affair with France ever since I stepped off
a ferry twenty years ago, the days when no respectable British woman
to work without wearing tights. In France I saw sophisticated business
women walking along the sea front in high-heeled shoes and straight
skirts. But their legs were bare and tanned. In an instant I knew that
France was a sensuous country, In an instant I wanted to live there,
I have been carrying on a love-affair with France ever since.
When a working man goes out in the cold 6 a.m. dawn rays, he needs something to start him on his day, so he has coffee and cognac in the local café. After a while he may need a little something to tide him over, so he has coffee and croissants, sometimes with a little cognac as well. If he is in the sort of job that allows coffee breaks, he may have patisserie at eleven (plus some cognac with his coffee.)
You can see now why everything stops for lunch. If you are motoring down to your coastal resort, you will notice that the roads clear as if by magic at 11.59 am and the smell of frying chips wafts across the land. This is because restaurants open for set hours - from 12 to 2 for lunch, and from 8 to 10 for dinner.
If you want to be a fast-food philistine (as some of the French do) then that's up to you, but only tourists drink beer at lunchtime, to wash down the huge and phallic "sandwich" stuffed with paté, saucisse sec or Camenbert cheese. (No Frenchman would consume "Americaine", containing ham, tuna, pineapple and mayonnaise!) You buy those in a bar, because in France even a workman's café is a restaurant.
You can stop at a "Menu du jour" place and enjoy a wonderful four-course meal for 65Fr (tomato salad, omelette, pork chop and chips, cheese and fruit). Maybe blue-suited truck drivers are seated at all the tables, but the table cloths will be red gingham - or white damask - there will be no plastic salt and pepper pots, and serviettes will be supplied. Wine will be included with the meal and it will be red. (Hardly anybody in France drinks white wine - it's too acid, and bad for the stomach.) The red will be 12% alcohol, because wine with only 10% alcohol is only half as popular. The working man needs wine, just as he needs meat, to keep his strength up.
If you're on holiday in September, you'll see him working from dawn to dusk grape-picking, consuming a couple of litres of red through the day to keep him going.
After a quick snooze, it's back to work at 2 or 3 in the afternoon (later in the south) and work finishes at 6 or 7. Then it's the aperitif hour - a little drink on the way home before a meal, to chat or to flirt. For some reason the French enjoy Scotch whisky or English beer before a meal. Sophisticates may have Kir - dry white wine with Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur - but ordinary people will have pastis (Pernod, 51, Ricard) diluted with mineral water. They drink it purely for medicinal purposes, of course.
If you're eating out in a restaurant for dinner, be there before 8.3Opm at the latest and drink red wine with your meal. Finish it with a digestif of cognac with the coffee. If you decide to continue drinking with friends after the end of your meal (the French might do nothing more than watch an American movie on television and
The French greeting kiss is famous and imitated by either sophisticated, or camp, people everywhere going "Muhl Muh!" in the air beside the cheeks of people they meet at cocktail parties. But you can rest assured that in France is really is just a greeting kiss and carries no erotic overtones at all.
But what's fascinating is that different areas of France have different numbers of kisses! In the Languedoc and Provence, people will kiss twice, once on each cheek; in Brittany they will kiss four times, on each cheek alternately. I have seen them do it when whole families meet up for Sunday lunch in country cafeé's, and by the time everybody has gone round everybody, everybody else has drank their aperitits dry.
And there are some areas of France where they do it three times, but I haven't found out where yet.
In Paris young people have become more Americanised, and will say Cab or Hiya, and not kiss, while business people will shake hands.
Naturist will hold hands in a sort of four-hand clasp as they kiss, or put their hands on each other's shoulders or around each other, or if they haven't seen each other since the previous season, hug each other ecstatically, the men sometimes jumping about like footballers after scoring a goal.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Mayfield has been practising. and writing about. naturism for over 20 years. A commission from a naturist magazine resulted in a visit to Brittany. France, after which a lifelong love-affair with the country began. Many more parts of France were loved and thoroughly explored, especially the Mediterranean areas. where Susan has bought some land as a naturist hideaway.
"But I didn't just jump in with both feet," Susan says ."I visited many other countries as well. But France, with its particular brand of naturism, so free and pure compared to our English prudery, draws me back time and time again. I've given in to the call!"
Susan's Guide is an intensely personal book, recounting experiences with the French nation and its countryside and customs. as well as French naturist resorts. This is not a conventional guide, mentioning every little known and unheard of nudist venue. but a frank account of Susan's own adventures in that decadent. liberal. mercenary and generous kingdom across the Channel.
"You may not agree with my opinions." says Susan. "But the only way to find out for yourself is to go and see for yourself!"
And she hopes this little book will encourage people to do just that.
Climate in France | Languedoc Naturist Resorts | Cote D'Azur and Corsica | Mediterranean Beaches
South France Guide | France Vacation Rentals
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