August 7, 2015

Live Like the French & Be Happy.

french cheese

The market was bustling.

Walking through on a Sunday morning was a feast for the senses.

Upon entry, to the left, was the wine counter—people pairing, swirling, smelling and sipping well before American wine o’clock. To the right, a display of anything and everything duck, from pâté to confit to foie gras—even an olive oil with the right richness in which to cook anything associated with duck.

Further in, I arrived at my first stop: the boulangerie. Bakers filled bags rhythmically with aromatic assortments of baguettes, croissants and pan au chocolate.

Across from the boulangerie was my second favorite vendor, the cheese counter. There’s a reason France is known for their cheese. The smells vary from delectable to unappealingly pungent, but each one is appreciated for its age, beauty, creaminess, moldiness or sharpness. Their cheese is real. Cheese found in American and Australian supermarkets is a waxy, rubbery, color-tainted excuse for the real deal. One can often find an international option, but as the norm, it is embarrassing.

Before I compare the food quality between countries, let me get back to the majesty that is the French market.

On the outer edges of the indoor section were the butcher shops, with different varieties of sausages hanging from the ceiling. Under which, a butcher hacked away at a giant piece of meat. The animal was likely killed a few days before on a farm untainted by the idea of factory farming. Each butcher was slicing, chopping, filling sausage casings and taking orders.

The center of the market was a tribute to every vibrant color on this Earth. There were tomatoes of every sort, purple and white aubergines, striped courgettes, red currents, black currents, berries, leaves, peppers, artichokes… A wall of fresh flowers burst from its display, thirsty for the sun. The sheer beauty of this bustling, crowded, sweaty market was enough to bring me to tears in the retelling.

If life is about anything, it is about this market.

Outside the market was a street lined with cafes and restaurants. Tourists and locals alike were enjoying their meal, their rosé and their company. (There’s always a reason to get together with friends and it’s often as simple as it being a Monday… or Tuesday or Wednesday, etc.)

On our walks back to our apartment, we were always accompanied by pedestrians. Everyone walks everywhere. There were balconies in every apartment we passed, filled with people enjoying the day. They often ate outside. There was always someone on their balconies smoking a cigarette, chatting on the phone or with a friend with whom they were sharing a meal. It was beautiful.

I find European culture to be far simpler than American culture. At least in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the cities in which I am most familiar.

The simplicity seems to lead to a happier lifestyle. The food is real, fresh and handled from seed to market with care and love, and you can feel that when you’re preparing and eating it. Walking, even long distances with groceries in hand, is the norm. Their social lives are abundant. People have jobs to pay for their lives, but their lives do not lie within their jobs.

The French are brought up to love family and friends, enjoy nature and not worry so much about life, especially in the city of Biarritz—no doubt one of the most beautiful ocean cities I’ve been to—where people are very confident. They don’t put their worth into their job or what people think of them, and they don’t put their worth into how much attention they get or how much money they make. They believe they are worthy for who they are.

I cannot make a blanket statement about the whole of France. But I sense in the French a calmness and a way of life that is true, simple and beautiful.

If we want to be happier, we need to live more like the French and strip away the unnecessary devices, complaints, food additives and anxiety and live simply.

Love, laugh, explore, eat, drink and be in nature.


Author: Lauren Frias

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Flickr

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