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  • France, it's about time we made amends. I know our time together didn't go so well, and I know I was unfairly hostile towards you from the start.

    So let me explain myself.

    When Ben (my now-husband, then-boyfriend) and I got into Paris, I was coming down off the high of seeing my soul-sister, Jorja, in Sweden. It was going to be hard for any city to match seeing my best friend, in a town filled with cobbled streets, vintage bicycles parked WITHOUT locks (such honest people!), and the serendipitous meeting up with a fellow Australian performance group who gave us free tickets to see their once-only Swedish show.

    Not to mention that our combined grasp of the French language sucked and the attendant at the Metro station laughed at us openly when we asked for tickets.

    But putting first-impressions aside, I was ready to open myself up to you, France... And then I saw Ben eat his first chocolate crepe. Being gluten and dairy intolerant, I had to steer well clear of those sumptuous, gooey delights; Ben, however, was free to gorge himself on them, in my presence. And he did gorge himself.

    After a tired first day in cold, wintry Paris, I was more than happy to retire to the backpacker's accommodation we'd booked. Desperate for some much-needed sleep, I spent the early hours of the morning instead listening to the scrambling, thumping sounds of two randoms getting it on in their room.

    Look, France, I can probably summarise the rest of my misery into a few key points:
    - suffocating in cigarette smoke every time we stopped for something to eat
    - my first experience of the French squat toilet and an old man with his wang out
    - having nothing to eat on Christmas day but canned tuna and rice cakes
    - getting absurdly lost in Lyon, trying to find our hostel
    - in the 'gastronomic' capital of France, winding up eating McDonalds chips for dinner
    - fleeing the country via Nice but not before getting my fair share of dog shit.

    I am well-aware that these are First World Problems. And with the softening distance of time, I can see that my gripes with you, France, were really fairly trivial ones.

    Especially when I think about our little stopover in Ramboillet, to spend the night in the cottage of a distant relative. Climbing up a ladder to get to our loft bedroom was especially adorable.

    Or walking the streets of Montmartre and allowing the beauty of the place to get a little bit under my skin.

    Or entering Sacre Coeur for the first time and being brought to tears by the angelic singing of the nuns.

    Or catching glimpses of the ethereal white horses in the Camargue.

    So let's put that all aside, France, and start over.

    Hi France, my name's Kate. It's a pleasure to meet you. Perhaps I could come stay some time, maybe in the Summer?
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