So this is a little embarrassing to admit, seeing as I’m a self styled travel expert and all, but here it is: I’ve never been to Paris. Or anywhere in France actually. I’ve been to Spain, Italy, Holland, I’ve even spent a year living just across the channel in England, but I somehow never made it over. Weird, right?
France has been the world’s most popular tourist destination for over 20 years. The country, and Paris specifically seem to hold this sentimental place in many people’s hearts. It’s romantic, it’s historical, it’s full of delicious food- it’s the essence of travel.
But somehow, through stubbornest or negligence, I’ve never seen it for myself. I have come close though, close enough to actually SEE the sparkling lights of France. I’ve been to Dover.
The white cliffs which line Dover are it’s most famous claim and also a symbolic defense against the rest of Europe. For hundreds and hundreds of years Dover was the first potential point of invasion for all of England’s enemies. Dover Castle has guarded the coastline since the 12th century and is known as the “key to england,” as anyone who toppled it would take the country.
No army ever has. It was used as recently as World War II when a series of secret underground tunnels were used as a military command center. You can tour the ghostly tunnels these days, although some of the tunnels are too deep and decayed to ever be explored.
Today Dover’s biggest strength is as a shipping port- it’s the closest point of mainland England to the rest of Europe. It’s a popular place to catch ferries to france. In fact, you can actually SEE france on a good day, it’s a mere 35 km away across the Strait of Dover.
And wow, France is quite pretty, even if it is just a few sparkling lights, out on the pebbly beach, late at night after a few drinks. Maybe it’s not the lights at all, maybe it’s just the idea of France- a place that’s so idealized and iconic.
All of this to say: I think I’m finally ready to visit France. I used to take not having been to Paris as some sort of weird badge of pride. I thought it made me choosy- after all why should I go somewhere just because everyone else thinks it’s important?
I think I see the value now, of seeing a place that is so important to so many people. I want to go now, if only to see what all the fuss is about.
This article was written by me, sponsored by Seafrance.