Sunday 14 July 2013

Vive not just la France

Bastille Day and I could have gone for something hackneyed like the Eiffel Tower or the Tricoleur, but I thought I'd choose this photo, which for me sums up the craziness of Paris. How this car managed to get flipped onto its side in an urban side street is still a mystery to me. It can't have involved speed. Did the driver somehow annoy a bunch of muscular young men? Is it a parking thing? How come it's so close to the other cars? It's yet another of those stories I'll never hear the end to. But it's got a red, white and blue thing going, so that'll do for today.

Travelling through France by river cruiser and then by train, as I did last year, I had plenty of leisure for watching scenery pass and regretting that there's so much of that lovely country that I'll never get to see. Sadly, that applies to not just France: the more I travel, the more I realise that I'm never going to see it all - all those people nodding at each other and saying "It's a small world" when they hear a story about some coincidence, are so, so wrong. It's a huge world, and it's full of the most remarkable, spectacular, fascinating places both natural and man-made, and no-one's got the slightest chance of seeing it all.

Alan Whicker got about a bit, David Attenborough's given it a good go, even Michael Palin has done some miles; and lots of my travel writer colleagues have been many more places than I have. Someone I was talking to about this the other day said she's reached the point of telling herself, "Well, that's one place I'm not going to get to." I think that's a bit defeatist, I'm not at that stage yet - but I am starting to think it's a waste, to return to places I've already visited, when I could be going somewhere new. Though there have to be some honourable exceptions to that rule which, though the first excitement of being there can't be recaptured, are still rewarding in all sorts of ways: London, Paris, New York, the Outback, Queenstown, Bay of Islands... What's on your list of must-go-agains?

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