Selfishly, I didn’t want to share these at first. I wanted to keep them to myself because they meant so much to me, but moments like that need to be shared. I wanted to share them with you.
After two weeks in Europe with our amazing friends Sara and Dylan, our one day traveling alone, just Sam and I, we visited the French coast. We picked a small town and drove to it on a map. We parked the rented car on a cobblestone street and wound our way up zagging unaligned alleys with no view of the water until we emerged onto the boardwalk.
The beach was filled with people, ice cream and fried food carts, and seagulls squawking. We stopped in a restaurant to order pizza, fumbling through broken French, finally ordering our last crème brûlée for dessert. We walked on docks and saw cities built on cliff sides. The beach was made up only of large round rocks and the water was cold, even in July. Red, yellow, and blue striped storage buildings and tiny wooden boats painted the beach. The day was spent driving to a few small towns, walking through neighborhoods with clothes hanging on the line, admiring flowers in full bloom in backyards. In another town, we walked a mile or two through bucolic bliss. Wide open spaces where only cows inhabited the hills and valleys, grazing on the grass flatted by the wind coming in from the ocean. Then we arrived at the white cliffs in Etretat.
I can talk about the macarons in Paris. The thick, hot air in Brugges at a night concert. But the white cliffs are indescribable; like a song. They’re the coast’s booming notes. They’re whales or dinosaurs. Huge and beautiful, slow moving and momentous. I can’t wrap my mind around the experience. Even now, so I’m glad I have photos to draw me back to that day because I can’t express how special they are.
Towards sunset, we fell asleep in the sunlight, bodies warmed by the rocks on the beach. The world in that moment was just our red eyelids and an audible rush of waves and waterfalls. This is how I remember it. France, you are missed.