I’ve been a Francophile since middle school. Bastille Day is fast approaching and every year around this time I get a bit nostalgic.
I started French classes in 7th grade. In February of 1982, my sophomore year of high school, I visited France for the first time. I went on a three-week French exchange trip along with two of my very best friends, and a dozen other school-mates.
We spent most of the first week in Paris. At some point early on, my pals and I decided we should chose a favorite line from our first year French class dialogues to repeat. Repeatedly. While seeing the sights. As you would.
Kyra chose “du pain et du beurre” (bread and butter—Kyra was a smart cookie). Donna got a few dirty looks with her “il est laid, ce bébé” (Parisian moms mistakenly thinking she was specifically calling their baby ugly). For me, it was “je n’aime pas les films de guerre.” Which was true—I didn’t really like war films.
Aside from rattling off non sequitur dialogue lines, I was breaking in the camera I'd received that Christmas—a Pentax K-1000. I think I had a whopping four rolls of film to last me the three weeks. That makes me laugh now. I’ll take three times as many shots trying to capture the perfect family holiday photo each year.
Considering the camera was new to me, and there was no magic auto mode to fall back on, I was lucky any of the shots came out.
Four years later, I returned to Paris for my junior year of college. Whenever I felt homesick or a little blue, I’d head over to the the Palais de Chaillot in Trocadéro. My favorite spot in the whole city. I always felt so peaceful there, gazing at the Eiffel Tower, watching the awesome fountains flow. I had two cameras with me that year, and the tower was my favorite thing to photograph. You can imagine the collection of shots I brought home with me. Even so, the first picture I ever took of it, on a cloudy day in 1982, remains one of my favorites.
And I’m still not a huge fan of war films.