There’s more to France than Paris
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 14, 2019 - 12:00am

Lyon, France. France is a super great country, perhaps greater than Portugal, Spain or Italy. Now that I am here in this fantastic country, I have decided to withdraw for a day or two from the overcrowded Paris, and savor the rest of the whole France, and focus on its history, arts, culture, music and religion.

I did not come here to shop for a Rolex or a Cartier nor to buy Prada or Hermes for the girls in the family. I came here to reflect and pray in Fatima and Lourdes, and to be awed by the majestic castles, the beautiful cathedrals and museums, and be refreshed by the cool atmosphere of Switzerland, Austria and Germany. I did not come here to join the Oktoberfest and get drunk. I just want to relax and enjoy, perchance to learn and become a better person. I want to come home recharged and reinvigorated by new insights and wisdom from European philosophers and poets. That is why, I have chosen Lyon because here, the pace is not as hectic as Paris, the traffic is just light and the people are kinder and happier, less stressed and more hospitable.

Lyon is 470 kilometers south of Paris and north of Marseille. It is the third largest city in France but with a population of a little more than half a million, easily smaller than Cebu City and Makati. But it is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site due to is historical and architectural landmarks. It is also famous for its exquisite cuisine and is known as the city of gastronomy. Lyon played a very important role in the history of movies and cinema. It is the city where Auguste and Louie Lumiere invented the cinematograph. It is also known as the Lights Capital because of its annual Festival of Lights from December 8 to12 each year. Now, I am here strolling around its main square and seeing its cathedrals and museums.

If there is still time, I shall drive to Marseille, the second largest city in France, next only to Paris. It is located south of Paris and along the Mediterranean coast, in the mouth of the famous Rhone river. It is the sunniest city in the country, and is normally host to thousands of domestic and foreign tourists who want to escape from the punishing cold of winter. Its population is more than eight hundred thousand, not too crowded as Paris but a little denser in population than Lyon. Marseille was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a very important trading center, and remains so until today. It hosted the 1998 World Cup and is also known as the Sports Capital of France.

Then I would love to have a quick sneak into such amazing sights as Toulouse, as well as Boudreaux (famous for its excellent wines), then to Strasbourg and to the Loire Valley well-known for its castles, especially the Chateau de Ambrosia. The French Alps is likewise a favorite tourist destination with it more than twenty skiing resorts. There are so many places to visit and so many sights to appreciate. France is a fantastic country of arts, history, and culture, Broadway shows and music festivals. It is not just the Eifel Tower or the Arche of Tromp, it is much, much more. It is a country of sun, sea and mountains, of castles, cathedrals and monasteries.

I want to come back next year in a slower pace and longer sojourn, and I will visit remote villages and interact with local people, to understand their culture, appreciate their arts and music, and imbibe their wisdom in love and life. The more I stay here, the more I am convinced that the Philippines has to catch up as we are already a century behind.

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