Can A Frenchie Enjoy An Upstate New York Getaway?

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It’s that time of the year when summer comes and I feel like escaping to all these cool places that are technically close to New York but that I either A) Cannot afford, B) Don’t have enough vacation for or C) All of the above.  So this year looks like there won’t be any Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah…#FirstWorldProblems

Here I am again, trying to find a last minute weekend get away near New York that is not the Hamptons or another hype destination that involves paying the same amount as a trip abroad to stay at a crowded beach and run into my coworkers. I had heard of the Catskill Mountains many times before and decided to give it a try.

After 3 years in New York City, I had never been on an upstate vacation until last weekend. As a Frenchie who grew up in Provence, I know that I am hard to please when it comes to exploring a new place. But not “American hard to please”…”French hard to please.” This means that I don’t care if the place I’m going to doesn’t have a King Size bed, air conditioning, or someone to cook and clean. I just want things to be authentic and have a history. Not cliche at all…right?

When I went to Cape Cod last year, even though the surroundings and nature were beautiful, I was annoyed to find most of the Bed & Breakfasts and restaurants by busy intersections. Unfortunately I have come to realize that this is most of the USA. Americans like to keep things convenient while Europeans find beauty in run down paths leading to absolutely nowhere. The house we rented in the Catskill Mountains did end up facing a road, which was once again hard to swallow for my French self. Why would anyone want that as a view when you have acres of forests and hills all around?

I knew I had to leave my “Euro woes” behind if I was going to enjoy my stay in the Catskill. After looking around, I realized that all the other houses were built the same way. I guess there’s something reassuring about being able to see what’s going on outside of your house for Americans, while Europeans value the privacy of their home above all. Our road was so quiet anyway, we could actually hear the peaceful sound of the stream running near by…so I got over myself.

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The Catskill Mountains definitely felt like a true getaway although it’s only a 2 hour drive from the City. I hiked for hours, jumped in a beautiful swimming hole, chased waterfalls, admired breathtaking views from a reservoir, made friends with deers, and spent a few hours doing absolutely nothing, which is so underrated in New York.

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Frenchies like me might be disappointed by the man-built sites while going to the Catskill Mountains or probably anywhere else upstate New York: don’t expect century-old churches in small mountain villages or restaurants hidden in the woods. But once you made your peace with it, the nature is worth the trip.

 

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New Yorkers You Will Meet: #2 The Paris-Yorker

No matter how long you are staying in New York, one thing you can be sure of is that you will run into a lot of French people. Tourists, students, interns, expats…But it’s the type that my friends and I like to call the Paris-Yorker that stands out the most.

The Paris-Yorker is different from your average Frenchy in New York. He is not a nostalgic character giving into overpriced cheese and baguette, desperately trying to recreate an approximate version of France. No, The Paris-Yorker has accepted the fact that if a mediocre glass of wine is going to cost as much as a decent cocktail in New York, then he may as well order a Manhattan on the rocks!

If you are new to the City, or simply unfamiliar with its French invaders, here are three signs that you are in the presence of a Paris-Yorker:

1. The Paris-Yorker speaks Frenglish Jean Dujardin

As soon as you start a conversation with a Paris-Yorker, you will think his English is good, but doesn’t sound quite like English. Hang out for a few more minutes, and you will realize his French is the same way. Expect the Paris-Yorker to place words like: “cliché, swag, blasé, amazing, déjà vu or mind-blowing” in the same sentence. Don’t get it twisted; Frenglish is not just a hybrid dialect that serves as the Paris-Yorker’s official language. It’s a response to his daily frustrations. Because you see, French language doesn’t convey awesomeness like American expressions do, but English falls short of expressing life’s tribulations. Frenglish is necessary for the survival and emotional well-being of the Paris-Yorker species.

2. The Paris-Yorker doesn’t hang out with French people Marion Cotillard

Or at least doesn’t admit it! The Paris-Yorker takes pride in not being a tourist in New York. Actually, when he hears a French visitor struggling to ask his way in English, The Paris-Yorker will pretend not to understand and walk in the opposite direction instead of helping. That’s why he spends most of his time in Brooklyn, especially in the authentic and preserved neighborhood of Williamsburg – yes, the Paris-Yorker is a few years behind on the whole gentrification concept. If he wants to hang out with his French friends, he will make sure to throw a rooftop party and serve drinks in red plastic cups. But when meeting with his American homies, the Paris-Yorker will suggest an up and coming Independent French Film Festival. And when lonely, he will eat Cronuts until he drops. Here lays the whole paradox of the Paris-Yorker: he will claim his Frenchness at any given opportunity, but tell him he’s “so French” and you will regret it!

3. The Paris-Yorker is home sick everywhere Sad_phonecall_Carrie_gives_to_8b4a7cfd95eb2ab4c043209587f34f60

You probably already figured that out by now: the Paris-Yorker is slightly bipolar. He complains about the American Health Care, absence of vacations, and bad reality TV. But in France, he can’t stand people’s lack of motivation, naysayer mentality, and lame pop culture. The Paris-Yorker feels home everywhere, but gets home sick just as easily. He has the best of both worlds, but never all at once. He is addicted to the constant excitement that New York offers but can’t breathe without a dose of French art de vivre. In other words, The Paris-Yorker wants his cupcake and eat it too but knows that it ain’t that easy  because…c’est la vie !

 

Thanks to my lovely Paris-Yorkers, Wissam and Nora, for the inspiration!

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