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One Year Later: What a Month in Provence Taught Me

Last spring, I spent five glorious weeks in Provence, first in the not-so-interesting town of Pignans, then in Saorge, the fairytale village we fell in love with. Whenever I see one of the hundreds of photos I took on that trip, I remember it fondly, though it still feels like a dream.


So here I am, about a year later. When I look back on that magical trip, I glean a few lessons.

1. There’s No Such Thing as a Trip of a Lifetime

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We all use this phrase, “a trip of a lifetime,” and usually it means “because we’ll never be able to do something this magnificent again.”

But what I’ve come to realize, after traipsing about Europe as a 20something, then spending a month in Paris, and then this trip to Provence is that: if you want to travel like this again, you can. And we will. There’s nothing limiting you from traveling as much as you’d like but your own mindset. You can budget and plan and then go anywhere.

2. There are Other Cool Places in Europe


I’ve long been a francophile, ever since getting my hands on my mother’s Berlitz French book as a child. I only ever wanted to visit France. But on our last trip, I spent four too-short days in Italy, in Genoa and Cinque Terre. I fell hard.

Now I’m working on improving my Italian skills to prepare for my trip to Italy in September when I will hike the Dolomite Mountains for a week, then chillax at a yoga retreat in Tuscany.

3. Standing Out is Okay

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I have always hated standing out as a tourist. I want to blend in! As a result, I sometimes had language misunderstandings (I didn’t want to ask for clarification because that would make it evident that I was a stranger) and missed a lot of cool opportunities.

This time, though, I gave myself permission to stand out. And what I found is that people are even more willing to help you if they know you’re not from there.

4. A Friend in a Place You Visit is Worth Gold

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I’d also never made friends on our trips before. This time though, we got to know Gibi in Saorge, whom we call our “mountain man.” This guy was so generous and invited us back to his mountain retreat for lunch. He showed us where the key was so we could come back!

I’ve kept in touch via email and plan to see him on my trip to Italy when I stop in Saorge for a few days.

Traveling is a great opportunity to learn things about yourself, and for me, the lessons keep unfolding.

Please share this with friends and family.

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Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

When Susan Guillory isn't running her marketing company, she's traveling and writing about it on The Unexplorer. She's written several books (business, as well as travel) and has been published on Forbes, Mashable and other sites.

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