My First Day in France – A Warmest of Welcomes

It seems that every time I land in France, I arrive in a state of utter shambles. Last summer I flew in from Dublin after a blurry night of Havana Club mojitos. This year I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane, and have never happier to find a bed.

And each year it’s as if France wants to remind me of why I come, and why I put up with such miseries and strife to get here. (Hint – it’s always food-related.

This time, this lovely dish greeted me post-flight…

Apple Tart

It was a perfectly constructed apple tart, or tarte aux pommes; exactly the homey, apple-y kind of dish you crave in fall. My Delta-dampened spirits were  suddenly in much better shape.

Let me quickly tell you about the family I’m staying with; there are the parents and the three girls, aged 12, 16 and 18. They’re all so sweet and welcoming, and we have a lot of the same hobbies like tennis, skiing and horse-back riding in common. (Preppy, much?)

Also the parents are very into both food and wine, so needless to say I think I will fit in well.

When I finally pulled myself away from the pie, I walked with the family to my new town, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. While Saint-Germain-en-Laye is technically a suburb of Paris, it’s only about a half hour away on the commuter train.

St. Germain

Upon exploring the town, I couldn’t help but fall in love with its French village appeal. The town was founded in 1020, and has lots of historical buildings to prove it; there’s even a massive chateau right next to the subway.



St. Germain is also known for its very good food. Who couldn’t like a town with grade-a salted butter caramel macarons and rotisserie chickens around every corner?

Rotisserie Chicken

I finished off my first day in France by baking a cheese souffle with the girls for dinner. Making souffle had always intimidate me – what if, god forbid, it were to deflate, like in all the movies?

Luckily it was delicious – I love eating a dish that warms your soul and makes everyone ask for seconds.

Cheese Souffle

And while I realize that not every day in France will be all  700-year old castles and salted butter caramel macarons, I kind of hope it’s not true.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

32 thoughts on “My First Day in France – A Warmest of Welcomes”

  1. Loved your welcome to France, and your village looks charming, and of course the food makes me want to be there sharing it with you.
    You sound so happy!!

    Love, Gamma

    • Well don’t worry – I will come home and make lots of great French food for the family! Love, Ashley

    • I am actually thinking about starting a cooking blog to share them with others who like French food, but we all know much work a blog is!

    • I went to the farmers market today so there will be lots more French food photos coming up. Your new blog design is gorgeous by the way!

  2. Oh, that does sound like the most perfect welcome to your new home! The city seems lovely! And the food – Wow! I’m really hungry right now… that apple tart looks just way too delicious!

    • Thanks for the comment, Julika! And yes, the food is not bad at all, haha. Oh by the way I’m going to Germany next month so I was wondering if I could shoot you an email with a few questions I have. Thanks!

    • Thank you! I kind of love tarte aux pommes. Really anything that comes in a pie crust is pretty excellent.

  3. Ugh, I NEED to get to Europe. It’s been in my thoughts lately. Though I want to see the rest of Asia, my heart is being pulled towards all things European! Hopefully, next year :)

    • That’s funny, I feel the same way when I read travel blogs about Japan or Thailand… I need to get to Asia! The grass is always greener, right?

  4. It’s nice to hear you are getting on with your family!
    The food looks super nom. I’m definitely a pie person… if I had to (HAD to) choose between, say, cake, cheesecake, and pie. Pie always wins…

    • Oh god, cheesecake. The cravings for American food have already set in a little bit so just the mention of cheesecake makes me hungry! But yes, the food here is delicious :)

  5. Looks like France welcomed you warmly. Ach I wish I had some nice French delicacies :) I hope you’ll have a wonderful time with the family you are staying at ;-)

    • Thank you! I love living here so far and the town I live in is adorable. The food isn’t bad either :)

  6. Hi Ashley, So well written I could almost taste the foods and smell the musty old chateau. Keep up with the great writing and beautiful pics, Love dad

    • Thank you, Dad! It’s all thanks to you picking out the perfect camera :). I will be posting soon about the German bunkers in the north of France so that will be interesting for you as well!

  7. St. Germain is gorgeous and the food made my mouth water, looks like you have landed in a great place. Thanks for sharing, it seems like a great place to stay awhile instead of paying high rent in Paris-I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    • It is definitely a great place! Unfortunately though it’s actually a very expensive neighborhood. If you are looking for something near Paris that is less expensive but still very cool I would check out Montreuil! I spent two summers there and loved it – the French call it a “bobo” neighborhood, meaning bohemian bourgeoisie.

  8. Hi Ashley,

    I’m actually thinking of moving to Madrid to teach English and would love to become an au pair to save money on rent. How did you find your current au pair position?

    Thank you!

  9. Hey Ashley, I have just stumbled upon your blog- I’m also an expat who came to Amsterdam as an au-pair and I’m still here three years later!

    It’s always fun to find other expat bloggers out there, enjoy your time in France! :)

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