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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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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  1. There goes the baker with his tray like always, the same old bread and rolls to sell…..

    This is what your pictures remind me of! So cute!

    • Hahahaha I really do think about how this town reminds me of Beauty and the Beast all the time!

    • Thank you! I will certainly try :)

  2. 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!

  3. 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!
    Julika recently posted..Picturesque Monday: Love Padlocks in ParisMy Profile

    • 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!

  4. Your food photos are amazing! I could eat the entire tarte aux pommes and I am not remotely hungry! Looks like you’ll be having a fab time living in France.
    Holiday Addict recently posted..What Are You Travelling In?My Profile

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

  5. 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 :)
    Jessica Wray recently posted..Five Bites Korea Part 2: Kimchi RecipeMy Profile

    • 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?

  6. 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…
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..A White Coat.My Profile

    • 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 :)

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

  7. 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!

  8. Love this post I am so glad you are having a great time big warm hugs for you!

    • Thanks for the comment, Aunt Mary! I am loving it here :)

  9. 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.
    Erica from recently posted..Going Fast at Ferrari WorldMy Profile

    • 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.

    • It’s been really good so far! We have that apple tart at least twice a week so how bad could things be?

  10. 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!

    • Hi Isabel! Actually I found it through the French family I babysit in high school. But I know a lot of girls who have used Au Pair World, If you have any more questions just shoot me an email!

  11. I appreciate if you enjoyed this bread and role and in France because the same thing made me sick over there.


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