How Big Daddy does France.

He came. He saw. He kicked France’s ass. That’s about the best way to sum up my dad’s recent visit to the City of Light (and beyond). In just 5 short days we saw 6 arrondissements, drove around the Arc de Triomphe, explored D-day beaches, scaled Mont Saint Michel and still had time to chill on my couch for a cup of tea.

Sure, there were the standard grumbles about walking too much and walking too fast and not walking to see what Dad wanted to see. But since he’s the man that would routinely rip me from peaceful teenage Sunday morning sleep to spend hours walking around Gettysburg or Antietam or some distant great uncle’s cousin’s brother’s farm, I have little sympathy.

Besides that though, the whole trip really went off without a hitch! Not a pile of dog poo or shart to write home about. And I think we have Big Daddy’s unique approach to foreign travel to thank for that. See, rather than feel intimidated by a foreign land, Dad just barrels along on the assumption that he’s got everything covered, shouting “HOT DAMN!” or “I WAS BORN IN PARIS, JEN!” whenever a cultural challenge is overcome.

In fact, his voyaging worldview is so unique that I would be remiss to not share some of its key tenets here with you. So without further ado:

Gil’s Travel Tips For People Who Were Not Born in Paris

1. Dress appropriately.


All any well seasoned traveller needs is a pair of mirrored sunglasses and a Boston College rain jacket. It’s a quite versatile ensemble, really – Dad transitioned it seamlessly from day to evening, to the next day to the next evening…

2. Make an effort to assimilate.

Dad doesn’t drink, but he jumped right on board for the champagne tour. He doesn’t speak French, but kindly shouted “MER-CY!” to every waiter, shopkeeper and metro operator we met. After a day or two, the French were just about ready to offer him honorary dual citizenship.

3. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Slogging through boring museums and ogling cultural landmarks is for the birds. Better to relax, take in the scenery, and really “be” with the people of France. Besides, they don’t put those awesome reclining chairs out for nothin. HOT DAMN!


Add Yours
  1. Connie Gabrielli

    Gil, aka Big Daddy, probably got his seamless fluency in the language from my Big Daddy, his Uncle Frank who never stopped reminding us all that he “knew” the French because he was in WWII. As to wardrobe, just be glad he didn’t get his fashion sense from the afore mentioned uncle or Paris would have been treated to red and black plaid lumberjack shirt as windbreaker and perhaps size 14 baby – I kid you not- blue suede shoes!
    Gil has just distilled the true essence of the Willson male. It is a little known fast that only the females actually manage to get more than 10 miles from Layhill.

  2. anna rose

    This may be my favorite post so far! hot damn thats good! (and totally agree about those awesome green recliners around the fountains…)

  3. Lois

    Love it & Jen Connie,
    I’m guessing this the the Connie Willson that I grew up knowing.. ( for Connie, this lis Lois Carroll, nee Cottrell) OMG do I love the the the fact that women are the only ones to get outside the 10 radius of Layhill..and the worst part is the guys are PROUD of the fact. Right Big Daddy??
    Jen… Your Chocolate Mousse place sound ljust like the one of our era in Paris called Tres Mouton. See if that place still exists. And they did a Grand Marnier Souffle that they simply brought the bottle to the table and allowed you to doouse it as often as you liked.
    You make me want to return. !! However until we do.. You had best continue to enjoy every damn minute of your time there!
    Do you shop at Marche Ponclet? My fav…
    Love your posts.. Keep them up!
    Old Red Eyes.. Lois (& Bob)

    • jfwillson

      Lois – Dad and I decided that you have to come back and visit while I’m here. We could get into some serious trouble…er, I mean, really enjoy all that Paris has to offer! hahahah

      • Connie Gabrielli

        Wait for me too! Lois and I need re-bonding and we all need more champagne. Paris can handle it … I think. Yep, Jen your Uncle Frankie actually did have baby blue suede shoes at about the same time as his last Cadillac which was …you guessed it BABY BLUE too! Help!

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