|Saint Stephen's Cathedral - Metz, France.|
Thursday was a national holiday, and Friday we had a borrowed car from a church friend on vacation. Although we really are quite content generally lazing about, we decided we MUST get out and do SOMETHING. We chose to visit France for the first time since arriving in Luxembourg. The closest town of note is Metz, 45 minutes directly south.
We woke up on Friday to cold, gray, wind, and diagonal rain, but we weren't going to let that deter us. After some Google searching I identified a half-a-dozen "sights" we could visit in Metz. I should re-emphasize here that carefully plotted sight-seeing isn't really our thing, so we planned on mostly winging it anyway.
We packed a lunch since we'd planned to eat out for dinner later. We found an awning and feasted like...hobos.
|amazingly, the restaurant staff didn't make us leave.|
Pete and I had a fun moment when we both recognized the unmistakable work of Marc Chagall on several of the panels. We had visited the Marc Chagall museum in Nice, France on our trip with our church choir in 2005.
|one of the three Chagall windows|
We also admired and discussed the pipe organ at length:
Then came this awkward moment when we decided to leave the cathedral, but didn't know if we should do any more exploring of Metz. Maybe we were just wimpy about the weather, but somehow we decided to split up for a few minutes and then meet back at the parking garage. I took Daphne and Pete took James. Comparing our photos afterward we both discovered we'd taken pictures of the kids in front of pastries:
And Daphne got a shot of me in front of the cathedral:
Even though Daphne had been keen to explore a bit more (hence the split from James and Pete), after grabbing our pastry snack she was satisfied and ready to go home.
So that's what we did. We went to France, saw a cathedral, got a pastry, and went home. But why did we feel sort of weird and "lame" about it? We drove to France for the first time and that's all we did?
I pondered these feelings for a bit. Then I had an epiphany.
One of my favorite books is called Simplicity Parenting. As the title would suggest, the author is an advocate of a "less is more" parenting style. By limiting their toys and activities to a select few, children are able to more deeply and thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what they have/do. For us, this philosophy spills beyond our parenting into how we generally try to live our lives.
And thus, my French epiphany: "Simplicity Sightseeing."
Why should our approach to sightseeing be any different then the way we do everything else? Why should we feel pressure to "see everything" a place has to offer in order to make the trip worth while? Why can't we intentionally pick and choose, slowly savor? Might this approach be more meaningful and memorable for the kids as well? By avoiding overstimulation and rushing from place to place, they can more thoroughly enjoy the simple pleasure of a simple experience, with the resulting memories more deeply ingrained.
It was so pleasant to just be sheltered from the elements and slowly soak in the beauty of the cathedral as a family, taking the time to notice and discuss the details.
So! Henceforth, we are officially done feeling strange or guilty or "lame" for not doing more when it comes to sightseeing. The key from now on will be to make this an intentional approach. Imagine we'd set out on Friday with the clear intention: "Let's go see the cathedral in Metz, grab a nice French pasty, and then head home" instead of: "Let's go explore the top 5 things Tripadvisor told me to do in Metz because we only have a car for a limited time so we need to make the most of it." It would have been true to our family's approach to life and thus completely satisfying. No lingering feelings of loser-sightseeing or not seizing the appropriate opportunities.
The next time we go to Metz I think we will go with the express purpose of visiting the Pompidou Center (annex to the famous Pompidou modern art museum in Paris). It's right next to the train station so we don't even need to borrow a car. Then we'll grab a pastry and go home. Grabbing a pastry is an essential tenant of Simplicity Sightseeing, just so you know.
Are there any other Simplicity Sightseers out there? Does this approach appeal to anyone else? Let me know!