Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Go to France. If you weren't planning it before, plan it now.

I was in Nice on Bastille Day, the 14th of July, the day of the truck attack. After ending a preview cruise in nearby Monaco, I was dropped at the airport that morning.

Our driver, who was French, could have just done his job. But when he left us at the curb, he wished us a safe journey and I couldn't help feeling that it was more than a polite expression.

It was a glorious sunny morning on the French Riviera. Reason enough to go. Solidarity with the people who seem to be most under attack in the current wave of assaults in Europe would be another.

And if, understandably, you worry about safety and security on your trip to France, there's probably no safer way to see the home of Charlemagne, Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle than by cruise ship.

Our voyage with Regent Seven Seas Cruises aboard the Seven Seas Explorer made several stops in France, including St. Tropez, which turns out to be more than just a place for nude sunbathing, and Toulon, home of the French navy.

On an excursion from Toulon to the seaside town of Cassis, we were guided by Olivier, a Frenchman so sympathetic and quietly charming you should go just to meet him.

In the Med, I've been to Sete, where I saw giant oyster farms; Sanary-sur-Mer, which has the most mouth-watering produce market I've ever seen; and Marseilles, the jumping-off point for tours to Provence.

On the Atlantic coast, I've visited Bordeaux, capital of the famous wine region, but also a formidable city, and Le Havre, the cruise gateway to Paris.

In Le Havre, we crossed to the other side of the Seine to the small fishing village of Honfleur. Pound for pound, there's no place I'd rather go.

I don't know how you start the conversation with clients about going to France. Gently, I suppose. But for everyone that's crossing France off their list this week, I bet there's someone who could be convinced that going to France is a small way to make a difference in a fight that seems so beyond our individual control.

So my hope is that Americans find the courage to go to France this summer and spend some euros there. As the saying goes: "Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."


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