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Getting Creatively Lost: A Ramble Through France

French Teenagers

Fish ladder and dam, St.-Céré.

The park near my hotel had many benches, perfect for writing in my travel diary, eating rich pastries, and watching the kids from the Lycée Jean Lurçat gossip, flirt, preen, laugh, and let off steam, like teenagers anywhere. Mostly, the boys and girls eyed each other from separate groups, but when they mixed, there was horseplay. The boys never tired of swiping a girl’s handbag, shinnying up a metal trellis structure, and hanging the bag there just out of reach. The girl thus chosen acted flustered but enjoyed the attention, and the boys drew out the drama, knowing just when to retrieve the bag–before putting it, or another one, back up there.

Having seen so many overweight adults, more than I remembered on previous trips to France, I wondered how these kids looked so thin–most did, anyway. Later, I looked up national obesity rates and saw that they’ve been climbing, showing a marked increase among the young. Smoking rates have shot up too. The next day at the park, coincidentally, I saw where the kids had left two enormous bags of potato chips and a pile of spilled tobacco.


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