A baby boomer goes back to her youth in France

Isn’t it great when baby boomers reinvent themselves. What it does is reinvigorate their lives. That’s what Bethesda, Maryland author Marianne Bohr writes about after she went back to France, and back to her youth.

I’m a travel addict. As I did when I was young, I’ll do almost anything to get to get away.

After thirty years in corporate life, I’m a newly minted middle school French teacher, determined to infect my students with my wanderlust. Thus, this Spring, I boarded a plane bound for Nice with a group of adolescents.



One of the funniest episodes I’ve ever witnessed in my world travels played out on Day Two of the trip. It was Easter morning and old town Nice was deserted, save the procession of parked vehicles lining the constricted streets. Our bus driver, taking us to see Monaco, eased through the tight squeezes until we met a challenge he couldn’t negotiate. A car was parked at an angle, its rear jutting well into our lane. We approached but it was impossible to pass and we were too far down the alley to safely back up. The driver honked in an attempt to rustle up the owner, but to no avail. When our guide, Guillaume, suggested we move the Volkswagen ourselves, we all chuckled, appreciating his humor.

After a few more horn blasts, however, Guillaume announced, “I’m serious. Do you want to go to Monaco? Maybe you don’t have enough American muscles to do it,” he speculated. And thus, the Franco-American challenge was on.

How to move a car out of the way.

How to move a car out of the way.

The doors opened and all spilled out, including our driver. In seconds, biceps bulging and “bravos” beseeching, the car was slowly raised and then promptly plunked down onto the sidewalk. Triumphant, the three-dozen member pumping iron team clambered back on the bus amid applause and laughter. With Guillaume’s particular brand of ingenuity, I wondered, might France have thwarted the Nazis?

Marianne Bohr

Marianne Bohr

Two students asked, “Is Monaco in France?” as we approached the principality. “It’s independent,” I told them, “and the American actress Grace Kelly married its prince in 1956. “Who’s Grace Kelly?” they asked. I realized I had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

The girls delighted in the joy of being silly together and when one student’s Monegasque (meaning, of Monaco) ice cream cone dripped over her hand and down her arm, it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.

One of my boys was ever the scout, always prepared. With hand sanitizer in his pocket, he whipped it out. The instant it started to sprinkle, his poncho materialized. Need change for a five-euro note? He forked over the coins. When a question was posed, he had the answer. I recalled that on the flight over, I had glanced back and there he was asleep: black silk shade over his eyes, head perfectly poised on his neck pillow with plugs in his ears, his airline blanket pulled tight to his chin. My thirteen-year-old charge appeared a mature, experienced traveler until I noticed the Pillow Pet panda clutched in his lap.


Marianne’s students

We readied ourselves on the eve of returning home and I overheard the students plotting additional trips, chattering about where they wanted to visit next. The seeds are sown, I thought, and then smiled. My job was done. Time to return stateside from teaching on the road to teaching in a classroom.

Marianne C. Bohr, freelance writer and editor, married her high school sweetheart and travel partner. With their two grown children, she follows her own advice and travels at every opportunity. Marianne lives in Bethesda, Md outside Washington, DC where after decades in publishing, followed her Francophile muse to teach middle school French. Her first book, Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries, was published by She Writes Press in 2015.


  1. We might do well to encourage our children and grandchildren to learn a European language, or Chinese, Japanese or Korean and to travel in that country. If we become the repressive, xenophobic society some of us seem to want, they will have a plan B.

  2. How polite – in the good old days, the bus would have just shunted it. After all what are bumpers (fenders) for?

  3. This is so very real….I can picture the American kids and their more than patient teacher/guide! Well done Marianne!

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