Meredith Webster in Besançon, France

Back to France.


For the last few years, we have done more performances in France than we have in San Francisco, so partly it feels familiar even though my French language skills are still sorely lacking. Of course the thing about traveling is that it is constantly unfamiliar, so there’s been plenty of that too. Our first French stop (it’s France from here on out) was Besançon, near the Swiss border and close to Dijon. It is a beautiful town on the Doubs River, with windy narrow cobblestone streets and a strange spaceship of a theater. It is also the birthplace of Victor Hugo, and the home of Comté cheese! I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the city, and especially by our hotel. My room was amazing! I had a big cushy bed with curtains around it, a purple velvet couch, high wood-beamed ceilings, and two giant windows with a view to the pedestrian thoroughfare below. I felt like a French princess! Can’t really say the same of the room I had before that at the chain hotel in Luxembourg, which was quite lacking in charm and space. This is the nature of touring: adapting to the present situation and not taking the good things for granted.

Meredith Besançon, room
Hotel room in Besançon

Another fantastic thing about this tour is the fact that my family came! My mom has always wanted to come to Europe when it coincided with one of our shows, and this year it finally happened. My mom and Stepdad took a winter vacation, and in between skiing and testing the beers of Munich, they came to Switzerland and saw two shows. My sister also came, as she was traveling abroad with her boyfriend for New Year’s, so I had three proud family members along in Winterthur. It was so great to have them there, and I was also proud to introduce them to the other half of my “family,” some of whom they’d met in the past. Thanks for coming fam, I love you!

Meredith Besançon

Central square in Besançon

Traveling as a performer is a totally different thing from traveling on vacation. Although we do get to do some exploring and touristy things, I find that I have to prioritize my time and energy much differently. When I’m traveling for fun, I tend to spend all day walking, stop only when I’m completely exhausted, stay up late, get up early, and search out “notable” destinations. On tour I can’t really do that or I won’t enjoy performing, which removes the pressure to see and do it all. I like that aspect. I find I am content just to keep my eyes open and enjoy the new things on the way to and from the theater, out the window on the bus rides, in the interactions with local tech crews and presenters, and whatever other surprises I might happen on. It may not be the most thorough way to see a place, but it takes my experience to the detail scale. I find myself taking pictures of patterns in cobblestone pavement, or ornamental light fixtures, or a skyline of the one residential block outside my window. I think we are lucky to get the specific energy of each town in this way. There is simplicity of focus that comes with being on tour, especially a long one like this. When I am removed from the options, comforts, and distractions of home, other things have space to come to the surface and I often feel more acutely present in the current moment- another thing I don’t take for granted.

Written by Meredith Webster. Photos courtesy of Meredith Webster.

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