Penrith vs Paris

Canoe world champ Jess Fox’s Guide to France
Jessica Fox Portrait © Brett Hemmings
By Josh Rakic

Jess Fox claimed silver on debut for Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games and is the reigning canoe and kayak world champion, proudly flying the flag for Australia.

But while the 21-year-old was raised on the rapids of Penrith, at the foot of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, she was in fact born in Marseille, France to Olympian parents.

She travels back frequently to visit family and friends. And as she bides her time ahead of the next world cup event in Spain before returning not far from her hometown in France for the final next month, we caught up with champion paddler to get her take on all things France.

Jess’s favourite things to do:

Les Calanques de Sormiou
I’m fluent in French and I try go back there every year to see my grandparents who live in Marseille. And this is a beautiful spot in a national park not far from my grandparents' place. I love running down the hills to these little beaches with turquoise blue water. It's my happy place to recharge my batteries between big races.

The French Alps
One of my favourite places is Bourg St Maurice. It’s amazing in winter and summer. And I have great memories there of walking to beautiful views of the lakes and Alps, picking wild raspberries and paddling the awesome whitewater on the Isere River. It's one of my favourite courses in the world.

Paris!
You have to go to Paris at least once in your life! I've only been there once for three days but I loved it. I'm not really a city person so I probably wouldn't want to live there but loved renting a bike and riding around the city sightseeing.

The food
Nothing better than waking up in the morning, walking to the Boulangerie and buying a fresh baguette, croissant or pain au chocolat. You get to enjoy your breakfast in a main street of a unique city, or a little village somewhere in Provence and do some people watching. I recommend throwing in some “oui oui's” and “bonjours” to fit in!

Penrith v France

Who has the best coffee?
Penrith has the best coffee! I love my local coffee shops in Penrith. My favourite is Waffle Co. or Jazz Apple Kitchen in Glenbrook. And I think you kind of become so used to it that you become a coffee snob and when you go away it's never as good! For sure the French haven't mastered the coffee art yet!

Best people-watching
The best people watching is in France. A busy evening in Paris is sure to entertain with all different walks of life.

The better rugby league team
Penrith for sure has the better rugby league team! Marseille are obsessed with their soccer. And I reckon the Panthers would beat the Catalans Dragons.

Which one she prefers to call home
I wouldn't be able to pick one that I love the most. I've grown up in Penrith and have loved the Blue Mountains in my back yard and the Nepean River right on my doorstep. Penrith is home but I love going back to France and seeing family in Marseille, enjoying the varied landscape with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and heading to the Alps or Pyrenees for some good times on the rivers and the fresh air! For me, I need them both.

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