This is my fourth trip to France. I came here twice in college, and David and I came here for a week to celebrate our 1-year anniversary in lieu of a honeymoon. All three times I was poor and in my twenties. This was back in the olden days, pre-EU, when you needed a visa to come to France and needed different money for each country you visited. Also, pre-cell phone and pre-Internet (ask your parents about it, kiddos). For me, traveling back then was exciting, but also scary. Everything seemed so unknown and difficult to understand. So I'm trying to figure out why being here this time is so, so much easier.
I think part of the reason is that the world has become a lot smaller in the past 20 years. With the Internet, the formation of the EU, the ease of travel, etc. there's just less difference between "us" and "them". We're more familiar to them and they to us so there seems to be less wariness. But I think the larger part (for me) is best summed up by what Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes: "I'm older and I've got more money."