Or What happened to the Sun? An Australian perspective on France.
17.06.2010 - 24.06.2010 10 °C
Yes I couldn’t resist using that dreadful catch phrase used by Laura ‘Who's a Slapper?’ Bingle…..because the past week has been bloody awful weather wise. No this blog isn’t going to be filled with a tirade on the inconsistent French weather. But I must confess after a week of rain I was feeling pretty grumpy. Where had the sun gone? This was supposed to be Summer- NOT Winter! It was pretty bleak all week long and I started to feel very trapped inside the van. I also felt very sorry for all the people who spent the last week in the South of France for their annual holiday. Camping, even in a warm cosy motor home, in foul weather is a grind. I do not know how the people lasted out in tiny tents and tiny caravans. The week of rain and cold winds made the campsite very muddy. The motor home looked like a Chinese laundry filled with damp clothing. Venturing out in the cold was not fun. In fact the last week was not enjoyable at all.
There I said it. But No more grizzles!
This is a blog entry which is going to have an Australian perspective on travelling. Not winging about the rain! Firstly I have to say I love France and I love the French. Despite the last week of bleak, Wintery weather, my love of everything French continues. O and I have been in France now for two months- we have done so much in that time- seen some fantastic places and have met a variety of very nice people.
Who ever said the French are arrogant have a very wrong and distorted opinion. Yes, at times the French are reserved and they do like to hear you at least attempt the French language. Well why not? We are in France after all. I have found the French as a whole to be very well mannered, patient and friendly. This has been our impression all across France- in the small villages and also in the large cities.
Yes I do understand the desire of the French people to have foreigners attempt to speak their language. It is a beautiful language. (That is until I start speaking very poor French with a horrendous accent!!!) When Orlando speaks French we have found that everyone has responded very positively and gone out of their way to help us. When I attempt to speak French I have found the French to also be very helpful with the one exception- they very quickly respond in English so I do not have time to crucify their language!!!
But I have to say the French are as a race charming and very polite. They are very willing to help (even when they don’t speak English…..and if you think about it why should they?) And I also like the pleasant greeting of ‘Bon Jour Madame and Monsieur’ is always welcoming whenever you go into a shop to buy your bread and the people you encounter on the street. There is such a pleasant way here- less rage and anger- it is really very nice!
Orlando has been right in his element in France. As he knows quite a bit of French ( he speaks French very well and has been reading ‘Harry Potter-et le Prisonnier D’Azkaban’ with the occasional help from a French dictionary) he is able to chat to all and sundry. He has been able to communicate with all the campsite personnel, shop assistants and French people at the campsites. And when we have had trouble with the van he has been able to chat to the mechanics. All pretty impressive stuff- and as we have been around some fairly remote, non English speaking areas, a real blessing.
As I have a repertoire of about five French sentences- Bonjour!, Au Revoir! Merci ! and Je vou drais cette chose, taille trente-sept, I get by with lots of hand signals and arm waving. When that fails- I can draw really well!!! You would think this would cause the average French man to mutter something under his breath- and walk away but this has not happened once this holiday. Everyone who has replied ‘Non’ to my ‘Parlez-vous Anglais?’ has been very helpful, very friendly and polite.
But when O is lost in a deep conversation, I usually get the gist of what is happening, so I smile, and dumbly nod my head.
Boy I should have paid far more attention in Year 8 French at St Mary’s!