Wednesday, 30 August 2017

France, the French et moi!

Eight days and 1,500 miles later, we're back from our French holiday and I'm pleased to report that a fab time was had by Mr & Mrs Misfit and L'Alfster (our dog).  19 years of waiting for an overseas holiday was worth it and we've now explored Calais, Beaune, Valence, Uzès and Reims.

Lots of photos to follow but first a few anecdotes.

*  On arrival in Calais after braving the Eurotunnel (not too bad at all for a claustrophobia sufferer!) we headed off to the restaurant we'd decided to have lunch in.  Using my rusty French I asked if we could eat there with Alfie and we were led to a table where I asked for the menu. 'Steak, frites, salade!' I was told rather abruptly.  OK!  It looked like we'd be having steak then!  We still have no idea why everyone else in the other part of the restaurant was able to choose from a variety of dishes but put it down to the fact that it was a very French restaurant with no other Anglaise!

*  As we left the restaurant and headed back to our rather smart (borrowed!) car I gaily greeted it with, 'Bonjour voiture!' - only to realise that there was a French gentleman leaning out of his window.  He was greatly amused.

*  Again, braving the use of my French I successfully booked us into our first stop-over hotel in Beaune explaining that I was English but still managing to hold a decent enough conversation.  The receptionist however decided that when I asked if I could smoke on the balcony or outside that she would suddenly become my new best friend and speak English fluently!  'Of course!  Of course!  I'm a smoker too.  Not a problem!'  United by a foul habit!

*  Dinner in Beaune found us presented with a 69 page wine list!

*  Mr Misfit couldn't believe that the French word for swimming pool was 'piscine' - he seemed to think that would be an open invitation for abuse.

*  On leaving our hotel the following morning, Mr Misfit decided to attempt a bit of French himself.  'Bonsoir' probably wasn't his finest hour but he insists that was how she bid him farewell!  I somehow doubt it.

*  At a restaurant in Uzès with the friends we were staying with, I popped to the loo and heard an exasperated English mum in the next door cubicle with her son as he told her,  'Mum!  Mum!  I've peed all over the seat'.  When we met at the sink he went on to say, 'It's good isn't it, 'cos I can say what I like and no one understands me'.  I couldn't resist!  I looked at him with a cheeky grin and said, 'Except me!'  I've never seen a child disappear so quickly behind a mother as he shrieked, 'I thought she was French!'  The mother thought it was hilarious.

*  Walking back through the quaint backstreets of Uzès, Alfie decided to do what dogs do on pavements and we bent to put it in a poo bag - only to tread in a dollop that another dog had left!  We then heard from behind - from an English man - 'That was bad luck!' and his French wife added, 'When we saw you cleaning up after your dog, I commented, they must be English!'  It would seem the French aren't big on Pick Up Le Poop!

*  Playing one of our stupid games in the car - 1,500 miles is a long way - we decided on 'Would you rather?'.  I asked Mr Misfit if he'd prefer an extra nose on his forehead or one on his bottom.  His instant reply was on his bottom because he could cover it up.  Until the realisation of the smelly consequences hit him and he said, 'I didn't think that one through, did I?'  We laughed so hard, I lost most of my mascara and my stomach muscles were in spasms of agony.  Then every few miles, one of us would start chuckling and the whole Gigglefest would begin again. 

*  Our friends' beautiful house has steps and arches in unusual places.  We developed a new way of getting from room to room, especially at night, called The Uzès Walk - a kind of dip of  the head with an exaggerated lift of the feet.  Rather comical after a couple of glasses of rosé.

I managed to cross almost everything off my French Memories list:

* Citron pressé swiftly followed by an orange pressé
* Pernod and water
* Steak et frites
* Oeuf Russe
* Gallettes with cheese, ham and egg
* Crepes
* Rilettes and French bread
* Deliciously stinky cheese
* French apricots
* Les Croustilles aux cacahuètes - or as I like to call them' Peanut flavoured Nic-Nacs'
* Rosé wine with ice cubes - la piscine!

I didn't get the chance to savour mussels, tomato or celeriac salad but I'll save those for next time.

Our first stop-over in beautiful Beaune.  Spot the dog!
Welcome drinks at our friends' place in Uzes.

My favourite doorway at their place

Their rather splendid pool

Morning coffee and a paddle

My favourite photo of me and Alfie heading into town

Delicious artichokes for lunch

Monsieur Misfit braved L'Escargots!

Clearly content with the French food, wine and company.

Heading back from town

Charming Uzes at night

L'Alfster by the pool.  He attempted the first step in but no further!

Every street is unique and pretty

Coffee in the sun

In Valence avec my French Poodle

Pool at final stop-over hotel in Reims. Not as grand as our friends' but very welcome in the heat.

Our holiday souvenir.  36 knobs to transform our kitchen.  Or Ker-nobs as the shop assistant pronounced them!