We arrived in Paris in the early morning and were in desperate need of sleep.
Our destination was a small village called Clomot, about 3 hours away by car. I was so nervous about driving in Europe, especially on no sleep.
Weeks before we left I came up with a cunning plan on how to prepared myself for the hectic drive I was already dreading.
Weeks before our departure, I got out the directions to our airbnb in Clomot and then opened up Google Maps, street view…. with that open, I was able to virtually drive the route out of Paris to the safety of the country roads.
It was awesome, when it came time to actually do it for real; it was like I was back home on Google Maps all over again. I strongly suggest this tactic if you’re a nervous nelly like me.
We arrived in Clomot at around 11:00a.m and were greeted by our friendly French hosts.
Let me back up a little and tell you that I was born in Montreal, Canada. For those of you who do not know, Montreal is in Quebec, a French province.
Growing up in Montreal you naturally pick up a little French, even if your English community is a self contained unit. With English relatives, English friends and English schools.
The trouble with this was that the French I did pick up was limited at best, plus, the French I did pick up was not “Parisian French“.
Case and point:
“Pass me your lighter” in France is:
“Passé moi ton briquette,
S’il vous plaît“
However in Quebec, in the circles I was frequenting, it was normal to say:
“passe moi ton lighter, calice!”
A little bastardized perhaps, with a biblical French swear word on the end referring to “The Holy Grail”, just for good measure.
So both the English and French people of Quebec were not strictly practicing the Kings English or French.
But I digress.
As our hosts greeted us, I was fully prepared to dazzle my French comrades with my stellar French vocabulary skills.
I looked like a deer in the headlights when they started speaking a language I had never heard before, I later found out that the language they were speaking was a language that many of the people of France call “French”.
Unaverted, I reverted to my other communication skills so as not to embarrass my wife or son whom I assured would never need to worry about the communication barrier in France while I was around.
The two skills I relied on most were speaking in English, but with a French accent.
This, however, did not have the desired outcome I was hoping for. They either thought I was mocking them, or I was just another English lunatic.
My second skill worked much better, and if I must say, I am very good at it.
It’s the art of “pointing’.
There are tons of points you can get across by pointing.
A quick lesson in this would be:
Point to yourself, and then give them your name. Next, point to your wife, and then tell them her name. This works every time.
After exhausting my pointing skills we were shown the house where we would be staying for the next week or so.
The place was right out of a “French country life” magazine, assuming there is such a magazine. Perfect charm, stone walls and fireplace, beautiful old wood and rustic furniture. We loved the place.
It was set in the country, rolling hills all around us for miles. A great place to settle each night after our planned excursions each day.
The car we rented was great, a nice 4 seater, great on gas, perfect for the 3 of us.
That was until I found out it didn’t have a working reverse gear (more on that in a later blog).
Everywhere we went the locals were bemused when my wife and son got out to push us out of the various parking lots we visited.
We were getting quite good at this actually, it was kind of like an Indy pit stop by the time I figured out what the issue was.
Anyway, before we crashed out, after our long journey our French hosts knocked on the door to give us some fresh farm eggs and biscuits.
We hurriedly ate them up like a pack of wild dogs, partly because we arrived on a Sunday and everything was closed and partly this is the way we normally eat
So this was our first taste of France. Despite all the mishaps and confusion there was something about this place that we knew we were going to love. We were not wrong.
Stay tuned for more posts on our “Lost in France” adventure.
Clomot is situated in the Cote d’Or department and Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, it is close to many historic villages and points of interest.