Well . . .I’ve done what I set out to do. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.
I bought a bike in Paris. I rode in the French Alps. I spent an afternoon immersed in France, it’s food and its language, with a gracious and hospitable couple. And , at least for one morning in this, my sixtieth year, I prétended to be a mountaineer in the Alps climbing mountain passes and stepping over childhood fears.
As picturesque as they were, memories of the sights will fade long before the memories of the many kind people with whom I spoke . . . in French:
- the kind young man in the small appliance store on Rue de Universite from whom I bought a European power cord for my iPhone;
- the taxi driver in Annecy with whom I spoke a bit of Russian before discussing in French what a difference there is between the English and the Scottish and how we both préfer the latter;
- the young man in the Apple Store beneath the Louvre who, after I explained in broken French that the wi fi in my airbnb was AWOL, invited me in and had me sit at a table, so that I might poach wi-fi behind his boss’ back;
- the bike shop owner who took a couple hours from his day off to box my bike and meet me at his store so that I might return home a few days early;
- the owner of a cafe who, seeing me wait outside one early morning waiting for my train asked me in and suggested, even before I opened my mouth to betray my nationalité, that perhaps i might like a chocolaté croissant.
- The couple in Marthod who gave up an entire day, opened their home, and must have worked for hours to prépare a six course lunch, all for a perfect stranger whose only connection was to have been a language student of a childhood friend they hand’t seen or heard from in over sixty years;
- the kind woman who ran a small boat concession, not exactly thriving with business, who rather than take me on as a paying fare, suggested I walk a short distance to a less expensive comptitor so that I might get back to my flat sooner and sooth my aching feet;
- the élégant woman at the Aubade shop who laughed when I suggested, after overhearing a conversation between her and another woman about bras and breast sizes, that sometimes it was best not to understand French better than I do;
- the waiter at the outdoor cafe which catered to folks in the nearby campground, when I asked him for chocolat chaud after dinner one warm night, said to me with a laugh and a twinkle in his eye, “okay, but that is so boring”;
- the young couple who leased a room in their family lakeside home with whom I struggled to articulate the différence between the concept of “home” and “house” in French so as to find the right word to compliment them.
So many kind strangers, but now it’s time to get home to those I know and love. Croissant–out!!