25 July 2012


The cite -  Carcassonne
So there Frances and I are in the medieval cite of Carcassonne. We are feeling hungry but don't want a fullscale lunch. So we see this side street cafe with courtyard seating beyond. The chalkboard says seven euros fifty for quiche lorraine or croque monsieur with a side salad and a glass of wine. Perfect.

And yet, alarm bells should have rung when we were told we'd have to pay in advance. That done I looked with dismay to the kitchen where the "chef" was already popping a frozen mini-quiche and a frozen croque monsieur into microwaves. Ah well!

We went into the garden area where there were several empty tables. Some needed wiping so we plonked ourselves down at a wooden table near the cafe wall and began to sip our wines. The serving waitress then came out back and asked us to move from where we were sitting to a small aluminium bistro table in full sunlight.

"No thank you. We're happy here," I said in broken French.

"But this table is for four people, you are only two!"

"We're comfortable here and we are not moving," I said before pointing out that two other four person tables were occupied by French couples who had not been moved.

The girl chuntered unpleasantly in French about our perceived awkwardness. Shortly afterwards, the "chef" came out to remonstrate with us and rattle down our now unfrozen dishes in front of us along with - yuk!- white plastic cutlery.

"We are not moving. We are happy here!" I said again, firmly but politely.

Then he stormed off also chuntering unpleasantries in French. 

The underside of Frances's croque monsieur was burnt but at least the side salad was nice. The courtyard tables were only a third full when we left. We had to go through the servery area and the "chef" and serving girl chuntered more unpleasantries as we left. Little did they know that I had left them a tip on our table - the smallest coin I had - two cents.

Back in the throng of tourists, we had gone twenty five metres or so when the young "chef" came running up to me with the two cent piece asking why I had left it. "It's a tip," I said, "for your shit service!"

"Well I don't want it!"

"You deserve it," I said.

Then he threw the two cent piece down in the street and having a limited supply of nasty French words at my disposal, all I could think to say was "Merdre!" as he slunk back to his freezer and his microwaves. And that's why the English had a a "hundred years war" with the French and why we whupped Napoleon Bonaparte's ass. France is a beautiful country with such a variety of lovely places to see but the big downside is that it's full of French people. The blighters are everywhere!


  1. Oh dear, not a pleasant experience. The only time I remember encountering a similar attitude was when we had our RV broken into and one of the police who attended started to say something disparaging to his colleague - until I began speaking to him in french, when he became more reasonable. That obviously didn't work for you. Incredible when their business must rely on trade from foreigners as well as the locals!

  2. Definitely not pleasant! In general I've found French cafes much better than British ones but perhaps it was because Carcassonne is such a tourist place. I'm glad you left a teeny tiny tip!

  3. What a shame to blight your lovely holiday. Our dealings with the French have always been very pleasant but they do have a reputation.

  4. Does Frances roll her eyes when you do things like that? My Bob just groans and pretends he doesn't know me.

  5. I must admit we had a few experiences like yours over the years in one way or another and stopped going to France...silly I know as there are good and bad people everywhere...we just seemed to meet rather a lot of grumpy rude ones.

  6. JENNY They were clearly focussed on profit rather than people and there was an element of racism in their irritation.
    DAPHNE Yes - very touristy - I don't think this would have happened down the hill in "new" Carcassonne.
    HELEN You've been lucky!
    JAN BLAWAT Snap! When you're looking for support you get those rolling eyes but having been a waitress in a good restaurant Frances said she'd have been sacked if she'd spoken to customers like that.
    LIBBY In past years we went on holiday several times to France yet never forged nice temporary friendships with any French people. Very different from America, Holland or Portugal for example.

  7. Astonishing behavior. Quel dommage!


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