<!–:en–>Going French part 2<!–:–>

Dear [FRIEND],

The first thing you have to decide when you want to go abroad

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and you live in the UK is your mode of transport. After that, if it’s going to be a long journey, you really ought to know where you are going to spend your first night. You can of course fly across the Channel, go through the tunnel under the Channel or do what we always do and use the ferry to cross the Channel. It only takes about an hour and then you drive cautiously down the ramp from the boat on to French soil. This first bit is the tricky part as you have to think right, cross roundabouts from the right and remember to give way to traffic on the left. But it doesn’t take long to get used to that, especially as the roads in France are very wide and well maintained. A two hour drive on the motorway brought us to our first stop for the night at a hotel on our way down to the east part of France, called Alsace. The receptionist was what you could call a mountain of a man, who clearly enjoyed his food and seemed genuinely pleased to welcome us as he insisted on speaking English interspersed with loud and raucous outbursts of laughter. He was equally jolly the following morning at breakfast explaining the intricacies of the device in which you boiled your egg. In fact he seemed to see the funny side of everything. As always with this type of buffet breakfast you are up and down fetching the different ingredients for your ‘petit dejeuner’. The only problem with this particular breakfast was the background noise, not from the other guests, the traffic outside but from the young dynamic cleaner who clearly thought that everyone had finished breakfast and she could start vacuuming the dining floor replacing the chairs and tables with as much zest and enthusiasm as she could manage. The result was like something from a scene from one of the noisier acts in an opera by Wagner. We thought it would be undiplomatic to complain on our first day and decided to adopt the policy of our jolly giant at reception and treat the whole thing as a bit of a laugh. There are of course plenty of other meals you can take but it seemed a good idea to start with breakfast. After all we use the word ‘breakfast’ because it literally means that you break your fast as you don’t eat (you fast) during the night. Dear [FRIEND], you can share your comments and questions on this piece on the forum here: Going French, Part II


3 thoughts on “<!–:en–>Going French part 2<!–:–>

  1. Hello Alan,

    You are so descriptive That I felt as I would travel in imagination from England to France. Of course I would have gone by ferry. I never cross the Chanel because we flew over.. It misses from my life unfortunately. I can imagine how the cars rolled down from the ferry. I think in the same way as in Hungary somebody directs the traffic, for that those cars could roll down without crash. When you arrived to France everything seemed to me very familiar. In France I make always myself at home. I can read the publication, I understand their speaking. They are always very grateful if you speak their language. I see the Alsace hotel with its receptionist who is a mountain of man, and can eat with relish meantime try to speak to you in English. All is in vain, the lot of similar words the most French likes to speak only in French. “ Le petit déjeuner-and the cleaner who wanted to chase you out for that she could clean. It’s very typical. They have self-consciousness. When I was for the first time in France and we went to the Opera café to drink a coffee I went to the toilette where was a plate for putting there the money. I didn’t put because my purse wasn’t with me. The madam shouted at me: C’est moi qui pay le papier “ I never forget I was happy that she thought I am French and I clearly understood her.

    You made my day with this very interesting description.
    Many thanks:
    Kati Svaby

  2. Hello, Alan
    I seemed that , It was a very nice, and interesting journey (trip). And you are so successful in your description. I liked that sentence (In fact he seemed to see the funny side of everything.) . It Is very healthy to him to do that. It resembles that ” we must always see the full half of the glass (cup) not the empty one “. At the end I must ask about the origin of this word “buffet”. Is it a French word in origin?
    Thank you

  3. According to Online Etymology Dictionary (Kati’s Dictionary)

    “buffet” is a word of French origin. At this situation (story) it means table.