France.......but where are the French?????

Tincataylor

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We have been touring in France now for nearly 6 weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For some strange reason, although we have spent time in Germany, Portugal and Spain we have never got around to France, so this has been an opportunity to explore our near neighbour. We our way northwards between the centre line and the west coast. We had no fixed plan and we let serendipity guide us and that has resulted in the discovery (for us) of some stunning villages and scenery. decided not to write a blog but to just give our random impressions of the country and its people and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts and comments. For information we took the ferry to Bilbao and have slowly worked
The stereotype of the French is that they are not particularly keen on the British and have a reputation for being a bit rude towards us. What utter nonsense that has turned out to be and although we only have “schoolboy French” at best we have found the people to be very friendly and polite and only too willing to engage. We also find France delightfully litter free and people seem to take a pride in their gardens with many of the houses having the most beautiful displays of roses climbing the front facades. The camp sites have all been of an excellent standard and although the aires vary a bit its always good to know that no matter what town or village you find yourself in there is always an area to stay for the night. We have paid virtually no tolls and have spent the majority of our time on the “D” roads, which have taken us through some splendid countryside and we were particularly taken with the Lot / Garonne area, where the countryside looked like it had been created by an artist rather than local farmers. Beautiful lakes and rivers seemed to crop up all the time and the Tarn, Lot, Dordogne, Vezere, Garonne and of course the mighty Loire with its associated Chateaux have all entertained us. We have 3 more nights to go before we (hopefully) find a ferry waiting for us at Roscoff to return us to Sunny Deb’n. The standing joke at the moment is that if you ring the Brittany Ferries help line and ask what time the ferry sails the answer is “what time can you get here”, such is the disruption to services.
We do have one observation to make that we find hard to understand, and that is “where are all the people”. We have driven through countless towns and villages and the feeling is bordering on post-apocalyptic. It doesn’t make any difference what day it is or what time of day. In fact the most people we ever see is early morning as they scuttle to the boulangerie before disappearing again until the following day. Bars and restaurants are virtually empty with a bored waitress clock watching her way through the day and the supermarkets have nowhere near the footfall to justify their size…………….where is everyone……..????
The Tincas.
 
OP
Tincataylor

Tincataylor

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Never leave a campsite with your clothes line tied to a lamp post.
Sorry the above went a bit strange, try this

We have been touring in France now for nearly 6 weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For some strange reason, although we have spent time in Germany, Portugal and Spain we have never got around to France, so this has been an opportunity to explore our near neighbour. We decided not to write a blog but to just give our random impressions of the country and its people and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts and comments. For information we took the ferry to Bilbao and have slowly worked our way northwards between the centre line and the west coast. We had no fixed plan and we let serendipity guide us and that has resulted in the discovery (for us) of some stunning villages and scenery.
The stereotype of the French is that they are not particularly keen on the British and have a reputation for being a bit rude towards us. What utter nonsense that has turned out to be and although we only have “schoolboy French” at best we have found the people to be very friendly and polite and only too willing to engage. We also find France delightfully litter free and people seem to take a pride in their gardens with many of the houses having the most beautiful displays of roses climbing the front facades. The camp sites have all been of an excellent standard and although the aires vary a bit its always good to know that no matter what town or village you find yourself in there is always an area to stay for the night. We have paid virtually no tolls and have spent the majority of our time on the “D” roads, which have taken us through some splendid countryside and we were particularly taken with the Lot / Garonne area, where the countryside looked like it had been created by an artist rather than local farmers. Beautiful lakes and rivers seemed to crop up all the time and the Tarn, Lot, Dordogne, Vezere, Garonne and of course the mighty Loire with its associated Chateaux have all entertained us. We have 3 more nights to go before we (hopefully) find a ferry waiting for us at Roscoff to return us to Sunny Deb’n. The standing joke at the moment is that if you ring the Brittany Ferries help line and ask what time the ferry sails the answer is “what time can you get here”, such is the disruption to services.
We do have one observation to make that we find hard to understand, and that is “where are all the people”. We have driven through countless towns and villages and the feeling is bordering on post-apocalyptic. It doesn’t make any difference what day it is or what time of day. In fact the most people we ever see is early morning as they scuttle to the boulangerie before disappearing again until the following day. Bars and restaurants are virtually empty with a bored waitress clock watching her way through the day and the supermarkets have nowhere near the footfall to justify their size…………….where is everyone……..????
The Tincas.
 

Reallyretired

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Most French villages give the impression of being unoccupied and certainly the small shops seem to be run more as a hobby than a serious business. The French seem pretty relaxed about most things and aren't obsessed with making money as some are here. Like you we have always found them friendly and helpful. They sometimes ask me to speak English as my French, taught in the 60s by a Yorkshireman, seems incomprehensible to them.
 

chaser

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Absolutely what we have found for the last 9 years, always thought we were in a different country to what others complain about, Julie talks fluent French so we do have a bit of an advantage but I don't speak a word but the usual ,please and thank you hello and that but never met anyone being miserable because I was talking English , most are pleased to talk to you to learn English or help you with French.
 

chaser

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As to where they are is that they are on a different time scale to us, working early in the morning then back at home having their prelonged dinner when tourists are just getting about, then they are at it again lateer at night then in again at 9 to get ready for the next early morning.
On the other hand it maybe that it's a Monday or a festival day of which there are many.
 

Tigertom

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We have travelled all over France for several years and absolutely love it and the people we have met.....................but yes where do they all disappear to after they have ‘ done lunch ‘ ?
 

nicholsong

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were of exactly the same opinion beautiful country its the one place you can really just wander thanks to the aires and you never know whats around the next corner .I'm sure most rural shops are run for fun apart from the boulangier
I thought they were run as a gossip exchange.
 
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TinaL

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This thread is very reassuring as the last time I drove straight through France from Dieppe to Basel Switzerland I didnt see a light on in a house, a pedestrian, and very few cars, but it was late at night.
One thing that does worry me nowadays is how many speeding tickets will arrive on my doorstep months after arriving home, with all the speed limit changes in & out of villages especially on the D roads. Apparently the speed cameras in France are not as speed tolerant as ours over here & Macron it would seem has invented a new form of tax revenue for France.
Cant wait to get over there though, sounds like a great experience, just got to pluck up the courage to use our basic french course knowledge to try and recoup the cost of two of us doing it at night school over winter. I can still read it and decipher it a lot easier than than when I listen to it, apparently the further North you travel the faster they speak, our French teacher was from Calais and she confirmed this.
Thanks for the update.
Les
 

WillH

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Currently in France and we have often wondered the same, empty villages. Been coming over here for 35 years and it hasn't changed. Just pitched up in La Fleche if anyone's around.
 

Derry Wilson

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Very interesting thread. Thank you Tincataylor for taking the time to share your views and experiences. Like a few have already said, with the odd exception that's what we have experienced over the many years we've been going to France.

What we have noticed on our most recent trip (last month) is, most of the French don't seem to have a lot of time for their Politicians, particularly monsieur Macron.

The thing my wife always comments on as soon as we arrive back in Blighty is how untidy everywhere looks, the amount of rubbish on the sides of the roads/motorways, uncut verges, and that of a country supposed to be the 5th richest nation on the planet.
 

Larby

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Currently in France and we have often wondered the same, empty villages. Been coming over here for 35 years and it hasn't changed. Just pitched up in La Fleche if anyone's around.
Ah France, where people should go to lower their stress levels.
So relaxed and yes those empty villages make us think "where are they"?
Regarding La Fleche, are you on the Municipal? as someone said the roadside one is closed to Motorhomes.
 

yodeli

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As Tincataylor said ... I often wonder where my country fellows are. Usually at that precise moment, I'm under my blanket, ready to sleep, as not interested in going out during the working week.
Mind you it could have been after lunch.... we are sleepy people, and digestion helps a lot. So after lunch my dear, it's nap time!:giggle::cool:
 

Chris

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If there aren't any French around I might need to give France another try
(y)

Seriously though, am I the only one who finds these sleepy little quiet villages mind numbingly boring?

You can't even get a beer except in one of those betting shop come Tabac places where a load of grumpy old Frenchmen sit around drinking beer and watching horse racing on the telly.
 

chaser

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If there aren't any French around I might need to give France another try
(y)

Seriously though, am I the only one who finds these sleepy little quiet villages mind numbingly boring?

You can't even get a beer except in one of those betting shop come Tabac places where a load of grumpy old Frenchmen sit around drinking beer and watching horse racing on the telly.
the sort of place we head for in whatever town we are
 

Welsh girl

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I'm in Fougeres at the moment and as your said the speed limits going through towns and villages are a nuisance but we know we have to adhere to them or get a fine! What I've noticed is the amount of signs saying that priority to the right and yet there are give way markings in the road for the people coming out of a right hand turn so did this still exist? Very friendly people though I've noticed through the years of travelling through France! yodeli .Not coming your way this time, maybe next time we'll pop in to visit you, we had such a welcome last time! Thank you.
 

Hollyberry

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At work. Kids in school. Teenagers in college.
To be covered by house insurance when not at home ( in theory even if you’ve just gone to the shops) the shutters have to be closed. So some villages can look deserted during the week. Many people also close the shutters to keep the house cool in summer.
Have you been to a market before 9 am ? You’ll find plenty of locals shopping.
And the speed limits through villages and even little hamlets aren’t a nuisance to those who live there ! It means elderly residents, children and even cats don’t risk life and limb going for a stroll.
 

pandas

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The French are I expect touring other countries than France as the facility’s on most camp sites we have visited over the years are so poor in comparison to Italy, Germany, Austria and so on. Unclean, warning notices everywhere, unloved and could not care a dam is our opinion. Lots of others will have different experiences of course but the French are very much a backward nation.
 
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