Friendly French (1 Viewer)

May 7, 2011
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Cornwall Gorran Haven
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Following the tea/coffee thread, by @Kevinthecat ,
Back in 2005 while in Brittany , we were in tandem with our friends us in our Pilote & them in there hymer looking desperately to find an aire in Pouance ( one of my now favourites) , understand before I go on too far it was before we had a sat nav & only going by a french book , aire camping car written in french !!!
After half an hour searching this town / village , we inventually stopped for some fuel at a local garage , while there we communicated in Very basic french to the portly little garage owner (very french), that we were looking for & could he give us directions .
With this he grabbed my mate and showed him to his old citreon 2cv van , & drove off , 10 mins later he came back having taken my mate to the aire as it was difficult to give directions. It is actually at a small village called St Aubin .
He wouldn't take anything for his trouble /help , with this my wife popped in the back of our camper came out with a dozen of her home baked cakes & gave to the old garage owner , who rushed in & came back with his (presumably ) wife , they were very grateful & couldn't thank us enough. It was us that was very gratefull
Not sure they would have said that after they had tasted them ( only joking).
 

Louis

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Mar 29, 2016
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Following the tea/coffee thread, by @Kevinthecat ,
Back in 2005 while in Brittany , we were in tandem with our friends us in our Pilote & them in there hymer looking desperately to find an aire in Pouance ( one of my now favourites) , understand before I go on too far it was before we had a sat nav & only going by a french book , aire camping car written in french !!!
After half an hour searching this town / village , we inventually stopped for some fuel at a local garage , while there we communicated in Very basic french to the portly little garage owner (very french), that we were looking for & could he give us directions .
With this he grabbed my mate and showed him to his old citreon 2cv van , & drove off , 10 mins later he came back having taken my mate to the aire as it was difficult to give directions. It is actually at a small village called St Aubin .
He wouldn't take anything for his trouble /help , with this my wife popped in the back of our camper came out with a dozen of her home baked cakes & gave to the old garage owner , who rushed in & came back with his (presumably ) wife , they were very grateful & couldn't thank us enough. It was us that was very gratefull
Not sure they would have said that after they had tasted them ( only joking).

We have always found the Bretons very friendly (y)
 
Sep 10, 2012
2,145
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worcester
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22,842
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Sunliving van
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2012
Managed to get lost on the outskirts of Porto after the satnav through a wobbly.
Sitting in a residential street putting the cords back in when across the road comes a woman in a house coat. This should be interesting thinks I but turns out she's English and instructs her husband who don't speak a word to get in the car and show us the way. Didn't have chance to offer her anything and he just drove off with a wave when we got where we were going.
Kind and generous people in the most unexpected places.

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Puddleduck

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Jan 15, 2014
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On and off for many years.
F we communicated in Very basic french to the portly little garage owner (very french), that we were looking for & could he give us directions .
With this he grabbed my mate and showed him to his old citreon 2cv van , & drove off , 10 mins later he came back having taken my mate to the aire as it was difficult to give directions. It is actually at a small village called St Aubin .

I had something similar in Chartes in the 1970s when trying to find a reasonably priced and clean hotel. I asked at the railway station and was asked to wait 10 minutes until the gentleman had finished his shift. He then walked with me to an hotel that looked far too posh for a poor student but he went in with me and I got a beautiful room right at the top of the hotel for less than half of the published rate :) - it was owned by his brother's wife's cousin from what I remember and they invited me to eat with them in the kitchen - the hotel was room only. Most people will do you no harm and many will help if they can.

My French has become less and less fluent as I get older (and it doesn't help that Martin doesn't speak or understand French so I have to translate back and forth rather than "think" in French) but if I make a fool of myself it really doesn't matter and makes people laugh. I always say that I need to be excused as I speak French like a small child with limited understanding.

I really do think that if you visit a country you should make an effort to communicate in the language of that country even in it is only "Hello", "Goodbye", "Please" and "Thank you". Mind Greenlandic did defeat me :) and Icelandic wasn't that easy :)
 
Last edited:
Jul 29, 2011
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Going back about 18 years my wife and I along with our son and his girlfriend (now wife) were driving around in Brittany looking for a gite which we had booked.
Went down one country road, couldn't find it so doubled back, came across a house with a courtyard in front and pulled in.
An old lady came out and my son, who speaks reasonable French, explained we were lost, she tried to direct us but her local dialect meant my son was struggling to understand fully.
She held up hand up and told us to wait, she took her pinny off crossed the small road and a moment later came shooting out of the field in an old battered car, waved us to follow and shot off down the road, I struggled to keep up in my car, she went the way we had been and a couple of kilometres past where we gave up she stopped at the entrance to the gite , waved us in and disappeared up the road.
A week later we again turned up outside her place just as she came out of an annex she used as a bakery, looking highly surprised she came over, my son the gave her a thank you card and a box of Cadbury roses.
She loved the gesture and brought out her two granddaughters who were learning English so they could practice with us, suffice it to say they were extremely embarrassed.
Our future daughter in law said she always thought the French hated us but was so surprised by the friendliness of this family.
 

TerryL

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Mar 5, 2010
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How about a Spanish example? I'd arrived in the centre of a small Spanish coastal town on a hot Sunday afternoon with a coachload of very tired kids after an overnighter, looking for their hotel. The map I had been given (before satnavs) was less use than a chocolate fireguard so when a service bus pulled up behind us I asked one of the teachers to ask the driver if he knew where this hotel was.
Half a minute later, she came rushing back and told me to follow the bus. He'd dumped his (admittedly few) passengers and proceeded to guide us to the hotel, which I'd never have found otherwise!
 
Sep 12, 2016
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We have found this in France Get away from Calais and Paris and you meet some really friendly people
We find now when we go to Twin Lakes to our static and we get to the Intermarche we get recognised and greeted as friends
When we first went to France back in 1991 (our honeymoon) my French was schoolboy level - now it's almost conversational and gets better each visit

But there is nothing that prepares you for the friendliness of normal people away from the ports or tourist areas
be back there soon but not soon enough

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tuscancouple

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Oct 8, 2007
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We were on a campsite near Bayonne and had ridden our Harleys into Dax, which is an old Roman town. Anyway, came to leave and we could not find our way out! Tried many different routes, saw many new places, advertised the sound of Harley, but could not find our way in the direction we needed to go. So we stopped a taxi to ask directions out, too complicated from where we were so he led us out onto the road we needed. Wouldn't take anything but thanks, not even the fare for the journey :)

Mick
 
May 24, 2014
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We once overnighted on the aire at Ferme de L'Horloge and struck up a brief conversation with a couple from France who were also travelling in their MH. Later that evening there was a knock on our van door and it was one of the French offering us a bottle of French wine as a "gift" from France.. bless.
 

Shrimp

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May 27, 2015
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We’ve struggled to find an Aire before and a chap in his garden pointed it out to us.
We’ve had ‘conversations’ with different ages of French people, and played Pétanque with one young couple.
We’ve also been hauled out of a sticky French field by two chaps who came back with a road-works tractor to do the job.
Mostly people are friendly and if you try to speak the language they will reciprocate.
 

Riverbankannie

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Mar 11, 2016
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We were once in France near Spanish border west coast. Got lost up a road which narrowed into a track and couldn’t turn round. Lady came out and opened her gates so we could drive in and turn around in front of her house. She then instructed her husband to come out in his car and show us the way.
 
Mar 24, 2010
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I think it works both ways -most want to get on with each other .We could all tell of our experiences of helpful people abroard.Mine especially when touring on m/cycle with wife. The Germans especially (don't take the initial "bolshy " attitude) its just their way.Just one of the many events was in the Swiss mountains where we stopped in a big house with all the family who rented out a room .The Mother couldn't speak English so son translated.My wife complimented numerous times about the lovely bread /cakes she baked for "continental" breakfast and on leaving our stay she had baked us a gigantic loaf to take home! Won"t bore you with others but part of the excitement is meeting/getting on with other nationalities .

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Chris

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I had a French Canadian girlfriend in my 20’s.

She was half nice.
 
Jan 3, 2008
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So nice to hear nice tales of the French. I have always, with very few exceptions found them helpful, friendly and welcoming.

I remember an occasion when we pulled in st at car park for find Motorhome a were not allowed. A French gentleman got out of his car and tried to explain where we could safely park but his English and our French were no so good. He took his phone out and phoned his friend and afte a short conversation handed the phone to me. His friend on the phone in perfect English explained where we could park and instructed us to follow the man from the car. We did so and he took us to a large car park about half a mile away and once we had parked up he drove off with a wave and a friendly toot.
 
Oct 12, 2008
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Our French exchange visitor has just arrived today ... he’s only 14 (but nearly 6’), very well spoken and extremely sociable. I think we’re going to have a good week of franglais ...

And if you struggle with a word or a subject you're trying to discuss with him.... I'm here to help! You tell him!;)(y)

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Oct 7, 2013
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Heading back from France three years ago a French motorist passed us on a dual carriageway, did a 180 at the next round-a-bout, travelled a kilometre back before turning back in our direction and flagging us down.

On overtaking he had spotted a problem with a tyre on our trailer. The tread was lifting. Having gone out of his way to warn us and so avoid an accident waiting to happen, he guided us to the nearest reasonably sized town and it’s tyre depot.

It must have taken three quarters of an hour all told and taken him out of his way. He wouldn’t accept anything other than thanks.

Having said the above we have found people throughout Europe generally friendly and helpful. Only met the occasional unhelpful one.

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Nov 28, 2007
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Back a few years ago before we had sat nav we were in Fouras stopped looking at the map trying to find the aire, a Frenchman came out of his house seen us and said follow me, he took us about 2 miles to the aire pointed out the water and waste then in broken English explained there was another aire just up the road. Ithas also happened to us in Portugal
 
Feb 15, 2016
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About 20 years ago while cycling through France I asked a man who was waiting for a cycle shop to open where there was a hotel. He spoke good English and showed me where one was and pointed out an entrance to the grounds of the château. He then took me to a cafe and bought me a drink and a far from cheap ice cream. He even offered to let me phone home on his mobile - I didn't have one in those days although I didn't take that offer up. He wouldn't take anything either.
More recently in Annecy I left a rucksack with my camera amongst other things outside a cafe in my haste to catch a boat, another man spotted it and chased after me for a few hundred yards to return it. I wonder how many people in this country would do that - we'd probably be afraid to pick it up, in case we were accused of taking anything from it!
 

jollyrodger

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Oct 1, 2012
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Back a few years heading across country towards Caen ,pre sat nav days . I had problems with long hills (blocked filter in tank) had an incline to what it was but no time to rectify in a rush to the ferry. Late at night I broke down and the norm was get it on the flat and prime the fuel up and start up and carry on. French guy with house nearby had noticed me under the bonnet,
problème monsieur ?
Yes!
Long story short ,came out with a lamp that made my mag torch look like a dwindling candle!
Helped me get the old 2.5di started,then invited me in to clean up.
Madame brought out some coffee and a tart,let me use their phone and generally made me welcome.
Refused my offer of payment for their troubles and phone calls.
Their young son was there so I gave him some pocket money 10ff:D
All the French I have met have been welcoming if you interact with them in Their country .
 
Mar 22, 2016
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I had something similar in Chartes in the 1970s when trying to find a reasonably priced and clean hotel. I asked at the railway station and was asked to wait 10 minutes until the gentleman had finished his shift. He then walked with me to an hotel that looked far too posh for a poor student but he went in with me and I got a beautiful room right at the top of the hotel for less than half of the published rate :) - it was owned by his brother's wife's cousin from what I remember and they invited me to eat with them in the kitchen - the hotel was room only. Most people will do you no harm and many will help if they can.

My French has become less and less fluent as I get older (and it doesn't help that Martin doesn't speak or understand French so I have to translate back and forth rather than "think" in French) but if I make a fool of myself it really doesn't matter and makes people laugh. I always say that I need to be excused as I speak French like a small child with limited understanding.

I really do think that if you visit a country you should make an effort to communicate in the language of that country even in it is only "Hello", "Goodbye", "Please" and "Thank you". Mind Greenlandic did defeat me :) and Icelandic wasn't that easy :)
It was 26 years ago but learnt the Turkish for thank you very much. In a bar restaurant we were having a drink. Saying thank you in turkish earned us (forced on us lol) two free massive desserts on the house and an invitation to come back in two days when they were shut to join them in a family BBQ. The guy said wanted to say thank you for making an effort and honouring his country, Blimey I thought but after a sign language chat and some laughing he said most tourist come use the place and go and as Turkish is difficult nobody bothered. I don't think it's like that now but it made for a lovley evening that night.

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