Carnet de Voyage: First Encounter with the French

Carnet de Voyage: First Encounter with the French
July 5, 2023

Journey notes from the true France. Carnet de Voyage is a weekly French private journey story submitted by readers. If you need to jot down a narrative for Carnet de Voyage, head right here for particulars on submit.

Though I have been to France many instances since then, my first expertise of France and the French got here within the mid-Seventies. On the time, there was a corporation known as the Worldwide Sportsman’s Membership; For a modest annual payment, a member may take part in ultra-low-cost constitution flights from Chicago, the place I lived, to varied locations in Europe. Being in our late 20s my spouse and I joined the membership and took our first journey to Europe costing about $350 per particular person. This journey included a round-trip airfare from Chicago to Zurich, then your selection of both 7 nights in a Zurich lodge or 2 nights in a lodge and a 5 day automotive rental. We selected the latter possibility and selected an itinerary that might take us from Switzerland, by a nook of Germany, then on to Strasbourg and the wine area of Alsace.

In fact, this was earlier than the web age, and we had been novice vacationers, so we had little or no details about the place we had been going or the place we had been going to remain after we had been on the street; We simply assumed we would be able to discover lodging wherever we determined to cease for the evening.

From Switzerland we drove by the Black Forest to Freiburg, the place we visited the cathedral, after which on to Strasbourg, the place we supposed to remain in a single day. After visiting the magnificent cathedral, we began in search of a lodge. What we came upon was that there was some sort of enormous conference occurring on the town, and each room on the town was booked. The final place we tried recommended we stroll south to Colmar, the place we’d discover a room. Sadly, we discovered the identical scenario in Colmar, having obtained numerous guests to Strasbourg. The final lodge we tried in Colmar was on the western fringe of city subsequent to a small freeway. As we neared the freeway, we noticed a street signal that stated “Motel” with an arrow pointing west. We thought it was our final probability, we determined to observe that signal.

We drove west on this street for a while and did not come throughout a lodge. It was getting darkish, and I lastly pulled out my street map and found that the motel was the identify of a village someplace within the Vosges Mountains proper in entrance of us, not the motor-car lodge that had turn into so ubiquitous again dwelling. Figuring out that nothing was out there at Colmar, we had no selection however to proceed going westward; We’ll in all probability discover this lodge and hope it had a motel.

As darkness approached, we entered the Vosges Mountains and the street started to meander and ascend. We had been very apprehensive presently. About 20 minutes later, we noticed the primary lights forward. It wasn’t a city, however it seemed like three small inns in a bit enclave on the bend of the street. Abruptly feeling so relieved, we stopped at what gave the impression to be the most important lodge, which additionally had a restaurant. The one who welcomed us did not converse English so he motioned for us to remain there and went to search out somebody. She returns with a younger man in a white jacket and chef’s hat who seems to be not solely the chef however the proprietor of the lodge. Once we requested for a room, he informed us that his lodge in addition to the opposite two inns in his pocket are absolutely booked. Then he stated he had an thought and left to make a telephone name. When he got here again he informed us he had spoken to a good friend of his who had a small inn about 10 minutes down the street and had one room out there to order for the younger American couple who wanted it desperately. This now occurred in the midst of the restaurant’s dinner service, and we had been so grateful that this gentleman took the time to assist these two depressing Individuals as a substitute of simply kicking us out and going again to the kitchen.

We discovered the inn and, as soon as settled, received again within the automotive and headed again to our new good friend’s restaurant for dinner. We had an amazing meal and the chef/proprietor noticed us and got here out and sat with us for some time to verify all the pieces went effectively.

In america, at the moment there was, and generally is, a stereotype that the French are impolite and don’t like Individuals. A few of us know higher.

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Larry Fisher is 78 years previous and retired from the true property enterprise. He is lived within the Chicago space his complete life, and for the previous 35 years he is been within the Buffalo Grove suburb. He likes to journey, and was lucky to have traveled quite a bit (till Covid), together with China, India, and fairly a bit in Europe, together with about 7 instances in France. The hooked up story dates again to his first overseas journey within the Seventies. His final 5 journeys to Europe have been on his personal, and since touring on his personal, which he actually enjoys, has began holding journals, primarily to let his household know the place he’s. His older brother is a large fan of his journaling and inspired Larry to submit this story.

Major picture proprietor: Lovely mountain panorama within the Vosges © Alexander Sorokopud / shutterstock

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