A great night out in France? Well what did you expect??
This has nothing to do with Snowboarding but allot to do with where we do it and the service we get…
Another rant from McNab
You’ve got to give it to the French…They know when they are right and yep, they are right about 100% of the time!
Of course I’m generalizing here, and what would I know, I’ve only lived here for 20 years or so, but you’ve got to love that thing they do were they repeat the French word or phrase, that you’ve tried your best to say in your best French, right back at you numerous times, before finally saying, ‘Ahh’ and then saying it once more, exactly the same again, but this time seemingly having given it a new meaning and understanding.
I had this point illustrated so perfectly last Autumn, when with a friend of mine, who also lives over here in Annecy, had a French girlfriend for about 15 years and spoke reasonable French, albeit with a slightly cockney accent, tried to order us 2 croissants one morning in a French bar in the South of France, a bar I might add, that on this particular morning was pretty much empty and only sold croissants and coffee.
(Ok it obviously sold Beer and Pastis too as it was after 8am).
having had a laugh about this exact scenario the night before, my friend went up to the bar man, the patron, and asked for ‘deux croissants, s’il vous plait?’, he even used 2 fingers to demonstrate the point.
I understood what he said and thought he’d done a pretty decent attempt at ordering 2 croissants?
The Patron, stood infront of him, the croissants behind him on the bar, looked my friend right in the eye and repeated the word right back at him….’Croissant?’
My friend, repeats the phrase…’oui, deux (again the 2 fingers) croissant’.
again the Patron repeat the word in a puzzled tone…’croissant’…
This scene is repeated for a further minute or so before eventual the patron turns to his assistant bar man, who nonchalantly blows out a puff off smoke before repeating the word himself…’croissant?’.
The Patron does that thing perfectly…’Ahhh…CROISSANT!’
Me an my friend look at each other, I’m laughing, its funny…but you’ve got to love the French, no apology or anything for making you look an idiot and its a French word for fucks sake, we don’t even have a translation for it so how wrong can you get it?
Croissant? how many ways can you say it? Even if you say it in a shit english accent it sounds pretty much the same!
I love this about the French…in a ok I don’t love it, but have to live with it every day, kind of way…
Imagine the same French man comes up to you in the UK and says…’excuse mee, plis, wer is zee bonk?’
Do you mock him and repeat Bonk? bonk? wot is zee Bonk? What is zee?
Do you reply in French, ‘ah Monsieur, vous ne parley pas tres bien Anglais? La B’A’nque es la bas…regard!’
or do you simply say ‘ahh, yes, the bank is just over there look!’
Ok, you probably maybe mocked a little first??
It’s like the thing were you ask for something in your best French and they reply in English.
You’re then told off for not trying to speak the language but then when you do, its simply not good enough? And they must show you that there English is obviously superior to your French.
So anyway, last night we went out for a meal in Chamonix in the quite pricey and swanky restaurant the Cap Horn.
We very rarely go out, seeing as you need to save up for not only the meal but the same cost again in babysitter, and so its a big occasion and Ruth gets all dressed up etc…me too obviously, but in a little less prep time.
We’ve had the inlaws (ruth’s folks) staying over Christmas and New Year and so they offered to take us out for a meal.
I re mortgaged the house and made a quick bank transfer to the baby sitters off shore account and were out in Cham for the evening.
We’ve booked the ‘Cap horn’ as we couldn’t get into our favourite restaurant ‘Munchies’ and also the Cap horn is supposedly a bit more special.
Well ‘special’ it turned out to be…
All is good, we order etc all fine so far.
I speak in French and the waitress speaks back to me in French…well done me!
Not sure I understood her, why couldn’t she have just spoken back in English like normal!
Anyway all is good and the meal is ordered.
Being the greedy one, I’m the only one having a starter…It arrives and so as not to keep the others waiting for their food I start to scoff it down.
2 minutes later Ruth’s folks main courses arrive?
I’m a little puzzled and Ruth says something about I’d better finish quickly before our steaks also arrive.
I finish asap and we wait and watch Ruth’s folks eat their main course.
Eventually, after obviously eating as slowly as they can, they have to finish their meals and we all wait…kind of awkward and so Ruth asks if our meals are on their way?
2 minutes we are told.
Ok no problem, we can see they’re kind of busy…
20 minutes later and we’re still waiting, they have now cleared the plates away, so Ruth’s folks have eaten and finished and yet we are still waiting.
We’re British and all that and so don’t really like to complain, but It’s starting to seem a little weird so I ask the waitress what’s going on and suggest that this isn’t quite normal for them to have eaten before we’ve even started, its now been 40 minutes since they finished and we only wanted 2 rare steaks…they don’t even need cooking that long?
I didn’t say this last bit obviously about the cooking of the steaks…everyone knows you never complain about food in france as it’s simply the best you can get? and if you do, who knows what you will get?
She leaves to see what is happening…
Now the head waitress come in…I explain in French, the situation, that we’re still waiting for out meals, whilst they have eaten and finished and had theirs cleared away?
I kind of suggest this isn’t normal for an expensive restaurant such as this??
Of course I shouldn’t have done this…
She now replies in rapid fire French, complete with finger pointing, saying we should have said if we all wanted to eat at the same time…
Ahhh…ok my fault…I didn’t know this procedure. Again, I try to explain that I didn’t know that this was necessary and that I though that, due to it saying entree for starters, of which we ordered one, and Main course for Main course, we thought we’d get the Main course all together.
Again, I’m reprimanded with the pointy finger and might we say, a strongly aggressive tone? That we never stated that we wanted to eat together…
She didn’t add that at least we’d been seated together, but maybe we should have been thankful for that aswell?
I again suggest that this doesn’t seem like normal practice, I point out at this isn’t our first time eating in a restaurant and that I’ve never understood that it works like this before?
Of course I should have just kept my mouth shut and pretended not to speak French.
Damn me for being able to be sarcastic in French…This might just have tipped her over her stressed looking edge.
Anyway, no apology forthcoming…only very bitchy looks!
After about an hour and 15 minutes our steaks finaly arrive.
Delicious, well mine seems to be…I scoff it down…
Ruth’s starts hers but soon stops as it seems to have what can only be described as a ‘Pubic’ looking hair on it?
Now we’re a little worried…Oh dear, dare we send it back?
The offending steak is taken away…we decide not to take a replacement due to it probably taking another hour and I didn’t transfer all our saving into the baby sitters account.
Ruth hasn’t eaten anything yet and is starving…I offer to cook her some beans on toast back home…it seems the safer option.
Still not one word of apology from the head waitress, she’s in the back bitching to the other waiters and waitress’s about me and my complaint that we had wanted to eat maybe at the same time!
Instead, one of her underlings, who is very polite and saves the evening, comes over very embarrassed and apologises, finally offering us a free dessert.
Not sure if it will come with a topping of free Gob*, we go for it.
In the mean time, whilst we wait we’re free to observe the very bitchy looks from all the other staff who now know how problematic we have been, having had the story from the head waitress about how we complained, when we hadn’t even said we wanted to eat together and then even had the audacity to send a steak back when we’d been given a pubic hair on top of it all for free, no extra charge!
I remind myself that this is our one night out and that we’re paying allot for this and so should relax and just enjoy it…
Ahhh…another nice relaxing rewarding experience from the service/tourist industry in France…
For a country that relies so much on Tourism…they do it so well.
Probably get my tyres slashed tomorrow for posting this, but as they say over here in France…
C’est la vie!
(*Gob = Great Northen word for spit)
had a similar French experience…Like and Share?