Being one of the many native English speakers in France who speak only “un petit peu” French, it can be quite tricky having meaningful conversations with the locals. Or even those with whom you share a shower block and laundry room.
We’ve been at Camping de la Croix Saint Martin for six weeks now and although we’ve connected with a few other visitors on the site, we’re largely reliant on those people either being or speaking English. That said, I had a sweet exchange with a nine-year-old(ish) girl where the finer points of language weren’t what mattered most.
About a week ago I stopped using the shower at the furthest end of the shower room as the door hinges had loosened causing it to stick and require a fiddly manoeuvre if I wanted to open the door. A couple of days later I was showering (in a different cubicle), post-afternoon swim, when I heard the distinctive sound of someone trying to figure out how to open the end shower door. I was aware one of the girls who was also in the pool that afternoon had followed me into the shower block and I hoped it wasn’t her — all the time certain that it most likely was. A minute or so later, much to my relief, the rattling came to an end.
A few seconds passed and the quiet voice of the girl reached my ears: “Attention!” (French accent required here.) As quickly as I could I grabbed my towel, wrapped it round my half-washed body and went to open her door, which I managed to do by pushing hard on the top. “There you go,” I said as I opened the door. She looked up at me rather embarrassed but clearly grateful to be rescued and uttered rather shyly: “Merci.”
Out and about, in Vichy or the nearby villages, my encounters are often less satisfying with answers to simple questions such as: “Excusez-moi, où est l’Office de Tourisme?” tending to result in my grasping the gist, nodding thankfully and continuing on my way only ever so slightly wiser.
I really must work on my French.
The above Instagram photograph was shot with my iPhone 4 .