I love France and, in the main, I have always found the French to be charming, polite and very helpful. I do not subscribe to the stereotype of an anti British or ignorant race - except for the garaged owners obviously - and I have seen nothing on this trip to alter my view.
However, as an Englishman, should a traveler from a foreign land ask me a question in pigeon English I will immediately slow my speech down and increase the volume, gesture wildly and basically treat them like a retarded child in an attempt to make myself understood. And it usually works. But when a Frenchman starts talking to you, you come out with the old "Je ne comprends pas", then apologetically state "Je suis anglais", in the hope of a little help. Oh no, the just say "Ah English" and prattle on at 100 mph without a pause. One chap stopped for a one sided chat every day for a week. He got very excited when describing something about the French lads fishing downstream but his hand gestures were even different to our own and most of it went over my head. They could have murdered a mermaid for all I knew.
Unless, of course, you do speak a little of the lingo. My menu French can get me by and when I'm in full flow I get very Gallic. The palms come out, the shoulders are shrugged and the bottom lip edges forward, oh yes, when I'm talking French I look like Cantona when he's just been booked. And what happens? The French person invariably starts to converse in English, just to make you look stupid.
So, next time you get Johnny Foreigner stop and ask you the way to the Post Office or whatever, talk to them like you are commentating on the final furlong of the Derby, that'll learn 'em.
And what is it with the flies over there? I rarely suffer with midge or mozzie bites but have come home with about sixty of the itchiest spots I've ever had - the bastards. I blame the EU for no other reason than convenience.
And why can't we buy pate like theirs over here? The crap that our supermarkets doll out is full of preservatives, colouring and is frankly shite when compared to a good, locally made Campagne. That'll be the EU's fault as well.
One last observation - for now. I mentioned in a previous blog about the carp we saw in Spain. Well, I was very careful to get a good look at the fish we had whilst they were underwater. My thirty was a fat little so and so (no comments please) and didn't seem too big as it swam away but Phil's forty also looked somewhat smaller than I expected. Just how big were those Spanish carp? I will have a trip after them one day and hopefully find out.
Anyway, must go - I've got a vat of 'Bite-ease' to rub over me. Hold that mental image you lucky people.