Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tuesday means......la classe de francais....!

RR & I recently planned a last minute trip to the south of France to celebrate a 'big' birthday - we made the bookings by phone & e-mail, summoning every bit of 'school' French we could & overall, managed OK (we thought)....we arrived at our first destination (luckily owned by an English couple) and had a wonderful stay at this place, near Tarascon:

This was our next destination - a beautiful old 'bastide' in a very rural setting - Madame had decorated all the rooms in the most beautiful classic French style - we managed to converse with her and the other guests happily, using the smattering of words I could remember (the only words RR could remember were those of his over-enthusiastic French master yelling 'travaille, travaille' whilst rapping his knuckles with a ruler!) Lots of gesticulating and smiling got us through all but the most awkward situations -

Even the markets didn't faze us too much.....although unwilling to try out my very basic vocabulary on a 'real' French person, armed with my very ancient copy of the Usborne Guide to French (Simple phrases and how to say them) surely it couldn't be that difficult to fill my basket with some delicious saucisson, fromage and a couple of baguettes? (could it?)

We were almost at the end of our French sojourn when reality struck....we were invited to an event at the beautiful 'Chateau Premont' - there was to be a polo match in the morning followed by lunch and then in the afternoon, the impressive spectacle of a D'Acoso y Derribo....(Spanish bull chasing)....in the old days, the 'garrochistas' would bring down the bulls using wooden lances in order to mark them or for medical treatment...it was cheaper and easier to do this rather than running them into a pen. This art of running and bringing down the bull by two horsemen has now been made into a regulated sport...and is a test for both the horses and the riders who have to learn to accelerate quickly, suddenly change direction and of course avoid the fallen bull in their path...
We intended to go later in the day, after the paella lunch was over to watch..when we arrived, we were told that the polo had gone on longer than expected and lunch was being served late. We thought to leave and come back later but were persuaded by our English host to stay and have a seat with the assembled guests at the long tables laid for lunch. There followed an embarrassing few hours during which we both intently wished we had 'travailled' a bit harder in the French classroom...

Upon our return, we immediately enrolled for what used to be called 'evening classes' - these take place every Tuesday night at the local college and our class is a varied bunch of mostly couples who plan to retire to France or go there to open a business of some sort. There are also a quite a few who, like us, wished they had paid more attention in la classe de francais.....s


  1. It sounds like you did a wonderful job and had a fabulous time regardless....I think it is all about the trying, no one is a perfect speaker in a foreign language, xv.

  2. Dear Vicki - thank you so much for your encouragement - I was introduced to this wonderful on line world via your blog and your gorgeous book - I am SO thrilled you came by and visited! Love Susie x

  3. Gorgeous photos and lovely to hear about your holiday, (keep going with the French - I am impressed) See you soon.... xx