The International Language of Smile and Nod

Le Mans Travel Blog

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Me:  “Excusez-moi ce que vous comprenez l’anglais?”  (Me asking the petrol attendant)

A shake of his head confirmed my fears, he did not understand English so this meant I had to communicate to him in my limited French and the international language of ‘Sign and Smile.

Me:  “Er, pumpe a neuf s.v.p” pointing at the same time as I spoke to our car as I didn’t want to pay for someone else’s petrol seeing as this could have been a distinct possibility.  All in all, shopping in France had been a success, thus far into our trip.

 

Yesterday I had bought a couple of thimbles, a poster, pastries, wine and cheese and today I had bought up a miniature storm in Bayeux (a lot of things for a History teacher to go gaga over there) and I did it in my basic French with a mixture of English, Dutch and German thrown in for good measure.

In front of St Mont Micheal
  Of course it helps that the people here have a sense of humour and appreciate you trying to speak their language, but as I am butchering their native tongue and trying to add my own ‘French accent’ to words, means although I think I’m doing ok, I think a lot of time, the locals are just being polite realising it is in their best interest to do the international language of ‘Smile and Nod’.  

 

There has been a lot of that going on, smiling, signing and nodding. 

 

Yesterday on the Toll Road (which seems to be most of the main motorways within France) I drove into the automated Credit Card lane.  Foolishly I had thought since I have a credit card, I should be able to pay with this.  No was the French machine reply.

The Lawnmower
  The lady who came out of the warmth of her office to assist us, didn’t speak any English, Dutch, German, Japanese but with the ‘Sign and Smile’ language, we managed to give her cash and drive through.  However, not before we made the alarm go off as it thought we were driving through without paying.  Quite the excitement driving past people, them watching you drive off leaving sirens and lights flashing in your wake. 

 

One thing I think I should mention about the Toll Roads is that they don’t tell you you’re on them until you come up to a toll booth but by then it is too late, you can’t get off the main road and there are no prices so you have no idea what you’re going to be charged.  Add to that the fact our credit cards were useless, it made for some nervous times as we waited with baited breathe to find out what the fare would be.

Our mighty steed
  These ranged from €1 through to the €14.70 we got for driving through Paris.

 

But it does make the driving time quicker and with the tight time restraints we have on ourselves, it makes sense to use these roads.  And it’s a lot of fun trying to get the lawnmower up to the dizzying speeds of 130 km/hr, which are the speed limits on these routes.

 

So now we’re off to see the beaches where the Normandy Landings occurred on the 6 June 1944.  The signs we’ve seen so far have been in English as well as French, which will be quite helpful but then again you can’t go past a smile – most people seem to warm to this and add to this my wonderful French accent, we’ll have no problem being understood. 

 

Au revoir from Le Mans

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In front of St Mont Micheal
In front of St Mont Micheal
The Lawnmower
The Lawnmower
Our mighty steed
Our mighty steed
St Mont Michael
St Mont Michael
Our delicious picnic
Our delicious picnic
Bayeux Cathedral
Bayeux Cathedral
Inside Bayeux Cathedral
Inside Bayeux Cathedral
The hand of St Augustin
The hand of St Augustin
In the catacombs
In the catacombs
Some of the toll roads
Some of the toll roads
And we got to ride on this roller …
And we got to ride on this roller…
Le Mans
photo by: alexchan