After a week or so of settling in, we are feeling comfortable, rearranging the house to suit us and today we got to the stage where we felt we needed to get out & mix a bit more in the village. So, coats scarves and gloves on – yes, including Rod, it is cold here! – we set off for a short walk up the main street. We know from our explorations that there are two main bars that seem to be open most nights. By day they operate as cafes & restaurants, by night they are more like a pub. There are another two establishments that seem to remain as restaurants so we will explore those in due course.
Tonight was a great night. We have been into both of these bars at various times, the first was at, shall we call it, bar 1. It was a Tuesday night (the night after we arrived in town) so a bit quiet, and the clientele seemed to be mostly English. We have had coffee during the day in the other (Bar 2) and had been in there with the other Aussies in town but not much on our own until tonight. However, tonight we ventured out for a pre-dinner drink on our own and stayed in Bar 2 which has distinctly more local (French) clientele. The smoke factor was almost as bad as the English bar (Bar 1), but not quite so we toughed it out for a couple of hours. And what a good decision that turned out to be.
When we arrived it was pretty quiet, so we had a chance to order our drinks in French without feeling rushed and the lovely owner (damn, I’ve forgotten her name for the third time!) was very patient with us, as always. It probably helps that she is also new to the village, having bought the bar/restaurant only about a month ago and installed her family as employees… much to the chagrin of some of the locals who have apparently lost their previous jobs, but it seems that is the way here. She is very welcoming, ensuring she always comes around the bar to shake our hand and to try to teach us a little more French every time. Tonight she honoured us with a drink each on the house, which we understood only after a bit of hand-signalling and help from another customer. I realised later that I heard her say “gratuite” which means “free”, Doh!!
The quiet atmosphere didn’t last too long as one after another quite a few locals began to drift in. They all seemed to mostly know each other, which is to be expected in a village of this size (about 1000 residents). We got talking to a very bohemian-looking man who had been socialising with two women, and also got to meet his daughter who came in later after just having completed some school exams – French history I think! We made sure they knew we were Australian (not English) and this seemed to go down really well (of course – as we have been told many times!).
After the bohemian-gentleman and his daughter (and dog) left we got talking to his friend Fabienne, who was a lovely lady, and we are looking forward to meeting her again in town. Apart from the background bar music, which got louder and louder to the point where all three of us were having a hard time hearing each other, we had a really good conversation. We got to practice more of our French and Fabienne got to try out her English, which they all have to learn in school these days. She lamented her very bad English teacher, who obviously put her off when she was 12, and we described how our students have a choice of various languages, mainly Asian or French. After she said “I need more vocabulary”, shaking her head, I laughed and said the same to her in French “Je besoins plus vocabulaire” to which she laughed and agreed!
So we have made some more friends, this time real locals, and we came home very happy with our efforts. This is exactly what we came here for… in fact Fabienne wanted to know why we chose this location, and we were able to explain that there are so many interesting things and history that we want to see. She insisted we will meet again, and I have the feeling there were a few other locals listening in, so hopefully we will have more “très agreeable” evenings again before too long.
Then we came home & had steak sandwiches for a slack dinner, as us Aussies do. We’ll have to see if Fabienne and her friends know that one J
Bonne nuit mes compatriotes Australiens !