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Maybe the French aren’t all that bad after all!

January 22, 2012

Last year my wife, three daughters and my eldest girl’s boyfriend and I, went on holiday to the Loire Valley. It was absolutely beautiful. The open empty roads, gorgeous châteaux(‘s), great food and vineyards where you could buy local delicious wine for peanuts!

One Saturday, we were on our way to see the châteaux at Chenonceaux. Ten kilometres from the village our car started spluttering and slowing down. I pulled over and looked under the bonnet. Nothing was obviously wrong, but then again I know nothing about engines whatsoever!

We were in the middle of nowhere with no one around except for a few caravans and tents in a nearby field/camping site. We limped the car into the field and went to see if we could get some help. Now we all know stories of how the French are Bolshy, arrogant and not exactly Anglophiles so we were really surprised by the reception we received. Three of the caravan dwellers came out to us and I explained in very bad French that the car ‘Ne marche pas’. They looked under the bonnet but couldn’t see the problem either. I asked if there was a Peugeot garage in the area? One of the Frenchman, Louis, looked up garages on his iPhone, but being midday on a Saturday, all the garages were closed for the weekend. “One moment” he said, “I ‘ave friend in village, he is mechanic at garage. “I ask ‘im if he ‘elp”?

I agreed and he called his mechanic friend who worked at the local garage in Chenonceaux. The mechanic was about to go home, but he agreed to have a look at the car for us. We were given a tow to the garage and the mechanic, Jean, diagnosed a fault with the ‘Bobine’ or as we would say, the coil. Jean explained in pigeon English that it was difficult to find the part we needed on a Saturday afternoon as France shuts down until Monday morning. Despite this, he made loads of phone calls and located the part at a garage a few miles away. After and hour or so he returned with the part, fitted it and we were on our way! How much is this going to cost I thought, as I feared or my credit card’s life?

Jean came back with the bill, 119 Euros, about £90! I was certain that the arrogant, English hating Frogs would stitch us up for a huge amount, but they were to our surprise and delight, friendly, helpful and completely charming! I gave Jean 20 Euros as a gesture of gratitude for putting himself out and after we’d visited the lovely Châteaux, we returned to the campsite with a case of beers for the three guys who’d towed us to the garage.

That holiday and the actions of a few frenchmen has definitely changed our view of the French forever!

To read more travel stories of surprise, embarrassment, fun and excitement go to http://book.flythomascook.com/news/Write-and-Win-a-Kindle–998/  where you can enter your own story for the chance to win an amazing Kindle!

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