Posted by: Team McSlade | April 8, 2010

Not even a Frenchman’s beret

In Spain, I may be a Spaniard, but here in France, I am not a Frenchman.
Now for all my French friends, I am not hanging a sign saying “Your country stinks” on the door – it doesn’t – far from it, (especially when the plum trees are in bloom for only two weeks of the year and you happen to be there for it and the perfume is a gaiety to the senses); I am merely making an observation I am not a Frenchie. Here are reasons why:

I drive slowly.
Technically, I drive at the speed limit, but in rural Sud Ouest France, that’s slow. This evening as I returned from the local Quickie Mart with Crème Brûlée icecream, a bag of frozen mushrooms and scourers, a rather rude and impatient madame tried to drive her frog mobile up the tailpipe of our Peugeot. Seemingly my due diligence as a driver was not appreciated as I checked for other motorists at a give way sign and then continued along the avenue at the required 50 clicks. She belted past, gave a quizzical glare and off she sped in a cloud of escargot.

I don’t speak French.
My Spanish may have a few glaring holes in it, but at least I can hold a poor conversation and get the job done at the butcher’s, the baker’s and if the need arose, the ubiquitous candlestick maker’s place of employ. Yet here – useless.
No ‘Oui oui’ means that I can’t ask for a loaf of bread without a forward thrust of an index finger; old people can talk to me and I can only give the ‘Je suis Australian’ – ‘I am Australian’ and get laughed at (in a nice way, but still cackled at).

We dress poorly.
This one is really for Jo (again for the lady readers, she said it, I reckon she’d look great even in spud-sack chic); as men over here sport fine moustaches and get to wear berets and gum boots while tooting around. I could grow a moo-tang again and I look rather fetching in a pair of wellies; but the female variety of the French have a certain coiffed and polished appearance. Jo has been seen visiting villages and monuments in the same outfit as the previous day’s jaunts. Also with Zach wearing the same shorts five days in a row we hang our heads in shame.

On the flip side. 
The tracks for why the countryside of France, in particular the Sud Ouest is a belter. Duck confit – real duck confit; Carrefour (Jess proudly stated “I love Carrefour, it’s one of my favourite places” and it’s a supermarket); a non-angry language where even getting torn a new one sounds like a walk in the park on a summer’s day; “women don’t get fat” (Jo said this) apparently the wine, cheese and bread have a magical effect whereby women stay slender from a diet of this French Trinity; Châteaux of grand repute with wonderful rows of shuttered windows and stately entrance doors and well manicured grounds.
A strong sense of heritage, tradition and culture oozes from this part of the world, with the Occitan language proudly spoken, foie gras revered and the humble prune proudly put on a pedestal.

This list can go on (a late entry is our hire car, Jo reckons that Peugeot is the ‘Daewoo of France’ but it’s streets ahead of the Red Herring of Doom  that is our Ford Laser at home), but to say the least we have felt relaxed and enjoyed our time here and if money and time would permit it, we would seriously look into buying a place here.

Some dreams need to be put out there, who knows Châteaux Team McSlade may not be a whisper in the wind forever.

Châteaux de Duras



  1. Bonjour Team McSlade

    I’m getting very itchy pieds reading your blogs, especially re France which is one of my most favourite places in the world. Your adventures are amusing and informative, and make my morning email read delightful.

    Lynda B (Carly’s wicked stepmother)

  2. tres bein.

    Ryan french is easy. Say everything in English and infuse your best french accent thrown in for good measure. It works every time for me. give it crack. efFluent Frengrish 😉


  3. Just got home from our Tour de France meeting – we’ll be there in June, so enough tome for Pat to grow a tash and I’ll start working on my ciggies, coffee and wine diet.

  4. Good luck with getting that Chateaux.
    1) Who would ever part with a house like that!
    2) How are you ever going to pay for it?
    3) If you even want a smaller one you better start some big buisness or win the lottery orinvent something.

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