Random observations while traveling in France

  • In Dutch we use the expression ‘all roads lead to Rome’ when we want to explain there are many ways to achieve a goal. The French must be scared to end up in Rome, because all their roads lead to Paris. No matter if you’re hundreds and hundreds kilometers away from the capital, road signs will lead you to the one and only city that seems to matter in France;
  • France’s countryside is so big and so empty, you can hardly blame them for pointing towards the epicenter of human activity at any desolate point between hay bales, corn and cows;
  • As I’ve said before, French restaurants suck. I’ve had enough of people claiming French food is so good, because it isn’t. The only pleasant restaurant experience we had in two weeks (and we ate out a lot) was in Bretignolles-sur-mer. If you ever end up in this village close to the sea, I recommend Bar de l’Hotel de Ville. Good food and friendly service. Daughter was pleasantly surprised about the kids’ sized toilet seat;
  • Which brings me to the lack of service for small kids in public spaces. In Rouen we had a hard time to find a place for Daughter to run about for a bit. The park next to the hotel consisted of grass used by dog owners and the few bushes served as shelter for the homeless. We found one playground in the city center. The brochures all pointed to activities for kids about twenty kilometers outside the city. And sometimes I spotted restaurant personnel that weren’t keen on serving a three year old (who actually knows how to behave very well);
  • Which brings me back to French food. Daughter had to survive on steak boeuf, frites and crêpes.
  • And while we’re talking about French food: a fried egg on top of a pizza, WTF! Never ordering a pizza in France again;
  • The Sunday market in Bretignolles-sur-mer exceeded our expectation. It was so big and lively. All of a sudden all the extra parking lots made sense for the small town that it is. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in that area;
  • French are chauvinistic. Not a surprise, but very apparent inside the food hal in B-s-m when it’s packed and all venders have very long lines, except the only Vietnamese in the room;
  • We’ve entered an era where people can’t live without listening to music. Twice I was in the shower at the campground and young women (mixed gender toilets and showers have not reached this part of Europe) played music on their phones while having a wash. Many others played music in their caravan or tent, imposing their musical (dis)taste on their neighbors;
  • I hate it when campgrounds have on-site live performances, especially when these performances take until midnight to finish at the night of your arrival. Interesting thing is that campground rules state you should be quiet after 10:30PM. They clearly feel entitled to break their own rules;
  • Though I encourage everyone to bring an acoustic guitar and fiddle with it all night long. Makes my night;
  • I’ve never seen so many Irish on a campground and never before was I exposed to so many variations of English at the same time. Many people camped there for the x-th year. Guests at La Garangeoire were very loud and active until late at night. Kids running and shouting until 11PM was normal. It made it extra hard for Daughter to downwind after a day full of new experiences. Several nights she only went to sleep after we joined her late at night;
  • The beaches near Bretignolles-sur-mer were much more pleasant than in Lion-sur-mer, Normandy. The latter was a rather dirty beach, both in terms what the water brought to the beach and what humans left at the beach;
  • The new self-inflatable mattresses we bought were the best camp gear investment in years. For the first time my hips weren’t sore from pressing on the ground. And they roll up more compact than our previous ones. Win-win! Nomad Dreamzone XW 10.0, in case you’re wondering.