When I started looking into this trip more than 10 months ago, I have to admit that France was not on my radar. We had been here one time about 10 years ago, and I found Parisians less than polite. There were a few who were quite rude when they realized we were American. That didn't sit well with me, and I told Mike a long time ago that I wasn't too interested in returning. When I happened upon the great deal for this cruise last July, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Paris again. We decided that seeing other regions of the country would be good.
No use going into a big thing about the plans. I covered that ad infinitum before we left. Suffice to say, though, that I'm glad we (*I*) included France in our plans. In the five days we've been here, I've learned a number of things I hadn't realized before. Going on the cruise has been good for learning more about European and American history, but I've also observed some things that I didn't see in the three days we were here in 2002.
You've undoubtedly read, as I have, that the French like their dogs. Dogs are everywhere in France. The evening we arrived in Paris, I saw people walking their dogs on city streets at 10 pm. The next morning, we saw dogs of all sizes trotting beside their masters all over. I saw a few people get off the bus holding smaller dogs, and people in cafes sitting next to their dogs. In Vernon, dogs followed their masters into bakeries and butcher shops. A number of people brought them to Monoprix, a sort of department store. Dogs and their owners were all over the Normandy beaches, and one was quietly walking through the Museum of Debarqument at Juno Beach. Could you imagine that in the States?
Everyone has been quite friendly, especially when I ask if I may pet their dogs. Of course, the conversation always goes something like this:
Waving at the pooch, I walk up to the owner and say, "May I pet your dog?" Of course, they don't understand me, so I mime petting the dog and add, "Je ne parle pas francais." (I don't speak French.)
They always smile and reply, "Gobble-dy gook. Gobble-dy gook." Since I don't speak French, I have no idea what they're saying, but I figure they're saying it's okay. I bend down and pet the dog.
"Bon jour, Pooky. Bon jour!" The proud owner watches me, smiles more and says, "Gobble-dy gook. Gobble-dy gook." The dog looks at me and thinks, "Zhou gots any food I can haves?"
"Je t'aime le chien," I proclaim to the owner. Since I've just said, "I love you the dog," the owner usually blinks hard and looks a little more than confused. (Note to self: Use the iPad to look up how to say, "I love dogs" as soon as you finish this post.)
"Gobble-dy gook. Gobble-dy gook," they say as they smile broadly and nod their heads. I figure that, at this point, they understand what I've been trying to say. If there are two of them, they usually look at each other and add, "Gobble-dy gook. Gobble-dy gook." Mike thinks they're saying, "Crazy American lady."
So, I think I misjudged these people when we were here before. They can't be all bad if they like animals, especially dogs.
Now, if they would just learn to pick up after their dogs (and I'm not talking about toys).
Tomorrow: The story of our friend's mugging. . . .