Arles France 2013

Honestly, I’ll never understand all of the fuss against French people. I love France. I’ve never had a bad experience and people are usually incredibly nice to me. The French are less smiley and are more direct than what Americans are used to and they don’t often speak English (which doesn’t bother me because they ARE FRENCH) but it’s fine. We went to Arles France recently and it was so nice! Great hotel, nice people, and amazing food. REALLY AMAZING. Even my Italian husband (they have some imaginary rivalry as are most international rivalries) admitted that the food is amazing. Before this trip my husband was convinced that French people were so mean that they probably killed kittens for fun after they beat random grannies in the street. My argument is this: There are assholes everywhere, there are kind people everywhere, and there are always diamonds in the rough. I have met a lot of insane people in the US, many assholes in Italy, and sweethearts in France. My advice for going abroad is to just do you, be nice, and most peopl will respond in kind. I’m completely fucked up and most people respond with kindness or shock OR they let me FINALLY come on their ship!

I dragged my husband out with me one night in Arles, both of us pretty drunk. We were near ship docks for the river cruises and I decided that I HAD TO GO ON A SHIP BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE A PIRATE! First, I tried to sneak onto one with no luck, with my husband begging me to just “be normal for once” and pulling on my arm. I tapped on glass windows and tried to “yyoooo-hoooo” my way inside. Then I found another cruise ship with a few humans on the deck. I tried approaching their boat/ship/awesome with “me, vodka, yaaay!” at a captain but the two other men on the boat told me “no”. So, out of ideas, I forced F to climb a rock wall with me next to the ship and river (despite my wearing a leather miniskirt and heels) so I could hide behind a wall to spy on the ship. If I couldn’t hang out I would just spy on them and pretend I was there. Yes, I spent a lot of time alone and as the “weird kid,” with no friends. It’s obvious, I know.

I peeked over the wall with only my eyes showing. The captain of the boat saw me and I slowly waived with my hand barely over the wall. Then I gave him a huge smile and screamed, “SALUT!!!!” He turned to the other captain, they both shook their heads and finally waived me and F over. They invited us on their cruise ship and the skipper brought us each a beer (“no have, vodka”). We sat around a table, the skipper, captain, and a few other employees. None of them really spoke English and we didn’t speak French but it was so much fun. We gestured and drank beers. We spoke slowly and mimed. We exchanged cell phone photos of wives, children, and random excursions. The men pointed to their wives and children with sad eyes, “many weeks I no see.” When the sun came up over the horizon we bid them all farewell but they begged us to stay. “Come on! The guests come now! We next city! You come, you! No pay!” Sadly, Francesco told me that I couldn’t be a pirate of a cruise ship. We stumbled back to our hotel, with fond memories of our new friends, a reminder that language isn’t as necessary as kindness, and lost dreams of booty and buccaneering. One day, my friends. One day.


8 thoughts on “Arles France 2013

  1. I agree about France. People talk about the “rude French Waiter” and honestly the worst server I’ve ever had was in Venice -specifically Burano. She refused to speak to me in Italian (no one else had any problem understanding me and I later noticed she did it to anyone with an accent), ordered for me, refused to bring me a plate at one point and then when I burst out laughing to myself because I was wondering how to say “My waitress is a cunt.” in Italian, which I thought was hilarious, she started loudly complaining to another waitress about how I was a drunk. While I’ll admit I’d polished off over a litre of wine with my giant carb-y lunch, I live in Denver and have “Altitude Liver”, so I was quite sober. I wish I’d have taken her photo, I thought it was the funniest thing that happened on the whole trip!

    • hahahaha! Ugh. That’s happened to me a few times in Venice. They are kind of even like that towards my husband because he’s from another region. In my opinion it’s just a cultural thing. I’m not a smiley cheery girl. I almost NEVER smile or laugh when I’m around new people. I’m a really happy person but it’s just not how I am. In the US people would be nervous to talk with me because I would stare at them and only speak if I had something to say. Obviously, my friends are around enough to see my obnoxious side, but everyone else is put-off by me. Here, however, it’s normal. The standard isn’t to flash a massive toothy grin at someone and chat about their entire life while they wait your table or bag your groceries. They listen, do their job, and get you what you need. Americans really struggle with that when they come to Europe. I saw an INSANE American dude go batshit crazy on this poor French guy and the French guy wasn’t doing anything rude. He was just trying to help everyone but because he wasn’t giving the man undivided, smiley, kiss his ass customer service the guy flipped his shit. If you look past their serious expressions people are SO NICE. Italians are far more snobby than French people in general. I’ve met more dickheads here than anywhere (but even that is very rare). The fascist cities (venice) are the rudest to foreign people. Florentines are snotty but they are not mean and all “leave my country bitch.” Of course, I am generalizing A LOT here and there are a billion exceptions to all of this. But, in my experience, French people are nice as hell. My husband is obnoxiously anti-french (like most Italians) and after our trip he was like, “wow, yeah, people are super nice.” Because I was being super nice to everyone and they were nice in return. I also think if you go somewhere LOOKING for people to be mean you’re going to find it.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. I think spending 5 minutes googling cultural norms would make everyone enjoy trips abroad more.

        I don’t know if I mentioned this to you before, but when I was in Florence, I stopped to eat one night, and because I’m American, I eat earlier than everyone in Europe. Anyway, I pop into this restaurant, which is basically empty, and order dinner, wine, etc. Toward the end of my meal, this big Jersey Shore style Italian American family of 10 comes. I kind of rolled my eyes to myself because I don’t like those kind of people anywhere, I’d roll my eyes if I was in Jersey. But then the family matriarch starts screaming- I turn my head and she’s in the waiter’s face yelling “Look buddy, we’re more EYE-talian than you and when I say my kid wants spaghetti and meatballs, you’d better make him spaghetti and fucking meatballs!” Her family applauded.

        I thought I would die of embarrassment just by association. My waitress came over a shortly after with my post-meal limoncello and commented on how rude Americans are. I admitted I was American, too and she was like, “No, you can’t be, you don’t even look American. You must be Spanish. Don’t tease me!” I don’t speak any Spanish, but I went with it, I’m sure she meant it as a compliment. Florence was crawling with obnoxious Americans while I was there.

  2. Your antics are great! The way you describe yourself you appear introverted , too. Which makes everything even cooler. I haven’t been to France yet and many people I know from Europe all dislike them, so this positive spin helps.

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