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.