Beware The ‘Gallic Shrug’…

The South of France…  playground of the rich and famous, home to hundreds of millionaires and holiday destination for thousands more … where you would expect standards to be, at the very least, excellent … the facilities to be exemplary and the level of service throughout all the various nightspots, eateries and the entire infrastructure that feeds them to be absolutely faultless…

Or so you’d think…

It didn’t even start well. We got off the plane and ‘She Who Must…’ made a beeline for our luggage while I popped off to collect our pre-arranged hire car … only to find the desk completely shut.

I managed to corner an employee from the company in question, who was wandering around in a generally rudderless manner and who, despite working at an international airport only seemed to speak French…

However this seemed perfectly OK to him as he greeted my every question with what will henceforth be known as the ‘Gallic Shrug’…

I’m sure you’ve seen it … the palms are raised upward before the shoulders are shrugged and the lips, pursed in an expression of quizzical innocence make the sort of noise that, ironically, you would expect to be made by someone treading on a frog…

Anyway, the ensuing interrogation, punctuated by various amounts of pointing and waving, established that the only open desk was actually in the other terminal. So, armed with directions, I set off, and after nearly 30 minutes of walking I still had not arrived, but could, however, see the building … on the other side of a busy motorway. 

After the compulsory ‘Gallic Shrug’, the next uniformed buffoon I accosted directed me to the shuttle bus that ‘ran every ten minutes’ where I waited twenty minutes (Gallic Shrug from the driver) before being safely delivered to the other terminal … and another closed car hire desk.

The car hire people, I was told with another Gallic Shrug, had moved to an office in the car park, where I eventually found the right chap who told me the Mercedes I had booked was not available (Gallic Shrug) but I could have a BMW which was waiting for me in row J…

Row J, as it turned out, was not actually between rows I and K at all, but inexplicably hidden around the corner … so it was another 10 minutes and two more Gallic Shrugs later that I eventually contacted ‘She Who Must…’ (who was about to put me on the missing persons list) and told her I was on my way…

I should have, by now, known better.

The directions I was given, along with the signposting got me quite quickly to a point where I could actually see where I wanted to go, less than 400 yards away, but every conceivable way of actually reaching it ending in a roundabout, surrounded only by ‘no entry signs’

It was at this point I just brought the car to a halt, phoned ‘She Who Must…’ gave her directions to the roundabout, and told her to meet me there. This, of course, meant that I was causing something of a traffic jam – but don’t worry, I had the perfect solution…

I just greeted every beep of the horn, every flashed headlight and every raised fist by raising my palms upward, pursing my lips in an expression of quizzical innocence and shrugging…

As much as it would seem like the moral of this story is ‘have nothing to do with anything that’s even vaguely French’ … I’m afraid more practically I should point out that the message is, for those in any doubt – just because you think something really ought to be of a certain standard, make sure it is beforehand, and don’t simply assume … as you might well be caught out…

Until Next Time,

TimLoweBluePenSig.jpg

Tim Lowe
Publisher, Tim’s Business Lowe Down

P.S. The tale doesn’t end there … there is more to come, including how some standards of French service can lead to you being locked in a Vineyard and why French taxi drivers seem to be entirely unaware how many taxis they actually own…

Tim Lowe