A road, a railway line or a dog. The title of this blog came to me just before we went out for tea. We are now on the last leg of a fantastic 17 day European road trip which has taken in a war Cemetary in Belgium, a winestrassefest on the banks of the Mosel in Germany, camping at 5800 feet in Switzerland, three days on Lago Lugano in the Italian Lakes, four days at Monza for the Italian F1 Grand Prix, three days on Lac d’Annecy and three days travelling home.
Just before the point of this blog, I have to have a little rant – indulge me please. We are in a small town well off the tourist route. We asked for a recommendation for a restaurant at the campsite reception and we were given a choice of three in the town 1km away – Saulieu. After a very pleasant afternoon relaxing by the pool, swimming and reading Amanda Owen (The Yorkshire Shepherdess – who hails from Newsome in Huddersfield) ‘s new book and Slaw listening to Chris Evan’s audio book, we walked down to the village and asked for un table a deux at ‘Le 7’. My French held up well as I asked for a table, chose an interior one and deciphered (in a fashion) the menu for Slaw. We made our choices – I had the ‘Cocktail Le 7’ as an aperitif; Gin, jus d’orange, grenadine and cremant, and Slaw had a demi pression (it was a 1664 so no complaints today thank goodness!) I chose from ‘Le menu 7’ – a goat’s cheese starter followed by a fish and chorizo kebab, a cheese board, then a dessert of almonds, chocolate mousse and M & M’s. Slaw had a ham and potato salad, followed by the suggestion du jour – faux filet de bouef Charolais, saignant (medium rare). We had a local rose wine (Slaw was shocked at the price – 19 euro for a 50cl pichet) but it was very nice! I’m getting round to the rant – honestly 🙂
We were greeted in French, the waitresses spoke French, the menu was in French. There were somethings I didn’t understand, but I got the gist and we didn’t have any major mishaps. The majority of the diners were French. We are in France – it is to be expected! After a while, another English couple came in, they spoke no French; they asked for a menu in English. Really? This is not a seaside resort, or a big tourist area. Why would a local village restaurant have a menu in English? I found it downright rude. They were behind us so I don’t know what they ended up with! France is a huge country, travelling through on your way to a tourist destination, have the common decency to learn a few words and buy a decent phrase book which gives you the basics of a menu. Rant over!
A road, a railway line or a dog. It doesn’t matter where we camp; UK or Europe, we always encounter one or the other, or even all three! Sometimes we know what to expect – for example Hendre Mynach in Barmouth. Beautifully situated next to the sea, just a railway line and a promenade in between. The trains are infrequent and you train yourself to zone them out. Our last campsite this trip was in Saint Jorioz (pronounced San Jorio – you only pronounce the CaReFuL consonants at the end of French words), beautifully situated in the Rhone Alpes, but a road between the site and Lac d’Annecy – turns out it was a bit of a drag strip at night! In Switzerland camped on the shores of Lake Silvaplana the road behind was audible.
At Macherio, off the beaten track in Italy, 2.5 mile cycle ride to the race track at Monza, the railway was distant, the road was a backstreet, but there was a blinking dog across the valley that barked all night! I think we are yet to find a campsite without the noise of a road, a railway line or a dog!