So, Easter Sunday saw me arriving in Paris for a brief overnighter, before proceeding to Nice to meet up with the tour guide from Scenic. As a solo traveller, in a country where I know only a very little of the language, and am not overly familiar with the way things are done, I felt very proud of myself that I managed so well to get myself to the airport and onto my Air France flight from CDG to Nice.
Thanks to advice from friends, and my experience on my previous visit to France, I have two general rules:
1. I always try my best to speak French (even if it's really crappy French) to anyone I meet for the first time
2. I always try to identify myself as Australian.
Therefore, my usual opening line tends to be:
"Bonjour. Je suis Australien, et je ne parle-pas tres bien francais. Parlez-vous anglais?"
This is usually met with one or more of the following:
1. A smile
2. Being cut off as soon as I say "Australien", with "English is ok"
3. A big smile and surprised expression, and "but your French is very good" (spoken either in English or French)
4. An apologetic shake of the head, and some kind of indication that the person doesn't
speak English. (After which we battle on together as best we can, with my broken French and various sign language. This happened on my last visit, when I was in Aigues-Mort, and Alan had wandered off to look in another store, and I went into the Tabac to buy some postcards and stamps. The fact that the postcards I bought there -and the stamps- got home to Aust destinations eventually, meant we must have gotten it right, despite the lack of common language)
Anyway, back to the present. I managed to get from the hotel shuttle bus stop to the part of the airport I needed to get to. (Have I mentioned before that Charles de Gaulle airport is huge?) in the terminal 2F, I was then faced with many, many different check in and departure windows, and so I went up to the first official looking person I could see, and asked where I should check in, showing her my e-ticket. She didn't speak English, but was very helpful and pointed me to the right place.
Then, the next achievement- automated check in using a kiosk thingy. I managed to check in and produce a boarding pass and luggage tag all by myself, and then got in the queue to drop my bag. This was the most fun part. As I was waiting at the head of the queue, there was a couple at the desk who seemed a bit dithery. They had their suitcase open, and were going through it, with stuff all over the floor, and at one point the guy behind the counter caught my eye, and I smiled at him, and he rolled his eyes rather comically. I think we shared a moment.
When I got to the desk, he smiled at me, and I started my opening speech. He waved his hand and said, "in English?". I said, "yes, merci, but I try to speak French, because I think it's polite to at least try." We then had quite a pleasant little chat and a few laughs, whilst he did the paperwork he needed to do, and checked my passport (even for a domestic flight; I was surprised at this). When it was all done, I asked him, "so where do I go now?" and he smiled and directed me to the security gate.
The flight to Nice was quite pleasant. My seat was towards the rear of the plane, behind a curtain of sorts (in the cheap seats, I suspect), but I had no one next to me, and so was very comfortable (even the seatbelt was quite commodious, as on most domestic flights in Aust, generally I have to ask for an extender, or else it only just fits, and is a bit tight. But there were no problems, and I settled in for the flight. The in flight magazine was written in French and English, so I amused myself by reading the French bits, and trying to work out what they were saying, before looking at the English translations to see how ll I'd done. Interestingly, there were some bits that I'm certain where the English translations weren't totally accurate ( I think there was extra detail in the French bits that wasn't included in the English), so again I was feeling reasonably happy that my French is perhaps not as bad as I had thought. This was also a great exercise to improve my French, so it was good all round.
Upon arrival I was met by the Scenic Tours person, who was concerned that there were only about six of us on that flight, when there should have been something like 26. So she went running around trying to find out why Nd happened to the others. In the meantime, I got chatting to the rather nice Canadian couple who were sitting, waiting, with me. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we eventually got on the coach, and were on our way to Taraascon, and the ship.