Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Smoking Frenchwoman

People of France, your attention please. We know you to be a civilised and cultured people; with a fine history of music, art, literature and philosophy. Your culinary tradition ranks amongst the highest in the world, and your national anthem is perhaps the fourth best in the EU. However, it has come to our attention that - of late - the quality of your tourists has been, shall we say, disappointing. Please do try and do something about this, such as sending them to Eurodisney instead. (Oh, and please stop voting for people like Marine Le Pen. It really doesn't look good.)

Caroline and I were returning from a party in Mestre last Saturday night (yes, a party! with real Italians!). The weather was still warm enough to sit outside on the vaporetto, the Grand Canal quiet and almost empty. Then one of the two French women in the adjacent seats lit up a cigarette. OK, I can imagine a time when I might have enjoyed a late-night cigar on the back of the vaporetto, enjoying the silence and watching the city slide past. But you can't smoke on the vaporetti any more, and the rules exist for nice people as well...

Caroline asked her to put it out, initially in Italian and then in English. The woman half-apologised and tried blowing the smoke away from us. But that's not the point. So we rattled through every combination in English and Italian that we could think of - non è permesso, è vietato, è illecito, è contro la legge, è illegale...but nothing seemed to work. Annoyingly the one phrase that wouldn't come to mind was defense de fumer. I don't think she'd have cared anyway. She obviously understood what we were saying, but by now she was openly laughing at us. Then Caroline snapped, walked over to her, grabbed her cigarette and chucked it into the canal; before stalking off to the front of the boat. I followed, open-mouthed in admiration and not a little fear.

People of France, one day you might just find yourself sitting next to my wife when you decide to treat the city as your own personal fiefdom. And trust me, you don't want that to happen...

9 comments:

  1. Oh to have the courage . . . . Brava!

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  2. I'm going to be ever so good around Caroline from now on!

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  3. To be fair to our French chums...there are more French tourists than any other nationality...so perhaps it's inevitable they have more 'disappointing' ones.

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  4. Go girl! Brava. Enjoyed the concert in San Pantalon which you found for us. Many thanks. Andrew

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    1. Excellent, glad you enjoyed it Andrew. I hope we can meet up next time.

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  5. Oh that was wonderful. I wish I had the guts' to do that. Brava Caroline.

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  6. Je suis française et j'ai honte des français quand je suis à l'étranger ; ils sont sales, mal élevés, arrogants, bruyants et faisant comme s'ils étaient partout chez eux ; excusez-moi de ne pas pouvoir écrire tout ceci en anglais....Bonne journée, a presto !

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    1. Maite, thank you so much for your comment - I'm sorry, my written French is terrible so I have to reply in English. Firstly, the blog is supposed to be light-hearted, and I certainly don't want to offend anyone. Secondly, I could write about examples of bad behaviour by British, American, German and Russian tourists as well. It just so happens that on the two occasions I mentioned they happened to be French.

      I'm glad you've joined the blog - I hope you enjoy it, and thank you once again.

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