Adventures in Normandy.
I’m happy to say that I’m happily writing from our darling little apartment in Paris, in a ritzy little neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower. But as pretty and calm as all of that sounds, I can’t say that it was all that calm (or, erm, pretty, really) for us to get to this point. For the sake of a really good story, I’m forgoing any photos for this one. I’ll do another post of a ton of photos of our Normandy experience, but it’s better if you get the story first.
Let’s see, as last we left it, we had arrived in France and were enjoying UK & Aunt Cheryl’s house. On Thursday, we slept in and got ready for our little jaunt up into Normandy. UK was generous enough to lend us his car. Now, in all my time in France, I have not once ever driven a car there myself. I can’t drive a stick shift, so it was up to Simon to do it. So, UK took him outside to talk car details and Cheryl and I planned our grand route to the coast. And off we went, driving off through the countryside and all was well.
But as we made our approach past Le Havre, a busy port city, we were close to being out of gas, and so we detoured into a small town to find some. No luck anywhere, so I asked a man where we could find it and he pointed us in the direction of the centre commercial. This is what is similar in the States to, say, where Target & Best Buy, and maybe a Home Depot might be. It was a tiny town, and nobody spoke any English at all. It was all French, all the way. Again – having never driven in France, I wasn’t too sure about the whole gas station thing, so we fumbled through it.
“Wait, didn’t UK say to only put diesel in the car?”
“No. He said not to put diesel in the car.”
“Wait, so you’re sure you’re not supposed to put gazole in the car?”
“That’s diesel. That’s what we’re not supposed to put in the car.”
I’ll give you one guess as to what happened next. Well, as fate would have it, we WERE supposed to put gazole (diesel) in the car, and it died about 5 feet from the gas station. I about died. Simon about died. I won’t say it’s because one of us almost killed the other, but it is entirely possible that I had the world’s biggest pregnant woman meltdown the world has ever seen. I mean, ugly crying — you know the kind. The heaving, sobbing, wretched, can’t-get-ahold-of-myself crying. And I can’t tell you how awful it was to have to call UK and break the news. Dear Lord in Heaven Above, what are we going to do now?!
It was at about this point that I really started to panic. I had to call the French Assistance (the insurance company) and tell them what we had stupidly done. They asked for our location and I gave it to them and they told us that they would send a tow truck where it would be put in kind of an impound lot overnight until they could get it to a car dealership to basically have its’ stomach pumped. As we were there in the centre commercial and I’m having my hormonal meltdown, I need to go to the bathroom, so I walk across the way to a lighting store. I walk inside and find a sales clerk and begin to boo hoo that I really need a bathroom, I’m pregnant, and my husband and I have just had our car break down and I’m a little upset.
She asked what happened and I told her about the gas vs. diesel situation. God bless the French and their sympathique reaction to problems — a puff of the lips and “Ohh, c’est pas grave.” It’s no big deal. It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. Happens all the time.
So here comes the tow truck. And there we sat, me sandwiched between Simon and the young kid who drove the tow truck who smelled oh-so-French (read: BO), and we arrive into the drabbest little impound lot and i just felt my heart sink into my chest. As you can imagine, there are no pictures of any of this. I couldn’t bring myself to document the terribleness of it all.
A taxi took us into Honfleur, where we had planned to spend the night and that’s when things began to perk up just a wee bit. Honfleur is one of the few towns that wasn’t totally destroyed in World War 2, and it’s like a little village caught in time. The harbor is super quaint and charming and the buildings are covered in the most delightful slate tiles I’ve ever seen. The entire colorway of the region is so beautiful. And our little hotel was entirely delightful.
I can’t begin to describe the smell when we walked into the courtyard. It was the most magnificent melange of floral scents and the flowers were just stunning. Everything in France is in beautiful full bloom.
Then the next morning, we were contacted by the French Assistance again. We are sorry to say that the car must stay in the garage another night. Uh oh. Cue my hysteric waterworks again. A taxi came and picked us up to take us to the neighboring town of Deauville for a rental car as we were most definitely not going to get UK’s car back in time. Our hotel in Honfleur couldn’t accommodate us another night and so we were off to discover the town of Deauville and figure out where
Mary, Joseph, & the baby Jesus we were going to stay as there was no room left in the inn.
This is the part of the story where I would like to thank my parents for my French language education that they so graciously paid for in sending me to not only take classes in college but also to study abroad in France. Because let me tell you, it is by the grace of God that I was able to talk to anyone. It’s been well over five years since I have spoken to anyone in French, and mercifully God helped me out. We were able to call around and find a hotel with availability in Deauville. And as it turned out, we were delightfully surprised by the little resort town. Most of the buildings were created around the turn of the 20th century and it’s just so crazy charming. Had our misadventure not happened, we would have missed it all together. And that would have been terrible. It was truly one of our favorite parts of the trip so far.
And so there I leave you — I figure this post is long enough, so I’ll return w/ the rest of the story on how we eventually made it into Paris. Whew. Props to you if you made it this far in this crazy story.
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