27 May 2012

One sweet French memory

This is a case where a picture does not tell a thousand words. While staying in Rouen, in Normandy, France last year, I decided to get up early and prowl around the city on my own one morning. When I left my hotel, l'Hotel de Bourgtheroulde, I discovered there was a lovely little boulangerie/patisserie almost right next door. I stopped in, and bought myself a cafe and a pain au chocolat (mais oui!). But that's when the trouble started. I had to dig through my purse (a huge bag)to find my Euros --because I knew I had some coins I could use. In the process, I ended up (as I often do) taking out half the contents of my bag and putting them on the counter (luckily, it was so early no one else was up yet or in the shop). I found my money finally and produced the coins with a flourish. The proprietor could not speak much English, nor I much French, but he seemed somewhat amused, not disdainful of my problem. We parted with smiles, mercis, and I continued on my way down to the center of the city to take photos.

About 45 minutes later, I was headed back to the hotel. As I walked past the boulangerie/patisserie (Maison Bastien), I heard someone saying in a loud voice (the French do not shout), "Madame, madame!" I looked to see the proprietor of the shop gesturing me to come inside. I stopped, and went in. He then picked up a makeup case that looked surprisingly like my own (yes, it was my own and yes,I keep it in my purse and no, don't ask me why) and handed it to me. Then he tried to explain how I had left it earlier and he had been watching for me to come back! Anyone who has lost a complete makeup case while on vacation in a foreign country can understand how thankful I was. While unloading my purse on his counter earlier, I had obviously been half asleep and the case had not made it back into my purse. Embarrassed and thankful, I thanked him profusely, Merci, Merci, Merci beaucoup.

So the photo may not be the greatest, but the memory of what transpired there, is.

Check out my Normandy travel story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper today, May 27, 2012