Friday, July 18, 2008
Yankees Charmed By French Manners
Wine travel is fascinating way to meet local people and absorb the culture. In my recent trip to France, I discovered the exceptionally gracious manners of the people of the Loire Valley. On each day of our visit, my traveling companion and I were delighted by the extremely polite, albeit completely down-to-earth, people we encountered. Every time we entered a shop or a restaurant, it never failed that we were greeted with a cheerful Bonjour. Whenever we purchased something, it was a grateful smile accompanied by an “Au revoir, Merci”. Leaving a bakery with our lunch of quiche lorraine and fruit tartlettes, we were sent on our way with a pleasant “Bonne journee.” While bonjour is used in greeting, this phrase is used in parting--it’s the equivalent of telling someone to enjoy the rest of your day. We were most struck by the genteel exchange that is so natural for these français while dining at an outdoor café in the medieval town of Chinon. As we leisurely ate our salads and croque monsieurs and indulged in a pichet of local rosé wine, a pleasant-looking old woman pushed a walker in front of our table. She paused and said “Bon Appetit.” What a generous spirit she showed—to observe us at table and feel moved to wish us to enjoy our food. We did enjoy a perfectly wonderful lunch even more, thanks to this dear’s lady’s wishes for our good appetite.