On my first afternoon in Paris, I went to watch a film starring Audrey Tautou. Not speaking French, I did not have great expectations. But she was stunning, even though I had no idea what her character was saying. Not understanding her seemed to be the major part of the attraction.
French can be enjoyed without the need for study. Many of the words are close enough to English to be guessed at. A poster I had seen that morning marked ‘l’irresistible attraction du gout’ was puzzling, but a closing-down sale advert with the heading ‘Liquidacion Totale’ needed no translation.
After staring at Audrey for two hours, I went to a pastry cafe. A smart middle-aged lady behind the counter welcomed me with a smile and a “Bonjour Monsieur”. After being called ‘Monsieur’, I felt six inches taller.
With new-found confidence, I ordered “petit dejeuner s’il vous plait”, It was my longest French phrase of the 3 day holiday. The lady, still smiling, said it was 5 hours too late for petit dejeuner.
Fortunately, perhaps sensing my devastation, she quickly added she’d make a special exception. I assume that’s what she said that anyway. She could have said I was an exceptionally odious man.
Whatever she thought of me, I thought she was fantastic, especially when she brought my pain de chocolat. Forgiving, kind-hearted and works in a bakery – these are the three attributes I look for in a woman. If only she had looked abit more like Audrey Tautou, I’d still be in Paris now.