Loop Le Doubs

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(Can you see me on the boat, on the river Doubs, that loops around Besançon)

Yesterday after finding the tourist office and using their very good wifi, I went for a boat trip. But first… I got my hair cut, in French! This is the first time I’ve had my hair cut in France and through French. You might remember I have been working up to doing this. Part of my preparation was looking in hairdressers’ windows. I was checking for two things, opening times and pictures of hairstyles I liked. I felt that they wouldn’t put a picture in the window unless it was a style they could cut. So if I liked it and they could cut it we were a match made in heaven. A couple of times I liked the pictures but the opening times didn’t line up with when we were parked nearby, until yesterday… when a third thing lined up.

(That’s my hairdresser – the light blue shopfront)

I has passed the salon a number of times before yesterday morning. We were on our way to coffee and although the opening times suggested it should be open, it was closed. We have come across this more than a few times, when a shop or restaurant will have an Ouvert (Open) sign outside but the doors are firmly Fermee (Closed.) Oh well, no hair cutting here. Anyway, I thought no more about it, have my coffee with Denis and went off in search of the tourist office.

(Markers on the ground for one of the walking tours of Besançon)

On my way back I just happen to look into the salon and the door is definitely Ouvert! I walk straight in before I forget this is a good idea. The hairdresser and I say Bonjour and my with very next sentence I check if she can speak English. From her reply I ascertain she has about as much English as my French. Ok… well that’s probably enough. So I take out my halting French, remembering that hair in French is very like horse and I don’t want her to cut my horse and I slowly tell her I would like my hair, em… but I cannot for the life of me remember what the French for cut is. No problem, she is fluent in hand signals and as I am cutting the air with my pretend scissors-fingers she says, coupe (cut). Yes! We are doing this. Then I point to the picture in the window and say, like that…

(The beautiful river Doubs from the bank)

In case you don’t know it and this is of course a generalisation again but here goes: the French are very straight talking, they don’t tell a lie to spare your feelings and although my hairdresser was not talking, her look was very truthful. I could almost hear her thinking I hope she doenn’t think she will look like the twenty-something year-old in the window display. No problem, I understood her concern and used the international hand signal for give it your best shot. And we were off. We tried a little chit chat in our mix of French/English and all in all the experience was most enjoyable.

(Can you see the flag? Did I tell you I walked up there?)

But the time I was paying we both had become very confident in finding ways to understand and be understood, but it took me three goes to understand what she said next. Eventually, she made me understand that we had met earlier. No, I don’t think so. But yes, we had.

(Hair is very important here, even the statues have good hair)

One of the things I love about walking into shops and restaurants in France is that the owner/waitress/server will always, always greet you with a Bonjour! or a Bonsoir! and maybe a little wave. I feel like they are glad to have me as a customer. Sometimes the other customers will also say hello. Just lovely. It usually takes me a few days to stop saying hello as I walk through the door of Costa in Greystones. Anyway, do you remember before I went to find the tourist office I went for a coffee with Denis? We walked in and the owner said Bonjour and the customer enjoying her coffee also said hello…and both of us said hello to each of them. Well, the customer was my hairdresser!

(Here we are enjoying a selfie moment!)

It made me realise something – I don’t really look at the people I meet in cafes or shops…  I would have recognised her if I did. I meet a lot of people when we travel so I have a bit of an excuse, but maybe I could do better. After all I like being greeted so much maybe I would enjoy taking a little more time to pay attention to the greeter.

Boat trip story tomorrow, Mairead.

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