A Short Course in French

Today’s mission was to visit a pretty town called Josselin that had its very own castle.

We got there, we parked the car and this was the first sign we saw in a window.

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One of the things that I love about France (or Europe) is that they don’t knock things down when they become crooked or looking like they might fall down of their own accord.  No – they just make continue to live in them or use them for everyday buildings as if they were going to last another 350 years!  People back in those days obviously had to take their hats off before trying to get through the doors.

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We are a group of dog and cat lovers and France is a country where you can take your dog or cat anywhere you go.  We’ve seen a kitten on the train, dogs in restaurants and hotels.  It’s great.  I don’t know what we’re afraid of in Australia by not letting our furry friends join us in more public places.

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Josselin was definitely one of the more pretty places that we have visited, but without having a doll house, touristy feel where you know that nobody lives there.  Josselin seems to be a local place where locals live, which is nice.

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They certainly don’t make houses like they used to.  Look at the workmanship that has gone into this wood carved face above a doorway.  I’m not sure why you’d have that, but somebody, 100s of years ago clearly wanted it.  Perhaps it was to ward away evil spirits?  Perhaps it was to piss off his neighbours?  Perhaps it was a depiction of the chap who owned the house?

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And here’s the castle!

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It’s quite regal, although not as huge as some other castles that we’ve seen.

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So we paid our money to get in and as the lady was passing me the tickets she told me that we couldn’t just walk around on our own, it was a private property and therefore we had to follow a guide… and that the tour was in French …and there was no English tours that day.

So we walked up to the castle door with about 50 other people (half of them would have been English speakers) and listened intently as the guide spoke in French.  I caught the words “château” and “castel” (how the French say castle), but that was about it…. in fact – that was it.  She spoke for about 15 minutes before we even got into the castle and people were starting to become quite disinterested and wondering away from the group to take photos.  I felt a little bit sorry for her in the way that teacher knows what it’s like to lose the interest of her class, but I stopped feeling bad for her when she said in perfect English, “I know that a lot of you are English speakers, but I’m sorry, this is a French tour.”

Please don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t expect anyone in a different country to speak English just because I can’t speak their language, but I do feel that this particular set up could have been handled in a different way.

One entrance into the castle we were told that we were not to take photos nor were we to sit on the windows seats.

Our guide spoke for about 20 minutes, in French whilst we stood in one spot due to the numbers in the group quietly taking sneaky photos of each other.

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The doors had been locked, so there was no way out!

Mercifully the tour only took in 4 rooms and then we were set free.

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Once back home at our converted stable, next to the château we made our way up the familiar path to our local pub…. minding the droppings.

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This lovely lady is Pascale, from www.visitmyfrenchvillage.com.au that I told you about.  She is in France with a group of woman from Thelma and Louise Expeditions – a charity group who are raising money for relief in Nepal, and also helping a small village in France to clean up their river.

Funnily enough, we actually met some of these women in Josselin earlier on in the day, but didn’t twig that we were all there under the same guidance from Pascale!  We only realised this because we met the ladies again at the pub and they invited us to join them for dinner by the canal.

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