There’s nothing worse than rolling up at your holiday location for the week only to find that A) there’s nobody home and B) the number you have for them doesn’t work. These were the unfortunate circumstances we found ourselves in at the start of our recent holiday, and so headed over the road to a lovely hotel/restaurant with commanding views of the local lake, to seek help.
Upon entering I looked around and saw a couple sat down enjoying their late dinner (it was around 2pm). I assumed they were guests and bid them a cheery ‘bonjour!’. They responded, in a slightly nonplussed way, and got up to see what I wanted, frowns creasing their faces.
They weren’t guests. They were the owners.
After digging and probing them for a few minutes they begrudgingly offered up the fact that the owners of the gite we wanted access to lived at the rear of the property, and we should head there.
‘I told you we should have closed that door’ said the manageress to her husband as they stalked back to their dinner. I exited the building – walking past the sign that read ‘Bienvenue, ouvert midi et soir’ – and returned to relay the information to my partner.
Following our successful entry, and much warmer welcome by the couple who ran the gite, we decided to put the earlier experience down as a ‘one off’ and headed back over the road to the hotel. We tried their take-out menu, however we hedged our bets and just bought three portions of chips – nothing fancy, just something to keep us going.
It turned out the chef was also the manager. I discovered this fact because as I waited for the chips to cook I took a stroll around the building and – through the windows – saw him walking around in the kitchen, gesticulating wildly and swearing to himself loudly in French.
I was glad I’d only ordered three bags of chips, and not the roast chicken too as I was tempted to do. Who knows what his reaction would have been.
After paying for the chips (‘Haven’t you got any change?’ the manageress said to me, after querying my paying of the 4 Euro 50 bill with a ten Euro note) we headed back over and scoffed them down (My partner dismissing my suggestion that ‘We should use a blacklight to check for bodily fluids’ as an overreaction).
Following a suitable rest we headed out to try the pool, something the kids had been harping on about since we arrived. We were shortly joined by the gite owners, who explained that they went for a refreshing swim every day with their guests, as it allowed them to have a chat and get to know them.
I swam down to the far end of the pool, which gave you a view of the hotel across the road and was probably about 15 feet away from it. As I paddled there the topic of conversation amongst us swung around to the owners across the road. I said that it was a shame that such a lovely building was run by a couple who were incredibly unwelcoming, and made you feel like you were an inconvenience to them when you went in. I did wonder if it was just us though, or maybe – more to the point – just me?
The gite owners both shook their heads and told us that it wasn’t just us and went on to inform us of many occasions when guests had been refused service, had been shouted at by the owners and how they had a low occupancy rate (despite the mayor of the village investing 800k Euros in upgrading the hotel in a bid to make it a ‘tourist trap’) solely due to the owners’ attitudes.
‘If they don’t want to run it’ I said ‘Why don’t they just sell it to people that would be happy with it and make it successful? You can tell they hate being there’. The gite owners agreed with me, then towelled themselves dry and headed back inside.
As I paddled back to the rear of the pool and my partner frolicked with the kids I heard a loud chirping noise, and looked over the rear edge of the pool to see the manageress of the hotel glaring up at me from the road.
‘I heard your commentary’ she screeched, before heading off back inside the hotel and slamming the door.
‘Hey’ I said to my partner, a smile spreading across my face ‘She heard my comments, that means she understood me, I guess my French IS getting better’.