Have a good day in France? - Anywhere


It does not really matter where you are – it is always nice to use the proper “Greetings and Salutations”. How often – at work – do you pick up a phone and when the “connection” comes on – you just barge straight into the topic without some initial niceties.


It was brought home to me in Paris (of all the places). I was looking for the railway station at Montparnasse and I saw a tall man with a very elegant uniform topped of by a legionnaire’s cap –(just like the one our Brisbane tram employees used to wear before the trams were abolished in the 1950’s except it looked a lot smarter). He was in fact a French gendarme, and when I came closer he saluted smartly and said Bon jour. I, being proud of my franglaise proceeded to say something to the effect of: “Excusez moi” could you show me the way to the gare de Montparnasse? To which he replied by clicking his heels again and saying .Bon jour. Finally, the pennies dropped – I did not start my conversation with “Bon jour”. One should always say “Good Day” at the beginning of a contact, maybe you should not enquire about the other person’s health – which may not be all right, but let us not forget the “Good Day”.


In France, you do have a dilemma; particularly if you are obviously an Anglo-Saxon (I think the French are kinder to others.) Some people expect you to try a bit of French even if it is not the best, others, particularly the better educated ones, would rather you did not “murder” their beautiful language. So, you have to experiment, by muttering something like “My French is not very good parlez vous anglaise?” That may save you.


After sorting out where the railway station was, I proceeded to enjoy Paris, totally transformed by architect Baron Haussmann, who wrecked 60% of the town to create wide boulevards and sorting out gardens and cultural institutions in the 1860’s. Lisbon did the same but London missed the chance after the great fire. After Paris I ventured to the south of France and admired the works of the ancient Roman civilisation – which produced bridges and aqueducts like the Pont du Gar and stadiums as those in Arles and Orange (forget the bridge in Avignon – the one in Prague is much much better) It makes one think – where could we have been today had the Vandals and other tribes not destroyed the ancient Roman civilisation –more than a thousand years lost. Perhaps we would be going to Mars for a cuppa next weekend.


Let’s all have a GOOD DAY