Life in France is a constant chain of unexpected events and new experiences, but Friday was by far one of the most bizarre days yet. I have now had chance to reflect upon the oddity of the day, and have worked out how to recall the events without sounding (much) like a crazy lady.
The series of strange occurrences began when I went to meet up with a French girl I’d met at the language evening. We’d arranged to meet along the river to practise speaking in French and English with each other. This was all fine and well; I met Diane and we chatted away for while, before we were approached by man who spoke in ridiculously fast French to us – I dutifully tapped out of the conversation and waited for the English translation from Diane.
It was soon made clear to me this man was offering a free foot massage. Being the Brit that I am, I began to prepare my ‘gentle decline’ speech, but before I could get a word in, Diane was quite happily agreeing to it and taking off her shoes. Next thing I knew, I was sitting having my foot massaged and listening to a very fast-paced, jumbled conversation in French.
We figured this man (whose name I can’t remember) was not a complete weirdo; he was relatively smartly dressed and mentioned he worked as a sales consultant, and apparently this foot massaging gig was his way of meeting new people and hearing their stories. The three of us chatted for a long time about all sorts, in both French and English, exchanging thoughts as well as new words we didn’t know, all the while seeing past the elephant in the room which was the fact he was massaging our feet…
I walked home wondering whether this is the norm in Bordeaux, or even in France. Over dinner at the hostel, I was informed that it is in fact not normal, but at least I’ve got an amusing story to tell.
At the table that night we had the joy of meeting David from Sweden, who declared he wanted to go on an adventure and take as many people as possible with him. After much deliberation, it was decided we would all go and watch him swim in the public fountain at Place des Quinconces. This was after we persuaded him not to swim in the Garonne, the large river that runs through Bordeaux.
It was comical, to say the least. Especially because while David was swimming in the fountain and hanging off the horse statues, there was a small open air concert taking place on the steps nearby. David’s act was well received by the small crowd, and luckily the policiers were nowhere to be seen.
From there we wandered to the skatepark, which I’ve discovered is a rather entertaining place to hang out, although not for the following reason. We hadn’t been there long when a man suddenly started screaming and appeared to have seriously injured his leg falling off his board.
We hung around for quite a while and watched as the ambulance arrived and doctors treated the man. To cut a long and rather unpleasant story short, we eventually saw him being lifted from the skatepark via fire engine before being whisked off to hospital. My hope is he is now resting and recovering as swiftly as possible.
And so ended my rather bemusing day of strange events. I just thought I’d share that with you all. Thanks for reading. And don’t worry, I haven’t encountered any more strange men offering massages along the river.