We disembark the boat after three hours of superb tourism, the crystal clear waters and gentle breeze is quickly replaced with baking hot cobblestones and scorching sunrays. We need refreshments, as we gaze down the plethora of restaurants that surround the harbour; The Dr is looking forward to reading menu after blackboard menu to see what’s on offer today.
Given that I don’t speak the language I don’t really take much notice when a man comes out of the first restaurant and starts talking to our host but am called back after three steps to be told we are going to be dining at this particular establishment. I give it the once over, read the menu and say NO, don’t do it, it will be crap………….
As we are seated at our table I glance around & nothing that I see has changed my opinion. The two male staff that are running the floor are both dressed in shorts & tees, both sweating profusely and complaining about how hot it is as they wipe the back of their hands across their foreheads to remove the sweat and deposit it on their shorts.
We are given laminated menus that give vague descriptions like ‘moulès maison’, ‘soup du jour’ & ‘poissons de la mer’ in other words mussels of the house, soup of the day & fish from the sea. When asked what was suitable for a vegetarian, I was not surprised when the grunted reply came back as “bread”.
It wasn’t just the food that made me cringe, nor the drinking out of a plastic 2ltr water bottle that they shared behind the bar, not even the ‘man with mane’ who constantly ran his hands through his hair when he was taking orders and too be honest even the pair of them standing out the front having a cigarette in the middle of service and then walking back into the restaurant with smoke flowing from their nostrils wasn’t what got my goat.
It was the simple fact that this was an establishment targeted solely on tourists, not one table spoke the language of the country, not one table was smiling when they departed and not one table I saw actually said goodbye. This establishment was the culinary version of a pick pocket and I did not expect that in a country like France.
I won’t go through what we ate dish by dish but I think it is best summed up by my daughter when she inclined her head at the elderly table behind us as they left and she whispered “it would be such a shame if that was the last meal they every had” genuinely concerned for their health and not making light of their age.
So proud to be a kiwi knowing we don’t allow this to happen in New Zealand.