Favourite Travel Experience

My favourite travel experience took place in the early Seventies. We rented a villa in a tiny village called Montesquieu in the South of France. When our car pulled into the village square, an old woman ran towards us ringing a huge hand bell ... whereupon, the whole village turned out to greet us ... and even though it was a Saturday evening, every tiny shop was opened up for us. We had bought food earlier knowing we would arrive in the evening, but we were so overwhelmed by the village's welcome that we simply bought everything again. We learned within minutes, to our amazement, that we were the first English people to set foot in that village. Our landlady was the only person who knew any English and her accent was so bad that we understood her French better ... and we had only schoolgirl/boy French. From that moment of arrival, we became the star turn of the village and everyone opened their hearts and homes to us. We met them all. Each morning in the boulangerie (bakers), it took me over an hour to buy rolls for breakfast because all the older women congregated there and wanted to know where we had been and what we had done the previous day. It did wonders for my French though. Friendly advice was poured upon us ... our
two small boys were admired, patted and petted, fed treats galore, and given rides on the numerous donkeys that lived in the village. I had to turn many a 'blind eye' so that I didn't give offence. It was a holiday to die for! Fabulous people, healthy home-grown food, delicious locally produced wine (much cheaper than our children's orange juice!). And not a TV or fast food outlet within a hundred miles. The village boasted one telephone in the tiny Post Office. And of course, mobiles had not been invented!! Since then, whenever times are tough, I always remember that village perched on the side of a mountain where the outpouring of warmth and hospitality towards total strangers renewed my faith in human kindness forever.

Submitted by Olive


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