A mother's instincts!
With Mother's day celebrations wrapping up I post this new entry on the strength of using your gut for judgments once in a while. As we plan to move from our deluxe apartment in the sky into a more modest flat, I have been "nesting" as hubby calls it and trying to furnish a 3 bedroom with used items such as tables, desks, chairs etc... Luckily there is a great site here just like Kijiji in North America, you can find just about anything there and for not very much money. My thinking is OK so we are in France for an undetermined amount of time so I don't want to spend my hard earned travel dollars on "stuff". Didn't I just get rid of everything and downsize for a reason - YES! So i'm buying as much I can used and meeting tons of locals to do these exchanges. A few weeks back I saw a tremendous ad with everything we need for our bedroom, a bed, side tables and an armoire - an antique set, large but gorgeous but this ad was in a town next to Aix-les-Bains called Chambery, this is about a 10 minute drive away but complicated for someone without a car. I reached out to this gentleman and asked if he would consider delivering these items for some extra cash, he then replied saying sure no problem but you should really come see the "ensemble" in person to ensure that it meets your criteria. After a few back and forths on measurements etc we determine that hubby and I will take the train to his mother's home in Chambery and finalize the details and perhaps find some new gems while we are there. This is where it gets interesting.
Gentleman as we can call him offers to pick us up at the train station and take us to his mom's and then return us to Aix after our visit... After much discussion with hubby I decide that ok that makes sense but not sure if it's safe to get into a stranger's car after a few simple emails and trust him to drive us around a strange city?! I would NEVER think to do this in Canada even though we live in a relatively safe city, I would not consider this as an option - EVER. I say to hubby "I've google him and he's some head of an association - so surely he's fine", he thinks i'm overreacting anyway and says it will be fine - so let's do this.
So here we go we take the train to Chambery, meet this gentleman, get in his car and have a nice conversation with him about his mom and how he recently lost his dad and now mom needs to downsize hence she's selling all of these things. Everything goes as planned he's very nice, quite normal and we meet his mom and see the furniture, its great we'll take it and wish his mom a good move set for the very next day in fact. Gentleman then invites us to view his "Gite" which is a sort of Bed n' Breakfast nearby - he says it's about 2 minutes away along the mountainside and quite pretty. We of course accept and he takes us along this wonderful and scenic drive up in the heights of the town of Chambery and then proceeds to invite to his home and offers us "apero" which is a drink and chat which apparently involves alcohol.
We also accept and arrive at his stunning hillside home overlooking the French Alps, sitting outside around the in ground pool - mountains everywhere you look, beautiful vistas with cows and sheep, wow we are stunned. Gentleman comes out with 5-6 bottles of French booze, his wife and daughter bring us snacks and beverages and hubby and I are just looking at each other with amazement. We are enjoying this insane view having drinks and having conversations about Canada and France with these new found friends. What did we do to deserve this and to think I questioned getting into a stranger's car and now look at me! After a few stiff drinks sitting around the pool enjoying this view we enjoy this family's company, plan future ski trips to nearby Mirabel, Courchevel and 3 Vallees and they invite us to come back for a BBQ once the weather gets better!
People who travel abroad often say that tourists are not always welcomed and sometimes the locals can be quite snooty towards us but I can honestly say that I have only been met with kindness here. Yes I do speak the language but not well and they know i'm not from here yet I have met these lovely folks who have welcomed us into their home and have been so incredibly hospitable. Two weeks a go I met a lady who sold me for kitchenwares who told me to take her number down in case anyone gave me any trouble to call her since she warned she knew everybody in this town and would straighten them up right away! I swiftly did - she meant business!!
Sometimes it pays to listen to your gut, as a mom it's my job to think of the safety of my family and i'm constantly aware that i'm not at home and things are different here but based on my experiences these last few weeks, I am pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the French. I hope you get to experience it one day!
Look at those mountains!