My Travel Blog

French Charades and Escapades

Wow! My French must be improving or I’ve become a veritable whiz at charades. Ah, but I digress.  First I must tell you about our latest excursion.

We decided to visit Orleans the city that Joan of Arc saved from the British. Can you imagine bad food and warm beer in the middle of France?  She was another one that had visions and heard voices.  Orleans overlooks the Loire River, and has a spectacular cathedral.  The streets are clean, and the buildings are typical old French, but in beautiful shape.  It is a wonderful vibrant town.

Our initial stop was the Tourist Information Office.  Of course the first place they sent us was the cathedral across the street.  What I didn’t know was that Lisa was on a mission.  I don’t think it was a mission from God, but it could have been.  Lisa wanted to know where the antique stores were.  The nice lady behind the counter said she didn’t know.  Ah, my savior, but that didn’t stop Lisa.  She then asked where the old part of town was. Unfortunately the nice lady showed us where it was on the map.  I knew I should have slipped her a twenty.

“Here I am standing in front of the Sainte-Croix Cathedral.”

We walked across the street, and actually spent a fair amount of time inside the cathedral rather than our typical five-minute blow through the church inspection. It was an impressive structure, and the Catholic Church has spent millions refurbishing it.  I thought about getting down on my knees and praying that all the antiques stores were closed.  I probably should have, but I figured that God wasn’t into those kinds of prayers.

“Inside the cathedral.”

“Part of the Joan of Arc Chapel.”

“Some of the restoration work done on the cathedral.”

“Starting more restoration work.”

After the cathedral Lisa towed me to the old part of town explaining that she really wanted to get an antique desk for Rabelo.  We walked around for sometime and were doing pretty well.  Most of the shops sold clothes and there were a lot of restaurants.  We came across one small antique store that had a nice secretary in the window, but it was closed.  Maybe he heard my prayers. You know he works in strange ways.  Then my luck ran out.  It was just a small storefront.  It seemed so innocent.  How could store so small have anything she could possibly be interested in?  Lisa went in first to look around.  I followed a minute later, and instantly spotted it.  I said to Lisa, “What about that secretary in the back?”

“What secretary?” she asked.

How could I have been so stupid?  Lisa loved the piece, and thought it was in fantastic condition.  Dave, the owner of the store didn’t speak a word of English, but that didn’t stop him.  When he saw that we were actually interested in his secretary boy did he have a lot to say!  It was all in French.  Eventually I was able to explain that the price was more than we wanted to spend.  I didn’t want to spend anything, but that wasn’t going to happen.  I told Dave we would think about it, and possibly return.  Twenty minutes later we were back in the store negotiating the price.  The negotiations were long, arduous and animated.  I’m talking hand waving, funny faces and strange body language for starters. They involved us leaving again, then calling back with our lowest offer only to have it rejected.  Five minutes later the phone rang.  My shoulders drooped.  My eyes started to tear, as my nose began to run.  I turned to Lisa and said, “It looks like we just bought a secretary.”

“The newest addition to Rabelo.”

“Only in France do they have reserved handicapped spots for fishermen.”

“We met this 150 lb. dog along with his three brothers while walking along a canal. His owner didn’t seem to care when he jumped up on me. Fortunately I like dogs, and didn’t care either.”

“This lock was built in 1680.”

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.