Expats in France: Part of the fun of having a hotel in south west France is that you meet all sorts of interesting people: some strange, some downright weird, but always interesting…
Like the time a gentleman enquired if we would have a room available on a particular date. He was happy when I told him we could accommodate him; he wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday.
On the day in question two leather-clad bikers arrived on huge Harley Davidsons. Prepared to wish the lady a happy birthday, it took a lot of will power to keep a poker face when they removed their helmets to reveal two shaven headed bearded blokes. In such a situation how does one decide who is the ‘birthday girl’?
Another amusing episode occurred when the manager of a well-known (but unknown to us) musician told us that his star needed a breather after the French leg of his European tour. Success had not gone to his head, the manager said, the only request was for Bacardi Limon and Coca Cola, his favourite tipple. It’s a shame he forgot to add the word ‘sufficient’ to the request. When the artist and his German wife arrived it only took them a couple of hours to drain the Bacardi bottle, a bottle that had taken us days to find in rural France.
Thankfully the hotel bar in the village had another, barely touched, bottle which tided us over until the next day when I called his manager who was staying in Toulouse and asked him if he could bring us a couple of cases.
The artist was often to be found in the lounge, dressed in his bathrobe. He’d be playing his own CDs, singing along with them, strumming his guitar and happily smoking some of the biggest joints I’ve ever seen. No matter how nice the weather was, neither the pop star nor wife ventured outside. Ever! Very nice people, I hasten to add, but…a bit weird.
Even going out for lunch or dinner was a no-no, but they had surprisingly healthy appetites. The first night we prepared them a four-course meal, including fois gras with figs. From then that’s all they wanted to eat.
The customer, as they say, is always right!
Fois gras for breakfast, fois gras for lunch and fois gras for dinner. Accompanied by huge glasses of Bacardi Limon and Coke.
There’s no accounting for taste, but at least we didn’t have to be in the kitchen all day. Oh, and the 12 bottles of Bacardi that the manager brought over from Toulouse, they were just enough to get them through five days with us.
When they left, the whole place smelled of weed. It was going to take a week of airing the place and washing curtains before we could welcome our next guests. I mentioned it to the manager. It seemed he was used to such comments and paid for an extra three days, no questions asked.
The artist himself gave us a box full of his latest CD to distribute amongst the staff.
He hadn’t noticed that we were just a two-man-band.
About Peter Schoenmaker: At 17 my mother decided that I had had enough schooling and arranged my first job at a chocolate factory, soon followed by a brief stint in IT but advertising became my calling. I loved the writing part but after 30 years decided to become a hotelier in France…. to end up as a full time writer. www.peterschoenmaker.nl