I was writing about France the other night, and remembering the many times I visited. I first went there when I was twelve and stayed with friends in Paris; my French was non-existent – Mademoiselle walker my teacher at school believed in spending the first two terms making French sounds, then learning lists of vocabulaire so conversation was beyond me. I next went to France when I was sixteen to stay with a pen-friend in Normandy and had a wonderful time, and certainly my understanding if not my speaking improved.
However it was when I had a group of friends at the Polytechnic who were going camping that I spent any length of time in France. We went every summer for as long as the holidays lasted, first to la Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, and then down to the south, to Menton. Lack of confidence and being with a group of English friends meant that I didn’t really improve my French a great deal… or so I thought. I must have done subliminally as now that I am doing conversational French i am amazed at how much I know!
We went to many bars in many different towns and villages; one of the most amazing was Bar Roget… I am not sure exactly where it was but I have a feeling it was in Montauban, or near there. It is a long time ago now, when I was a student, so I don’t remember what we were drinking. There were three of us, and usually we drank beer, bière á la pression, occasionally we drank bottled beer, sometimes we drank red wine – house wine, we couldn’t afford anything else. The amazing thing about bar Roger, whatever we drank, whatever combination of drinks, it always came to 4F 60 centimes… we called in on the way back from our holiday in the south, and yes, three drinks still cost 4F 60c!