Appearing local

As I mentioned in one of my last blog entries, I’ve moved house. I now live in St Jean de Sixt, which is the next village down from La Clusaz, so it’s not a very big move. A friend visited the new house on the weekend, and as we walked towards the bakery, just a few minutes away, we obviously looked local enough for not one, but two cars to stop and ask for directions.

The first car asked for directions to Aravis. My French friend explained that the entire region is the Aravis, so they were already there. They weren’t convinced and wanted to know where the football stadium in the town of Aravis was. She explained again that the Aravis is a region and that it could be one of any number of football stadiums. They still seemed confused by this, but then mentioned they had been told to head towards Le Grand Bornand. It seemed odd to us (because why would such a small village where snow sports rule be the home of the football stadium for this region?), but we pointed them in the right direction and they thanked us.

The next car was less polite. A man  in a white van tooted and stopped. I presumed it was someone I knew, so I stopped and looked. His passenger was then yelled at to ask us for directions. She asked us where Avoriaz is. Avoriaz about an hour and a half’s drive from St Jean de Sixt, and we explained that they were going the wrong way. The driver took over and demanded to know where straight ahead would lead, while holding up a stream of traffic behind him (he hadn’t actually pulled over, so all the cars behind were glaring at my friend and I, presuming also that we knew this guy). We explained that the road ahead would lead to La Clusaz, and then south over the Col des Aravis. We suggested he turn back to the roundabout and go towards Geneva, which is North, and the correct direction. Without as much as a thanks — and we were unaware the conversation had even finished — he drove off and headed towards La Clusaz.

If this is how tourists treat people who they think are locals, I’m really happy to be considered a foreigner for ever. And to the rude man in the white van, I hope you’re still lost and that your passenger took the train home instead.


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,
2 comments on “Appearing local
  1. Ah! The old never bother to take a map with you trick! I stopped counting the times I would be asked the way when I lived in Germany it was usually once a week. At first I had no idea what they were saying, but after a while I could at least tell them which way to go. But I remember that the answer “I’m sorry I don’t live here” would always get a rather nasty look, like “how dare YOU not know where I want to go”. Get a map people!!
    Here in Japan, no-one would dare ask me for directions even though I know this place as well as any locals.
    Oh well.

  2. Dawn says:

    We have white van men here aswell ! rude to anything that is on the road and at the side of the road, they can get a way with it as the have no marking on the vans. They should ban all white vans.

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

Be entertained

Want the latest blog post in your inbox? Subscribe here.