Don’t believe tourist office staff

On my way back to La Clusaz, my travel partner and I decided to stop in at Reims. This, of course, is pronounced as “Rahz” in French. Someone once explained how this is logical, but I’ve forgotten. Apparently in French, it is actually logical. It has something to do with the agreement of the “ei” with the “m”, producing the “ah” sound.

Anyway, my French travel friend, on crutches, needed a hotel room without stairs. We had lots of stuff with us including a paraglider, which we didn’t want to leave in the car, so we went to the tourist office to ask for a hotel that had close parking and no staircases, and not necessarily in the centre of town.

Now, fair enough if the tourist office lady had misunderstood just one of our needs, but she failed on every single one of them! The hotel was situated on a pedestrianised street in the centre of town, with a long, narrow staircase just to get to the reception, and no on-street parking in the closest road to the pedestrianised zone.

How did this happen? The woman we spoke to was very generous, giving us lots of tourist books and maps along with calling the hotel to reserve our place. She acknowledged the crutches and even joked about how someone one crutches could use a paraglider. We didn’t mention the wakeboard in the car (the reason for the crutches).

Luckily, the man at the hotel was very nice, giving us a more expensive room at no extra cost on the same floor as reception so that we didn’t have to climb another two staircases to get to the room reserved for us. Better still, we didn’t have to walk far for dinner: the pedestrianised street was full of restaurants from all around the world. We made good use of it after lugging heavy bags up that narrow, steep staircase!


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.

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6 comments on “Don’t believe tourist office staff
  1. Isabelle says:

    The sound eim in Reims is pronouced like in these French words: un, pain, plein…

    So you should say R – UN – SS.

    I don’t know who told you it was pronounced Rhaz, I hope it was not a French person 😉

  2. April says:

    Yes, it was a French person, he yes, he did rhyme it with pain, but as your example French words show, the ‘n’ is not pronounced the way we use it in English. Instead, it creates a nasalised vowel. Also, the English vowel sound in ‘un’ would be too short for this nasalised vowel. If a native English speaker were to pronounce it as ‘runs’, that would be even less correct than ‘rahz’. The problem lies with letters of the alphabet not containing a nasalised vowel. Phonetically, I think it’s something like rã:z, but I figured the phonetic alphabet might not be familiar to everyone. Wish it was!

  3. Isabelle says:

    Well, I guess it’s easier to call Reims “the place where they make champagne” isn’t it?!!

  4. April says:

    Exactly! 🙂

  5. Oooh. Ouch. Narrow staircases. Crutches. Ouch.

  6. Familiar territory. My favorite is the logic things you mention. I do know how to pronounce Reims but here is my favorite tips for all travelers in France, when a French person says C’est logique, It’s logical, you can bet it is never logical. Don’t even try to find the logic, it isn’t there. I think it is just a way to try to get you to shut up and feel guilty you don’t understand.

    Here is some French logic for you

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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.

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