My mum arrived a few days ago, and I’m enjoying seeing France through her Australian eyes. She’s reminding me of all the great and odd things about France that I’ve become so used to that I barely even notice. The scenery is the most obvious of things, with chocolate box-style chalets dotted around and hills of grass topped with white snowy peaks. Beautiful and enormous, I’ve grown to take the scenery for granted.
Meanwhile, she loved our visit to the post office. “Wow,” she said, “THIS makes a nice change from MY post office visits in Australia!” Why? Because the guy behind the desk said hello to us both, then asked how we were, then chattered away while weighing my two items of mail, then licked each stamp and attached them for me, then popped the envelopes in the mail outbox before finally tallying up the total. He also said goodbye and wished us a good day as we left. I’d never really thought about it before, but I can’t imagine any Aussie Post worker licking my stamps or posting my mail.
On a less positive note, there’s the roads. Clinging to her seat, my mum was terrified as I drove around bendy, narrow mountainous roads at a speed that she didn’t think possible. I’m not a fast driver, nor have I ever had an accident. Gripping her seat, she had to look away from the drop on one side of the road which had no barrier to prevent any cars from just dropping off the side. She’s lucky there was no fog, like on the road pictured, or random obstacles such as herds of sheep or tractors. Down in Annecy, we left a three-lane, well-made motorway/freeway and took the off-ramp directly onto a pot-holed mess of a road that had no road markings until beyond the first small intersection. “It’s like we’re in the sticks,” my mum said, while the car bounced between pot-holes, “except this is still the centre of town, right?” We certainly weren’t far away. However, back at home in St Jean de Sixt, it’s clear that we are. “I don’t hear any car horns,” she said to me, suspiciously. She’s right: outside of peak season, the only time the car horns go are for weddings on Saturdays, when the procession of wedding guests behind the happy couple toot their klaxons the whole way to the reception. She’s got that to look forward to at the end of this week — along with the clanging Sunday church bells which start at 8am.