I'm no longer surprised that we have had so many wars with the French over the years. They are really terribly easy to start. As we drove into what looked like the parking area in front of the accueil at the campsite we were given the hairy eyeball treatment by a squadron of elderly French gentlemen with silver balls.
How were we supposed to know it was a boules pit?
A boules pit with one of the most important and serious games of boules ever played anywhere, ever, in progress. It didn't help when I gaily said "Bonjour, je suis General Petanque de Plantagenets." Should've just backed the car up quickly really.
Anyway, the accueil is firmly ferme but there is a button to push. There is nearly always a button to push. So you push the button as you do and wait dix minuites for a response which arrives with a surly 'Oui?' 'Ah Bonjour madame, je cherche pour un place pour camping pour un nuit seulment, c'est possible?' Nobody would've understood the reply. Not even a native French speaker. "I think we have to wait, do you think she said we have to wait?"
We wait. The old men are still eyeballing us and muttering. I think they think that we have plantagenet electro-magnets installed behind the headlights and are switching them on and off to ruin their game.
We wait more. I decide to go off and see if there are any places left, it looks pretty full. [translation] - man runs off in abject fear of facing Madame de Camping Oye Plage Formidable, leaving better, (at French), other half to do the bargaining.
I wander off pondering how the game came to be and why it is taken so seriously. It occurs to me that during a thirty years war or a hundred years war, or one of the (how many?) other wars, there is bound to be a certain amount of sitting around in abject boredom with sod all to do before the next bloodbath commences. One can only engage in so much cannon polishing.
One such day, an unknown soldier (let us call him Henri), will have idly tossed a cannonball a distance and said to his mate 'Je bet you can't hit that mon ami'. 'Bof,' sais mon ami, spitting out his last Gouloise, 'pas problem'. 'Vous missed mate,' chuckles Henri, 'prochain!' And so it begins.
I think it best not to tell them we are of the House of Lancaster whence came Henry IV, V, and VI who I think all gave the French some right royal kickings at one time or another in our glorious history.
I wander the site and come across the piscine and contemplate whether I am fit to be seen in speedos. Then I remember, with not a little relief, that I don't have speedos, only a pair of shorts - and I probably won't be allowed in with those. Clodlet will be pleased though. Opposite the piscine is a nice little plot, plot 150, with some shade and nice fresh looking grass. Perfect.
I rush back to the accueil to give the good news but am passed by a golf buggy driven by Madame de Camping Oye Plage Formidable with Clodlet riding shotgun and beaming. I am beckoned to follow. Madame Le Golf Buggy drives us to a burnt out desert of a pitch on the main path opposite the toilet block. It has at least six bits of grass left that might be living. Everything else, 'desole monsieur', is booked.
I walk back to the car and crank up the electro magnets behind the headlights.