Friday, September 13, 2013

How I Argued with a Grumpy Old Frenchman and Won (sort of)

- "Look, monsieur, I don't know who you're talking about, but I booked a room for two."

Grand Hôtel du Loiret is a classically Parisian budget hotel -- small, quaint, locally owned, and centrally located. After checking out the official website and reading mostly positive reviews on Trip Advisor, I decided to give this hotel a shot. I booked over the phone and then emailed the hotel to request a confirmation. Below is a translated and heavily abbreviated version of that email exchange:

~ Dear Monsieur, I recently called and booked a room for April 8. Twin beds, private shower/toilet. Please confirm. Sincerely, moi.

~ Dear American Girl, confirming twin room with private shower/toilet for April 6. Sincerely, Alex.

~ Dear Monsieur, April 8, not 6. Did you book me for April 6? If so, it's 8, not 6. Sincerely, moi.

~ Dear American Girl, LOL! Typo. Totally meant April 8, not 6. Sincerely, Alex.

~ Dear Monsieur, merci! Sincerely, moi.

Alex seemed like a nice dude. This would work out.

April 8 arrived, and my friend Kellie and I trotted into our little Parisian hotel to be greeted not by Alex, but by the grumpiest old Frenchman ever. I politely said bonjour and soon found myself in a heated war of French words with Monsieur Le Grump. Here's the blow-by-blow:

Moi: Bonjour, Monsieur.

Monsieur Le Grump: Bonjour.

Moi: We have a reservation for tonight.

Monsieur Le Grump: How many?

Moi: Two.

Monsieur Le Grump: Two? No no no no no!

Moi: ???

Monsieur Le Grump: Where are the rest of you?

Moi: Excusez-moi?

Monsieur Le Grump: The musical group.

Moi: Muscial group?!

Monsieur Le Grump: Don't change the subject! You can't just reserve for all these people, then come here telling me two. Two? Humph. Away with you. No rooms, I say.

Moi: Am I in the twilight zone? Look, monsieur, I don't know who you're talking about, but I booked a room for two. I spoke to Alex. Here's the email confirmation. I confidently whip out my printed copy of the email exchange with Alex.

Monsieur Le Grump: Don't bother showing me whatever it is you're showing me, mademoiselle. I said good day!

Moi: But look here! It clearly shows that I booked a room for ...

Monsieur Le Grump: Enough!

Moi: Practically shoving the paper in his face now. READ. THIS. I point at the paper and then lean back, looking at him like I mean business. He sighs in annoyance but actually reads this time. 

Monsieur Le Grump: Ah, you're not them.

Moi: No, monsieur. We're not them. I feel like throwing in "To be or not to be" and "I think therefore I am" just to throw things into a hysterical state of confusion again.

Monsieur Le Grump: My apologies. Let's see here. It looks like you've booked a twin ... hmm ... that room isn't available.

Moi: W... T... F. Whatever do you mean, monsieur? And where the hell is Alex, anyway?

Monsieur Le Grump: I can give you two separate single rooms for the same price as the double.

Moi: Oui, okay, sure. Let's all get on with our lives here.

The above conversation was even more bizarre and disorienting in French, but I learned a useful travel lesson from Monsieur Le Grump that afternoon -- never assume that booking a room guarantees you ... well ... a room.

The following morning, I found Alex in the lobby. "You're the person I spoke to on the phone," I said. "Yesterday, Monsieur Le Grump was very confused and ..." Alex understood at once. "Oh, that guy. Yeah, sorry about him." He shrugged his shoulders in that oh-so-French c'est la vie sort of way, and that was that.

Although Grand Hôtel du Loiret was a good value, I don't expect to book a room there again because Monsieur Le Grump would probably mistake me for a member of a traveling circus or something. That said, I don't regret my stay for the following three reasons:

1) I can say that I once slept on Rue des Mauvais Garçons (Street of Bad Boys).

2) I captured this picture from my hotel window:

View of Paris rooftops and the Notre Dame on a rainy day
3) I argued with a grumpy old Frenchman and won (sort of).

For more pictures of my trip to Paris, visit my photo gallery.

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  1. That was hilarious and oh so French. Glad you can laugh about it now.

    1. Thanks. It's often the travel mix-ups that make for the most fun stories to tell.

    2. So true. The worst things that happen traveling end up being the best stories. Greve national? = Great commentary on French vs. American politics/culture. Got lost? = Epic adventure.

      I think it's the whole "I actually survived" sentiment. And the dramatics. If everything is going well, people get bored.

    3. Agreed. At an RER stop, I once asked to buy a train ticket for Versailles and was warned, "the castle is on strike." That sentence was so hilarious to me that I preferred having heard it over actually visiting Versailles for a second time.

  2. Very amusing, but just so very French. You should try some friendlier European country next time. ;)

    1. Marko, I actually find France very friendly for the most part. I've made wonderful friends there and can't help returning again and again. On another note, checked out your blog and love your photos and stories! Following. :o}