After lunch we walked back to the bus, gathered up everyone, and headed out of town. Originally our plans were to take the motorway back to Paris and then head south, but the trucker’s strike changed all that. Instead, we took a small two-lane road heading southeast through the countryside. This, being my first experience off the beaten path in France, was an eye-opening journey. We traveled through miles and miles of wheat fields south of Chartres that reminded me very much of those I’d seen in Oklahoma and Kansas.
As we neared the area of Burgundy, the fields turned to mountains with evergreens at their tops. The valleys were filled with grapevines stretching from one small village to the next. Somewhere around Dijon we stopped for a break and many of us purchased little jars of their famous mustard. No “grey poupon” here, just well seasoned mustard laced with that famous white wine.
Dijon gave me a different perspective on France, its people, and its culture. Until this time I’ve only visited Paris, and I soon learned that was not the best representation of the country. Here in Dijon we got off the bus in the town center and walked down the main street peeking in shops and checking out the mustard, olives, culinary items, and wine. I picked up on a different dialect and with it a different attitude for the local folks. They were different than the Parisians.
Yes, I know, the local people we interacted with were shopkeepers who ultimately were there to sell us tourists some of their stuff…but they were nice about it. They weren’t like the Parisian shopkeepers who spoke English in a haughty and curt voice. Here in Dijon they spoke very little English but seemed to go out of their way to help us with our shopping. Between our silly “sign language,” the two or three words we knew in French, and their limited English vocabulary, we all had a great time buying bread, cheese, mustard, and wine.
Later we sat down at a cafe and were presented a menu entirely in French. There was no “tourist” menu as there had been in Paris. Charlotte saw a pile of french fries loaded with ketchup at a nearby table and set out to find them on the menu. After all the pitiful food we’d had on this trip, fries looked really good to me too. So here we were, sitting at this cute little French cafe in Dijon’s town center trying to figure out what the French word for FRENCH fries was!
Well, we couldn’t locate it on the menu, so finally when the waitress came over to get our order she pointed at the table and plate of fries. The waitress laughing said, “ahhh, french fries…pommes frites!, avec ketchup?” Not quite getting the translation but hearing “ketchup” Charlotte knew she had hit pay-dirt and voiced a confident oui, oui, s’il vous plaît!
So goes the story of how we got our first order of FRENCH fries in Dijon, France!