Mostly I just get blank stares, and then some half hearted look of semi-comprehension. Then Kristine repeats what I said (exactly), and they go "Ahhh, oui! Je comprends"! Here I am in one of the only countries in the world where my second language can actually come in handy, but I was doing better in Italy. Go figure. Blame the French. Why is it that a Quebecois accent is so hard for these folks to decipher even though the language is very nearly the same? I am starting to doubt myself - maybe I actually know Albanian, not French, and this is why everyone is so confused. It's funny really, saying everything twice, everything takes twice as long.
Anyway, it all came as a bit of a shock to me, and I am finding that I have to move my entire accent up from my throat into my lips if I want to be understood. But it feels so un-natural to me. So un-French. More irony. You speak the language but are not understood... The other strange feature of the language here is that they use more English than in Quebec. The explanation I have been given in the past is that the Quebecois language is actually much older French that comes before the Anglicization of the planet, and therefore it has actually survived better. Could it be that Trudeau was right? That the language is actually well preserved? Heaven forbid!
But here in France, you'll find things like "le weekend, le ticket, le shopping, le parking, etc..." It goes on and on. All of those sound un-natural to me. I would say " la fin d'semaine, le billet, magaziner, and le stationement", but they have totally lost that here. Sold out. Vive le Quebec! Vive le Quebec proteger!"
OK, so I make a poor Charles de Gaulle, and my meaning is a lot different (well opposite in fact), and I think this little language fact, in a very indicative way, says something about Quebec's special position in Canada. Enough said on that before I start a war amongst all the readers out there :/
There's a lot more cash rolling around these hills than there was in Italy. Prime example is Monaco, which we visited yesterday. The whole place is sort of an immaculate super clean Disneyland kind of place, loaded with Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolexes, and Luis Vuitton. It's unbelievable. They even have trucks driving around with barking sounds of dogs and meows of loud cats to drive the pigeons back into France so there's no bird shit on Monte Carlo's streets! Some of the yachts in the harbour are the size of small towns, and the whole scene makes Nice, only 20 minutes up the road, look a bit like a slum, or at least the ugly sister. While the history of the little principality (actually a different country) is interesting, the modern day operation of the place as a gigantic tax haven, and super elite casino is much more interesting. It is a place to observe disgusting wealth. I was so sad when I saw a $250,000 Aston Martin with a lady behind the wheel that had no hope of ever getting it out of third (maybe second), and probably can't even get the pedal anywhere near the floor (not that you can find a road anywhere around here to drive it properly - the place is nothing but cliffs, tunnels, and winding turns). We went part way into the casino, but you don't get very far unless you pay 10 Euro for the privilege of getting in further just to lose more. The hotel next door wouldn't even let us into the lobby! Oh to be loaded...
Monaco is interesting, but the rest of the area has a lot to offer. Nice is Nice (always wanted to say that!), with a neat little old part of town and a huge expanse of pebble beach. Nearby is the tiny medieval hill town of Eze, perched high above everyone else with a superb view of the entire coast, and tiny little cobblestone streets with rough, stone buildings. Lots of neat things to see there.
But, I think so far, the most interesting thing is simply the change of language. This is one of the first places where we understand everything, and can truly eavesdrop as many think we don't understand. I'm just waiting for someone to say my boots are ugly! THEN I WILL ATTACK THEM WITH AN ACCENT THEY CAN'T UNDERSTAND!