The French are legendary for many things - haute couture; pastry, bread, cheese and wine brought to the level of fine art, actual fine art, tangos by the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the glamour of Paris and the ancient charm of its sleepy rural villages. Unfortunately, in the English speaking world, they are legendary for rudeness, snobbery, and impatience with anyone not French, or any poor soul trying to speak French as a second language. If you’ve read this Blog, you know I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France, and I can attest to the true friendliness of the people. You just need to respect them, their culture, and their dogs.
Yes, their dogs. If you want to take a short cut to a French man or woman’s heart, stop to politely and respectfully ask if you may take a photograph of his or her dog:
“Desolé [madame][monsieur], mais est-ce que je peux prendre une photo de votre chien(ne)? Il/Elle est si beau/belle!”
Then make a sincere fuss over canine cuteness, beauty, nobility, good behavior, or any other admirable trait the pup possesses. The French are passionate about their dogs. Dogs are allowed routinely in restaurants, buses, métro cars, markets and cafés. And they are surprisingly very well behaved. Perhaps they are socialized so early that they know how to behave - often better than the children in the family may be.
We met many adorable dogs in France on our last visit, and purposely tried out our theory. Of course it helps that through marriage I have been converted to a “dog person,” (still a “cat person” too of course) and have a deeper appreciation for these best friends of ours. They are entrusted to us and are helpless, so in our family we feel a great responsibility toward our two little dogs, so much so that they may at times have received as much or more attention than our daughter! As a consequence, cooing over a dog is second nature. The French are palpably proud of the delight their canines bring to Americans, and that pride melts away some of their reserve - for it is reserve, usually, and not the unfriendliness it is too often taken for. And of course, while petting an absolutely adorable little dog, smiles abound and can make for a fast bond.
We thought we’d share some of our favorite photos of our French canine friends:
A baby Keeshond we couldn’t resist fawning over in the market in Limours. She just couldn’t stay still, so we were lucky to get even this shot.
Later we learned that her owner, owner’s mother and grandmother owned the local shoe shop, and we made fast friends with them all. In fact, this is the shop that supplies us with Rondinaud slippers, so admiring this little puppy also led to a fun business deal and new friends to visit, and to have visit us.
Take a look at this monsieur’s pale green eyes! And his tongue matches the pink of madame’s coat, although that was probably coincidental. With the French, however, maybe not! He was having a good time accompanying his mistress at the semi-weekly market in Limours, and was quite happy to have his picture taken.
This Dalmation was being so well-behaved at the market. If you look closely perhaps you can see that he had one blue eye and one hazel eye. And he loved the camera.
And finally, one of the sweetest little friends we made. He traveled in style in a beautiful cart lined in a soft quilted cotton, and was the apple of his human parents’eyes. The next time you travel anywhere, try asking politely if you can take a picture of someone’s adored little dog. At a minimum you’ll have some fun travel photos, and you may make some canine and human friends.
À la prochaine,
Louise and the Team at Parlez-Vous Provence