Bonjour from France! This hitchhiking business is hard work. Sure, you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack on your back, but when you are super tired and can hardly keep your eyes open, but are stuck in a truck, your only option is to fight the tiredness and try to keep awake, rather than find a tree to have a rest under. It’s not the done thing to sleep in your ‘host’ car.
But oh my goodness. My sterotypes about the French have been hung, drawn, and quatered today. France is hands down the friendliest country I have ever visited (after Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, that is). The people are keen to communicate, and lack of language skills are no barrier. Where the heck did the ‘snobby French people’ comments come from.
My frist ride was with a young guy moving apartments because of a change in study location from La Havre to Caen. The second ride was the clincher – a three hour ride from Caen to Nantes in a big truck and trailer unit. The driver spoke no English, but after a while my very limited French skills came back to me from my short time in Switzerland. We ascertained that he had once been working in an aluminium smelter, has two daughters, and has been driving trucks for a living for six years. The pay is average, but he is happy.
He dropped me off just oustide of Nantes at around 7pm. I hadn’t eaten much during the day, so I took a break to have dinner – the usual spaghetti.
I was considering trying to hitch to La Rochelle tonight, but I saw an advertisement for a Decathalon store in Nantes. Decathalon is a French outdoor and sporting goods brand that sells their own brand of outdoor gear for really cheap. Like you can get a very good quality fast drying polyester t-shirt for less than NZ$10. Consider buying a North Face t-shirt and you’d be looking at at least NZ$50.
I need to visit Decathalon to get myself some basic waterproof clothing for when/if I get a job on a yacht across the Atlantic. So I skated through Nantes, but by the time I got to the Decathalon store it was shut. I found a secluded spot under a bypass for the night.
Oh and chekc out the crazy slanted buildings I saw in Nantes. I thought my vison was going funny…