Ellie May goes to France

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By Lee Scott

It is that time of year again. The kids are out of school, the mini-vans are packed with luggage and swim gear and families are headed to the beach. We too were headed on vacation when as we were driving out of Beaufort, we realized that we were going in the opposite direction. Instead of the beach, we were headed to the airport and Europe. Like a lot of Americans, we decided that with the Euro so low, it would be a good time to go across “the pond.”

We found that traveling to Europe can be a humbling experience. After we landed in Paris, we rented a car and it was not long before we felt like the Griswolds on their European Vacation. It took several loops around the airport to figure out how to get out of Charles de Gaulle airport. Perseverance and patience kept us going. Fortunately we had our GPS with us to assist in navigating around France. But she refused to allow us to use the “voice command” feature. Obviously she knew our pronunciations of the names of cities and streets would be horrible. We tried to manually enter the name of the street we were headed, but Rue de Mare is a common street name in France and she gave us too many suggestions. We then decided to just enter the name of the city, which she accepted and we headed south with her guidance.

As we were getting close to our destination, my husband stopped the car and chatted up some locals who were inspecting their vines. They very graciously got in their van and had us follow them to our destination. My respect for Frenchman took leaps and bounds!

It is very easy to feel out of place when visiting a foreign country. I try to think of myself as sophisticated but instead felt like Ellie May Clampett from the old sitcom Beverly Hillbillies. I found myself reduced to playing charades when trying to get someone to direct me to a rest room. We found that throughout our tour, most people were willing to help the lost Americans since we attempted to speak French.

We did have a particularly fun drive on our way to the Gorges du Verdon. Who knew that France had its own Grand Canyon! Unfortunately, our GPS and me, the navigator, led my spouse off on the backroads through endless fields of lavender. It was beautiful, but the road was basically a one lane farm road and people waved at us like we were locals. Of course they did. Who else would have been on that road!

But the real surprise for me was finding jasmine growing along the stone walls. Like Beaufort, this small white flower with its intoxicating fragrance grows all over southern France and I was not expecting to inhale the familiar scent. All in all it was a wonderful trip and I would recommend it to anyone, but it sure feels good to be home now where I can smell the jasmine which grows right here in my own yard.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career.  A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Lee now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She recently moved to St. Helena Island with her husband and two cocker spaniels. She enjoys boating, traveling and reading.