OohLaLa OohLaLa OohLaLa. Various tones of this classic french expression rippled up and down the train platform. Each person expressing this classic french “oh my” in their own distinctive voice. From high pitched to deep guttural and even some with a few extra la la las added on. OoLaLa la la la la......
From the moment “my” five beautiful, spirited, curious American women descended the steps of the French high speed train it was ‘OohLaLa’. The energy just flowed down the steps of the train with them - along with an amazing amount of big heavy suitcases. Heads turned on track #1 as I greeted three woman that I have know for 25 years and two that I was just about to get to know. This excited moment of hello kisses while wrangling up large, heavy luggage created a lot of curiosity among the reserved, quiet French travelers. You could tell they were asking themselves what could these women have in those enormous bags and was this really 5 handsome women traveling together ? Where were the men?! And this was just the beginning of being noticed wherever we went and the infectious joie de vivre they brought to every experience. We were off on a seven-day exploration of the secrets of the Perigord Vert and into an unexpected immersion into a world where the French are humorously horrified and fascinated with the boisterousness of the American spirit.
At our first night’s dinner it took about half a minute for our waiter to realize that the more he teased us the easier his job was. Teasing in english with a french accent is just more than a one can stand so the laughing spilled out into the refined French atmosphere.
The next night it took about a minute and a half for things to get rolling. When asked to take a photo of the group the waiter asked “Where is the button?” and then without a moments reflection he said “Men are always looking for the button.” - did I translate this or not - but of course!! and there we were off on a howl.....
The next day started off well, a quiet breakfast at home, calm drive over to Brantome’s Friday market - and then the gang descended on the market vendors. Every vendor at the market was hoping this whirlwind of women would visit their stand because there was some serious shopping going on.
Leaving a lot of smiling merchants, we headed off to an afternoon picnic and cultural tour - yes, we did have some serious adventures as well. It’s hard to believe, but our group was the calm one at the lovely picnic spot. There was a party of about 20 French people next to us and throughout their meal they would break into song, then laugh and hoot at each other. So far we remained poised and correct, but how long could that last.... and as I packed up the car I suddenly heard “Happy Birthday to You, Happy..... “ All five of my girls were gathered in front of the french merry-makers singing away to a French birthday girl. Next thing I knew there was champagne for all and a lot of funny english french/french english ’conversations’. All this because one of my girls had asked “Anniversaire?” Way to go brave girls!
Singing seemed to be the groups theme, well and a few other themes that will stay locked in the bosom of the group. After a morning of more shopping and happy vendors at the antiques market in Bourdeilles we were having coffee in the center of the village, and suddenly the gang broke out into a medley of theme songs from T.V. shows of the 60’s and 70’s. You have to understand that even though we were sitting at one cafe they were actually serenading all 4 cafes and most of the village center. Later Tom was stopped in the village and asked “Do all American women sing wherever they go?”
We won’t even go into what commotion 5 American women cause at the horse races, but we did have a grand time at this beautiful course which unfolds from the shadow of the Chateau of Madame Pompadour. If you ever have the opportunity to go there watch out for Gaston! (Code word for “Girls, that man is allll French!”)
It says a lot about the joie de vivre that emanated from my gaggle of women that they were welcomed, teased and embraced in such a variety of settings. As I piled the gang back onto the train I could sense their fellow passengers starting to get in to the groove as they were recruited to help heft those enormous bags from the platform to the train car and asked to be sure that they helped the girls know when to start moving that crazy luggage to the exit so that they didn’t continue on to Brussels and test another culture’s sensibilities to that big, embracing, and infectious American esprit.