Chambéry, Wednesday

Hannibal wuz ere

Yet another sunny day in Chambéry. The air was crisp and cold as I walked into town and found a café. I have learned some important skills on this trip to France. The French for “what is the password for your wi-fi?” for example, and the word for doughnut. Both have come in very useful.

Yesterday was the third full day I have spent in this town in the last 2 weeks, but the first where everything was open. Everything shuts down on a Monday, it would seem. Encouraged by places actually being open for business, I explored a bit more of the town, and it’s a great little place. Lots of old winding streets, Savoyard architecture and the odd castle and cathedral popping up when you least expect it.

A lovely thing about being in Chambéry is that, contrary to one’s typical experience of a French ski resort, it feels like being in authentic France, among the French. An American girl walked past me on Monday night, talking to her friend in English (or what passes for it among the North Americans), but the only British voice I’ve heard (apart from DC, of course) is from some relatives of the guy in the adjoining hospital room – who suffered an accident in Tignes a few days after him.

DC continues to make good progress in his recovery. The  highlights so far have included his reaction to my informing him I’d brought him the Guardian and Observer for reading material, and a purple patch yesterday morning when his humour was in full flow. A male student nurse called Tahar, pronounced ‘Tar’, at least by me, had a few questions for DC, which the big man attempted to answer, not always in the most helpful way imaginable. Replying to the question “Have you any children?” he replied “No.” before adding “Apart from the people I used to live with.” I convulsed. Tahar just looked bemused.

Tahar went on to explain that his name was Algerian in origin, and that his mother is French but his father Algerian, which provoked a robust comment from DC, which, while not especially racist in the great scheme of things, invoked a certain favourite French stereotype of his, involving surrender. I daresay Tahar, had he understood the comment, might have found it a change to have the French side of his family targeted by a racial slur…

It’s just after 11am here. Visiting starts at 12. Time for another coffee, I reckon.

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