A week ago on our family holiday in France we did one of those things that you can’t believe anyone could possibly do. It was like one of those scenes from one of those old school Chevy Chase movies!
We had spent a fabulous weekend in Paris, having driving down from London; and were now on our way and looking forward to a week in a lovely holiday home in Brittany.
Navigating our way out of Paris, kids in the backseat, bikes on the roof we suddenly realised the Sat Nav said be in the left lane, last minute dash in front of other cars and then crash. Due to the height limit of the road it had one of those metal barriers overhead on the road which was too late to avoid once we turned into the lane. We turned round to see all the bikes sprawled across the middle of the four lane main road. Thankfully no one was injured; it was a miracle actually that they didn’t land on another car.
We had to drive on another 2 minutes before we were able to turn around. Once back at the same spot we saw a young girl on the side of the road. She had pulled all of our mangled bikes and roof rack onto the pavement. After asking us if we were ok, she told us what she had done asked if we were returning or going on holiday, gave us a quizzical look and wished us ‘Bonne Chance!’
Leaving the kids in the car on the other side of the road, we carried the bikes across the four lanes and a man came running out of his electrical shop. My husband called over to me for translation and it turned out he was offering for us to leave our bikes in his shop for safety while we went to purchase another roof rack. We had no idea where and a less than reliable mobile signal to find where. We had two options, leave our bikes in Paris or buy another roof rack and try and leave the bikes there. He then produced his friend who arrived on his motorbike and asked us to follow him ten minutes up the road where he took us to a shop which sold new roof racks. Thanking the friend we then navigated the bike shop!
Although I speak French, is does not extend as far as technical terms concerning roof rack specifications and installation. Seeing that I was struggling, another kind Frenchman who was with his young daughter came to the rescue as the said translator!
Eventually after a few hiccups and 4 hours after we had eventually set off we were on our way. We collected our bikes again from the kind shop owner; who asked if he could use all the metal from our old bike racks as he donated it to a school for children who didn’t have a playground.
My husband was quite shaken up, the kids were amazingly behaved, I think they sensed now was not the time for squabbles! I was thankful for the kindness of strangers in a foreign city and grateful for the love and safety of our family.
Sometimes you just have to trust and realise that you can only control the controllables. It is reactions in situations such as these that shows people’s true nature… C’est la Vie!