We’re not late night people and the TV channels that we get don’t help us to stay up. We intentionally have only French television so once 8:00 PM rolls around and the news comes on our unofficial language instruction stops and we struggle to find something interesting to watch. Last night was a bit different because a semi-final episode of Eurovision, the multi-country song contest, was playing and we wanted to see what artist might be getting their big break. Previous winners who went on to worldwide fame include ABBA and Céline Dion. Around 9:30 PM, with the show still on, imagine our surprise when the doorbell rang.
We went to the door together and found our neighbors, Dominique and her English husband Tom on the other side, beckoning us to go with them. They said that an Irish band was playing at a bar in town and that we should join them for some music and a beer. With an invitation like that, how could we say “no”?
On the way over, Tom mentioned the name of the place we were going to and Bill and I looked at each other with a collective but unspoken “uh-oh”. One of our favorite bakeries is located just steps away from this bar so we see it several times a week and it’s always overflowing onto the pedestrian walkway with boisterous, tattooed, bandanna-wearing, gregarious drinkers. Moving to another country puts you out of your comfort zone but this was going too far!
Despite the standing room only crowd, we managed to wiggle ourselves up to the bar where we were greeted warmly by the bartender who switched effortlessly between French and English. With beers in hand we settled down to listen to an hour of Irish music, played by a group of 8 with traditional instruments seated in the corner. It was only then that I looked around and noticed a distinct lack of bandannas, tattoos, and biker attire. This crowd would have easily been at home at the bakery next door that we translate appropriately as “The Cuddly Crumb”. Friendly neighbors, welcoming crowd, cheerful music, cold beers. We were back in our comfort zone.