A Very French Function

Saturday 16th April

We always fly Ryanair; it is so convenient – Bergerac to Stansted, then a 50 minute train to Liverpool Street; we can be home a couple of hours after landing.  A few months ago we heard that BA (yes, that mighty behemoth British Airways) was planning a route from London City Airport, literally a couple of miles and on the DLR from our house on the Isle of Dogs to Bergerac.  It was planned for the first of May and will be three days a week.  Of course we have to wait to see what the fares will be, and BA are not known for low fares like Ryanair, but if it is so much more convenient we may well use this service.

A few days ago we received an invitation to a Reception at Bergerac Airport to celebrate the Inauguration of these flights.  We weren’t at all sure what to expect, and none of our English friends in Eymet seemed to have received an invite (just why we were chosen we don’t know).  We turned up fairly smartly dressed to find almost everyone in black tie, white shirts and dinner jackets, a couple of the men even sported kilts, but there were a few men like me in smart casual jackets so we didn’t feel too out of place.  It was a very French occasion and it was to say the least slightly over the top.  Almost every dignitary from the neighbouring French departments were present, local Mairies and Office de Tourisme et Industrie were there and all looking very grand and important.  The theme of the evening was James Bond’s Casino Royale; there were gaming tables and free (no value) chips and croupiers and roulette and blackjack and poker tables (all a bit pointless if you couldn’t cash in your tips).  There were lots of free drinks, good quality Bergerac wines and Martinis and lots of waiters and waitresses and pretty girls walking around with trays of canapés.  It was all a bit stuffy and hardly anyone was speaking to anyone else, too important to deign to acknowledge lower mortals I suspect.  We managed to find a couple of English speakers including one of the reporters from The Bugle (a free newspaper in English in Dordogne).  After an hour there were speeches from local dignitaries, all in French and extolling the advantages for Bergerac, the Perigord, the Dordogne, Aquitaine and all of France of the new route – blah blah blah; each speaker said the same thing really.  There was a pretty poor computer presentation of London City Airport, all artists impressions – not at all like the real thing.  We escaped before they had finished, not really any wiser about the actual flights but it was an experience, a very French experience.