Pas de Probleme in the Café des Arts

Tuesday 26th May

Today (yesterday) was a bank holiday en France, yes another one.  On the last bank holiday we were very quiet, so I decided to go in and tidy up from last night’s Vernissage. Hoover, put the tables back, wash the glasses and maybe have to serve the odd customer before early closing at lunch.  I had just finished hoovering and the tables were more or less in the right place, I hadn’t even put the A board out or changed the Closed to Open sign when a man’s head appeared around the door and asked in French, of course, if we were open.

“Oui Monsieur” I replied, “Pas de Probleme.”

Pas de problem?  I hasn’t realized that the whole family of eight were about to troop in.  Undaunted I marshalled them into the main room and pointed to the tables and went off to get my order pad from the chaos in the tiny kitchen.  I returned to find that they had rearranged the tables into one for all of them and were sitting merrily waiting for service.  Drinks were 6 chocolate chaud and 2 longues Americanos.  Aaarghh !!!  Hot chocolates are the hardest as you have to stir the powdered chocolate fast as the hot milk comes out of the frother.  Now, where was the coffee machine?  I found it, filled and plugged it in.  Eventually all 8 drinks were served.  Please don’t ask for any food.  But they did, and I also had to explain to them in my halting French exactly what a scone was, including les ingredients, le crème and le confiture.  5 scones, 2 slices of Apple Strudel and a cheese and ham baguette.  Despite the chaos of the kitchen I managed it.  They actually loved it, or maybe loved the experience of an Englishman stumbling around and serving them.  They were really pleasant and they wanted to chat in French about the café and the new photo exhibition and wanted to pay avec un cheque.  Pas de Probleme Monsieur.  And really, after all it wasn’t.