Travel Tip: Know your foreign language pronunciation.
We couldn’t start our second day in Paris without a traditional Parisian on-the-go breakfast at a cafe – a croissant and an espresso. Mike bellies up to the cafe bar and orders, “Deux cafés et deux croissants, s’il vous plaît.” The bartender looks questioningly at Mike and repeats, “Deux cafés?” and he confirms the two espressos. But then he seems confused about the second part and starts speaking French we don’t understand and gesturing with his hands. We look at each other, not knowing where we went wrong, so Mike repeats, “Deux croissants?” and the bartender is just puzzled. Absolutely puzzled. We’re puzzled. Mike tries it with a different emphasis, sharper enunciation, less enunciation, stereotypically sloppy French accent. Nothing. We’re really stuck here, and hungry. So we motion to the only other guy working in the empty cafe – the guy standing out front who can speak some English to the tourists to hype his cafe since there are hundreds to choose from (There’s probably a name for this guy, I think of him as a cafe salesman of sorts). We repeat our request to him, he turns to the bartender and they exchange some French, and then the bartender suddenly exclaims, “Ahhhh, croissant!” The cafe salesman gives us a slight eye roll and apologizes. Apparently, this Frenchman doesn’t pronounce the “r” in croissant, causing all the confusion (even though the French pronunciation really does include the “r”)! Hey, I understand there are local pronunciation idiosyncrasies, but really? Is krwah-sahn really that different kwah-sahn, so much so that he couldn’t piece together our order? Nonetheless, it gave us a great story (albeit better told verbally) of our first breakfast in Paris. We stood at the bar (because it’s cheaper than sitting at a table), sipped our espresso, ate our krwah-sahn, and tried to contain our giggles until after we left the cafe. To the Notre-Dame!