Longchamp, Paris, France - Oct 3-4

Saturday, October 3, Day before Arc Day

After our excursion to Chantilly, those of us who had opted for the "optional" day at Longchamp soon found ourselves deposited in a grassy parking lot out behind Longchamp Racecourse and then escorted in to yet another set of luxury accommodations at the track for the day, another private room with fancy tables and a lunch, plus that most decadent of all perks, our own private mutuel clerk, a somewhat shady-looking, smallish, weasely French character who spoke very poor English yet was assigned to all us English speakers, and who, for some reason, always kept the little display of how much your ticket actually won pointed toward himself, as opposed to visible by the customers.

The luxury lunch was merely okay, as luxury lunches usually are. When that was over and the racing on the day was progressing, Stu and I had a good time walking out back of the luxury dining room to a little luxury balcony overlooking the saddling area and walking ring to watch the horses, where played out a most unique and entertaining drama throughout the afternoon. The Maktoums in the form of Godolphin had a number of horses in the races, and whenever we were out there by the paddock when they had a horse in a race, there were a couple guys of Middle Eastern origin who would skulk around in the crowd, and I mean really skulk, creeping around low and hiding behind everyone else, only to occasionally pop up like Whack-a-Mole to holler out, "Maktoum! Maktoum!", and then duck back real fast down behind other people to hide. I don't think any Maktoums were ever actually in the paddock with those horses, but still those guys would pop up and holler, "Maktoum! Maktoum!" and then pop down to hide. Dunno about Stu but it cracked me up.

The racing on the day eventually ended as racing on the day often will, and one of our party (the guy who had smacked into the glass divider at the train station) picked a nice horse in the final race that paid a huge price, and had a good sized wager on it. Well, a good price according to the tote board anyhow. Because when our guy went to cash his ticket, little weasely Pierre the private teller with the display always turned to himself paid out substantially less than our guy should have won. Really, massively, substantially less. Our guy was smokin' mad, and royally pissed. But nothing was done. He went home angry. Just the first episode of getting ripped off by French crooks that weekend, as it turned out.

Saturday, October 3, Free Time

Saturday evening was free time for all the Mudders and Turfers. I happened to sort of know this American woman living in Paris from another Internet interest group, so Stu and I made plans to head out to some suburb with her and her daughter to have dinner at this restaurant where some local Frenchy friends she knew from a cover band were playing that night. It was kind of a long train trip, not on the Metro but more the suburban train line, and we eventually popped up just a couple blocks from the restaurant.

This woman acquaintance of mine, despite living there, did not speak French well. Me, not at all. Stu was giving it a try. We sat down at the cafe and looked at the menus, and when our classic-looking French waiter approached and said something that was probably, "What do you want?", Stu and this woman did their best to convey it to him in their best French. But Pierre was having none of it. "English! English!" he curled up his lip and haughtily sneered, and quickly disappeared. Well, no, you dumb f**k, American, but what the hell is wrong with you.

Oh wait, I get it, we had experienced the classic stereotypical a**hole French waiter encounter! My trip to France was complete! Ha ha!

Excuuuuuuuuse me for not speaking French, but you know what every other place I've visited where English is not the primary language we've always managed to work things out amicably. I pretty much suspected he did it on purpose so as not to disappoint us, he was that much of a tool.

After the abrupt disappearance of Pierre the miffed snooty a**hole French waiter cariacature, out came a pleasant and much easier on the eyes than Pierre young lady who spoke some English, and between her English and our French we managed to order and consume a dinner that could not be beat. Really, it was good, once all the nonsense was sorted out. Then afterwards, even though we knew the total for French restaurant dinners already included a tip, we added on a kind of pornographic size extra tip, just for her being pleasant and friendly as opposed to Pierre.

Pierre the snooty French waiter came out then to clean up the table and jibbered away with some more whatever nonsense that seemed to be more "English! English!" insults, but we paid no real attention and hey f**k you anyhow Pierre go see that young lady and take a look at that pornographic size extra tip you lost out on for being a dick, you dick. Or hey, maybe double tip was the plan all along, who knows. He did seem a little friendlier after we tipped the girl.

After that we repaired to the downstairs of that restaurant into this kind of a quonset hut bomb shelter basement to listen to the band we had come to hear, and it was a pretty okay cover band kind of band, doing covers as cover bands often will. But it seemed kind of ironic they obviously did not understand a word of English in any of the songs they were playing as they went through the motions of English language classics like Susie Q but butchered them.

Hey French band at snooty Pierre's: "English! English!"

Eventually the fun and show was over, and it was time to call it a night and go back to the M&T hotel for me and Stu, and home farther on to a distant suburb for my friend and her daughter. Like 1:30 a.m. now.

Oops. The train is no longer running. We looked around. No cabs, either. No options. Streets quickly emptying. Everyone else leaving seemed to have a car parked nearby, and was clearing out. We 4 were alone on this empty Paris suburban street in the middle of the night.

Stu tried to explain our dilemma, in French, to a passing police woman. She explained our options, in English. Which were, essentially, walk down the street to the police station. There we explained our dilemma again, being furriner idiots stranded in the Paris suburbs, and what could we do? The understanding cops called a cab. After that we sat in the cop shop for awhile feeling like criminals, but hey those French cops were great and kept us entertained. The cab finally arrived and took us back to our hotel downtown for the low low price of just 400 francs, and if I'm not mistaken at the time was pretty much like $100.

Next morning when we met some Mudders and Turfers Stu and I learned we had really missed out on some great stuff at the hotel, as Harvey Pack was going on and on about some late night French TV that that he claimed was just like porn they showed EVERYTHING and can you believe it? And so on. Rats, we missed that, but instead paid 400 francs to get home from a cover band. 

Left hand, snooty French waiter outing. Right hand, late night French TV porn. Hmmm. 

Saturday, October 4, Arc Day