In 1967/8/9? my son Paul decided to meet up with his Danish girl friend in France, then drive on down to Spain for a holiday. As he had not driven on the continent before, he asked me to accompany him as far as Versailles, an offer I could not refuse. All went well, and we duly met up with Britta in the Palace of Versailles car park.
Just as we were about to part company, Paul and Britta to continue on to Spain, and me to make my way home, a man who was traveling with his small family, asked us “which road do I take for Switzerland?” Somewhat bemused, I looked at the sun and deduced roughly where south east was, and pointed confidently in that direction. The man thankfully accepted my advice and went happily on his way. I often wonder how many other times he needed to ask for directions, and indeed, whether he ever reached his destination?
I then spent a pleasant two days in Paris before boarding a train at Gare du Nord on route to Calais, from where I could fly to Southend-on-Sea. The plan being to enjoy a leisurely meal in Calais before catching the Air Car Ferry at Marck airport (hardly an airport, perhaps airfield would be a better description). Before eating, to make sure I knew where to catch the bus to the airport, I risked asking a gendarme. He didn’t say anything, gendarmes are not always as courteous as our policemen, so I became a little apprehensive.
He was carefully watching the traffic, he then suddenly stopped a trades van. After a few words with the driver, the gendarme politely opened the van door, indicating that I would be delivered straight to the airport. I was so surprised and too embarrassed to explain in my inadequate French that I did not really want to go just at that moment, so instead of enjoying my planned meal in Calais, I spent two or three hours at Marck Airport, with nothing more than a sandwich and a cold drink.
I hope I remembered to thank the gendarme!
(The Southend to Calais Air Bridge was a Freddy Laker enterprise, it employed Carvair Aircraft taking three or four cars and about twenty passengers)