My stay in Limoges has been very uneventful. I’ve not connected with anybody because well, there’s nobody to connect with. On Sunday, 26th Jan a girl named Margot stayed in the room next to mine. Very nice girl, studying sports law (didn’t know that there was such a discipline, but I guess it makes sense that there is, idk), lives in Normandy I think, her uni has some kind of exchange program with the uni in Limoges. She comes here for three days every month, usually stays in some sort of lodgings or AirBnB or whatever with her fellow students. Something went wrong this time and there was no room for her. Hence her staying at the house for one night.

On Tuesday, 28th Jan another girl came to stay. Estelle can’t speak a word of English. I tried to talk to her when she arrived, but it was pointless. Other than asking her if she had finished in the bathroom the following morning, I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of her ever since.

Denis warned me that there was nothing to do in Limoges and that I would get bored within a couple of days. In some ways, he was right. There are lots of bars and restaurants and shops, it’s obviously a pretty affluent city. However, everything closes fairly early and, to add insult to injury, pretty much every bar, restaurant or coffee shop, closes for a few hours in the afternoon. There’s one place which really looks good, always packed. But, they only serve brunch. Literally, only serve brunch. So, they close at 02:00pm every day. That’s it, no afternoon or evening or night-time service. Just brunch until 02:00pm then it’s, ‘see you again tomorrow’. It’s a beautiful city, packed with history and it definitely has that air of quintessentially French style, but I do find myself wandering around rather aimlessly. So yeah, it can get a bit boring.

Olivier makes a rather feeble attempts at being friendly. But, all of his rules (especially the fact that they are plastered all over the place in both French and English), his no-go areas and, his reliance on communicating via WhatsApp, make it impossible to establish any kind of rapport with the guy. His “wife” seems a lot more outgoing but neither of them are around very much.

On my first day here, I told them both (Olivier and his wife, partner, whatever) that I was in Limoges because I wanted to go to Oradour-sur-Glane. They told me that it was about 20km away and said that they wouldn’t mind driving me there. I thanked them for their generosity and so on and so forth. They then said that they could go on Thursday. I leave on the Friday so, I said that was leaving a bit too late. They said that they would look at their diaries and let me know. At 10:00pm on Monday night, Olivier sent me a WhatsApp message saying that they could go to Oradour-sur-Glane on Friday morning ie my last day at the house. I told him that that wouldn’t work and that I’d be going the next day. That morning (by WhatsApp of course), I asked him to help me ensure that I got the right bus. The idiot told me to check the number and to make sure that it was on the front of the bus. WOW! Why didn’t think of looking at the front of the bus.

I’d looked online and knew that the bus left from one of the stops outside of the house but, the website was confusing, it gave a four digit number as the bus number when all the busses had either one or two digit numbers. I sent him another message asking him to help. By now it was after 11:30am, there was one bus going to Oradour-sur-Glane and it left at 12:30pm. I got no reply from Olivier so, I went into one of the nearby offices and just asked. No help, they couldn’t find anything online. Seriously? I did, I just can’t read it ‘coz it’s all in fucking French! I went to the main bus stop and asked a random stranger who was waiting for a bus herself. She couldn’t speak English but, she did all that she could to help me. In the end we found out, with the help of a bus driver that my new friend spoke to in French, that the bus I needed was number 12 (the website said 1203) and that it left from the stop across the street.

At 07:00pm, Olivier sent me a WhatsApp message saying that he’d only just seen my message. I’d been back for half an hour. Anyway, I’d seen Oradour-sur-Glane. This is why I came here. It was all that I’d expected and more.

On Wednesday, 29th Jan I went into a very trendy, very cool little artisan coffee bar called La Fabrique du Café. As usual, all eyes were on the Brit who couldn’t speak a word of French. And, of course, I brought even more attention to myself by taking photos of the staff at work.

There were only two empty seats, I took one and a guy dressed in a smart suit sat next to me. He offered me a bottle of water from the fridge. Seems that’s SOP in this place. By this point, I’d given up on trying to have conversations with French people. They either could not or would not speak English. However, the guy tried to spark up a conversation.

The guy was Cyril Vermuse, a civil servant working for the mayor of Limoges. Official title, Directeur de Cabinet. I asked him about the city, the industry which sustains it (ceramics, Olivier had already told me this and kept banging on about me visiting the ceramics museum) and, the obvious affluence of most of the population (old money). We also spoke about the demonstrations. Yet again, I made comparisons with the UK.

“Very different mindset.”, was Cyril’s conclusion.

So, Friday I leave Limoges and head for Toulouse. I’m only going there to break up the journey into Spain. Fingers crossed, it will be a nice end to the French leg of my adventure.

A really annoying postscript to my stay in Limoges. Yesterday ie Thursday, 30th Jan I asked Olivier to help me book a taxi to the train station. This was at about 02:15pm, he replied at about 08:30pm. I’d given up waiting for him and had spoken to a driver at the taxi rank across the road. Somehow (again, language), I’d managed to book a taxi for 11:00am on Friday morning. So, when he replied to my request for help six hours later, I told him that I’d booked a taxi but asked him to call them and confirm this because I was concerned if they’d understood me or not. His reply was to confirm that I had the right phone number (I’d sent it to him in case he didn’t have it) and to remind me of the house address. I told him that I’d given them the right address. As usual, all of this was via WhatsApp. Is the guy too lazy to come up a couple of flights of stairs or too disconnected (maybe a better word is disinterested) with his guests to actually talk to them?

At 09:45am on Friday morning, as I was getting myself ready to leave, he sent me another WhatsApp message telling me that he had to go to work and that he hoped that I’d enjoyed my time in the house. What was there to enjoy? All he provided was basically somewhere to sleep and shower. There’s not even any drinking water in the part of the house that is designated for the guests. He ended his message by asking me to let him know if everything worked out OK with the taxi. I asked him if he had phoned them. He didn’t actually answer the question, he told me that they don’t take bookings and to just go over the road to the taxi rank in person. So, that’s what I did. Luckily there was a car there. However, after we’d loaded my luggage in the taxi and as I was putting the house key into the lockbox, the taxi that I had booked the previous day turned up. The driver was royally pissed off.

I had a 45 minute wait for the train, during which time I got a barrage of WhatsApp messages from Olivier. I told him what had happened. I told him about the pissed off driver. And, I made it very clear to him that I was really unhappy with him for not helping me when I’d asked him to. He said that it was impossible to pre-book a taxi. I replied that that was nonsense because I’d managed to.

Some four hours later, I was at the train station in Toulouse waiting for my new AirBnB hosts to get home from work, I got another lengthy WhatsApp message from Olivier telling me that he was very disappointed at my behaviour. Turns out, he had posted a review on me on the AirBnB site. BEFORE I’d posted a review on my stay at his house.