Grumpy (and Messy) French Biathletes

Believe it or not, I survived the ski trip.

The packing drove me half way mental, and Clem did her darnedest to finish the job by being a defiant, danger-seeking 2 year old demoiselle all weekend. She consequently spent a good chunk of her weekend in the “coin” – which I had decided would be the stairs, because there was no room to set up a chair facing a wall without everyone tripping over it – casting baleful looks in her mother’s direction.

Her general obstreperousness led to a rather gnarly and very public fight between Franck and I on the second night, but that is not the topic of today’s blog (maybe tomorrow).

Rather, today’s blog is about the grumpy French biathletes.

Before leaving to go up the mountain we had found out that the French Olympic cross country skiing and biathlon teams were training on Mt. Washington. Quelle cadeau!

So the second morning Franck and the rest of our gang headed down to the Nordic lodge while I looked after Clémentine, Treya, and Manon, doling out several mugs of hot chocolate and basically banishing Clem to the coin every half hour or so. I am thrilled to report that it seemed to have absolutely no dissuasive effect whatsoever.

Franck was initially delighted to see his fellow countrymen who were doing some very serious biathlon training. But when he tried to talk to them they were incredibly rustre (read: rude and gave him the brush-off).

At first Franck thought perhaps they were so rustre because they were preoccupied by the utter lack of snow over in Vancouver. However, he finally decided that non, it wasn’t that, it was of course explained by the fact that all of those biathlon guys were “les gars de la montagne” aka “mountain boys”.

Apparently the gars de la montagne are legendarily rustre (I should have known this, Franck implied), in stark contrast to les gars des vignes like Franck.

“They were messy too,” Franck said. “The German and Swiss teams had these helpers armed with buckets who cleaned up the bullet casings after the shooting part, bu the French just left them strewn all over the snow. It was embarrassing.”

I ask you – could my husband possibly be morphing into a Canuck?

7 thoughts on “Grumpy (and Messy) French Biathletes

  1. A Novel Woman

    Haha, you always make me laugh.

    Don't worry about your little hellion. It just means she is brilliant and strongly independent, both good qualities in an adult but trying in a young child.

    My son was like that. We were like two mountain goats always butting heads. Forget sending him to the stairs! He was the ultimate Survivor and could outwit, outlast and outplay me, particularly if I was tired, which was all the time.(g) The good news is, the older he got, the easier it was to raise him. He was able to channel his energy into school and sports (we called it "working off his ya's ya's") and he is an absolute delight now.

    Courage! Bisous!!

    (hee hee, my word ver is despiabo)

  2. Lisa Kozleski

    I love this insight into guys of the mountain vs guys of the vines. *And* that Franck may be picking up a bit of the best of Canada along the way.

    And I have no advice re: the two-year-old except to persevere. Well, and you can tell yourself what I tell myself with my girls — that one day, they will be well served by being strong, opinionated, confident woman who stick to their guns (if they live that long).

  3. Michelle B

    When I lived in Grenoble, France, which is surrounded by various massifs, the city folks would always refer to the mountain ones as rude. I was always skeptical about the truth of that perception.

    One day we hiked in the Chartreuse, and I was looking for this rudeness. I did not see any. They were just quiet, not necessarily unfriendly, just stoic I suppose and very focused on their privacy. They probably thought that some members from our group were 'rude': they kept on asking questions!

    Now being in the Southwest of France, I see the same division. In Angouleme, people are chatty, in the Cognac area, they are not. They both consider the other 'rude'.

    The strewing of the spent bullets however is a bit problematic. Perhaps they were planning to clean them up eventually? I remember going out cleaning up the grass clippings that I thought the lawn guy left behind only to have the guy return gesticulating furiously (I spoke no French at the time) showing me explicitly that he planned for the clippings to dry so he could gather them much more easily. But of course he was going to pick them up eventually! He seemed a bit insulted at my assumption.

    As for Clem, what can I say, I love her to death! So much energy, so much will power, so much curiousness and so little time!

  4. Laura Bradbury

    Dear Pam,

    Sounds like my #2 was like your son. Yet, even with this knowledge under my belt it is STILL brutal.

    I need to find some more ways for Clem to get her ya yas out (love this expression) – maybe she should take up dog mushing or something…

    I'm still waiting for your parenting book BTW. I will be the first in line to preorder it on Amazon!

    Bises xo


  5. Laura Bradbury

    Dear Lisa,

    Tell me this – have you found the vineyard people to be rustre at all? I found that just like anywhere, some are and some aren't. Franck, however, remains unconvinced. The gars de la montagne are a different breed in his mind.

    Thanks for the reminder that it does get easier, and that these strong-willed little toddlers turn out ot be very interesting little girls.


  6. Laura Bradbury

    Dear Michelle,

    Re: Clem – Do you want to borrow her for a while? I think maybe 2 months should do it!

    No, seriously, I do love her but she is very challenging at the moment – we're gathering lots of funny stories to embarrass her with when she brings her first boyfriend home!

    Franck wasn't of the opinion that the bullet casings would be picked up at all by the French. Maybe they were just hoping it would snow again to cover them up?

    No community spirit, as Franck says.


  7. Lisa Kozleski


    I haven't encountered much rustre yet … there have been a few instances of women cut from the same cloth of the snippy Lille hotel clerk (not in the village, but in Dijon and Beaune), but so far so good as far uncouth-ness goes.

    But having grown up in a state where an entire population (Colorado) uniformly HATES two other populations (California and Texas) and then eventually meeting wonderful Texans and Californians, I tend to agree with you that anywhere you go, there are great people and not-so-great people.

    And ah, strong women. That's what we're aiming for in the end. And if Pam writes a parenting book — I want a copy!

    Hope you all are well. The photos are BEAUTIFUL!


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