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House diaries
A Working Holiday
Chapter 1: We Leave for France
Chapter 10: Looking for Mr. Goodstone
Chapter 11: A mission to la Clape
Chapter 12: Dinner at Château de Lignan
Chapter 13: Antiques and plunder
Chapter 14: The vintner next door
Chapter 15: The rooftops of Nézignan-l'Évêque
Chapter 2: Comes the crusade
Chapter 3: The 13 colonies
Chapter 4: Our curtains are dreadful
Chapter 5: Naked beaches
Chapter 6: A visit to Château des Estanilles
Chapter 7: A pilgrimage to Toulouse
Chapter 8: Remembering Collioure
Chapter 9: The priest and the mayor
Languedoc Roussillon
Recreation in the region
Sights to see
Regional wines
Antiques & junque
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If you don’t speak French...
A sign on the neighbor’s 
door: "Gentle cat." 
You could take Bill Bryson's approach. Bryson is a very funny travel writer...laugh-out-loud-in-the-bookstore funny. Followed by convulsions, gasps, and cracking ribs.

Graffiti is common in French cities, though occasionally it rises to art, as with these stenciled portraits.

Bryson travels for a living, yet he speaks only English. He says,
"I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses."
You could also take a phrasebook. And spend ten minutes trying to locate the French for "I don't speak your language." At which point, most French will spontaneously remember that, yes, they did after all have five years of classroom English and, although their grades were nothing to write home about, they will attempt a conversation. Just, please, put the book away.

Directions are well marked in France. These signs in the center of Valros direct you to the two nearest towns, the town hall, and the village school.

One last tip:
to avoid offense, it is very important to be polite. It's the French way. When you enter a shop, you greet the proprietor (the American habit of entering a store and not saying a thing is in France considered rude): "Bonjour, monsieur/madame" (or "bonsoir," if it's night). When you leave the shop, you say goodbye: "Au revoir, monsieur/madame." And don't forget to express your thanks for every small thing: "Merci!"
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