Salasc is a commune in the Herault department in the Occaitanie region of France. I searched a map looking for it and finally had to google it to find out where it actually is. I would never have found it otherwise. Traveling in France can be difficult. I learned this lesson when our daughter married a Frenchman and we went to meet his extended family. Before dining with them, Ruth and I had to have lessons in proper table manners. When I mentioned Salasc to my French son-in-law, he did not know where it was.
An arrondissement is a subdivision of a French department used for local government administration. The word comes from arrondir, which means “to make round”. Go figure! I got used to Paris being divided into arrondissements, which I figured meant neighborhoods; but I never realized that the entire country is divided into them. They are the largest administrative subdivisions of departments. Salasc in southern France is in an arrondissement called Lodeve. There are 101 French departments and they are divided into 332 arrondissements, which are further divided into cantons and communes. Understand now? Me neither. To further complicate local administration in France, each district arrondissement has its own town hall called a hotel de ville. An inn is any small French town is often called an “auberge”, not necessarily a hotel. A hotel de ville is a city hall. A hotel de police is a police station.
Being an American and part of a French family too is not easy. Ruth & I learned how to dine properly early on, but over time we have learned much more. One of the first things we learned is that the French disdain corn. They rarely eat corn because they consider it cattle feed. Like in Italy, social etiquette in France is very important. If you deal with a French person during the day, it’s wise to greet him or her with, “Bonjour” and wait for a reply. This will get you better treatment. Americans are thought to be too abrupt.
Never show up at a French home without a small gift. Cookies, a pastry, or a cake from a local boulangerie will avoid tongue clicking and accusations of being a typical American. Flowers in lieu of a pastry is appropriate too. Candy is dandy. Avoid going into a cafe and ordering coffee in France while not in the presence of a French person. You will pay more and be judged non-French. It helps to understand the culture if you know in advance that the French don’t like waiting in line. Always be on time. It is important to know and say, “Excusez-moi” when about to ask for help from anyone French.
I finally located Salasc on a map of France. It’s about 3 square miles and has a population of a little more than 300 people. I will visit it on my Peloton again but will probably not try to go there when foreign travel is possible.