Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites

Nicola Harrington

We have just spent two days away visiting Tours and Poitiers.

Breakfast has to be my favourite meal, and hotel breakfasts are the best… but it is interesting how we approach the buffet style breakfast.

I head straight for the loose tea, fruit, cereals, yoghurt, “seeded”’ breads, and a rather interesting spicy cake, whereas Mark bypasses this section and is checking out the bacon, sausages, eggs and toast, and washes it down with a large cafetiere of strong black coffee.

I look across to our table: Iona and Joe are dunking their croissants in huge cups of steaming hot chocolate.

“No!” I inwardly scream.. I abandon my muesli and race past the other hotel guests to our table to plead with our children to please show some manners and to stop dunking. I arrive too late, and as I reach the table, Iona has poured her cereal into her cup of hot chocolate.

“What are you doing?” I hiss.

They look bewildered. “Why are you dunking your croissant in your hot chocolate? You have never done that at home so why do it here?”

“I always dunk my croissant when I go for a sleepover chez Louisa. All the French do it. Look at that lady behind you” Iona replies.

I turn, not entirely subtly, and yes, behind me, a rather respectable business woman is dunking her pain au chocolat into her coffee.

“Are you sure it is acceptable French behaviour to ‘dunk’?” I ask my ten year old daughter.

“Yes, of course it is. Louisa’s father dunks camembert in his coffee at breakfast time” Iona replies.

“What is with the cereal?” I ask.

“Well, after you have dunked your bread in the hot chocolate, you put the cereal in the hot chocolate, and after you have eaten the cereal, you drink the chocolate. Do you want to try a ‘real’ French breakfast?” she asks grinning.

I return to retrieve my muesli. My stomach is not up to the ‘real’ French breakfast.

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