Strange Travel Encounter – Care For Au Pair?

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Our self guided tour of the Champagne region was on its last leg, one last enjoyable train ride to the Gare De L’est train station. Fresh off our 4th tasting of the day, a college aged Parisian girl walks up to me and hands me a piece of paper.

I’m sure Mrs. Weekly Flyer’s mind was racing as the young girl handed over a note and we exchanged a few words in French. This is just one of our unexpected encounters while traveling abroad.

This was our second trip to Paris on our way back to the U.S. from a 9 night stay on the Indian Ocean island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius. We had decided to spend 4 nights in (Park Hyatt) and around Paris after we landed at CDG onboard the Air France 747 in Business Class. Since we had booked a Delta award, we could add a stopover of up to 5 nights, but 4 seemed enough for our purposes. We’d dine at fine French restaurants and take a day trip up to indulge in some of the best effervescence France had to offer.

Eiffel Tower Paris France

I planned a self guided tour to a few select champagne houses in Reims / Eperney, the home to some of the most famous champagne houses in all of France. I booked a round trip train ride and contacted the houses in advance. There was no need to rent a car as the town was relatively small and a taxi ride could supplement walking quite well.

We sampled some great ones including Vueve Clicquot, Tattinger, but our most memorable champagne tasting was at Pommery.

Pommery’s tour began with a long walk down to the chalk caves. The stories of how the Champagne has been cared for over the ages was fascinating but most interesting was the live art show upon entering the chalk caves.

After walking down 60 or so steps we traipsed through drapes and into a well light room set up with electric guitars and live birds flying about. Mind you, we were in a chalk cave so were caught a bit by surprise. I have a picture and will post it the next time I’m back home.

Via Yelp

Each time a guest walked through the room the birds would reposition onto a new perch thereby playing a cord on a guitar. It was a live music concert, played by birds. What a fun way to start a tasting tour!

After our last taste of the day we headed back to the Reims train station to catch our train. It was the last of the day so we couldn’t miss it. I printed our tickets and directed Mrs. Weekly Flyer to our car. We settled up with a glass from a bottle we had purchased, a great way to recap the day.

Just after departure is when I first noticed the college aged student listening in on our conversation. A few stops before our destination she made the approach and muddled a few words in French to which I replied “Je ne parle pas français” (I do not speak French). She then handed over a piece of paper and explained in broken English she was looking for a summer job as an au pair for an English family so she could practice her English while working through the summer. We told her we weren’t interested but she insisted we take the piece of paper which had her facebook account information on it, just in case we ended up needing an au pair. As soon as she departed Mrs. Weekly Flyer ripped up the paper and tossed it in the trash.

We made it back to the Park Hyatt and still found it funny we were approached with an au pair offer.

Have you ever had a strange travel encounter? What would you have done or what was your strange travel encounter?

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. Maybe she was looking for something other than an au pair job? I’ve been approached by young women offering to “show me the area” or “I’m a tour guide”. It has been clear they wanted to show me more than I was interested in. 🙂

  2. I am not sure why we need to attribute any more motive than what was stated.
    What would you do as a college student in France looking for a job to learn or practice English?

  3. I am not sure why we need to attribute any more motive than what was stated.
    What would you do as a college student in France looking for a job to learn or practice English?

  4. Hi Dan – Perhaps. Seemed sincere at the time. Funny thing is, when I returned to the U.S. a colleague asked if I knew of any nanny’s available for his kids. I told him I did…:)

  5. I said “maybe” and have no way of knowing the intent of this young woman. I was mainly answering the question asked at the end, namely have I had any strange travel encounters. I’ve also been approached a few times by people who weren’t really panhandling, but who were probably “just plain crazy”.

  6. I know when traveling it is always good to be on your guard, but I personally think you were being a bit harsh here.

    My neighbors hired a French au pair (albeit through an agency) and they are very happy. It is a win-win : the child gets to learn a new language and the au pair gets to experience life in the states.

    Given that there was no immediate solicitation involved (ie let me act as your tour guide) the offer seems legitimate to me. With Facebook info, you can scan through posts/events and do a sort of background check that frankly is probably better than any face-to-face interview.

    Did your wife react the way she did because the French girl was an attractive young woman?

  7. Hi Tony – We were polite, the exchange was more subtle than it may read in text. It is possible that may have been an underlying thought, but then again, we didn’t actually need an au pair and had no kids at the time…

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