Watching television shows and movies in the target language is a great way to learn the (real) language, but it is even better if you can read along with the subtitles while watching and listening. Most linguistics studies and language students agree, but someone needs to tell the producers of DVDs this. I am still amazed that there are several French movies and TV series on DVD that include absolutely NO subtitles at all – not even for the deaf & hard of hearing population, which is extremely unfair and a bit insulting. Even though the loi sur le handicap from 2005 stated that the seven main French television stations must subtitle 100% of their programs from February 2010 on, this does not mean that the DVDs also include the subtitles.
I bought the first season of Les Bleus: Premiers Pas dans la Police last summer after seeing it on M6. It is actually a decent French show that is not a rip-off of an American show, and it includes plenty of slang and informal language. There are subtitles when it is broadcast on M6 and its sister channel W9, but the DVDs have no subtitles at all. Consequently, I am not going to buy the 2nd/3rd season DVD set because it’s not very useful to me. I’ll just wait until it is on TV again and record it on my Freebox. Luckily the one other French TV series that I like, Kaamelott, does include subtitles and it’s really funny so I recommend it to all French learners.
However, finding subtitles for French series like Les Bleus is practically impossible since most subtitles are not created for language learning purposes or even for the deaf community, but so that foreign programs can be watched in the original language or because no one wants to wait months and months for a dubbed version to air in their country. Most of these subtitle websites offer .srt files which means you have to watch on your computer with VLC, though you can hardcode the subtitles if you really want to create your own DVD or just hook up your computer to your TV screen. Sometimes the synchronization is not exact, so you might need to add or subtract a few seconds.
For anyone else in France, adslTV is a great program for watching TV on your computer if you subscribe to Free, SFR, Orange, Alice or Bouygues. Not all channels can be watched through adslTV (most notably, TF1, M6 and W9 do not allow it) but you can turn on the subtitles and record programs to your hard drive. I use it often for watching and recording shows on the three RAI channels because I can’t always turn on the subtitles with my Freebox but I can with adslTV, so it’s helping a lot with improving my comprehension of Italian.
The site Medias-soustitres, which was created by volunteers for the deaf community, also has a list of French DVDs that do include subtitles since a lot of online stores (Amazon.fr I’m talking about you!) don’t always include proper information about what subtitles are available.
Académie en ligne is the official website of Education Nationale in France that provides support materials for all courses in public schools so that students can continue learning during the summer. The site was launched last summer, but I had forgotten until This French Life posted about it. It’s designed for all students from CP to Terminale (kindergarten through senior year for the Americans) but I like to use it to improve my French and learn more about certain topics from a French perspective. The subjects available are: German, English, Chinese, Spanish, French, History-Geography, Math, Philosophy, Physics-Chemistry, Life & Earth Science, Economics & Social Science, and Experimental Sciences & Technology.
Of course I’m most interested in the language and geography sections, and I have to say the materials for German and French are pretty useful. Not only are there exercises and the answers (in PDF format) to download, but also audio resources that go with the documents. You can use the DownThemAll add-on for Firefox to download the PDFs at once and the best part is: this is all free! I love free language learning materials! I really wish they had Italian materials too since that’s what I’m focusing on at the moment. More students study Italian than German or Chinese in France so I’m a little confused as to why it’s not included.
It’s worth checking out just to see what it is French students learn in school, and English assistants or tutors could probably use the (British English) materials in their classes. Plus the Mon Cahier d’Europe site has a neat booklet on European Union members, an online game you can play to test your knowledge, and a few links to learn more about the EU.
Last year a friend of mine who had recently immigrated to Quebec sent me a link to a great website about learning Canadian French. The URL was simply learncanadianfrench.com and the site included grammar and vocabulary specific to Quebec as well as several videos of Quebecois songs and examples of Quebecois speech. It was an extremely useful site for learning the Quebecois accent and understanding another variety of French. I noticed the updates stopped in late 2009 but I only recently checked the actual website and found that it was gone.
I want to learn Canadian French too!
I created a Playlist in YouTube for most of the artists who appeared on the site (plus other famous French Canadian singers), but I would really like to access the rest of the information, especially on pronunciation. The RSS feed only goes back until the end of October and the site is not yet archived in the Wayback Machine. If anyone knows how to get in touch with Kevin, the author of the site, please let me know. It’s such a shame that this valuable resource has disappeared from the internet.
Even if you don’t like rap in English, it pays to listen to it in foreign languages because the songs are usually full of informal language and slang as well as cultural references. Here are some songs that also teach you verlan (a “backwards” form of slang), French geography, Francophone names, common acronyms and the reduction of the schwa vowel.
Sinik & Diam’s: Le Même Sang French rap from famous rappers who are not français de souche. Sinik is Franco-Algerian and Diam’s was born in Cyprus. Most French rappers have origins in Francophone Africa, such as MC Solaar who is Senegalese (though his parents were from Chad) or come from Marseille and have a distinct accent.
Grand Corps Malade: Les Voyages en Train Not exactly rap or hip-hop, but slam poetry, or le slam in French. It’s much easier to understand! This poem gives us lots of vocabulary for taking the train in France.
Zaho: C’est Chelou More hip-hop than rap, but there’s verlan in the title. Chelou comes from louche, which means shady, dodgy, sketchy, etc. Also shows us what a typical French douchebag looks like so you know who to avoid.
Read the lyrics here. Vocabulary: chelou, taspé, taffer
Koxie: Garçon If you take off the cedilla, you’re left with garcon, or gare aux cons. Gare here does not mean train station, but is the slang verb for watch out/beware and con is a really common insult, meaning jerk/idiot/asshole. Not all men are jerks of course, but the ones who harass you on the streets of Paris are.
Read lyrics here. Vocabulary: gâterie, baiser, défoncer, quéquette, pote, bordel, galère, con, cochonne (careful! some of these words are considered vulgar!)
Fatal Bazooka: Fous ta cagoule ! Michaël Youn is more known as a comedian/actor but his parody band actually has become quite successful in France. This was their first single from 2006, which reached number 1 on French charts and satirizes typical French rap from Marseille in addition to slam, and which teaches us that it is cold in Savoie so you need to put on your ski mask.
Read the lyrics here. Vocabulary: grelots, boules, Vesoul, Savoie, Picard, putain, espèce de fils de ****
Palmashow: Rap des Prénoms Another comedic group that teaches us French names and what it implies about the person. Eric, Bruno, and Teddy are firemen. Gérard is an alcoholic. Michael and Kévin are showoffs. Sylvie, Martine, and Annick work at supermarkets.
It’s too hot for me to stay at the computer and do a real update. It was about 37° C / 98.6° F here today and it’s still not that cool at 10 PM. The Tour de France started in Chambéry this afternoon before heading down to Gap and I feel sorry for the cyclists who had to deal with this heat. Unlike the rest of France, it has not rained here at all. Normally I love the heat but without air conditioning or a pool, I’m a little over it.
As today is la fête nationale in France (NOT Bastille Day! French people have no idea what that is), here are some new resources for gaining exposure to French language and culture, especially for my fellow Americans:
The news channel France 24 is now available everywhere in the United States on the DISH network in its original French version. Previously, only a few states had access to the English version.
TV5Monde (also available on DISH network) has a new program dedicated to Francophone related events throughout America: Rendez-vous d’Amérique
France finally created an official tourism website for the entire country, www.france.fr, that was officially launched today. It also includes information for residents of France who are studying or working here instead of just visiting as a tourist, available in 5 languages: French, English, German, Italian and Spanish. Unfortunately the servers have already crashed because so many people were accessing the site so it is currently down. Hopefully it will be back online soon!
David’s grandmother was born in France in 1932. Her parents are from the towns of Bassano del Grappa and Solagna, in the region of Veneto, Italy. Her father, Antonio Tosetto, came to France in 1929 to escape le camicie nere (the blackshirts, or Fascists) while her mother, Maria Todesco, stayed behind in Bassano until he could find a place to settle. He wasn’t heading for any particular town, but he came upon Annecy and decided to stay there. At this point, there were already 4 children born, though one would die at 18 months because an incompetent doctor gave her the wrong medicine. Maria finally went to Annecy with the 3 remaining children in 1931 and quickly became naturalized as a French citizen, just as her husband had done. Mamie (colloquial French for grandma) was born a year later, the first of the rest of the seven children to be born in France and not Italy. Mamie’s parents never spoke Italian again once they arrived in France (Annecy was occupied first by the Italians and then the Germans), and Mamie never learned to speak it. Even the first 3 children who had been born in Italy forgot their native language and only spoke French for the rest of their lives.
From Annecy to Bassano del Grappa
Mamie is now 78 years old and had been wanting to go to Italy to see where her parents came from practically her entire life. Bassano del Grappa is about 585 km / 365 miles from Annecy, which to my American brain means that it is right next door and incredibly easy to get to. But no one in the family had been able to take her there, whether because of the cost or the “distance” or the fact that it’s in a different country and a lot of the family members hate to travel or even leave Annecy. So when David mentioned it, I immediately set a date and booked the trip because unfortunately Mamie won’t be around forever and I did not want her to have any regrets in her life. Even though it’s only about 6 hours from Annecy, we decided to fly so that she wouldn’t be stuck in a car all day with her aching legs since she wouldn’t be able to stretch them out properly. That turned out to be a huge mistake, but at least Mamie got to fly on a plane for the first time in her life.
First flight at 78 years old
I booked an apartment at Il Magicorto Agriturismo Bed & Breakfast in the countryside just outside of Bassano del Grappa after reading about it in Le Guide du Routard. It was AMAZING. If you are ever anywhere near Venice or Padova or Vicenza or Verona, you should stay here! It was only about a 1.5 hour drive from the Venice airport. There are two apartments on the ground floor (with wide bathrooms for the handicapped) and six regular rooms upstairs, and they all have TV, internet and air conditioning. There is also a restaurant, but it is closed in July & August.
Entrance of Il Magicorto
Elena was such a gracious host and made sure Mamie had everything she needed. Mamie adored her and said she reminded her of her own mother because she was so lovely and nice (and Italian, of course!). The Bed & Breakfast was in a beautiful yard next to the farm, so we had plenty of place to relax outside and we ate dinner at the picnic table every night. Every morning Elena offered us a delicious crostata with home-made jam and fresh cheese and salami. She even gave us eggs from the farm and they were the best eggs I have ever had in my life. Another great thing about Il Magicorto?
GATTINI!!! / KITTENS!!!
EVERYBODY LOVES KITTENS!!!
You have no idea how badly I wanted to bring them home…
We spent plenty of time in Bassano del Grappa, wandering the streets where Mamie’s parents walked, visiting the church where they got married, and taking photos of the Ponte Vecchio, also called the Ponte degli Alpini. We drove north of Bassano to find Solagna, the village where Maria originally came from before meeting Antonio. Before WWII, the border with Austria was much closer to Bassano than it is today and Maria’s parents worked as tobacco smugglers, but Maria herself was too young to work. Antonio worked as a barber in Bassano. Maria and her sisters often went there because it was the larger city, and one day Antonio saw her in the street and thought she had le gambe più belle del mondo (the most beautiful legs in the world)… and the rest is history.
We returned to Bassano the following day because of the mercato and Mamie bought herself an adorable hat. Then we ate pizza and gelato, of course.
Since we had plenty of time on Sunday, we drove down to Verona before heading to the airport in Venice. It was the hottest day yet so we only stayed for an hour, taking pictures around the arena and trying to stay in the shade.
I’m going to end the story there because you all know what happened next! In spite of how the trip ended, Mamie still said it was the best vacation she’s ever been on and the best gift anyone has ever given her. She has fully recovered -we hope – after resting all this week. I don’t know if she’ll ever go back to Italy, but David & I might try to drive her to Valle d’Aosta, an autonomous region bordering France that has both Italian & French as their official languages. It used to be a part of the Kingdom of Savoy, just like the pays de Savoie in France, except that it joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 instead of being annexed to France as Savoie was in 1860. But for now I think Mamie is content with her memories and photos of Bassano del Grappa, as well as the soil she took from the ground of Solagna to remember her mother.
I got an e-mail from Easyjet that we should be reimbursed for the canceled flight, and a whole 120€ of the nearly 1,000€ we spent on rental cars, gas, and tolls. But who knows when/if we’ll actually receive the money. This morning we also found out that the first rental car company, Locauto, charged us extra for damage to the car that we did not do. They were the only agency at Venice airport that had any cars left to rent, so we had no other option. The car was dirty, the gas tank was half full and there was no physical checking of the car before leaving to report any damage already done. I saw a tiny scratch on the door but assumed that it was already noted on the paper, like had been done with the car we rented from Budget during the vacation. Big mistake. Locauto charged us an extra 75€ even though we wrote a long report about getting the car in an emergency situation. I don’t know what to do now about disputing the charge.
The only other response I’ve gotten from Easyjet is on Twitter (and it wasn’t even directed at me but Zetourist who RTed what I had said), when they said the flight was cancelled, not because they didn’t want to pay their crew overtime, but because it would compromise the flight’s safety if they worked the extra hours. OK… WHAT ABOUT THE SAFETY OF 100 PASSENGERS ABANDONED OVERNIGHT AT A FREAKING AIRPORT WITH NO FOOD OR WATER AND WHO WERE NEARLY THROWN OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK AT 1 AM BY THE COPS??? What about the babies and children who were crying because they were so traumatized? What about grandma who nearly passed out and needed to see the airport doctor to make sure her heart wouldn’t stop beating?
Sorry for going on and on about Easyjet, but I am still a little shaken up about this whole ordeal. I have nightmares that grandma died at the airport and I break into tears just thinking about how frustrated we all were that Easyjet could treat us so badly. And knowing how much money we had to pay frustrates me even more, especially with both car rental companies trying to scam us. I’m not going to stop until Easyjet has reimbursed us for EVERYTHING because 1,000€ is a huge chunk of money for us.
Seeing the article from 2 years ago “Les passagers du vol Venise-Lyon se rebellent” makes me even more angry that they’ve been doing this for so long. Almost the exact same thing happened, except at least those passengers got a hotel and food. How can companies get away with this? Doesn’t anyone sue in Europe? Easyjet clearly breaks the law and deny passengers their rights. I’m certainly going to “porter plainte” here in France.
I know people always say “you get what you pay for” but why is that we must be rich in order to be treated decently? Why can’t poor people be treated equally? That’s actually why I preferred low-cost airlines in the first place. There is no first or business class and everyone is treated the same. But now I refuse to fly low-cost for fear of being treated like garbage again and I can’t afford regular airlines where I’m still treated a little like garbage for being in economy class and not at the front of the plane.
Looks like I’ll be sticking to driving (though now I’m also afraid to rent cars for fear of being ripped off) and taking the train when I can actually afford to travel again.
Update August 6: I did receive reimbursement for the canceled flight, but still nothing for the alternative travel costs.
I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, grandma is fine now and resting at home. We finally got her back to Annecy at 2 am this morning after waiting at the airport for 17 hours and then driving all day from Venice. We hadn’t slept at all and barely eaten anything so we had to stop several times along the way, including a change of rental cars in Turin. Let’s go back to where I left off at 3 am when I last posted from the airport.
To recap, our flight was supposed to take off from Venice at 6:15pm Sunday. The flight was already delayed by 2 hours when we arrived at the airport. Then it was constantly delayed later and later, and at midnight they finally cancelled it. Our plane never made it to Venice to pick us up because it had to land in Verona because of the storm and then it stayed there (we heard rumors of a mechanical problem, but later we learned that the crew would have to work overtime if they brought the plane to Venice, and Easyjet did not want to pay them the extra money). After the cancellation, there was an announcement to collect baggage from the carousel. Between 6pm and 1am, that was the only announcement about our flight. We only knew about the landing in Verona because some people had smartphones and found information online. David & I didn’t check any baggage so we decided to stay next to the gate, expecting an Easyjet representative to arrive and give us hotel vouchers or at least some information about what to do.
After 6 hours of waiting, cancellato
Easyjet does not have an office at the Venice airport and the people who work on Easyjet flights are not actual Easyjet employees. They had no information to give us, and then they quickly left the airport after making the announcement about collecting baggage. The few of us remaining at the gate decided to go upstairs and see what we were supposed to do and that’s when we discovered that we had been completely abandoned by Easyjet. We would not get any hotel accommodations or transportation, or even food or water. The only reason they had made an announcement about collecting baggage was so that we would exit the airport and be left on the street to fend for ourselves, because the airport is supposed to close after the last flight arrives and no passengers are supposed to be inside.
Luckily we quickly realized that we were being tricked and refused to leave the airport. This was at 1 am and we had no idea what to do or where to go anyway. There was no public transportation or even taxis at that hour so we would basically be standing outside on the sidewalk if we left. So it was about 100 people abandoned by Easyjet vs. a dozen cops who desperately wanted to kick us out and go home. For the time being, we won. We camped out at security knowing that at 5 am, passengers for morning flights would arrive and see us there.
Staying put at the end of the security lines
We stayed up all night, waiting for an Easyjet representative to arrive. She finally came around at 5 am but was completely useless (turns out she was just the airport’s liaison for Easyjet anyway). There are no Easyjet flights Venice-Lyon on Mondays and the flight on Tuesday was full. We could try to get on the AirFrance flight to Lyon that same morning, but it would cost 450€ and there were only 6 tickets available. There was no extra plane to come get us and take us home, but maybe there would be a bus. Maybe. And we did not want to subject grandma to a 10 hour bus ride where she couldn’t lie down and put her aching legs up. I think we got breakfast around 6am (one croissant! ooh thanks!) but that was all Easyjet was willing to do. [David just informed me that it was in fact the airport and not Easyjet who gave us breakfast.] Easyjet did not care there were children and the elderly or that we had no food or water all night. They did not care that we had to fight with the cops to even stay inside the airport even though we should have been given hotel vouchers.
Sleeping at airports is normal in the US, but in Europe they (try to) kick you out
We formed a wall behind the security lines and made signs denouncing Easyjet and chanted “Easyjet, un avion, pour rentrer à la maison!” (A plane to go home!) Curious passengers asked us what had happened and I made sure all the Anglophones coming through knew our situation (I was the only American/Anglophone on the flight). Luckily I had my brought my netbook so we could get online and have contact with the outside world since most of our cellphones were dead or didn’t work outside of France. I passed it around so that people could get information about contacting the press and hopefully getting some journalists to come to the airport.
Grandmas on the couch borrowed from a VIP lounge
And then grandma started feeling sick. She hadn’t slept much and barely eaten anything. There was nowhere comfortable for her to lie flat so she had to sit most of the night and the tension in her legs was really painful. She said she felt nauseated and might vomit. We asked the cops to call the doctor and they made sure we understood that we could not return if we left the area (the first aid station was on the floor below), but I think grandma’s health was more important than trying to get Easyjet to treat us humanely at that point. The doctor came up to get us and we followed her downstairs, saying goodbye to the other passengers because we probably wouldn’t see them again. We wished them luck and hoped they would make it home by the end of day.
Grandma is 78 years old with rheumatoid arthritis. She has trouble walking and takes several medications for age-related illnesses. Her blood pressure was really low and the doctor gave her oxygen and some other medication that I don’t remember because I nearly passed out. I was so hungry and tired and worried about grandma and just wanted to go home. I knew that our only option would be to rent a car and drive back to Lyon and that it would be a really long day and really, really expensive. Needless to say, I was almost in tears and wanted to punch someone.
Grandma got some rest while we tried to find an agency to rent us a car, but we had no luck. An extremely nice airport worker who pushed grandma’s wheelchair helped find an agency that would let us rent a car but we had to leave it in Turin, which is slightly more than halfway to Lyon. The man also said that all the other airport workers hate Easyjet as much as we do because they constantly strand passengers and it’s up to the airport to help them out afterwards even though they are Easyjet’s responsibility. He kept saying vergogna! (shame!) and made grandma laugh and we were so grateful that the Venice airport employees knew how awful our situation was and were willing to help us.
We drove straight to Turin, stopping several times since we hadn’t slept all night, and then had trouble finding another car to get us back to Lyon. The only company that would let us drop off the car in France wanted 567€. We could not return the car to Turin the next day because David needed to work ( he had already missed Monday obviously) plus it’s about 3 hours away. We had trouble with our bank cards too since they also needed to charge a 900€ deposit, which of course we did not have in our bank accounts. I don’t regularly have 1500€ just lying around in my bank account, sorry Europcar. American Express to the rescue though. I honestly don’t know what we would have done if I didn’t have my American credit cards with me. We took off again and made it back to Lyon airport around 10 pm and came across another extremely nice employee who took off some charges since the Turin office was trying to rip us off with fake charges on the rental contract. She got the final price down to 492€, of which 350€ was the ridiculous “abandon” fee for leaving the car in France and not Italy. It’s all Europe, so what the hell does it matter??? Lyon is closer to Turin than Venice!
We actually ran into another passenger at the car rental office and she said they did eventually get a bus to bring them back to Lyon, but that things with the cops got bad in Venice after we left that morning. The woman with the baby had been promised a hotel room since she was taking another flight Tuesday morning, but when she arrived at the hotel, she was sent away because they didn’t have any rooms. She was hysterical by the time she got back to the airport because she had been lied to and didn’t know what to do for another 24 hours until her flight. Some other passengers were trying to help her and calm her down, and with the confusion of the Italian-French translations and the fact that everyone had been stuck at the airport for 18 hours already, something happened and the cops felt provoked and hit one of the passengers. And then the Togolese man, who had been extremely helpful acting as a translator the entire time, was blamed. Racist bastards.
Another passenger commented on the video: It was the French Consulate in Venice that got the bus for them to come home!
I am thoroughly disgusted with the way Easyjet and the police treated us. How can you abandon your paying customers overnight? How can you not make sure that people are taken care of? How can you just not care at all? David & I had already planned another trip with Easyjet in August (flights + car rental), but we’ve decided to never fly with them again. Now I’m dealing with trying to get reimbursed for the canceled flight, and losing money on the flights we definitely won’t be taking, and going insane trying to find out how to cancel my car reservation as well. I swear the “remove car rental” option does not exist even though their FAQ claims that’s all you need to do. I guess I can kiss another 245€ goodbye. How shady can you get, Easyjet?
We already had to pay nearly 1,000€ on the car rentals, gas and tolls alone so we can’t even afford the trip in August anyway. We may be poor but at least we have grandma, and we’d like to keep it that way. She had her best vacation ruined and her health damaged by the inhumane treatment. We spent a wonderful three days in Italy where she was able to see where her parents came from, something she had wanted to do her entire life. And to have it end with us being abandoned in an airport just makes me sick to my stomach. I am beyond frustrated that companies get away with abusing their customers like this. I’ve heard several horror stories of airlines (especially low-cost) treating passengers like dirt, and even though I’ve never had a bad experience with Easyjet before, this experience is more than enough to prevent me from ever giving them business again.
I hope the other passengers of flight EZY4468 have all made it back home safely by now. David said he did see some journalists at the airport right before we left on Monday morning at 9 am, so maybe our voices and frustration will be heard.
1. I got a response from Easyjet that we should be reimbursed for the canceled flight (which I did receive), and a whole 120€ of the nearly 1,000€ we spent on rental cars, gas, and tolls (which of course I never received). The only other response I’ve gotten is on Twitter (and it wasn’t even directed at me but Zetourist who RTed what I had said), when they said the flight was canceled not because they didn’t want to pay their crew overtime, but because it would compromise the flight’s safety if they worked the extra hours. OK… WHAT ABOUT THE SAFETY OF 100 PASSENGERS ABANDONED OVERNIGHT AT A FREAKING AIRPORT WITH NO FOOD OR WATER AND WHO WERE NEARLY THROWN OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK AT 1 AM BY THE COPS??? What about the babies and children who were crying because they were so traumatized? What about grandma who nearly passed out and needed to see the airport doctor to make sure her heart wouldn’t stop beating?
2. Apparently this also happened 2 years ago with the same Venice-Lyon flight! This article from June 2008 titled “Les passagers du vol Venise-Lyon se rebellent” (in French, but I will translate it soon) says the flight was cancelled and the passengers were abandoned by Easyjet at the airport, the same as us! There were even problems with the Italian police. The major difference is that they eventually did get a hotel and food. We got absolutely nothing from Sleazyjet.
3. A month later, I have written to Easyjet again to request compensation of 750€ (250€ per person on flights less than 1500 km according to Regulation 261/204 of the European Parliament and the European Council) since they clearly broke the law by not providing information, food, water or hotel accommodation and there is no way the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances, though I’m sure they will try to claim that. If they still don’t respond, I will get the Direction générale de l’Aviation Civile involved here in France and get compensation through them.
We had a great time in Italy until we tried to get back to France. Our flight was scheduled for 6:15pm on July 4th. It is now 3:42am July 5th and we are still in Venice. The flight was delayed later and later until finally at midnight, it was cancelled. There were storms here tonight, but every other flight was able to take off except ours. There were no announcements at all the entire time from Easyjet so we had no idea what was going on.
Then we find out all the Easyjet crew had left the airport and there was no one to help us. One hundred passengers abandoned at an airport that was closing. The police wanted us all to leave, but go where? All of the hotels are supposedly booked because of the festival, and there’s no public transportation after 1 am anyway.
So we’re still camping out at the security area, annoying the police who were supposed to go home hours ago. Luckily they haven’t kicked us outside yet.
Easyjet is supposed to pay for a hotel and give us food and water and telephone calls when a flight is cancelled. I’m sure they’ll find a reason to say it was beyond their control and it was an extraordinary circumstance (because storms never happen, right?) so our passenger rights don’t have to be respected. I am thoroughly disgusted at the way people are treated. I’ve seen too many children crying and old people suffering that I feel sick.
I know these things happen when dealing with flying and airports, but this is the first time I’ve ever experienced something this bad. People are missing work, have no access to medication they need, and no one will help us. It’s not like there was a volcanic eruption. It was a storm that passed in an hour and every other flight at this airport was able to take off.
Low-cost airlines might be a good deal, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to buy a ticket from them again knowing how they treat human beings.
Bassano del Grappa is in the province of Vicenza in northern Italy. The parents of David’s maternal grandmother came from this city, and we are taking Mamie there so she can finally see where her parents lived. They moved to France in 1931 because they were against fascism, and they stopped speaking Italian as soon as they settled in Annecy. Mamie was born a year later, and so she is a French citizen and speaks only French. This will be her first time outside of France and first time on an airplane (we’re flying Lyon to Venice). She’s 78 years old and has always wanted to see Italy and I am happy to be able to finally take her there.
If you subscribe to the French Listening Resources podcast, I recently uploaded a 5 part interview with Mamie about her life in Annecy during World War II. It’s all in French, of course, but I hope to transcribe and translate it into English before the end of summer.
Wish me luck on translating from Italian to French!