I'm here in Lyon, France with my coworker Craig, and I just had an excellent dinner. We just arrived here and (background-) I remember a tiny bit of French from high school. It's very rusty, though, and I'm nervous to break it out. I hear that, especially in Paris, where I'll be in a few days or so, they find tourist-types annoying. I am most certainly a tourist-type and American for crying out loud, but gosh darnit, I like to be liked. What I'm getting at is that I want to practice French and try to be polite by speaking the language, but I'm afraid it will sound terrible and that they'll run me out of town with pitchforks when all I want is to be liked, or at least ignored in kind of a neutral way.
The guy at the front desk of our hotel gave us a map and some directions of places we'd want to go for dinner and overpriced tourist traps we'd want to avoid. When it came time to tackle dinner, I looked at the map and got us going in the right direction. We passed up a bunch of places before coming to a little hole in the wall place (of course, right?) that looked like it had a decent menu. I practiced asking for a table for two but we had to ask in English if they took American Express. Luckily they spoke English and also didn't mind me trying to hack away with requests mumbled in French.
I got a delicious warm goat cheese salad for starters and then Craig and I both had handmade sausage with potatoes. We asked for a glass of wine and the waiter asked if we wanted something lighter or heavier, en Francais. I didn't quite understand, but the couple next to us wanted to help and explained by gesturing what he was asking. It was nice of them! We wound up raising our glasses with the locals, like a gosh-darn movie where an unhappy, recently divorced woman goes to Paris and connects with the locals and figures out how to live life to the fullest.
The whole meal was great. People were helpful, I feel like I got a little better and certainly a little more confident with French (the first step in a journey of 1,000 miles and all), and the food itself was delicious. It was just different enough that it felt like we got some good local fare, but not so different that the miserable little picky eater in me was put off.
Tomorrow we have the whole day off, and I'm looking forward to sightseeing, shopping and just basically soaking it in.