Monday, June 13, 2011

Where Carte Bancaire Is Not Welcome

We were just getting into the car after a couple hours wandering around the castle of Saissac when the noon church bells started chiming. To me, this is always a good sound because it means restaurants in France will begin serving lunch. Not a minute before. Then we realized that there was a welcoming restaurant just across from the car park, and the sun was shining for the first time in nearly two weeks. Serendipity! We picked the table in the fullest sun, ordered lunch and a pichet of rose, and felt good. Doug's quiche lorraine starter literally hung over the edges of the plate so I easily talked him into a few bites. His chicken curry and my lasagne evaporated before I even thought of taking a few photos of the presentation. We rarely have coffee with lunch, but this day we just didn't want to abandon the sunshine after the slimy weather we had been suffering.

The proprietor, who had earlier proudly told us that he had been to New York, brought the bill. When I handed him my Carte Bancaire card, he both verbally and demonstratively indicated that he did not take that card. I offered my Visa, but soon discovered no plastic was acceptable. He suggested a check, which I did not have. I asked him why he did not accept credit cards, a young man sitting at the bar responded something to the effect that "we are not Parisians." The proprietor concurred, with a sense of honor in his demeanor. I suggested that I would go to the bank and asked where the nearest CredAg was. "Carcassonne" I was told. That didn't seem logical at the time. I scoured my purse for Euros, turning up no paper bills but only small coinage being saved to use at vide greniers. I had approximately 18 Euros, which I offered to apply to the 40 Euro bill.

The proprietor then asked me for an ID, and I understood that he would hold it ransom until I mailed him a check. Upon receipt of my payment he would return mail my driver's license. Since the Leran La Poste wasn't open Friday, my chauffeur drove me to Laroque d'Olmes. Within thirty minutes of transacting my business at La Poste, I regretted not including a self-addressed stamped envelope to make the proprietor's part easier. With no mail delivery on Monday (the day after Pentecost) I don't expect my check to arrive until Wednesday.

In the meanwhile, if anyone sees my Colorado driver's license being offered for sale on Ebay, please let me know. I'd include a photo of it for authenticity, but I'm unable to right now. I'm also making sure I carry some real cash with me from now on.


Bill Minckler said...

Why didn't you just dine and dash?

Oh, I forgot, Doug's knee.

Linda said...

Brings to mind my first time shopping at Sax and Fryer's in Livingston. I loaded up with a stack of books. The very nice woman rung them up. I handed her my Visa card. She told me there was a bank a block away where I could get some real money and put my books to the side until I returned with cash.

Tom and I also ran into this problem at a wonderful bed-and-breakfast where we stayed for two days in Argentina. It was in the middle of a national park at the base of the Fitzroy range and it was my 50th birthday. We ran up a huge bill with their sumptuous dinners and our two nights of luxury after camping and backpacking for two weeks. Then we found out they don't take credit cards and the nearest bank was about 80 km away and we had only about half the cash we needed.

They were nice enough to let us mail them the money when we got back to the city. We included a bunch extra for tips for the housekeepers and waiters and for apology money. How embarrassing.

The assumption that everyone takes plastic makes traveling much easier until you run into the Luddites of the world.

On the other hand, try traveling WITHOUT a credit card: No rental cars allowed. Many hotels won't let you check in. Very hard to make reservations. Etc, etc.

But then if traveling were always convenient, it would never be an adventure.