Context: For the last 20 years we have traveled by way of B&Bs in North America, Italy, Spain and France. Over all this time, we count only two serious disappointments.
Unfortunately, our eight nights at the Clos Mariotte (Vouvray), in the Marans room, added a third.
There was a surprise at the start of our relationship, when the hostess demanded we fax her a signed contract. This was the first time ever we had been asked that, but we complied. (The hostess graciously forwent asking for a deposit, recognizing that the overseas transaction cost is exorbitant.) But things became stranger when, in an email shortly before we left, she asked us to bring something from our home country, in return of which she would offer us a Vouvray wine. This was again the first time we were ever asked for this. We replied that we would not be in a position to bring the wine back with us but offered to bring a gift, worth about $10. We handed over our offering at the first breakfast.
On the morning of our arrival we had called from our previous lodging to say that we expected to arrive around noon. In rather sharp tones, we were told that we were not welcome until 6 p.m.
When shown the room, we were rather disappointed. The space turned out to be quite tight and we now realized that only a curtain separates the bathroom + toilet from the bedroom.
Then one disappointment followed another. At breakfast the same jar of jam would appear over and over. The choice of bread diminished by the day. The hostess does not appear to possess a teapot. Halfway through we were offered clean towels (but no clean washcloth) but we slept in the same sheets for eight warm nights. The bed was never made up. Once she offered to vacuum the room, which we declined, there being hardly any space worth vacuuming. With such failure of service, one would expect to be offered a discount for an 8-night stay.
The conversations at breakfast were painful. Her touristic advice was delivered in a tone resembling orders, not suggestions. While our French is fairly good, she spoke rapidly and did not enunciate well. When we asked to repeat something, she did by speaking very slowly, as if we were imbeciles.
After five days we finally asked about that Vouvray. She disappeared in her troglodyte cellar and returned with an unlabelled bottle of carbonated wine, never having asked whether we preferred still or bubbly.
One morning we observed a conversation between the hostess and her adult son as he was leaving the house. She spoke in the same brusque tone as in our conversations with us.
The conclusion is clear: For the sake of the reputation of French hospitality, Florence Hardouin should quit the business and look for work that does not involve interaction with any public.
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