We had noticed the campervans circling like vultures over a dying carcass, but hadn't realised they were waiting for our parking spot until that very moment. They would have to wait, we had things to do at the bank.
Deeply engaged as we were in discussing exactly what we would buy from the bakery for morning tea before we departed, we joined the queue in the bank and settled in for our wait. Eventually with hearts in throats because the technical nature of the discussion we were about to have was far beyond our abilities in the language stakes, it was our turn.
I laid our bank details and identification documents on the counter and contemporaneously launched into my well rehearsed apology for our inadequacies in the area of communication. The bank chap politely butted in, throwing me entirely off my game.
"Credit Agricole" he said, reciting the name of our bank clearly set out on the letterhead before launching in to a short but undecipherable tirade, while tapping on my documents.
"Yes, that's right" I replied, expecting some resistance as, after all that is what happens in banks.
He then repeated his whole diatribe, and again I ignored him and pressed on with my enquiry.
Everyone except us has a story about how hard it is to get assistance when one doesn't speak the local language. We had escaped to date, but now it was our turn. Clearly I had a tough one here.
He seemed a bit perplexed, although not at all frustrated, and said something that sounded like "No you are here" pointing as he did to the wall behind us.
"Well yes I know I am here" I replied, not completely certain of where the conversation was heading, although at that precise moment a rather large light bulb deep within my brain switched itself on.
We were standing in the chambers of a bank whose name sounded very much like the French word for "here", not actually the one we had intended to be in. Engrossed in thoughts of morning tea, we had actually wandered in to a bank almost a city block from the one we sought, an establishment very much in competition with our own. Much laughter, heart felt apology and slapping of backs later, we shook hands with the long suffering banker, no doubt no longer feeling any benefit from his day off yesterday, and departed for the correct address, where we had even less success with obtaining assistance.
It was time to retreat we thought, before the canal became as dry a gully as the one's we'd been running up all morning. The water by that time was so low that our exit was about as close to off-roading as one can get in a boat, but after several hours we were again in safe water and ready to resume our travels.