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Très bonjour tout à le monde:

One of the joys of being an ex-pat, owning a vacation home, living in a desirable destination location, etc. is the opportunity to have houseguests. This is usually a pleasing, rewarding experience and, in fact, is often one of the reasons for being where one is in the first place.

However, not all houseguests are created equal and while some bring pleasure others may deliver frustration and dysfunction, and who never seem to leave soon enough. (See clip below).

I thought it might be interesting to share some of those stories. We had a former neighbor in the US who, with his wife, was coming to France for a vacation in Burgundy and after that, they planned to see some elderly relative of a friend who lived in an EPHAD near us. We had offered an open invitation and they contacted us to say they were ready to take us up on the offer and stay with us for 3 nights. They are outwardly nice and we never had any problems when we lived a few houses down from them in the US. They are both retired, she is active in community affairs, and he is an avid amateur photographer. He had at least $50k worth of super-high-end digital equipment, Leica and Hasselblad.

As soon as they arrived we suspected trouble, they had already scheduled every minute except for the last evening. It was obvious we were just providing a room. They also immediately told us we needed to upgrade our internal stairs (300+ year-old house).

For two mornings we fetched viennoiserie from the local bakery and served coffee (we have a commercial espresso setup and he is also into coffee). They then disappeared out the door laden with cameras and photo equipment, not to be seen again until well after dark (it was summer, so dark was quite late. As they were leaving on their last full day, we reminded them that we would be making pizza (wood oven) and dinner would be at 20h00 so they should be back around 19h00 for aperos. We spent the day getting the oven fired, it takes a couple of hours to get to a good, hot, stable temperature, making dough, chopping toppings, etc.

19h00, no guests, no word (he had a phone), 20h00, same, finally they arrived back around 21h00. They offered the following apology. They knew we were into coffee and wanted to get us a small house gift, a coffee tamper. So, they had headed off to a town an hour from here to some store he decided would be better than the nearby shops. They then got lost (he had a GPS) and when they finally found the shop it was closed, so they didn't buy a gift. We were more than a bit miffed, and really didn't believe their story, but there was no point in getting uptight about it, and we had a nice, albeit late, dinner (at least the wine had a good chance to breathe). They left the next morning.

Now, if that was the end of the story, it would not have been all that remarkable. However, about a month later I received an email from him saying he was in the midst of updating his personal web page with photos and a report of their trip and he hadn't taken any photos of us or our place. None! On reflection, that was true, we just hadn't noticed it. But, the upshot was, he wanted to know if we had some pictures of our house so he could put them on his page to show off where they had stayed to friends and family.

In a near fit of passive-aggressive behavior, I complied with a small low resolution (320 x 200) image of the house. He asked if I had something with better resolution and I replied we were really bad about taking pictures and had hoped he might have taken some.

Anyone else?



https://youtu.be/tv9yKRcwEEY?t=244
 

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That is pretty bad!!!! did you ever send a better pic?
Nope. And never did get a thank you for their stay either, not by phone, email, or, heaven forbid, post. But, he did post my tiny picture on his web page along with many hi-res shots of the surrounding area taken while they using our "hotel."
 
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I would be tempted to invite myself to stay at their house for a few days, on my next trip back to the USA, and treat them the same way. Possibly with the exact same story about the coffee tamper, since he's into coffee also. :D
 

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I would be tempted to... ... treat them the same way. ...
Well, they do say don't get angry, get even. But, other than slightly bruised egos, we we undamaged and have a fun story to tell. BTW, they never contributed a single thing while they were here: No flowers, wine, croissants... Needless to say, we haven't had much contact since then.

We also had friends who showed up with another couple. The other couple did bring a house gift... a 1/2 eaten saucisson leftover from their ferry trip back from Corsica.
 
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The only horrible houseguest stories I have involve my sister-in-law but somehow I think they're kind of a "family thing" I just don't understand.

One time, she had called to tell us she would be stopping by on her way back from Spain. My husband never seems to ask any questions of his sister when she announces a visit like this. So, when he was going to be working a little late the afternoon of her arrival, I asked him if she was going to be staying overnight and he said, no, he didn't think so. (She lives about 2 hours away, so not an unreasonable drive to get home all in the same day.)

She arrived before he was due to get home, and when I went out to greet her and tell her that her brother would be home shortly, she said that was OK. She then took out her suitcase and said she'd just get settled in in the guestroom before he got home. Needless to say, the guestroom wasn't exactly ready to be receiving guests.

I think that may have been the visit where I offered to let her use the bathroom before me at bedtime and she said, no, she didn't need to. So I went in and brushed my teeth - and when I came out she looked at me rather strangely and asked "Do you always brush your teeth before you go to bed?" (Ever wonder where I got the idea that French hygiene habits are "different?")

Then there was the time she was stopping by on her way back from Spain again, but we knew she was staying the night. Turned up with a family of 4 from Mexico (she also goes to Mexico frequently and had been showing them Spain) - none of whom spoke a word of either English or French, so she was the only person who could talk to them. She announced that she would figure out where everyone could sleep that night. I forget now where everyone wound up, but she was insulted when I suggested that perhaps she or the kids could maybe sleep in the camper, which was the only way I could think of to accommodate so many guests with just one double guest bed and a very rudimentary sofa bed.

I was actually kind of relieved when we wound up converting the "guest bedroom" to a storage room ("the junque room"). The pull out sofa in the living room is actually not very comfortable to sleep on and ever since her choice was that or the camper she decided not to stay overnight with us any more. <ggg>
 

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Well, they do say don't get angry, get even. But, other than slightly bruised egos, we we undamaged and have a fun story to tell. BTW, they never contributed a single thing while they were here: No flowers, wine, croissants... Needless to say, we haven't had much contact since then.

We also had friends who showed up with another couple. The other couple did bring a house gift... a 1/2 eaten saucisson leftover from their ferry trip back from Corsica.
I really don't think your 'friends' are worthy of the title friends .. perhaps I am being too harsh :)
 

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The only horrible houseguest stories I have involve my sister-in-law but somehow I think they're kind of a "family thing" I just don't understand....
Oh, I think family experiences are totally eligible for nomination. Perhaps there should even be a special category.
 

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I really don't think your 'friends' are worthy of the title friends .. perhaps I am being too harsh :)
Well, some languages have degrees of relationships: aquaintances, colleagues, people I know, and friends. American English is a bit impoverished in this respect, virtually everyone we know is our friend, unless of course, they are our BFF. So, to better describe the situation, two former neighbors of ours...
 
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Well, some languages have degrees of relationships: aquaintances, colleagues, people I know, and friends. American English is a bit impoverished in this respect, virtually everyone we know is our friend, unless of course, they are our BFF. So, to better describe the situation, two former neighbors of ours...
Well, during the 30 years I owned my house neighbors were folks you greeted, waved at and perhaps engaged in a brief chat. That's it. And that's how I wanted it - you can't pick your neighbors like you pick your friends. No curation process. Also, I'm a private person and really don't care to have guests who stay overnight.
 

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Well, during the 30 years I owned my house neighbors were folks you greeted, waved at and perhaps engaged in a brief chat. That's it. And that's how I wanted it - you can't pick your neighbors like you pick your friends. No curation process. Also, I'm a private person and really don't care to have guests who stay overnight.
Now that you mention it, people have very different levels of tolerance for "guests" and very different expectations regarding how "friends" and family should receive guests.

When I first got here to France and started getting involved in a couple of expat groups, I heard all sorts of moans from the expats here about friends and family from back home parading through their flats all summer long and feeling more like a hotel than an expat living in Paris.

We've never had much in the way of overnight guests, largely because we don't really have a guest room and the sofa bed I have from long, long ago was purchased with young people in mind - kind of a throw back to my university days - and definitely not practical for hosting adult guests overnight. (The sofa itself is in desperate need of re-upholstering, too.)

Have also had family members from the US contact me to say they would be in Paris, and you could tell they were sort of hoping for an invitation to stay. Had to "delicately" explain that we are quite a ways outside of Paris and there is no handy way of getting to public transit going in and out of the city. If someone wants to stay with us, they need to be content to relax out here in the country with just our "sparkling personalities" for entertainment. :love:
 

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Based on some less than pleasurable experiences with some guests, my wife and I looked for the least expensive and most uncomfortable mattress we could find for the guest bedroom. Between ourselves, we refer to it as the 3 day comfort suite. Of course we also keep a very comfortable matress in storage to replace the uncomfortable one for the guests whose company we do enjoy. :eek:
 
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