Dining Under the Gaze of a Thousand Animal Eyes

Chris Smith
4 min readJun 4, 2023

A hotel restaurant meal with an uncomfortable difference…

A restaurant with strange animal heads and pictures on its walls.
Image created by the author using Playground.ai

The whole strange episode began when Dick and I pulled into the dusty hotel car park one hot September afternoon and noticed that ours was the only car there.

We were on a business trip to that part of France’s Bordeaux wine area known as the ‘Left Bank’ — home to wines such as St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, and Margaux.

It had been a long, hot, and tiring drive from the ferry port of Le Havre. By then it was approaching early evening and all we wanted were a couple of rooms for the night, a shower, and a good dinner.

We came across the Hotel ‘X’ purely by chance. I won’t name it though people familiar with that part of France may recognize it from what follows.

From the outside, it had the appearance of a hotel that had seen better days. However, as it was getting late we decided to chance it and see if they had any rooms.

We were met at reception by an elderly lady who regarded us with suspicion. I say ‘met’ rather than ‘greeted’ because she scarcely said a word to us, merely confirming she had two rooms available and requesting that we hand over our passports.

At this, Dick and I looked at each other. On our frequent business trips to France, we’d…



Chris Smith

Freelance marketer and writer of various things for clients.