Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Bon voyage

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French hitchhiker Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre made a right merde of himself on the West Coast. Photo / Greymouth Star
French hitchhiker Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre made a right merde of himself on the West Coast. Photo / Greymouth Star

It takes something special to knock Serge Blanco off the pedestal as My Favourite Frenchman, but the bloke who chucked his toys at Punakaiki is, for me, a hero of Gallic immoderation.

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre threw a stone at a sign, claimed he'd been trying to hitchhike for four days, swore at a few locals and generally made a right merde of himself on the West Coast, capping his holiday off by declaring, outside the Greymouth District Court where he'd been charged with wilful damage, that New Zealand should be renamed "Nazi Zealand".

("Nazi Zealand", in case you missed it, is a reference to the German forces, from the yoke of whose oppression Kiwi soldiers helped to liberate France in the 1940s. Got it? Good.)

It was local man Neil Mouat who called police.

"He was lying prone on the road screaming that New Zealanders were assholes and he couldn't wait to get back to Europe," said Mouat. "He was a spoilt millennial, and he created a hell of a din.

But ... he was standing in the wrong place to hitchhike — a corner with poor visibility."

I love the French. But there's something poetic about the sprawling, shambolic way things go wrong for French travellers on these shores — from Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart (whose murderous deeds shamed their nation), to Mathieu Bastareaud (who claimed to have been beaten up by Wellingtonians when he received his black eye in a closed room with teammates).

Like Blanco, Cedric's deeds have inspired many a Kiwi to shake their heads in confusion. I hope his travels improve from here.

- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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