Spider, if you are so surdoué
with regards to learning languages, what on earth are you doing just in
France. That is truly a gift beyond measure and I am sure that one
could count on ones fingers, the number of people on the planet who could learn a new language in just over a month.
I don't know where you are from in the NE, because I know of some places in the NE that are just like that, the sun could shine but they would still be grim, even without the pits these days.
And I know of places in France that are just the same, we used to cut across country to pick up an autoroute and I used to always hope we would never break down there.
Still the NE of England has some wonderful areas and such friendly people, especially in Newcastle, that I would recommend anyone visit that city.
And I know of lovely places in France too, the friendliest people we found in France are the bretons, and for all I never visited all of France, they were the most amiable we found.
I am not surdoue, I speak french like a vache espagnole, and so what, I have great friends and happily talk to anyone about anything and can do absolutely everything I need to do in France, including getting information, now and when there was no internet.... and that is what counts.
So good for you Spider. We don't all have such a gift, or the ear for language, but we can get by very very well never the less.