STRASBOURG, France, Aug 23, 2009 (AFP) - A British tourist spent a lonely night locked in a village hall in eastern France after mistaking the building for a hotel, the local mayor said Sunday.
The young woman in her thirties, who was travelling alone, wandered into the building Friday evening after spotting a sign for the "Hotel de Ville" -- which translates as "town hotel" but in French simply means town hall.
"Some local association staff were holding a meeting there that evening," said Paul Rumbach, the mayor of Dannemarie, population 2,500.
"On their way out they heard a noise in the bathroom, but thought nothing of it and locked the door behind them."
Realising her mistake, the woman switched on the lights hoping to draw attention, but to no avail.
She finally posted an SOS message inside the door reading, in pidgin French, "22.08.2009. I am locking here (toilet). Is possible door of to open?", before curling up to sleep on a chair in the entrance lobby.
The village pharmacist spotted the message on Saturday morning and released the hapless tourist, who explained she had assumed a "Hotel de Ville" was a hotel or public shelter.
"She asked me where she could find a real hotel. I gave her directions and she set off, looking pretty sorry for herself," said the mayor, who is thinking of having the Dannemarie town hall sign posted in English and German.