How to phrase an offer to make good the damage we caused

Please help me word this politely in French. We let a barquette of strawberries ooze into a tabletop of a small old wooden side table that’s in our room at our B&B. It’s a very visible big stain.

I want to offer to make things right and I don’t know if that involves buying a new table or finding them an old side table or what?

So what I want to say is : we caused this damage and want to make it right. We want to make it clear that we plan to pay any amount they request.

They are lovely people, we are long time repeat guests, and they are selling the place soon, possibly with a stained table.

We have covid so this will need to be communicated by photo and text.

Thanks as always for helping me communicate in written French.

It sounds as if you have the right approach for this but wording the request sounds like one for @vero

@cmartin @_Brian

Chère X / Mme X
Nous avons malencontreusement abimé la petite table dans la chambre en y laissant une barquette de fraises qui a fait couler du jus.
La tache est grande et bien visible, nous sommes vraiment désolés, et conscients que c’est entièrement de notre faute, comment pouvons-nous vous dédommager?
Nous nous en voulons beaucoup, nous aurions dû réfléchir.
Dites nous s’il vous plaît comment vous voulez procéder, merci d’avance et encore toutes nos excuses.

I can’t get it much more humble and contrite than that :slightly_smiling_face:


That is just the ticket. Thank you, Vero.

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Well if I received that in the face of such humbleness my response would be “Ne vous inquiétez pas, c’est une vieille table”….


I’m kind of hoping she’ll let us give her a rose bush.


All part of the patina etc…

In fact shouldn’t they be paying you for increasing the interest/value?

:slight_smile: obviously.

Red letter day then :stuck_out_tongue:

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Not sure @vero adequately covered that bit in her excellent advice (but I could be wrong :blush:) but I would prefer to be not quite so contrite as that.

Nice thought though, I would have said send them the bush anyway. But if they are selling, and thus perhaps moving, maybe the offer will do till they are settled.

Mind you, they might not want to give you their new address. :wink: :smile:

I said dédommager and comment procéder which both imply compensation of one sort of another - bearing in mind it’s an old table but presumably not a valuable antique I thought it wiser not to say

Because it would be a bit bit odd in this context, the table probably wasn’t even bought specially by them in the first place, just a handily-sized old table they had sitting around and didn’t particularly love (because otherwise it wouldn’t have been in a gîte bedroom).

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Véro, I worked with your suggested note to turn it into something I could say face to face. But then time was getting short and the owners were very busy so I thought I’d better send a photo along with the letter.

I changed only one word in the letter, malencontreusement to malheuresement, though your word was perfect and I foresee a lot of use for the word in my future.

Then we crossed paths with our hostess, who hadn’t received the email, but I showed her the photo and she said, oh that’s nothing, put it out of your head, I can scrub that out.

Your letter resolved an awkward situation. (And no doubt she now wonders why my comprehension is so poor when my writing French is impeccable.)

Thank you so much for your help. Having this settled is a great relief.


I actually had the same thing happen to my wooden kitchen table, I just scrubbed it out with a bleach solution and rewaxed it - but for kitchen tables it’s par for the course really.