French trip – La triosième partie – Acheter des produits locaux.

Local French goat's cheeseMany visitors to that fine country have no understanding of the national psyche of the French. They are a very proud nation with an incredibly rich history and more culture than one might find in a Roquefort cheese. Tourists wrestle with the concept of the entire country closing every day between noon and three. They also don’t follow the reasons for the early start in the day and everything remaining closed on Sunday.  The divide is prised open by foreigners who speak loudly in English while affecting a stage French accent “No, garçon, we want a pot of tea for two.” or “Non, J’ai asked for it to be cooked medium. This est rare.”

My approach is different. My French is pretty poor. I start every conversation by explaining in my halting French that I am Irish and asking for forbearance. This stands me in good stead and gets me conversation, entertainment and eventually, understanding. It also makes sense when staying in rural France to buy local.

A great example of this is one of our holiday lunches. I got up early (for a tourist) and walked to the village goat’s cheese shop, on to the boulanger for a Céraine loaf, stopping on the way to pick up a jar of local honey – ‘Le Miel de Garrigue’.

Lafarge mine wine storage

The storage facility of one of the local wine producers. A former Lafarge gypsum mine. Nice and cool in the morning heat.

A morning trip to a local winery rounded out the lunch ingredients.

Local French goat's cheese, bread, honey and wine

2 day old, 3 day old and 4 day old goat’s cheese for variety. A glass or two of chilled Muscat wine for the hell of it.

The lunch came in at less than one may spend on two ham sandwiches at home in Ireland. It was one fo the best meals we have had in a long time. Like I say, it pays to buy local or “Acheter des produits locaux”, as they say in Google.

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  • I wholeheartedly agree. Leaving in a few days, and practicing my “Désolé–mon français n’est pas formidable.” Looks like the perfect lunch, too!

  • I agree about buying locally, especially the cheeses. When traveling in France, I always say Bon Jour, parle vous Anglais…I’m sorry I don’t speak French. It seems to make people happy that at least I say a couple of words in French. They know not to answer me in French as I won’t understand. This really helps when asking for directions. If they tell how to get somewhere in French I’m as lost with their answer as I am lost in knowing where I am. LOL.

    • My mortification in French began many years ago when I asked for a “Tart avec pomme de terre”. Everybody in the shop laughed as I pointed to the apple tart. since then, I have believed it is best to admit one’s shortcomings in advance.

  • Excellent – IMHO we should all be buying local 😉

    • And seasonal MD. I was in Lidl last weekend and refused to buy the Peruvian peas. “Fresh” Peruvian peas that is.

  • Spot on about both the language and the local food. A boulangerie is the cornerstone – how many Irish villages of the same size don’t have a decent bakery, or promote local artisan products, and where the village goat doesn’t have a cheese shop? That garrigue honey is something else too.

    • A different (and better) way of living, for sure.

  • When I lived in Paris and was learning French, I always spoke in Spanish to people. Seemed to be better received than English! I miss all those wonderful products and the cheery boulangerie ladies “Bonjour madame!” Beautiful post.

    • Thanks Natalia. It’s not only what one says but, how one says it too.

  • I will never get over having to buy bread in one shop and wine in another. And newspapers in another. And butter in another. Shopping takes all day.

    • It only takes up until noon. Then you have three hours off to enjoy it because everything shuts.

  • I was going to France to meet my parents there. I listened to the French language tapes for months and to no avail. I arrived in France and tried my best in a mixture of Spanish, German and English. I really tried to learn their language and had a hard time. The car is not a good place to try to learn a language.

    Needless to say, my attempts were for naught, because when I was in France, I had wonderful interactions with all that I met, because I made a true effort to make myself understood. Those who do not take the time and expect everyone to speak their native language, what ever that language might be, are the ones losing out on a great experience in this amazing country!

    I had the most wonderful time in Ville Franc sur Mer, and also in Antibe at a little sandwich shops where I discovered Alsatian Beer and a love for the style the French make their sandwiches on that oh so lovely bread and discovered my new favorite olive: the nicoise!

    • For sure they respond very well to those of us who make the effort (best to excuse one’s French first too).

  • Great wine pairing!

    • It was excellent with it and at less than €5 a bottle, all the more enjoyable.

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