Or was it Rome? Well, whatever 🙂
This side of the family and your humble writer spent a few days in the middle of the nowhere in France earlier this week. I must confess now and tell you that apart from having been to Paris twice before for short breaks, I didn’t/don’t know much about France or the French. Okay, yes, I know the basic stuff, the topical stuff (the Bastille, Les Miserable, the garlic, café olé, etc), and just a couple of words / sentences in the language.
This visit has surprised me both positively and negatively, but not negatively in a nasty way, just in a “well, I wasn’t expecting that” way.
– The countryside is awesomely beautiful. We were staying in a tiny village called Charmé, about 50 miles southwest of Poitiers. It was so rustic, so old-school. And the fields surrounding it were equally gorgeous. A shame that we went in September and not in August, as the massive fields of sunflowers were already dead (We thought at the time that they dry the sunflowers on the spot and then collect them to take the seeds out of them, to sell them as “pipas”, but I am not sure this is the final destination of those sunflowers…) . I wish we had had more time to go for walks… the flat terrain was asking for it!
– The people seemed very nice. I personally didn’t have much interaction with the locals (I don’t speak a word!), but I could see that everybody was nice and nobody seemed to mind “those 6 foreigners / English” who landed in their quiet village to spend a few days. The neighbours were kind to us, the shopkeepers as well, and only in one occasion we had “looks” from the locals (and that is because we DID look like tourists!! – you know, shorts and sandals, and all that)
– The big supermarkets are more like the Spanish ones than the British ones, and I loved it. We went to a “L’Eclerc” and to an Auchan and I so wished we had those shops here in the UK. There was so much variety of everything, and the fish counter in the L’Eclerc was A W E S O M E. It was a proper fishmonger who was allowed to set up shop just outside the tills in the big supermarket… If only I could find something like that here….. 🙁
– What’s all that about shops closing all day Sunday AND Monday? And the restaurants as well? You could tell that the area wasn’t a tourist one. No chance in a million years would a shop owner or a restaurateur close when there are tourists around! And where are the bars? I didn’t see a single one… And when the restaurants are actually open, they don’t accept more clients after 8:30! I honestly believed that the French were more similar to the Spanish than to the Brits, but no, it looks like they like their dinner quite early too (you would struggle to find a restaurant in Spain that serves you dinner before 8:30!)
– I was quite upset to see quite a lot of people hunting in the fields around Charmé. I don’t know what they were hunting, birds probably, but seeing them with the guns and the hunting dogs upset me quite a bit. I know this is nothing to hold against the French “per sé”, since the same thing happens in Spain and the UK, and any other country in the world, I would assume… It’s just something that I hadn’t seen in the flesh for a long time and caught me unprepared.
All in all it was a good holiday. I suppose it could have been better (weather, open restaurants, etc), but it was also a “cheap” holiday, so I can’t complain too much.
Here are a few photos: