Sunday, July 20, 2008

Off to the shops

As a family we have used this holiday company, Matthews Holidays a number of times over the years. The price of renting the caravan in some rural part of France includes the cost of the ferry crossing. In September, the prices really drop and that is when we used to go.

For a number of years I wasn't working because George was small and the budget for anything was pretty tight. It was our philosophy that two weeks in another country where the kids had to use another language and experience another culture was just as valuable as a fortnight in formal education. It also true that with only Henry's salary coming in we really needed to take advantage of the prices that were so much better in September. With George in the big school actually being in class is much more important and we keep our family holidays strictly to times when school is not in session. I've been working for a couple of years now and we can afford the peak season holiday a bit better.

The caravans are big enough (approximately 300 square feet of space). They are always clean and kitted out well enough. There are duvets and pillows on the beds but no sheets, so you have to bring those.

Sometimes self-catering holidays aren't really self-catering at all. You are faced with a dormitory sized refrigerator and a hotplate. The kitchen in these caravans is an area where you can prepare a real meal. There is a fully functioning kitchen stove, a refrigerator, sometimes a microwave oven and a sink.

There is cutlery, a couple of knives and kitchen utensils, including that all important corkscrew! There are plenty of nice plates, coffee cups and glasses as well.

Sadly the washing up liquid is not next to the sink. You have to go get some from the French supermarket. It is silly things like salt, pepper, dish soap and toilet roll that are missing. I knew about this beforehand and packed them along but I didn't pack coffee and milk.

We got to our site pretty late and didn't go to the supermarket before we arrived. I don't think we would have had the space in the car for even a small amount of shopping even if we had. So first thing to do after saying hello to the sea was to get to the shops."Boys, do you want to go with me and Henry to the shops?"

"Ung. We're still asleep."

Notice the sunshine streaming through the window.

We left them there.

I love going to buy food in France. I just don't understand why the rest of the world doesn't follow their excellent example. They grow the food right there. We went past fields of vegetables all the time. Artichokes, onions, garlic, cauliflower, it was all grown right there. The best thing about a July holiday is that the peaches and apricots were ripe. There was kilometer after kilometer of fruit trees, branches cracking under the weight of ripe fruit.Up here in the sun-free north, fruit doesn't grow like this. The folks down south have to pick it green so that it won't rot on the way and move it by truck up to us. I had never had a ripe fig until we went on holiday to France. Because the produce has been picked before the flavour gets good, we have become accustomed to things that are just okay. Well down here, the fruit doesn't have to move nearly so far. The fruit can stay in the tree until it's ripe. I swear some of the peaches were still warm from the sun. They were much less expensive and a thousand times better. Some of the white peaches needed to be eaten with a plate under the eater's chin, they were that juicy. There was also no way you could eat these peaches quietly so we stopped trying. There were three different varieties of peach on offer. The yellow peaches, the white peaches and these oddly shaped peaches that looked as though they'd been stepped on while being formed. They were all delicious!The melons were numerous and delicious as well. See? The sign says very good!
It also asks you not to press the melons. There really is no need to test for ripeness or even to see if they are over ripe.

These red onions were very large, about the size of softballs.

This man is organising the pesky tomatoes. There were about seven separate varieties of tomato. A tomato for every occasion!

I have a bouquet of salad.
This euro kept leaping out of my pocket.
The bargain corner. Each little bucket or "plat" cost one euro and contained misshaped or very ripe produce that needed to be used immediately. I love the huge oddly shaped tomatoes.

Next stop the boulangerie!

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