I love France.
It is by far my favourite country on earth to explore and I have been lucky to visit on many occasions. The stereo-type of the rude Frenchman is unfair, at least I think so. I believe what we as travellers may actually be detecting is more-so a feeling of pity towards us. A sadness, for us, that we aren’t lucky enough to be French! At least in the countryside I believe this to be so. In Paris they just dislike tourists as I would if I had to share my city with around 13 million visitors each year!
The French can also be a fascinating contradiction.
Many possess a nonchalant air, replete with cigarette dangling languidly from the corner of their mouth. They slowly shrug their shoulders at you whilst looking crestfallen at the banality of the question you have just asked them. Such laissez-faire!
Yet this same soul will then spend ten minutes seeking baking and crust perfection before purchasing a baguette and will almost bury their nose inside the piece of fruit they are sniffing as they check for optimal ripeness.
French Food Markets. In a word – Bliss.
I have travelled extensively for two decades now and without doubt one of my all time favourite things to do is to simply stroll amongst the stalls of a Farmer’s Market in France. You need to hit them early and it doesn’t matter if you attend in a village with 300 inhabitants or a city of three million l’ambiance is the same. It is a pleasing assault on the senses.
A chaotic amalgam of sounds, colour, smells, language & dialects, textures, cuisines and cultures that all somehow just works and is never overbearing.
Remember above when I said that the French are a contradiction? Well it continues with how they can decide to purchase their food.
Hypermarket versus Marché
France has some of the largest supermarkets in the world and they are very popular with the populace. But they also have amazing daily, weekly and monthly fresh food markets that are also extremely popular. Maybe it’s because I am always a visitor that I so favour the markets over the convenience of the hyper-marches.
To me there is no comparison.
- Trundling your trolley along ubiquitous aisles serenaded by trite Muzak aware that you are in Lyon but knowing it could just as easily be Los Angeles. Or
- Meandering the labyrinthine layout of a village market with the serenity punctuated by vendors loudly sprucing their wares and the fragrance of freshly cut flowers and ripe fruit perfuming the air
I’ll take number two please, and yes, I am aware I’m biased. I often never buy anything at all at these markets. I’m there to wander, to observe and to photograph. My perspective is a little one-sided. But you see…
I don’t often go to the supermarket with my DSLR.