* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Weekend in Provence III

Madame goes shopping

Shopping 01As part of our weekend get-away, I followed our hostess around as she carried on with her normal life.  Our hosts live just a few minutes away by foot from the center of town, so it's very easy to pop over for whatever needs may arise.

Saturdays are the big local street marché, and Madame consecrates her whole morning to shopping.  She goes back and forth multiple times, sometimes as often as four different visits.  As I tagged along, she went at least three times this particular morning, which didn't count the run to the bakery for our breakfast fresh bread.

Shopping 02
The fruit vendor
Shopping 03
Catching up with a friend

The first stop was at the peach and nectarine stand.  As she didn't want future purchases to smash them in the bottom of her carrier, she had the vendor just put them aside for her.  I think I would have just picked them up on the way back, not thinking about how reduced the selection might have been by then.

Just as important as doing the weekly shopping is the weekly chatting with friends.  Having lived in this community all her life, she knows quite a few people.  And they all kept stopping her for greetings as they passed by.  This is one of the reason she makes so many trips, so that she can catch at various times as many others as possible who only go once.

Shopping 04
The local butcher shop
Shopping 05
Miniature butcher

This trip to the butcher's was actually her second one, but I didn't think to take my camera the first time.  She keeps that one fairly short as a means of helping her nearly 90-year-old mother get out and about.  We stopped for the morning newspaper and then went to the butcher's.

When I realized I should have brought my camera, they agreed to let me come back and take a few pictures.

They are located off the beaten path from the street market, but Madame claims that they are the best butchers around.  Isn't this the setting you have when you buy your own meat?

While they seemed a bit shy, they actually enjoyed posing for me.  He apprenticed at this ancient butchery after finishing butcher's school, then continued on for years as a paid employee.  When that butcher retired, this one took over the shop as his own.  I think it's really fun to hear the back stories of what otherwise would appear to just be part of mundane life.  I almost didn't get it as they were leaving on vacation that afternoon!

Shopping 07
Carole & Alain Cochet, local butchers
Shopping 06
What they sell

Shopping 08
The cheese stand
Shopping 09
Cutting the selection
Continuing on with our second tour, Madame checked out the cheese counter.

It just so happens that even I knew the other shoppers after years of visiting; and later they came over to the house.

I did enjoy munching on some of her selection later!

Shopping 10
Catching up with another friend

The main part of the market is down a very pretty tree lined street, which isn't all that wide.  Nobody has any personal space as they all jostle along together, but that doesn't keep friends from meeting up and just stopping in the middle of the street. 

Saturday morning market day is apparently not meant to be a speedy trip, although Madame really managed to zoom past everybody when she wasn't stopping to chat and exchange kisses.  Which seemed to be about every few feet.

I kept getting introduced as "the American," like I was just visiting from across the Pond.  So everybody always seemed surprised I could also converse with them, without considering that my hostess doesn't speak English!

Shopping 11
The produce stand

Then it was time to get down to serious business at the produce stand.  Although there are a number of them, she's been going to this one for years and doesn't stop at any of the others.

Shopping 12
Selecting the best
This one is fairly large and carries just about anything one would want.  You take a little basket, or two, or however many you need, and you just start filling them up with your choices.  Unless you take another pause to exchange kisses and chat with more friends.

Shopping 13
Shopping is fun
Shopping 14
The faithful vendor

While Madame was quite concentrated on her shopping most of the morning, she did manage to pause and give me a little smile.

Then it was time to pay up.  This vendor has apparently been running this stand for about 40 years.  He separates the different produce and weighs it, putting the small stuff in bags, then she puts the bags or the loose things into her little roll around carrier.  Not exactly how I've always bought my veggies.

Shopping 15
Task done, heading home
Shopping 16
Kissing cousins

The shopping now over, it's time to head home with the full caddy.  Until we meet up with more people to kiss and greet.

This time, it just happens to be family I've also known for years and watched the babies come along.  This mama apparently isn't intending to buy quite as much quantity with only her shoulder sack.

Shopping 17
Sincere friendship
Shopping 18
Do we know them?

We don't get very far before we run into somebody else to meet and greet.  I got the impression that this was an old friend she hadn't seen for a while.

As we got on our way again, there were a few more people coming our way who were also friends.

Shopping 19
An old friend's daughter

When I first visited our hosts years ago, I met her best friend, a lovely Brit woman who had lived in France for years.  I looked forward to seeing her again myself every year when we went for the wine fête, even staying overnight with her once.  But several years ago, we found out that she had passed away since our last visit. 

She has a daughter who's nearly my age, and I met her a year or so ago.  I could easily become good friends with her, too, if we lived closer.  She just happened to be down from England right now, and our paths crossed several times over the weekend.  That was a lot of fun.

Shopping 20
A big fridge

Finally, we made it back to the house.  Normally the trip would take about two minutes, this one took about ten! 

Putting the groceries away was such a piece of cake.  Several years ago, they bought this big walk-in cold storage room, which is so wonderful when they have their annual fête for over 150 people.  It really gets filled up with all the bowls of salad and trays of meats and anything else needing to be kept cold.

She just took everything out of her carrier and simply put it all on the shelves.  No messing around with trying to get it all in the normal refrigerator like we peons have to do!  But most of us have bigger fridges than she does.

Shopping 21
Weekly social hour
So was she really finished shopping?  Not at all.  Grabbing a typical grocery sack (like we all have now that store bags aren't free anymore), we headed out again.  I don't know if she doesn't have one of those old-fashioned bags any more or if she's just a thoroughly modern Millie.  It is lighter and goes over a shoulder, so maybe she just likes the convenience. 

At any rate, she needed to pick up some things in the little grocery store, which of course we'd passed earlier and she could have stopped in then.  And of course, she ran into a group of different friends, spending more time with them than the actual shopping trip took.

I hope you've enjoyed street market shopping with a very typical French woman.  Even after all my years living here, this is not an experience I've personally gotten familiar with, while it's what she's done her whole life.

Our next outing will have a totally different mood.

1 comment:

  1. What fun! This is obviously a looked-forward-to outing every week and much more fun that just hitting the supermarket. But as you commented earlier, not so much when it's cold, rainy and the wind is blowing. So happy for you guys that you got to do this. She is a lovely looking woman and, obviously, has lots of friends, including you!


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