Impressions after nearly 3 months….and bugs.

Time has flown and I can’t believe there are signs of Spring already.  In the hedgerows and forests there are bare trees covered now in tiny white flowers, the birds are busy and visiting the new very handsome bird feeder that the “Dear One” put up outside the front door, the coypus/beavers are out and about eating the grass and the sun has decided to get up a bit earlier.

I have a bug, didn’t feel too great, it went to my chest and it was actually feeling better until we had to go “under the threat of being sent back to SA by the “not so Dear One” to the Prefecteur to get my paperwork sorted.  It was early afternoon, we had to park quite a way away, the wind could have frozen a fireworks display with ease and the rain had little crystals attached.  The Prefecteur was closed and my lungs did the same.  I woke up the next day with a spectacular dose of bronchitis and finally admitted defeat and went to the doctor.

And this brings me to my first impression…the very sweet lady at the chemist gave me a list of doctors that could speak a little English   Fine by me, all I wanted was someone to hear me coming and to give me something so that air became a free commodity and I figured any doctor in any language could do that without me saying a thing.  Armed with my list (of two doctors), we were about to leave when she said..
“The doctor is across the road there.  Go and make an appointment but it will have to be for later on.  All doctors set aside the early afternoon for home visits to anyone who can’t make it to see them.  They will be back at about 4.30 and they then work till around 8 pm.”  Now have you ever heard of home visits in recent times?  It was as though someone had turned back the clock and we thought that was quite amazing.  We got an appointment for 6 and true as eggs, the doctor was working till 8.

Renne Centre VilleThe “Centre Ville” of each village, town or city has remained the same in most places.  Even a place as big as Rennes has the most amazing “Centre Ville” (Centre of the Village).  They are usually closed to traffic, cobbled and still have the cobbles slanting to a central gutter in the middle of the narrow streets.  The shops and houses are about three stories, very narrow and some are amazingly skew.  The atmosphere is amazing, you can almost hear the clip clop of horse hooves pulling carriages.  Any minute, I expect some dirty laundry water to come whooshing down from above but nothing s far!

The Centre Ville is protected and then you get the “Centre de Commercial” which is where all things Commercial are situated, always on the outskirts of the town.  So if you can imagine a shopping mall in SA, you get an area designated for food, then you get various little shops and boutiques and maybe a hardware shop.  Well this area is like one big open shopping mall where you get devoted to various restaurants, a huge warehouse of a fabric shop, various clothing outlets of giant proportion and I hate to say, one of my favourites are the oversized  places dedicated to building materials, wood and tools. ..the husband thinks I’m a little crazy when I spend more time looking in these than in fashion shops.  That doesn’t mean I don’t spend time in clothing and decor shops, I do – the choice is astounding.

Even our little village of Dol-de-Bretagne has only 4000 inhabitants (which rises to around 9000 in the Summer we hear) but it has a choice of two or three huge supermarkets and when I say huge, I mean that they are one of those supermarkets at home that stock everything..from food, to an array of fresh fish, to washing machines, TV’s, cell phones, clothing, books and wine and spirits of any kind – my best is that they sell good brand whisky at really good prices in liter bottles!  How cool is that? Thee government in France basically forces shops to have a sale twice  year and stock HAS to be marked down by anywhere between 50 and 70%.  Basically, at some time in the year – EVERYONE can afford to shop for something.

France is the only country that is totally self sufficient and makes more than enough, enabling it to supply neighbouring countries.  As a country, it doesn’t need to import much.  Farmers here take preference over anything.  If you are a farmer, you are well cared for.  I was surprised to learn that often, a country house will have land that is leased out to a Farmer but it’s up to the farmer to decide whether he needs it or not – even if you want it back..if he is using it – tough, you can’t have it back and he doesn’t really pay much if anything to you in order to work that land.  Fruit, veggies, grapes, maize, linseed,  peanuts, wheat and barley – you name it, it’s grwn somewhere in France’s widely varying climates and landscapes.

If you walk into a shop, you are never left for very long.  Almost straight away, someone will come up to you to ask if you need help or if you’re ok just looking.  I’ve never come across an unfriendly shop assistant who won’t try to speak a bit of English..even if speech fails them (and me), wild gestures seem to be the order of the day – accompanied by huge smiles.

Which brings me back to the doctors visit and the waiting room.  We walked in to about 7 people sitting there.

garlic olives

We sat down in true SA style.  The door opened and a dad walked in with his son.  He smiled at everyone and said “Bonsoir” (good evening) and was answered with a chorus of hearty bonsoirs back.  The husband and I looked at each other – how rude where we?  How reserved and unfriendly.  I felt awful.

Anyway the good news is that our stuff is arriving here on Saturday.  It’s all very exciting and apart from a slight niggling feeling as to where on earth it will all go – I am really excited and with the arrival of my art stuff and other clothes, the semi-holiday is over.  Still, a bottle or two of wine and some garlic stuffed olives and fresh baguette will be a great way to celebrate the coming holiday of the overworked jeans…

Before I go – if you like reading this blog – please won’t you go to this link ,
scroll down and vote for “Footpath to France”.  I got an e-mail saying I was in the top 100 International non-biased blogs and I would love to see what happens.  Voting can only be done once and ends on the 17th Feb.  Huge thanks!

a wheezy au revoir..


About M

I am at heart and artist...which spills over into other areas apart from the pastels, pencils, paintbrush and paper. I love cooking, I love gardening and I love nature. Leaving South Africa to come to France was difficult, but an adventurous challenge and together with my husband and two furry friends, I manage to do all that I love and more while I walk the 'Footpath to France'.
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4 Responses to Impressions after nearly 3 months….and bugs.

  1. Tony Henfrey says:

    What fun you are having…just get Wendy to organise her passport


  2. Gitta says:

    AAAA it looks like you are having a great time up there,, appart from that nasty attack on your chest.. but other than looks very interesting.. and that pick of the olivs and all is just mouth watering!!!


  3. Hello, we are in Australia and planning a trip to Brittany for May & June – I have been enjoying your blog and doing other research and have a couple of questions for you, if you don’t mind.
    1: is the algae a problem in your area? Would swimming in the sea be hampered by the algae again do you think?
    2. would you recommend your town/city as one to rent a gite during May & June?
    I hope your chesty cold gets better!


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