Saturday, 31 August 2013

Paimpol - August 2013

On Tuesday mornings the market comes to Paimpol.

Many people still fondly assume that the French spend their days wandering round market stalls, carefully selecting each individual fruit and vegetable, chatting with a seller of cheeses, handpicking a live chicken from a cage, perhaps discussing which herbs to use with a particular piece of meat...

In reality the bulk of the weekly shopping is done in supermarkets but the weekly market is a special occasion and many people will take the time to visit it to treat themselves to 'real food'.
And to chat with the stall holders, pass the time of day with acquaintances and sip coffee with friends.

If you arrive at around eleven o'clock a delicious Croque Monsieur, eaten at the café by the harbour, will set you up nicely for a wander round the market stalls and streets of the town.

And from your table you can watch people playing the game of 'Hunt the Parking Space'.

I am not a dedicated shopper, although I do find it hard to resist the hippy-style tunics and blouses that are so often to be found on French country market stalls.

But really, I prefer to wander, to take pictures, often with a view to dabbling in a little painting at a later date.

This one would make one such lovely painting I think?

And this house, facing the water and the bobbing boats caught my eye.

The French do love their shutters, window boxes and pots of flowers.

Just off one of the pedestrian streets there is an artist's workshop and gallery.

I've visited it in the past and admired the blue pottery and seascapes, but by the time that we arrived it was closed for lunch.

The French stop for lunch. It's frustrating and irritating, until you get used to it and adopt the same habit, and then it's a pleasant pause in a busy day.

Paimpol is very touristy.
Which is why we all flock there in summer.

And it's quite an expensive town in which to shop. Which is no reason not to indulge in a few pretty  souvenirs and gifts.

But it's also full of little architectural gems, most of which are seen when you raise your eyes from the shop window displays.

Which is not to say that the shops themselves are not also beautiful.

This IS France, after all, and they do do everything with style and panache.

You should buy flowers, they will be beautifully arranged and delightfully gift-wrapped and you will never again buy a cheap bunch from a garage forecourt, not once you've bought from a florist like this one.

So, what did we buy at the market in Paimpol?

We bought two little sandstone plaques, one of a Celtic cross, one of a peace dove, to hang on the wall of my house in Oxfordshire.  And the lady selling them was delightfully friendly and patient, even though we'd arrived as she was packing up for lunch.

We bought paints, brushes and canvasses from a stall on the edge of the market. And the man selling them treated us to his humorous 'patter' and that made us laugh, even though we knew he'd used it in various forms on every client that he'd ever had.      

We bought large postcards of water colour paintings of seaside scenes to frame and hang on the walls of my bathroom in Brittany.

And then we wandered back to the café by the harbour to enjoy a chocolate crèpe and a café crème, and to sit and watch the French world go by, encore une fois. 


  1. It sounds idyllic - just like all those programmes that urge people to buy houses in France!
    I hope you're having a wonderful time. It certainly sounds as if you are.

    1. Hello RR.
      We are back now and I am posting memories, but it was good.
      As for urging people to buy a French house, no, not to be undertaken lightly and without a great deal of thought!

  2. This life sounds not just "good" but wonderful. And so beautiful! Here in Ohio we can't buy flowers at a garage. The cheapest flowers are at the grocery store and they are just flowers. But one can take them home and arrange them with greenery from the garden and make more than one vase of flowers. Paimpol is beautiful through your eyes and the lens of your camera.

    1. Hi Kristi.
      Being an expat in France is not always easy. I came back. But I still have such strong ties to Brittany that I will probably return before too long.
      But one lesson I learned is that everywhere is wonderful if we see it through the right eyes...
      And Paimpol is special to me :)

  3. Hmm, I'm afraid I could think of one or two instances of a lack of style and panache in la vie française, but I'll refrain being such a killjoy! Lovely pictures, lots of pretty blue in Paimpol.

    When I brought some of my older French students to the UK, they were rather frustrated that, in a small pretty English town with plenty of tourist potential, everything closed up at 5pm, just when they were back from their day out, not yet ready for dinner, and would have liked to wander around and do a bit of shopping, which you could in France, since after the long lunch hour, everyone carries on till 7 or 8 in the evening. So it's swings and roundabouts alors!

    1. Hi Lucy
      Indeed, urban sprawl, concrete tower blocks, bureaucracy....
      But the French do have more style, for the most part, in my opinion, or perhaps I should say that they have more style than me?

      It's interesting that your students felt that way, I'd never thought of that. I think that I prefer the long lunches, especially with friends, and the evening strolls around the shops, although the towns closest to my house always seem to be deserted by 6pm. One must dodge the tumbleweed as it rolls down the road :)

  4. One of these days you must send me an email address so I might email you a photo of a tumbleweed. My car was sideswiped by one several months ago. They are real and they are dangerous in this part of the world!

    Paimpol looks wonderful, thank you for the small vacation from my desk this morning.

    1. Good grief! I didn't know that!

      I'm glad you enjoyed your cyber-tour :)
      I'll be taking you to a delightful aquarium next time...


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