Many holidaymakers coming to France bring a lot of British groceries and toiletries with them. Whilst this is very resourceful, I would strongly encourage you to dive into French culture as much as you can while you’re on your fishing holiday here. Take a break from Tesco’s and sample French food and goods for the week instead!
In the less touristy parts of France, French business owners are delighted to have foreign customers coming into their shops. You’ll be dealt with politely and patiently, and as soon as you’ve tried out a few words of French, they’ll jump in with their English, 9 times out of 10. They love showing off. It’s the effort to integrate and experience France that they all appreciate. Dutch people aren’t at all popular anywhere in France, as they have the reputation of coming on holiday with their cars packed with food from home, and so never spend a centime in the local economy. C’est pas normale.
Yes, things are different here from the UK, but isn’t that the point of coming to France? Lunchtime closing may seem annoying at first glance, but it’s very easy to adapt to. Just don’t go shopping between 12 and 2. And sample the food. I don’t necessarily mean go overboard and opt for snails for breakfast and tripe for tea, but try French breakfast cereals, patés, baguettes, pastries and cakes, sirops and wines, cheeses and savouries, shampoos and toilet paper. Be adventurous!
Here are 7 things you must try in France:
- Croissants or other viennoiserie (pastries) fresh from the boulangerie (baker’s shop).
- Ice-cold orangina – fizzy drink with orange pulp – or peach ice-tea.
- Local cheese – from the cheese counter in a big supermarket or, ideally, a market stall.
- A café crème (white coffee) at a bar.
- Regional specialities – such as Gâteau Creusois for our area.
- Home-produced confiture (jam) or miel (honey) from the market or a farm shop.
- A croque monsieur. OK, it’s just a fancy toasted cheese and ham sandwich, but it’s awesome.
And here are three things you must do:
- At the very least, have a browse in a French pharmacy. They have lotions and potions for everything. You’ll be amazed.
- Buy the local hebdomadaire (weekly paper). Even if you can’t understand the text, the photos will give you a sense of life in the region.
- Try out your French.