[The latest post in a series, prepared in conjunction with our sister publication ‘Le Quotidien de Faire-Le-Dodo (87), designed to promote greater understanding and integration of the local and expat communities in our fair commune. This one is particularly aimed at recent incomers, who may still be familiarising themselves with daily life here.]
You’ll already have noticed that there aren’t many shops in the immediate locality, and of course you will need to go to the nearest town to find a supermarket. Nonetheless, it’s important to support our local traders as far as we can. At the same time, it can be a little daunting to go into one of the locally-owned shops. Will you be welcomed? What will you find? What won’t you find?.
Relax: there is no need to be afraid. By and large, you will be greeted at least politely and while you shouldn’t expect to get your hands on your more exotic requirements, you’ll certainly be able to buy the basics.
Unless you go at lunchtime. Don’t bother. They’ll be shut.
So here is a quick reference guide to the commerces of Faire-Le-Dodo (87):
- Boulangerie Hargneux
Okay, perhaps not the best place to start, as Madame Hargneux doesn’t have the sunniest disposition. Although you’d probably be a bit grumpy too if you had to get up as early as she does. Unfortunately, the goods don’t make up for the moodiness. Unexceptional would be being polite.
What you won’t find: Service with a smile. Hovis.
What you will find: Baguettes. Already reserved for somebody else. Allegedly.
- Jardinage Contondant
Although this garden centre is part of a nationwide chain, be aware that they have two types of outlet, the urban and the rural. This is a ‘village’ one, and as such its stock is orientated more towards agricultural necessities than the fripperies of window boxes and flowerbeds.
What you won’t find: Floppy straw hats; orchids; quince conserve.
What you will find: Shotgun ammo; feed troughs. Oh, and those big plier-type things for castrating sheep.
- Pharmacie Nonbottes
You’ll never go far in France without seeing the distinctive illuminated green cross of a local pharmacy. Most of them are independently owned, like this one. The Nonbottes are an important local family – they know what’s wrong with everyone.
What you won’t find: Cosmetics (what, round here?); soggy sandwiches.
What you will find: At least five people ahead of you; 1,001 cures for jambes lourdes (literally ‘heavy legs’, a disease with no externally visible symptoms that only affects French people, among whom it is endemic).
- La Petite Superette et Salon de Thé
Realistically, you’ll probably use this local shop more than any of the others, so fortunately the owners are very friendly and it’s something of a meeting place for the locals. Not that you’ll find them drinking the tea: nobody does.The superette sells the local definition of everything, rather like a corner minimart back in the UK (or a 7-Eleven in the US)
What you won’t find: HP Sauce; Fairtrade tofu
What you will find: Green beans – in a tin. Chicken gizzards – in a tin. Better bread than the boulangerie.
- Bar-Tabac L’effrayant
Together with the boulangerie and the pharmacie, the Bar-Tabac completes the trio of basic commerces that all French settlements with a population of over fifty are required to have by law. This is a bit of a challenge for first-timers, because when you open the door the five local farmers standing at the bar will go quiet and turn and look at you. `Fear not, though: they will respond positively to a cheery ‘Bonjour, messieurs’. By not killing you.
What you won’t find: English spoken; e-cigarettes; mojitos
What you will find: Patois; Disques Bleues; wine that would take the varnish off a yacht.