13 October 2012

Getting out of town

I actually did something on my day off yesterday, you’ll be pleased to discover. Having a nice lie-in and awaking to sun and blue sky for a change, I FINALLY made it to the market. And it was very exciting indeed. So many good smells, so many French people milling around, so much traditional produce waiting to be brought home and devoured. Despite there being some really naff clothes stalls selling frumpy underwear and the like, Melle market, like most French markets, is principally a food market. Cheeses, meats, fish, pate, fruit, veg, bread, cakes, local honey, local apple juice, local wines… It took a lot of self-restraint not to buy a bit of everything that took my fancy, but I ended up coming away with some Roquefort and some pâté paysan

My market purchases; Roquefort and pâté

So that was my lunch sorted, and it was definitely one of the best lunches I’ve had since I’ve been here. It may surprise you to read that after 2 and a half weeks I have so far resisted the temptation to buy a fresh baguette from the boulangerie. I know that once I buy one, it will end up being a regular occurrence, so for the sake of my hips I am sticking to the supermarket sliced brown stuff for as long as I can muster the strength!

I decided to get out of Melle for the afternoon, so I got on the bus (which is more like a coach) to Niort. The journey takes about 45 minutes, but the landscape’s so pretty, and it goes through some nice looking towns, so it’s an enjoyable ride. I got off in the city centre called Place de la Brèche which is a square with lots of bars and restaurants in. Just off it is the main pedestrianized shopping street which I went straight to. After seeing what clothes West France has to offer, I took a little detour off the beaten track (OK fine, I got a bit lost), but I found some nice little narrow streets and a church.

So my first venture into Niort has been a good one. There’s some castle thing there as well, so when I fancy a bit of culture I’ll go and have a look at that. And it’s much livelier than Melle, so I’m hoping a night out there might be on the cards at some point.

Back in my flat in Melle for the evening, I had an impromptu visit from a girl I met the other day. She’s Moroccan, is currently living in Brioux (the town where my college is), works in Melle, and gets quite bored and lonely. So she’s befriended me, and she was here for hours last night, fascinated by my British toiletries and make-up. In fact, she’s written me a list of all the things she wants me to bring back from across the Channel after Christmas! She’s lovely though, and it’s really nice to know another relatively young person in the area. And I get to practice my French without feeling under pressure at all.

Now it’s a Saturday morning, and I’m wondering what to do for the day. Tomorrow I’ve been invited to Anne-Lise’s house (one of the English teachers at the college) for lunch, so I’m excited about a proper French Sunday lunch. But for now, bon weekend.

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