Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shopping and .........

Shopping in France Profund is a different experience to what we are used to in South Wales. The largest town, about an hour’s drive away, is Aurillac, capital of the Cantal department and a population of 30,500 plus. It is a town of small shops and boutiques some of them in a pedestrianised area of narrow lanes which is attractive and pleasant to stroll around. However, there are no large stores or chains which even a modest sized town in Britain might have. In this area you will find the umbrella shop. Aurillac is famous for it’s umbrellas and produces more than half the umbrellas made in France. We have one which we bought on our first visit. It also has Géant – a large, good supermarket situated a little way out of town in a small shopping mall.

Decazeville is an old industrial mining town something akin to Merthyr Tidfil. It desperately needs a ‘makeover’. The main street has very few interesting shops or cafés and many shops are closed and boarded up. We only go there because it is easy to get to and has another, smaller Géant and a Mr Bricolage (DIY store) on the outskirts. This is the Mairie probably the best thing there is there.

Figeac is a charming, beautiful town with an unspoilt medieval centre. The shops, boutiques and cafes are plentiful and interesting. There is a Saturday morning market, similar to that in Maurs, which we sometimes go to, staying on for lunch somewhere. Just out of town on the N822 is a garden centre where we have spent a fair bit of money since we have been here.

Maurs  is our closest town, (20 mins. – 15 if you drive like the French which Jim says I do) and has the usual complement of shops. We frequent the Market on Thursdays, shop in the supermarket and occasionally some of the local shops. The ‘plat du jour’ at the selection of cafes is around €7-8 and we sometimes have this at lunchtime.
We are fortunate to have an English vet here. Rufus doesn’t agree.

We have been to Brocante Foires and Grandes Foires and Les Poteries des Marchés as previously mentioned in this blog but the best shopping outing so far was Le Vide Grenier we went to last Sunday afternoon in the hospital grounds in Figeac. Vide Grenier means something like ‘empty your attic’ and is a boot fair. Lots of rubbish at cheap prices! We had a great time, purchasing jigsaw puzzles, haberdashery items and this:

Isn’t he splendid! I think it’s a Beech Marten. I gave him a good brush and now he stands on the mantelshelf in the living room. All for €2.00!

I have spent the week getting the gîte ready for the French family again. They really like the place. I have painted the hallway white, assembled and put up a food cupboard, curtain rails (Jim did some of the DIY) and given the place a good clean.
Jim has progressed with clearing a route for the ‘nature walk’ although nature is battling against this scheme especially the brambles. His labours continue in the vegetable garden and we are now eating the broadbeans.
He has also made this rather sweet little ladder for use in the subterranean part of the mill.

More flora and fauna:
 Purple Emperor showing the purple flash (taken by Jim)

Silver-Washed Fritillary

Bird's-Foot Trefoil

Devil's-Bit Scabious

Along the 'nature trail'

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