Monday, 2 September 2013

En Vacances..out and about

Roughly translates to "in the style of the housewife, or "housewife style". I'd love to know what it once sold.



I love the markets in France. They offer a choice and quality that you just don't see here unless you visit a farmer's market. Towns and villages, big and small, have a market on one designated morning each week. Roads are closed and the place is packed and bustling with people holding large shopping baskets. The ones we visited tended to fall into two types - they catered for locals, or for tourists. The photos above are from a morning in Barbezieux in what was very much a market for locals. Absolutely no English spoken, lots of French voices all around you. The stalls offered everyday essentials like bread (of course), fruit and vegetables, cheese, fish, and the most wonderful haberdashery stall I have ever seen, consisting of three huge tables groaning under the weight of buttons, zips and cotton thread. 

And then there was the equally delightful but very touristy market in Riberac. A huge, colourful, bustling affair, with as many English voices around you as French. It still sold the same everyday things but in a more packaged, souvenir-y way. Honey, soaps, lavender plants, hats.

We visited a beautiful town called Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne which had French charm and views of the countryside in abundance, as well as an impressive (and pretty creepy) church that was built directly into the cliff face. I'm really not a fan of spiral staircases, especially the narrow, sloping, uneven sort you find in ancient buildings - I imagine the walls closing in on me, or that I'll trip and keep falling and never be able to stop. I'm not normally a claustrophobic person but spiral staircases give me the heebie-jeebies. It was a relief to step back into the bright sunlight.



There was a wonderful sandy beach on the river Dronne, just below Aubeterre, and we spent a happy afternoon there. 

Children just love paddling.



 We had some lovely walks alongside lakes and rivers, seeking the shade where we could.


We were dazzled by a town called Brantome, in the Dordogne. It is nicknamed the "Venice of France" and it's full of canals, bridges, cobbled streets and beautifully kept buildings. Hanging baskets and lovingly maintained flower are displays everywhere you look.


And I saved the best till last. Remember that bike ride I mentioned last week? This is your reward if you made it this far.






Too many? Sorry. That was after I edited them!

To answer your questions - yes, we drove. We took the car ferry from Portsmouth to Caen then drove down to the house, which took about six hours. We found the driving fine, once you get used to being on the right hand side. The French toll motorways are generally smooth with little traffic and we spent about €30 each way on toll charges. Where we stayed was quiet so we never really encountered much serious traffic. Diesel is much cheaper in France which is nice (We paid €1.28 or £1.09 per litre at the French supermarket pumps. We usually pay around £1.39 per litre here). Things did feel expensive, but then I think that the UK has felt expensive for the last few years, as the price of everything slowly rises but salaries don't. Supermarket shopping trips and coffees seemed about the same as here. Eating out is more expensive perhaps, but if you avoid touristy areas it's certainly cheaper. We actually came home with leftover euros which is very nice, and very unexpected! (They will be changed back into pounds and go in the pot marked "Christmas".) Wine is cheaper, so long as you buy French.

One last thing - THANK YOU for all your comments. I feel bad that I just haven't had time to pop by your blogs and say hello yet but, as the fabulous Miranda would say - bare with...bare with...I thank you.

46 comments:

  1. So many charming lovely pictures, I just don't know what to focus on. But those sunflowers - wow! I'm in complete awe. I enjoyed reading about the market. I happened to catch a programme on BBC2 this evening about Swansea Market. I remembered visiting it on holiday a few years ago. It looks like a really fascinating place with lots of characters. Not as pretty as the market you visited though! x

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  2. Wow - such lovely pictures, and happy memories I'm sure. x

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  3. Gorgeous photos. Bare with is very apt for my blog at the moment too and I think I'll soon start struggling to keep up with reading and commenting, now I'm back at school full time and at uni again!

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  4. Great to know that the finances went better than you feared. We can all cope with cheaper petrol prices and cheaper wine!

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  5. The markets look just lovely with all the fresh produce, and lavender plants, and I bet the French soaps were amazing! The sunflowers and blue skies are breathtaking, something I would never tire of. So glad you enjoyed France. All of your photos are beautiful!

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  6. It's so beautiful there. I can't wait to go someday. You'll have to point me in the direction of the haberdashery stall because it will be at the top of my list. :)

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  7. All gorgeous but you did save the best til last - the sunflowers are just...wow! I'd absolutely love to see one of those fields of sunflowers - definitely something on my bucket list. x

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  8. Hi Gillian,The markets look wonderful!!!It must be such a special experience to take a bike ride like that!!!Surrounded with such beautiful countryside!!!Brantome looks postcard/puzzle beautiful!!!Have a great day!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  9. So enjoyed these photos Gillian, and they transported me back to happy family holidays in France! What a tonic on this gloomy morning. Xx

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  10. One of life's pleasures is you never grow out of wanting to have a paddle!
    Stunning photos of the sunflowers.
    The places you visited look so beautiful. What a fabulous destination you picked.
    Lisa x

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  11. Your photos were glorious - essence of holiday!

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  12. Just leave me with your spare euros in front of the haberdashery and collect me at the end of the holiday.
    Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing x

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  13. As I rush around getting life back in order for school...packing lunches, ironing uniforms, waking children early...I'm living vicariously through your picturesque holiday snaps...*sigh* Chrissie x

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  14. Your holiday looks and sounds wonderfully and you have captured it perfectly in your beautiful photos. I really love the sound of that haberdashery stall...
    Marianne x

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  15. Beautiful ... looks just perfect ... Bee xx

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  16. So, so gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing, I've never been to rural France, looks magical. You are so so lucky to be so close to entire other countries! mel x

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  17. Fab pictures. We found Diesel cheaper and the roads better. Eating out was pricey, but then it always has been in France. Ice Cream was delicious!

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  18. Ha ha, loved the little Miranda quote at the end, she does make me laugh. Some beautiful scenes there, especially those stunning sunflowers, wonderful. It sounds like the perfect holiday.

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  19. Love the pictures, they are beautiful. Sounds like a lush holiday! Jo xx

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  20. I have just adored being on holiday with you!!!! Thanks so much!!!

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  21. I love your photos. The sunflowers are especially gorgeous. Thank you for a little taste of France.

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  22. It looks as if you had a wonderful holidays Million. So glad. I missed out on visiting the markets when we were in France. Welcome home!

    Leanne xxx

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    1. sorry Gillian. It made me laugh though!

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  23. what lovely photos, it all looks so relaxing and beautiful! Glad you had a great time. x

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  24. GORGEOUS photographs Gillian...looks like you had a wonderful time :)
    Caroline xx

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  25. It just looks breathtaking and those sunflowers, beautiful! :) x

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  26. Your holiday looked amazing!! I absolutely LOVE LOVE France and it holds a little piece of my heart. I have never visit the Dordogne, but definitely intend to do it one day. I also love their markets and even though I have been to a fair few, I have never seen any haberdashery, so that was a lucky find. Your photo's are gorgeous and I personally think you have done very well to show so little, I know I would find it impossible as I never think there are too many photo's. I am pleased to hear that you came back with some cents as I know you were a little worried about it. Wishing you a happy week xoxo

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  27. Oh wonderful pictures. It looks like you had an amazing time.

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  29. Wow! It looks like you had a fabulous trip. I would love to go there too. Those sunflowers, the views, the markets! It all looks so lovely.

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  30. Stunning!! And no, never too many photos!!

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  31. Beautiful pics, made me yearn for the those wide skies of the continent

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  32. Your holiday sounds delightful! I hope it was a nice relaxing break for you too :)

    S x

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  33. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!!! You must have had such a wonderful time. It actually looks even more magical than I imagined. That lake! Sigh. Mel xxx

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  34. Your pictures are beautiful, such lovely memories for the next months !...
    (in French, we say "en vacanceS" The word "vacance" exists but is a synonymous of "emptiness")

    Nina

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    1. Thank you Nina! Oops - I should really have known that...

      Gillian x

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  35. Oh, wow! Absolutely breathtaking! I think I need to go to France. :) I have added your blog to my favorites in my sidebar. Have a wonderful time!
    thingsherelately.com

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  36. Oh Gillian those sunflowers are so beautiful. I'm glad you all had such a wonderful time in France. x

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  37. What a wonderful holiday thank you so much for sharing such stunning photos x

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  38. oh your pictures bring back so many memories. Aubeterre is beautiful isn't it. in the catacombs they hold concerts. it is amazing and they are mostly free. and the man made beach is a haven for children isn't it.

    so glad you had a great time. I feel Aubeterre is my French home.

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  39. Oh My Goodness ..... what a fabulous place! and your photos are so beautiful.
    The markets look and sound so exciting and i also would LOVE to know what was in the disused shop in the first photo, sounds delectable.
    Those sunflowers ..... WOW!
    I would love so much to visit France, even more so now, i have only ever been to Boulogne with school, that kind of put me off for years!
    love jooles xxx

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  40. I'm so pleased you found those sunflowers and got such beautiful photos. We saw them from the motorway but didn't find any nearby so your shots have brightened my day. Love all the others too. Claire xo

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  41. Gorgeous pics Gillian! I also don't like spiral staircases. I think it's because I can't see what's up ahead. x

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