The Village Shops

You can blame Derek for this post. He asked for more photos of the village so here goes. After his latest comment I’m adding this one of the stream:

The first place we come to is the Pizzeria. They make wonderful pizzas and do a roaring trade in take-aways as well. On busy evenings you can order your pizza and then have a drink in the adjoining bar while you wait. It is also a restaurant and the manager who took over a couple of years ago has improved the menu but increased the prices. As it is only a couple of minutes walk from our house we can take guests there without worrying about driving home afterwards.

The nearest ‘shop’ is a hairdressers. It used to belong to Lydia and I was very happy with her and her assistant, Nathalie. Then Nathalie left – rather suddenly – and Lydia took early retirement rather than cope alone. Aurelie, the new owner, is very pleasant but although she cut my hair well she could never blow-dry it as I like it. Another problem was that she was always coughing all over her customers. When a new ‘peripatetic’ hairdresser started up I deserted the shop and now Marie comes to do everyone’s hair at home.

Next we come to the garage. It opened five years ago but still sports a sign saying ‘newly opened’. Sylvain is very handsome and of Italian descent. When we were househunting we looked round his brother’s house which was superb but overlooked a drinks depot, so we declined. However, we find Sylvain very obliging and not too expensive for services. He has done very well out of us with insurance claims as Jay’s car seems to be a magnet for vandalism and then the chap at the end of our road backed into him, causing 2600 euro’s worth of damage.

Next  on our round we come to the hotel, bar, restaurant and a second hairdressers (owned by another of Sylvain’s brothers).  Bear likes to eat at the restaurant once a week and the food is much better than at La Fontaine in town. They only do meals at lunchtime and have a daily menu at 12 euros 50 for two courses, wine or beer and coffee. There are always three choices of ‘plat du jour’ and if Bear doesn’t like anything on offer (he’s very difficult to feed) they will come up with an alternative at no extra cost. Likewise they have three desserts each day but Bear always has coffee ice-cream with chantilly which is never actually written on the blackboard.

Just up the road from here is the new bakers which I’ve already written about so we turn round and go back by a different route bringing us to the Post Office. We are lucky to have La Poste as there are threats to small Post Offices here, too. Fortunately there is a large Industrial Zone on the edge of the village, the other side of the ‘main road’ and so our Poste is safe.

Next to La Poste we have the Surgery (Cabinet in French) which has two doctors, two dentists, three physiotherapists  and a chiropodist. You have to choose a Medecin Traitant (GP) otherwise you won’t be fully reimbursed. It costs 22 euros to see the doctor and you get 20 back (if you pay an extra insurance or only 14 if you don’t). If the doctor comes to visit you at home you pay 32 euros. A session with the physio costs 14 euros and a check-up with the dentist costs, on average, 23 euros but they are both reimbursable. The chiropodist charges 25 euros (27 for a home visit) and you can’t claim that back.

Conveniently situated about 300 metres up the road is the chemists. Collecting a prescription is a time-consuming experience but Anne and her team are very pleasant and helpful. If Bear or Whale run out of any tablets before we have seen the doctor to renew their prescription, Anne will ‘advance’ the necessary medication. If there is anything that’s not in stock she will order it for the following day – including homeopathic remedies.

Opposite the chemist is a charcuterie, patisserie, traiteur (caterer). The owner is more interested in the charcuterie and catering side of the business. His bread is often soggy and he doesn’t have a good selection of cakes. I should think the new bakery has just about put an end to this aspect of his business. Unfortunately this is the only place you can get bread on a Monday but if you’re not a regular customer they won’t let you have a baguette unless they have enough to spare.

The final shop on our way home is the supermarket. This changed hands about two years ago and the new owners seemed intent on making a go of things. However, last Autumn there were rumours things weren’t going well. There were a few weeks when you never knew whether you’d find it open or not and at the end of November the doors closed for good. It doesn’t seem as though it is up for sale and no-one knows what is happening to it.

Anyone fancy running a shop in France?



10 Responses to “The Village Shops”

  1. BearNaked Says:

    I had to laugh at your first stop being a pizzeria.
    The’re everywhere in the world aren’t they. The first time we went to Cozumel, Mexico in 1995, I was surprised to see pizzerias there. And of course here in our small town in Canada there are so many that I can not understand how they all can make a living.
    I wonder how many are in China?

  2. sablonneuse Says:

    BearNaked: Yes, the Italian influence is everywhere. Which reminds me; I forgot to mention the ice-cream man (also with Italian origines). He lives opposite the house we used to live in and the ice-cream is made in a factory at the end of the road.

  3. tillylil Says:

    thank you for the virual guided tour of your village.
    It looks very pleasant.

    Hope you’ll feel up to coming to see it for yourself.

  4. Pat Says:

    You are very well served it seems to me. Are they in walking distance? I realise the more infirm probably have to go by car but for yourself?
    Have you seen the French film ‘The Poisoner’? It reminded me of some of the more remote villages we used to stay in.

    Yes, Pat, everything is in walking distance – 10 minutes maximum.
    I haven’t seen ‘The Poisoner’. is it a French flavoured Agatha Christie?

  5. Little old me Says:

    What a lovely place you live in, it looks so clean.

  6. canisfamiliaris Says:

    Now I’ve seen it I feel slightly disappointed. I was expecting a village like that in ‘Chocolat’. Are all the villages like yours in that part of France??

    PS I’ve never been to France, so I have to get my stereotypes from the movies!!!

    PPS Where are the onion sellers?

    PPS Why aren’t there any people in black berets?


    Oh dear, Derek. Sorry to disappoint you. There are some picturesque villages round here but I haven’t seen any like the one in ‘Chocolat’. Also it’s very difficult to find a village with as many amenities on the doorstep. The main attraction of Champagne Ardenne is it’s trees and hills (and the champagne, of course). A short walk in most directions out of the village will take you into the countryside. It is possible to walk across fields and do a circular route to the next village and back (about 5 miles) but my knee won’t allow that now.
    The last onion seller (complete with beret) I saw was on ‘Allo ‘Allo. You normally buy them on the market or at the supermarket nowadays!
    There is at least one old gentleman who wears a battered old black beret. I wonder if you can still buy them?

    PS Why not come over and see for yourself?

  7. meredic Says:

    Interesting. This gives me an idea for a post on Hallett’s Mountain. Now the pizza place, could it be persuaded to deliver here? I could have quite a big drink while I waited. An yes. I will put my hand up for running the empty shop.

    You mean you’d swap Hallett’s Mountain for a village supermarket? There’s far too much light pollution here for your astronomy for a start! And, sorry, I don’t think our pizza place could deliver – unless you like yours cold and soggy and sent by post.

  8. Pat Says:

    No it’s based on a true story and it rather emphasises the bucolic malevolence you can get in some remote villages – not just French. I see the second part in a day or two.

  9. guyana gyal Says:

    It’s great to see little village shops alive and well. Those super-marts in some countries have all but killed the little shops.

    it’s a shame the village store has closed but it must be very difficult to compete with the big supermarkets. Prices are higher so most people only use the local shop for the odd things they’ve forgotten to get in town. As for perishables we used to find that they left fruit and veg on the shelves far too long. Therefore people didn’t buy them. The same started to apply to the meat. It never looked fresh so people stopped buying it. It’s elderly folk without transport who suffer most.

  10. Parson Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Parson!!

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