Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Beautiful Nimes (

Coquelicot Dec 1st, 2019 03:46 AM

cheska, I think I wouldn't mind winter in France either since it would be so much milder than where we live in the US.

Apparently this is happening all over France, the villages hollowing out. Where we go (kind of between Paris and the Loire, so the northern half of France) we've been told the doctors are leaving, heading south for better weather and a wealthier clientele! The young people don't want to stay in a dying village or small town. There are too many such villages in France with no services. I always feel bad when I see all the “a vendre” signs and the empty hotels, garages, and little groceries. You can see the town was once thriving and now it practically looks abandoned.

On the flip side, towns a shortish drive or train ride from Paris benefit from the influx of Parisians on the weekends. We talked to a couple of Parisians with two little girls who had rented a house in about the tiniest village possible, with the idea that if they could enjoy winter weekends there, they'd buy a house. The man told me the area was "magic" even in deep fog. By the time we met them, they'd bought a house and were in the midst of renovating it. We were invited to stop by but it was our last day and we didn't have time. I regret missing that since I love home renovations when they are somebody else's.

Did you enjoy your visit to E Leclerc? The range of chocolates and yogurts amazes me. Another thing that I had to get used to was in France nobody refrigerates eggs. All the differences between daily life at home and in France interest me.

cheska15 Dec 1st, 2019 04:05 AM

I too find the daily life and it’s differences fascinating. No refrigerator for eggs, and the selling of food at various markets probably would not be allowed in Aus. Occupational earth and safety are either not taken seriously here either by the companies or workers, working on building sites in France does not seem to have the rigorous laws that Aussie employees have to get onto a working site. The same can be said for OH&S laws that are in Aus. Yet the French people all survive and happily buy from an outside market. We are doing this too, working on the theory that there may be a very good reason for the queue of people at some outside markets. We are still alive to tell the tale.

StCirq Dec 1st, 2019 04:53 AM

You'd be considered a nutcase if you put your eggs in the fridge in France. The French don't wash eggs before selling them, so there's no reason for refrigerating them. And they taste SO much better than eggs from Safeway.

The little villages don't seem to be dying out here in the Dordogne. If anything, they are thriving because of tourism, though that's only in the warm months. You'd have to be crazy to buy a place here without surviving a winter or two, though. It's cold, rainy, dreary, and lots of things are closed. You have to learn what's open which days and which hours and plan accordingly. You and Amazon Prime become best buddies. If you don't have central heating you spend a fortune on wood and are always bundled up. Not for the fussy or pampered, but it's heaven for those who can cope without a lot of fancy toys and who don't mind nature being in their face in all its permutations. And especially those who don't mind fog. You learn to live and get things done even when you can't see your hands.

I can't imagine worrying about buying food from a fresh market in France. Our market is celebrating its 700th (!) anniversary this year, never having missed a single Tuesday. If people had gotten sick buying their food here, I'm sure someone would have heard about it.

cheska, if you're interested in food and various regions of France and want to improve your French, I would suggest watching Les Carnets de Julie on youtube or elsewhere. This has been my solution to having a husband who, while he's been here full time for 5 years and has improved his language skills a whole lot, still can't sit and gab at the kitchen table when we have friends over. Julie speaks beautifully and clearly and her videos are filled with wonderful tales of life all over the countryside in France, and her friends cook wonderful things that give us lots of culinary ideas.

cheska15 Dec 1st, 2019 08:10 AM

Thanks StCirq I will have a look at the shows. Can’t ever believe I would be able to have a normal conversation in French. We are getting by though. If a person says Salut to us which is informal do we then respond informally? I’m not quite sure how to respond as I think I can reply informally as the person has set the tone. Is this correct. Thanks.

kerouac Dec 1st, 2019 12:59 PM

Yes, you just say 'salut' or 'bonjour' back and leave it at that.

rhon Dec 1st, 2019 01:19 PM

As with Coquelicot, it is the little differences in daily life that we really enjoy when we are in France. Disposal of rubbish is just one of those examples. Here where we have a weekly household collection with general, recycling and green bins, it is so different in the places we stay in France. In all our trips, we have only had a wheelie bin once or twice. Perhaps that is because we always stay in small places or the countryside. We quickly adjust to taking our rubbish when we leave each day. And remembering to get a baguette before 12.30.

It is sad to see the small villages losing their facilities, but it is not confined to France. When we travel away from the coast inland here, some little towns have lost almost everything. While we live in a small provincial city now, both P and I were born and raised in small country towns and because of P"s work, we lived for a long time in small towns, so we are very comfortable in quiet places.

One of our memories is of eating oysters from a stall in Cancale. The stallholder pulled a plate and knife out of a bucket of water full of plates and put a dozen oysters on it. When we returned the plate, it when back into the bucket for the next person. We commented then that it would not be allowed at home by the Health and Safety police. I would return for more oysters tomorrow.

Keep having fun.

rhon Dec 1st, 2019 02:49 PM

We are also fans of Les Carnets de Julie and have watched quite a few on Youtube when planning a trip. I can sometimes pick up a few words,and enjoy seeing what is being cooked. She gives a great insight into regional cooking and traditions. The regionality of food is another of the things we love about travelling to France. The show was on a couple of times on Saturday afternoon when our gite owners were showing us the TV.

TDudette Dec 4th, 2019 04:30 AM

Please keep this coming, cheska15!

lrice Dec 4th, 2019 06:10 AM

So great to follow along and learning so much! It is very admirable that you have put together a full year in France... I can barely make decisions about a month! Haha

I’m looking forward to reading what is next on your itinerary of life in France!

StCirq Dec 4th, 2019 06:38 AM

As long as we're talking about everyday stuff in the countryside in France, I'll add that we make at least 2 or 3 trips to the déchetterie every week and there are few things I enjoy hearing more than the sound of glass bottles breaking into bits in the cold winter air. As an aside, we do seem to have a lot of glass bottles :unsure:

cheska15 Dec 4th, 2019 07:59 AM

Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17025196)
As an aside, we do seem to have a lot of glass bottles

I can’t believe how many glass bottles we take either. I’m sure someone comes in while we are asleep and adds extra wine bottles. We made the mistake in the first week of putting them in the recycling. They were taken out of the bin and put against our gate. Same as anything that shouldn’t be in there. So the whole street got to see how much we drank in the first week, and that we put alfoil in the recycling lol.

The rubbish collection here in Nimes is fabulous. Monday’s and Friday’s, and recycling on Wednesday. Unlike Australia there are three men on the garbage truck and three on the recycling truck. Australia only has the driver. Reminds me of when I was a child and you knew the ‘garbos’ as we used to call them. At Christmas you would leave a bottle of beer for them. Not sure if you do that here. Bins are taken back inside your gate very quickly, and you don’t see any empty bins left in in the street for the whole day. Interesting differences.

kerouac Dec 4th, 2019 09:07 AM

That's not bad for "the provinces." In Paris we have pickup 364 days a year (May 1st there is no pickup), but the city would look like a trash dump if we didn't (and sometimes it does anyway). Most places have 3 different bins, but I think we are supposed to go up to 5 bins in a year or two. My building won't be able to do it since it is very small and we already have trouble squeezing in the 3 bins. But I still know buildings obliged to use just one bin. At least there are public bins for glass on every street for people who need to use them.

France is still not considered to be one of the best countries for recycling. Belgium still requires deposits on bottles and recycles 97%. France only recycles 80%.

gooster Dec 4th, 2019 07:49 PM

I love Carnets de Julie. Many of the programs are on (legally) on Youtube in their dedicated channel.

> it is interesting visiting these small towns in winter.
This is so true. I don't think I could handle the isolation. I recall in a tour of the Languedoc, going house scouting, that we would encounter many villages that were empty even in May. Many bordered up shops and at times, some seasonal homes.

The talk of towns emptying out reminded me of a visit last week to Peillon. In the commune, there are nearly 2000 people and you'd think they'd have services. In the historic center there are two restaurants, both were closed. No boulangerie, cafe or even a small market. The nearest neighbor, Peille, had one sad crepe shop/cafe open. The boucherie closed in 1979, per a sign. Both towns had stunning views across the preAlps to the Sea and beautiful houses and streets. We eventually found a restaurant open 20 km away. And these are villages not 20 km from Nice (the easy access probably contributes to the hollowing out of services). From my apartment, there are 3 boulageries within 100m, a couple of boucheries, fromageries, traiteurs, cafes, restos, bars and a Carrefour city open to 10 pm and 8 pm on Sunday. It was totally unexpected to find such convenience.

cheska15 Dec 4th, 2019 09:16 PM

gooster I too couldn’t live in an area that is so isolated. I like large towns or small cities like Nimes. Although I do like Montpellier. There is always something happening there.
I need to be able to walk off by myself to have a coffee. We are very lucky to have a Boulangerie 500 meters away that opens at 6.00am. and closes at 7.30 pm. Nearest shopping is 2ks away and without a car we have to be a bit more organised.

We are heading to Nice and Menton in February and I’m really looking forward to the trip.

StCirq Dec 5th, 2019 04:29 AM

Well, we're all different, aren't we? I love big cities for 3-4 days and then I have to retreat. I love the isolation here, the quiet, the pitch dark nights with only the sound of an owl hooting, the lazy hot summer days when the only sound is the local choo-choo clattering through the valley. What totally gets on my nerves is going into town in July or August and having to fight my way to the butcher or the baker, not being able to get a seat at our café, having to park a mile away from the Tuesday market, people thinking it's OK to sit on our roof and have picnics, "traffic" on our main road into town, no parking thanks. Give me solitude and an Irish coffee by the fireplace...and the occasional party where I get to cook for everybody. I guess I'd rather plan for and produce a big event with a lot of people occasionally than have a regular trickle of interactions.

We don't have any commerce at all here in St-Cirq, not a single store. Just farmers, old people, fields, crops, and livestock. I guess it would be nice to be able to walk to a café but it's honestly something I never think about. Going into town to a café is actually a real treat for us. Might do it this afternoon.

TDudette Dec 5th, 2019 07:05 AM

Looking forward to reading what you write about Menton, Cheska! DH and I did some shopping and I almost thought I belonged there.

If possible, look up the nearby Ventimiglia market. Our hotel did a van ride to it so we didn't have to worry about traffic and parking.

Here's my 2009 TR for your information:

kerouac Dec 5th, 2019 07:37 AM

Ventimiglia has become less attractive for French day trips in recent years because French customs have come down very hard on counterfeit items sold there, and people caught with such goods by the 'douane volante' (spot checks) have learned to regret it very much. However, if you just buy Italian artisanal items or sausage and cheese, no problem.

gooster Dec 5th, 2019 10:07 AM

@cheska: be sure to post for recommendations as your visit to the CdA approaches. Sounds like you'll be heading to Carnival and the Citron festival. There are also some wonderful villages in the area inbetween.

@St Cirq: I too like peace and quiet and a short train/bus or car journey will get me into the countryside. But even in the peak of August, I could walk the 150m down to the seashore, drop my mat, and still not be crowded cheek to cheek on the beach. I think the size of my city helps it absorb the tourist hordes better than a smaller town. And, there are always places in town free of tourists.

cheska15 Dec 5th, 2019 11:41 AM

gooster thanks I will ask for recommendations when we go to Menton and Nice in February.

cheska15 Dec 7th, 2019 12:36 PM

The weather for the last few days has been absolutely glorious. Clear sunny skies and very cool. Everything is looking lovely and green because of all the rain. Sadly the floods have caused havoc in some towns and with no rain for a week, hopefully the towns will recover.

We have eaten at home most of this week. Had fabulous beef and eggplant lasagna on Monday. It was cool and cloudy,and we walked into town to go to the traiteur we visit regularly. On stopping for coffee in Place de L’ Horloge and the lasagna looked so good we tried it. Very big serve. With wine €25.

We eventually got to the traiteur before they closed at 1.30 (late for Nimes) and purchased veal casserole, lamb shanks, and guinea fowl for me. We cook the veggies. Another thing I love about France is that they only eat what is in season, and you don’t have three or four vegetables like in Australia. One or two veggies at the most. I keep raving about the taste of the vegetables. So good. Each meal we had was fabulous, and all up the cost was €30 for several meals.

The strikes planned from 5 December hasn’t affected Nimes that much, despite the international press saying France is at a standstill. It is having an impact probably in Paris and bigger cities. Busses were still running and minimal trains, Le Poste still delivered mail on the strike day.

The Christmas decorations have been assembled in a few streets. The decorations are very sedate. Today we saw the the ice rink at Carre Masion being constructed. That will be a lot of fun to watch. We will go in one night during the week to look at the lights, Ferris wheel and sideshow alley to see them all lit up. The sun is setting now at around 5.30 pm so winter is definitely on its way.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:19 AM.