Category Archives: Markets

Sunday closing

In spite of a couple of years of spending summers driving around France house-hunting we had never given any thought to the closing times of shops as most of our accommodation was in B&Bs or small hotels.  However, the trip over in February to close on the house changed all of that.

We had arrived in Bordeaux late on a Saturday morning and drove up to Sainte-Foy arriving in time for lunch, which we took at Le Globetrotter in la Place de la Mairie.  Alain, the patron, became my new best friend when I discovered that they make “vin chaud” (mulled wine) to order.  After lunch we made a quick sortie to the LeClerc on the edge of town to pick up some basic provisions before finding the cottage that I had rented for us in Pineuilh.  We had agreed that the following morning we would drive down to the weekly market in Issigeac, meet the Immobilier’s English assistant, Sara, and pick up the fixings for dinner.  I had warned Mo (my son) and Gina (his godmother) that the market closed promptly at 12, as soon as the church bells began to chime the hour so we needed to leave no later than 9:30 as it is a good half-hour drive to get there.

Jet lag and ear plugs combined to ensure that one of our party slept rather later than intended and it was gone 10:30 before we left the cottage.  Naively, I didn’t think that this presented us with a problem.  We arrived in Issigeac just after 11, parked the car and took a leisurely stroll through the market.  We found Sara tucked away in her little office at about 11:45 and had a natter.  She asked us what our plans were for the next few days and, when we said that we were going to have some lunch and pick up some groceries for supper she glanced at her watch and said “You’d better get a move on, as the market will be closing shortly.”

I blithely said “No worries.  If we don’t manage to get what we need in the market now we’ll stop in at LeClerc on our way back to the cottage.”

Sara then proceeded to give me my first French reality check when she said ” You’d best get going ….. ALL of the shops close by 12 on a Sunday.  Even the big ones.”  It was 3 minutes to 12!

What followed next can best be described as something out of a Marx Brothers sketch – I grabbed some Euros from my purse for Mo & Gina, sent Gina off to the Petit Casino to buy some items there and Mo off to get a baguette from the bakery while I took it upon myself to find some protein and vegetables for our evening meal.  We agreed to reconvene at a bar in the market when we had completed our allotted tasks.  Needless to say the doors were chained shut on the Petit Casino by the time Gina reached it.  The bakery didn’t have much left either.  The meat stalls were dropping their flaps too and, as enticing as the rotisserie chickens were, I wanted to buy something that I could serve hot that night ….. there was no way I was doing cold meat and salad when it was 0° outside!  So round and round we ran until we’d found something.  Anything, actually.

We made it work.  Just.  Mostly by deciding to have a big lunch out and then having hot leftovers for supper.  Lesson number one well and truly learnt!