Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Eating yourself stupid

Getting to la Rochelle by car, from the Bordeaux direction, is a very pleasant experience if you avoid the various rush-hour congestions - which we did, by the way. The road takes you across the most wonderful huge marais or salt-marsh, which is used for the cultivation of oysters and grazing cattle.  The sky is huge and soft, but filled with light reflected from the great ocean just a mile or so away.

The town is well served by information-boards, car-parks, walkways etc., and has a great many smart shopping streets. It also has gangs of ruffians with dogs, whose work preying on tourists is sufficiently effective for the authorities to post up warnings: SWINDEL in German, for instance.

We are tired now, after the drive from Caumont, and have eaten a pleasant and perfectly acceptable meal under an awning (avoiding starling-poo). Sadly, I am really not able to write about the last few days, which had been my plan. But I do want to say something about eating.

Anyone interested in eating - especially fish - will already know about la Rochelle, on the French west coast. If you have not considered it before, then you have a lot to learn. Around this ancient port (which has a working lighthouse about half a mile inland in the main boulevard at the back of the port, between a couple of boutiques), there are about 25 million restaurants, all serving variations on the same excellent menu of fish, fish and fish.

It is not difficult in France to eat yourself into a state of extreme discomfort. You long for oblivion, swear you will never eat again - and then the waiter says.... 'Et pour le dessert?....'   Each time, I think 'Next time I will just order salad.....' but my resolve crumples when I see these local specialities: eel, brandade de morue.....   Sometimes I manage to stick to plan A. Ha!

Suffice to say, France is very different from Spain, and has formal pleasures around every corner of the Tarn-et-Garonne: beautiful medieval market towns, bosky valleys, impressive harvesting operations for the corn and sunflowers, seductive weekly markets selling everything from top-grade wild smoked salmon to second-hand trousers, and wide open spaces and stonking great rivers where the water is a surprising range of colours.

So - more will follow. Thanks for reading and please do comment if you can.

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