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Sharon's recent trip to France:

writing, photographing, shopping, socialising et bien sur eating


I have just returned from my first trip alone to France. As well as having some ‘me time’, I had planned to finish the addition to my first book and take some good photos with my new swish camera. While I did take some photos and do some writing, I did not complete my book. There were too many other great things to do including spending all day at the Isle sur la Sorgue markets, having people over for aperitifs and partaking in many a sublime meal.

The Isle sur la Sorgue markets have to be some of the best markets I have been to in France. On a Sunday morning, just about all centre ville rues and quais are crammed with market stalls and people. There are a variety of goods for sale including food, clothing and antiques. Normally I get to spend an hour or so with or without David and the kids but on my own I was there from the market opening at 8am to its close at 2pm and still I was rushing at the end to get to all the stalls before they closed up for another week.

Given David could read this article I can't really go too much further into what I bought, sorry to other shop/market-aholics. You can get a good feel of the markets though and what I could have bought (if anything Dave!) from the photos I took, which is most likely what I was doing that was taking all the time.... The colours of the markets were greatly enhanced by the autumn leaves turning a beautiful mix of gold and red.

Some other shopping I had to do was to buy food for my rendezvous with our plumber/handyman Yannick and his lovely girlfriend and new baby. I invited them over for an aperitif to thank Yannick for all he does for us as well as for some company for me as by then it was mid week of my time alone and I was missing people contact beyond the market/shop vendors.

I had a very French experience shopping in our local rue which just luckily happens to be the best food shopping street in centre ville. Of course I needed to wait until after 3pm when the shops opened up again after lunch. It always frustrates me not being able to shop whenever I want but when I got over that I went to the vin shop, the boucherie, the petit supermache, the boulangerie and the fromagerie. I also visited the librairie to get a Francais/Anglais dictionary to help with the night and also found a DVD of Australia in French - it was made in 2004 and was on special at 30% off so you could probably imagine the quality of what they showed of our home country.

I was all set with the entertainment as well as the food I had prepared: a platter of goat's cheese and vegetable and lapin terrines with a baguette along with, for afterwards, these great chocolate coated almonds that looked like local olives on the outside and tasted divine. The night seemed to go well as my guests stayed until 10pm, even with a two month old baby. Not sure if it was the assistance from the dictionary along with my still struggling, albeit improving, French; the Oz DVD which served its purpose to show Yannick and his girlfriend at least bits of our country; or the food and wine I bought that was complemented by some pastis which one of the previous people who stayed at our place had left - it turned out to be Yannick's favourite drink, as with most Provencal locals I guess.

Even though I was impressed with the food I served Yannick and family, it was nothing compared to all the other food I had that week. As well as the always scrumptious chevre chaud salade I had on market day, there was in Isle sur la Sorgue the tomato tart which came with, to my surprise, three huge barbequed prawns which my reading of the French menu did not pick up. The tart was followed by crepe suzette made next to my table by the maitre de. I had been dreaming for months in the lead up to my trip about the almond croissants from the boulangerie near our apartment but was worried about my waistline with eating too many - not a problem as the boulangerie now makes mini almond croissants so I could eat one every day without thinking about the extra calories. There were also the special new treats I discovered at the local delicatessen and supermarket like eggplant crumble, strange sounding combination but absolutely delicious.

By the time I reached Paris, I know it is hard to believe but, I was a little tired of traditional French food so had a duck curry at a Thai restaurant - the French and Asians, and Asians in France even more so, certainly know how to cook that bird! I only had a day in Paris and wanted to spend time around where our new apartment is as well as take photos of my favourite spots in Paris.

The only time we stayed in the first arrondissement before was our night at the Paris Ritz in the Place Vendome so had not seen much around the streets in the area. I had such an enjoyable time walking around our place. Coming up from the Musee du Louvre metro station I could see the Louvre pyramid through the old Louvre building gates and over the heads of the people milling around this significant landmark. Parked on one side of the square were two old douche-vous and on the other, a bank of colourful motorbikes/scooters. Across the street heading up towards our rue was another smaller square in front of the Palais Royal which contained a large modern art piece made up of opaque coloured glass and was bordered by cafes with plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine.

Moliere was everywhere I turned, on the wall of the old theatre at the end of the Palais Royal, on the Paris history marker outside the apartment he lived in two doors up from our apartment and on the fountain with his statue you can see from our windows as well as on the street it borders and bar across the street bearing his name. At the end of rue Moliere is the Avenue de la Opera which ends up at the Opera 500m down. The Louvre is at the end of our rue Richelieu as is the famous rue St Honore. Across the road from our apartment and in fact all up rue Richelieu are restaurants, even one called Dave's which of course we will need to try. There were also plenty of little passage ways from our rue to one of my favourite Paris parks, the Palais Royal.

The photos I took of my favourite spots weren't of parks though or even monuments but more places that have a special meaning for me as they remind me of previous perfect Paris experiences I have had. For photos near our apartment, click here and for photos of my favourite spots, click here.

If you are interested in enjoying yourself like I did in France and would like to stay in our ISLS or Paris apartments or in our quieter house in the southwest of France, maybe before or after our tour next year, go to

A la prochaine (and I do hope my next trip will be soon...)


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