France is wonderful at any time of year. But particularly when you haven’t been for a while and the weather is unexpectedly good. Le Touquet has to be one of my favourite places. Like St Malo and St Cast, it reminds me of those school trips abroad: one of the highlights of my existence – yes really! Except now I don’t have to go round looking for ‘straying children’ and picking off sixth formers in bars.
Why are the French cool in a way that we Brits are not? Saturday morning in France is so much fun. Coffee and ‘tarte aux pommes’, followed by a stroll on the beach, a browse round the shops and a trip to the market for some foods to take home. Things you don’t see (at least in Loughborough), like ‘girolles’ mushrooms, tomatoes with unfamilar names, russet apples (what happened to those?) and those deliciously sweet ‘fraises des bois’.
How is it that a small French town can sustain such an abundance of food shops? The butcher, the baker, the fishmonger and the greengrocer are all here and seem to thrive, alongside the market and the out-of-town supermarket. Well perhaps because you don’t see as many ‘bog-offs’ and the French don’t mind paying a bit more for quality food. Then, again, they don’t eat as much … French women (and men) really do seem to keep slim and so elegant. You can understand why they call this place ‘Le Touquet, Paris Plage’. Lots of Serge Gainsbourg lookalikes with blonde women and small dogs (always!). One restaurant actually had a photo and endorsement by the actor in its window. Don’t they know he’s been dead 20 years?!
A final word of praise for the lovely woman in the jeweller’s – see pic – who relieved my distress after a wasp sting to my ring finger. She acted quickly and cut off my wedding and engagement rings, causing minimum discomfort after the swelling caused constriction. A quick call to NHS Direct advised me to do this in order ‘to save the finger’. No panic then. But she was lovely, her small son was cute. Most of all it didn’t spoil our weekend!