Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Heatwave Holiday

As you'd expect on a French holiday we visited a few markets...it would be rude not to.  The neighbouring town of Fontenay-le Comte has a good one on a Saturday so off we went.  It was fairly bustling and the stall holders were generally very friendly and tolerated my hesitant French with good humour.  

The indoor food market was particularly interesting and highlighted the different way that we and the French think about food.

 Outside were lots more stalls. where I was tempted by a basket.

After a café créme we wandered around the town and I spent ages in the Yves Rocher shop where they had 50% off on selected items.  I bought several products for a friend's birthday and asked if they did 'un paquet cadeau' ...another thing that I like about France.  Leaving the shop we noticed this vending machine in the street

for al-fresco fornication peut-être ?

Before heading back to our cottage we stopped at the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame, founded in the 12th century as an Augustinian monastery.

 L'Ile de Ré was next on our list.

 This was my 5th visit to this part of the world and for some reason....(probably the toll to cross the bridge, tightarse) I'd never yet made it there.  I'd heard many times that it was a very pretty little island and it did not disappoint.

Real estate on the island is expensive and the native population has been widely criticized for its insular nature and unfriendly attitude to immigrants.  We enjoyed a delicious meal on the quayside at St Martin de Ré and watched the affluent locals... easily distinguishable from us riff raff tourists!

We spent all day on the island in scorching temperatures learning of its maritime history and donkeys in 'trousers'!

In days gone by the donkeys worked at the salt mines on the island and in order to protect their legs from mosquitos and flies so abundant there, they wore these gingham trousers. These days donkeys in trousers are a tourist attraction.

On our way back to the village we stopped off at a fabulous brocante at Nalliers.  Regrettably I can't show you just how amazing it was because I left my camera in the car.  There was just so much there I didn't know where to start.  Best of all was the plethora of vintage sewing notions and clothes.  On another day I could have spent hours in there but on that day it was 41 degrees and I left, very hot and bothered, after half an hour with just a couple of old tins.

Later in the week we visited the coast about an hour away, it was very quiet everywhere as les grandes vacances, the French summer holidays, had yet to start.

En route we stopped off at this local dam opened in the 50's when many locals would have been employed here.  Nowadays the buildings and machinery lie redundant as the dam is computer operated and it seemed rather eery although the surrounding scenery was spectacular.

The remainder of our holiday was very laid back as France was experiencing a heatwave. Every time you turned on the telly there were warnings about la canicule and my old Renault without any a/c was sweltering.   We rested in the cottage garden and enjoyed the wildlife....the goats that appeared behind the house in the morning who regarded us quizzically, a woodpecker in the cherry tree, an inquisitive red squirrel and loads of lithe lizards.

 We read, I crocheted... and finished a blanket, drank beers galore and generally lazed around in the enervating heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed my fortnight in Vendée and would have loved to stay all summer long.

It must be time to start planning my next trip !


  1. Les grandes vacances ont commencé avec la canicule ici !!! Ton reportage made me smile ... les brocantes ici sont toujours très fournies et riches en objets ... et les touristes sont toujours focused on the food, the french food ... so funny !!! Merci de ce reportage intéressant ... Bonne journée, bises

  2. Sounds lovely Fiona! Gorgeous, gorgeous pics too. Impressive bridge over to L'Ile de Re, always wanted to go there, had never heard about donkeys in trousers though! Glad you got the chance to relax and enjoy the sun xx

  3. What gorgeous photos of what looks like a very beautiful part of the world. No wonder you keep going back. I love all those baskets.

  4. Donkeys in trousers, absolutely priceless!
    Loved the baskets in the first photo and glad you snapped a few up.
    France looks gorgeous, those endless blue skies are wonderful. xxx

  5. Oh yes, it really must. You need another trip to look forward to! Your trip looked fabulous. I particularly love L'Ile de Re. It always makes me wonder what people who live on islands do for a living? Or maybe they don't need to? Shame about the brocante, I would have loved to have seen all those treasures. Oh yes, food markets are heaven and they do have great baskets. I'm off to the Dordogne in Sept. After your pics, I can't wait! Xxxx

  6. Oh it all looks so beautiful I'm positively green.

  7. Your photos are all tres chic! I particularly like the market, the French really do understand the art of a good market.

  8. What beautiful photos. Really enjoyed sharing your trip.

  9. What fantastic photos, Fiona. It may have been boiling hot, but it sounds as though that forced you to slow the pace and relax, and that's never a bad thing. lle de Re looks beautiful, as do the blue skies, classic French signage, and the donkey in trousers!
    PS. My friend Jane lives in Curzon. She's been in the Vendee for 8 years and has enjoyed it, but found that the region is extremely busy with tourists in the summer, but a lot of local services/shops close for the off-season. She's sold her house and is planning to return to the UK soon. xxx

  10. What a gorgeous place … and those hot temperatures sound pretty good at the moment, it's been icy here.

  11. Wow, you certainly got some gorgeous weather. It looks like a beautiful place and you've captured the vibe. I've just returned from 8 days in a freezing, wet and wild Norfolk and I'm well jealous! xxx

  12. AMAZING travel post :) and your blog is so cozy and personal

    Check out my new post- 6 sexy coffey tables :)

    have a fab weekend dear

    LOVE Maria Inredning - it's Swedish for decor


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