Practising the local customs…

(We’re just outside the town of St. Romain de Colbosc)

It’s about a kilometre to the nearest town and after breakfast off I went. We had cycled here yesterday but took a left turn and went to the big supermarket and in doing so missed a vibrant town. Full of shops. And people! Not always a given in French towns. But this place is different, it’s a bit of a Tardis. It seems small but one left turn and you are in a completely different space.

(The flower shop and just past it, my cafe)

This morning I was open to experiencing a different space and I found it. The main square. There was a bar/cafe so of course I ordered a cafe and on enquiring about a croissant was sent across the road to the Boulanger. When I got back my coffee was ready. Of course I sat outside and watched the world go by and there was plenty of the world going by here.

(My boulanger)

Sitting outside is lovely at the moment as the temperature is just right (about 20 degrees) to do so without shivering. While drinking and munching I checked out the other clientele and the vast array of shops. Here’s what I spotted: eight hairdressers, two Boulanger’s, two pharmacies, an estate agent, a shoe shop, a newsagent, at least three bars, the post office, the police station, at least 10 ATMs, a clothes shop and a wool/sewing/underwear shop! There’s also two big supermarkets on the outskirts of town and yet all this commerce continues to survive within the town. How do they do that?

(Small supermarket and organic shop)

While I have been sitting here I have been lucky enough to spot some French kissing – the polite kind. Some of you will know our friend Thierry from Greystones (and France) who makes great pâté (La Paysan, found in all good SuperValu stores!!!) anyway, I practice French kissing him whenever I can (again, the polite kind…) but sitting here I realize it’s way more complicated that I realised.

(There’s a barometer up high on the Ville de Reunion)

So, there’s a couple of women sitting out here having a coffee and a chat and beside them at a different table is a young man enjoying a coffee, with his baby in a buggy beside him. Then along comes a different woman who spots the sitting-down-having-a-coffee lady and without a word heads straight for her and in a very graceful silent move leans right in to kiss her cheek and follows up with her other cheek. In another swift graceful movement she bypasses the sitting lady’s companion and heads straight in to kiss the young man on both cheeks. My question: how does she choose who to kiss? And who to ignore? A how does she not frighten the life out of people with this sudden kissing?

I obviously need more practice, Mairead.