One of the many reasons that Bill and I moved to southwest France was the cost of living. For the quality of life we were seeking we were unable to find it affordably in the US, if it even exists there. Walking to the open air market two or three times a week to pick up fresh produce from near by farms is something we really appreciate. Next to the this square is Les Halles, the huge covered market built in 1768, where some of those same farmers also sell their meat and fishermen display their catch from the Mediterranean Sea that’s about 30 minutes away. That’s probably where we’ll be buying everything that we eat from now on, and here’s why….
Despite the abundance of “old style” shopping available to us right in the heart of the city, on the outskirts of town are several zones industrielles where big box stores and giant supermarkets are located to keep them away from the historic center of the city. We can walk to the nearest zone in 30 minutes or ride the 1 euro bus to the furthest in about the same amount of time. It was a cool but pleasant day so we bundled up, put on our backpacks, and headed out to see what bargains we could find.
Typically called a hypermarket in Europe or a supercenter in the US, the store we shopped in is physically huge with a selection of items to match. After wandering around for an hour or more we ended up in the meat department and spotted an entire refrigerated display of packaged meat very near the end of their sell-by date. The chickens we’ve seen in supermarkets here generally weigh around 2 pounds and sell for about 4 to 5 euro/dollars each which explains why we immediately snatched up the two chickens on display for less than half that price but expiring the following day.
We got them home with all three of us (Heather loves chicken) anticipating a roasted dinner only to find that despite the date label, they weren’t going to expire the next day; they had both expired some time ago which became instantly evident when Bill pierced the plastic that was somehow keeping the stench inside. So we didn’t have stinky chicken that night, we had stinky cheese instead. There is a dish here called raclette that is essentially roasted potatoes covered with aromatic melted cheese. Talk about comfort food! Looks like we’ll be doing our shopping “old style” from now on.