Sunday, April 15, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France with Judith Dowden

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance. Today I am delighted to be joined by Judith Dowden, author of Chez Mwah: How to Languish in the Languedoc, a rather funny look at the reality of running a holiday home in France, on a budget. You can read my review here, and for a peek at Judith’s take on French life, read on, she’s taking us for a rummage at a vide greniers.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
Chez Mwah, Judith Dowden

LAZY SUNDAY


Sunday mornings in France mean one thing and one thing only and, we’re religious about it. Of course, it’s ch…ch….ch…….CHINER!!

Bless me.

There’s no English equivalent for this verb, chiner. Here’s my definition:

“To rummage around in other people’s old stuff and haggle for fascinating objects that you neither wanted, nor even knew you needed.”

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden

There is an excellent website that tells you where the nearest vide-greniers are occurring. It’s a jolly saunter out towards an undiscovered village, circling it five times in search of a sign, suspiciously eyeing up the other chineurs – also in a holding pattern, until one of us spots a postage stamp sized flyer indicating which car park, stadium or random field to aim for.

Then it’s the spit of gravel, pedal to the metal and a Wacky Races style dash to beat one another to it.
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
 #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
We have furnished our Languedoc home from these events. Our finds include a giant Moroccan lantern, a snail collecting basket, an illuminated Eiffel Tower and a clear plastic bowl with a jaunty orange palm tree sticking out. When it’s full of sandy apero snacks - crisps, nuts, Cheesy Wotsits - it resembles a mini desert island. I noticed a French neighbour’s quizzical stare at one particular soirée and assumed she was wracked with envy over my stylish serving receptacle. She explained that it was actually a terrapin bowl, in which to keep your pet reptiles.

Oh, well. Never mind. I’d given it a good wash.
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
After a noisette and a croissant on some sunny village terrace, we head for home, stopping off at the garage shop. In England, this means a cold Ginster’s and a Mars Bar. But this garage shop has a glorious Minervois wine selection, a sumptuous deli, a rotisserie dripping with golden chickens and, nestling amongst frilly garden lettuces, there are pearlescent oysters.
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
We scoop up the laziest, but most delicious Sunday lunch along with some newspapers. After having unpacked this morning’s vide-grenier treasure, flung hot soapy water over it all and brewed more coffee, we settle down for a couple of hours in the sun.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden

The first hunger pangs prompt a dish of olives and an apero of local rosé, while we shuck oysters and mix diced shallots with red wine vinegar for the garnish. We warm up the chicken, which comes with sticky, brown potatoes. There is also a sharp Tarte au Citron, collected from the patisserie earlier.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden
#LazySundayinFrance Judith Dowden

We might go for a bike ride around the vineyards, or a stroll by the Canal du Midi – just long enough to make room for chicken mayonnaise baguettes, with a movie from our French shelf – “La Vie en Rose”, “Midnight in Paris ” or “Chocolat”.

Laziness is surprisingly exhausting! So it’s a relief to fall into bed and apply our thoughts to Monday morning’s rush hour or, as we like to call it, the queue at the boulangerie. Oh, the stress of wondering whether we’ll make it before the fig bread sells out.

Bonne Nuit.

Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries ©judithdowden2018

You can follow Judith on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Chez Mwah is available in ebook and paperback formats and a links to Amazon can be found below.