I guess for most people when they think about shopping in France they think of Parisian boulevards and their designer shops, artful window displays and smart doormen at the ready. Or maybe you think of markets laden with fresh produce, cheeses and meats from the provinces, fresh fish from the Atlantic coast.
But for someone who has a gardening gene in her, these boutiques hold little appeal. This gardening gene must run deep within me because I haven’t bothered much with the markets here in the Alps, the occasional forray for some cheese from a local producer has been about my limit.
But as we start to pack up and prepare to leave (have I mentioned this before? Cue rolling of eyes…..!) I had to go shopping – garden shopping that is. How could I pass up the opportunity of paying a visit to a local garden centre? Exactement mes amis!
I had a couple of “must-haves” in mind, some Radis Noir and Cornichon. We have really enjoyed eating the Cornichon (Gherkin) we buy in jars, and I’m sure homegrown and home marinated would be even more delectable. They are part of the cucumber/pumpkin family and I grow these all the time, but the crunch of a pickled cucumber is appealing and a new one for me to grow.
Then there are the Radis Noir (Navet Noir Long), you see these all the time in winter in France – a winter Radish, a chunky dark brown-skinned radish with wonderful crisp white flesh on the inside. They are not the most photogenic of vegetables to grow, but make a lovely addition to a winter salad, or used instead of turnips in a stir fry or stew or just on their own a top of a slice of buttered bread.
And then of course as this gardening gene runs so deep and with a little encouragement I bought a few more packets – I take very little encouragement by the way! A few of these, some of those and sure enough we have some plans and dreams.
A packet of Royal Chantenay carrots – lovely little orange stubby carrots, perfect for the clay soil in the allotment, I will plant some rows between the garlic (classic inter-crop and companion planting).
And then there had to be some beans – a box of Flagolets were winking at me, I swear they were! Plus some yellow dwarf beans (De Rocquencourt). A smattering of Fennel for autumn/winter eating, an Italian variety of Poiree or Swiss Chard to be picked young like spinach, an all year round variety of Cauliflower (will they be a success??), some Romanesco seeds, again will it grow well for me? And finally a packet of Mesclun that looked like a pretty and irresistable mix.
Hopefully come this summer and winter we will have a petit momento of France in our vegetable garden to remind us of our soujourn. Bon chance mes amis