We live in Normandy and sometimes we forget that our host nation closes for their daily ritual of lunch promptly at 12 noon. We happened to be in the Bricomarche today and we had lost ourselves in the lighting aisle when we were politely reminded that the shop was about to close. It was the magic hour when the French head off to their favourite little bistro for a menu du jour to be accompanied by a glass (or two) of their favourite.
On the way to the restaurant we noticed that the cars around us were driving just a little bit faster than us and the drivers had anticipatory smiles on their faces already savouring the impending delights. Just as an aside, in France when the clock strikes noon you had better head to your favourite lunch spot because if you’re not seated by 12:05 in the more popular restaurants then you had better find an alternative place to dine. Roads remain relatively quiet for the French 2 hour lunch (a 2 hour lunch break!) while restaurant guests savour the delicacies, c’est l’amour.
On our way home we found a relais (meaning relax in French and historically somewhat akin to the traveller’s inns in the olden days) where the magic noon hour is less stringent since they cater to travellers including lorry drivers. If you find yourself in France (which I hope you will) you will always find great food at great prices at a Relais.
The waitress arrived and pointed to the handwritten chalkboard listing today’s options of the menu du jour – always of course using only the freshest ingredients typically using locally sourced (and very important) seasonal produce. We very much enjoy dining in France, you can have as little or as much as you want. Today we opted for 2 courses commencing with the appetizer buffet which afforded a vast choice of salads, greens, eggs, pate and more accompanied by the French baguette. Second course was a choice of dessert or cheese. Both being lovers of the myriad of French cheese varieties we opted for the help yourself option which we both went into with eyes bigger than our stomachs! All this along with a bottle of red which adorned each table – also on a help yourself basis – and our bill was less than €20.
Vive la France and long live the love affair! BTW featured photo of baked camembert happens to be a personal favourite!