If you want to get the most out of living in France, you need to slow down and smell the coffee. Find those little tucked away restaurants, enjoy every course that’s on offer, and no phones at the table!

Shopping in our local supermarket the other day, I was bemused to find fresh snails and mussels for sale and remarked to myself that I doubt one would find the equivalent in the UK. It is always a joy to look at any meat or fish counter in France, whether in a supermarket or open air market: somehow the variety of cuts of meat and types of fish seems far greater than I remember it in the UK.

There is something about that pretty little village restaurant serving home-cooked food, with a fixed menu of around €12, including a glass of wine.

One of the many great lures for British people coming to France has always been the food and wine. There is something about that pretty little village restaurant serving entirely home-cooked food, offering a fixed menu of something like €12 (£10) including a glass of wine which makes one feel comforted and healthy. It’s why we love this country so much. You can find such a restaurant pretty much anywhere in the country and often it is the ones that you come across by chance whilst motoring through the country which prove to be the best.

The French don’t tend to snack as the British do. Meals are meals, usually taken “en famille” and lunchtimes mean a sit down meal, not a sandwich on the run. Walking around our local market, it is easy to spot the French as they are the ones picking up, feeling the vegetables and pondering the colour and cut of the meats they are thinking of buying. They expect freshness and any shopkeeper knows this. There is less plastic used to wrap veg and fruit in supermarkets we have noticed too.

 

The perfect find, a tucked away restaurant with a view

 

I suppose this attitude stems from the innate love the French have of eating good food. “Il faut vivre pour manger, non pas manger pour vivre” said Moliere and that still seems to be the general thinking today.

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As for wine, well this is almost a given at mealtimes. Older children will be offered a thimble full with their meal, presumably because it then does not become forbidden fruit and thus there appears to be less far less binge drinking amongst teenagers or young adults. Of course, living in a country which has the largest wine-growing area in the world, the Languedoc Roussillon, not to mention other areas such as Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Burgundy etc., means that one is literally spoilt for choice: the standard is high.

A standard evening meal in many French homes will consist of a starter, a meat/fish course, a salad often served separately, cheese and finally dessert. When you think about it, it makes complete sense to have cheese, which is savoury, after the main course and to end on a sweet note.