Monday, October 30, 2006

How Long Will This Butcher's Survive?

When we first moved to the Rodez area in 1995, the downtown boasted three cheese shops and two fishmongers'. Eleven years later, there is only one cheese shop and one fishmonger left. I haven't kept track of butchers' , although I remember that one of the town's finest shut down over five years ago. All in all, though, they seem to be hanging in there a little better than other types of specialty food shops in this meat-loving region.

Derrick Schneider of An Obsession with Food recently expressed amazement at the variety and quality of meats available in "France's Wal-Mart-like hypermarchés," and it's true that one can find just about all types of meat in a Géant or an Auchan. I shop quite a bit at the hypermarchés, so I can't play holier-than-vous, but I do try to buy most of my meat at the local butcher that they will still be around in ten more years.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Aveyronnais at work in Toulouse

It's always fun to identify an Aveyronnais business far from home. Once when visiting Paris, we drove by a café called "Au Trou de Bozouls." Since we live quite near this geographical landmark (le trou) as well as the village of Bozouls, we got quite a kick out of seeing a little piece of Aveyron in the capital.

I just got back from a few days in Toulouse, and was tickled to find a trace of Aveyron there in this hotel, named after the Rodez cathedral tower.

Indeed, the diligent Aveyronnais made -- and are still making -- a fortune in the hotel and café business in Paris, and they seem to have left a trace in Toulouse too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Deliver la lettre, the sooner the better...

I don't hear many Ruthénois wax eloquently about the city's main post office, but it is one of the local buildings I enjoy taking a look at, especially on a sunny day. I imagine it was built in the 40s or 50s and that the deep red stone, not especially common in Rodez itself, was brought in from the Marcillac valley. I was unable to find any information about the building on the Web or in my books about the area -- maybe one of my readers knows more than I do?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Time of the Signs

The rue Béteille is the main road up to what the locals call the piton, or the top part of Rodez. Years of traffic have left the street dingy and depressing, and the town hall has embarked on a major project to cheer up this gloomy part of town. I was lucky enough to be on the rue Béteille AND to have my camera with me one day when they had just torn down a building, revealing this old advertisement for "overactive" Castrol motor oil.

The next time I walked down the street, new construction had gone up. The sign, having made a brief reappearance after decades of reclusion, was once again hidden between walls. Who knows when it will be visible again?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Will Live to See the Day!

I love my French home, and this blog was created to praise it. But after 16 years of living in France, I figure I have the right to a few issues. And one is getting particularly under -- or on -- my skin. It's a good thing the French government is finally gearing up for a true ban on smoking in public places, because I'm not sure how much more I can take.

Already I avoid the staff room at my job because I hate to go into class smelling like Gitanes . This problem should be cleared up soon because the decree banning smoking in offices, stores, schools and hospitals will take effect in February 2007.

I also must admit I go out less than before because smoke in restaurants and cafés annoys me more than in my insouciant youth. I'll have to wait a little on that front -- cafés, bars and restaurants have been granted until January 2008 to comply with the smoking ban. But at least there is hope on the horizon...I know I will live to see the day when I can enjoy a meal out in France without worrying about smoke puffing over from the next table.

(Photo extract from the Macon Daily, "France to Impose Smoking Ban")

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We have our castles too

Aveyron is definitely a land of surprises. Just when you've started getting used to wild and rustic, you're struck by something chic and showy. Although we can't compete with the Loire Valley, there are a number of châteaux about, often hidden behind trees and huge iron gates.

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)