The rain let up for one or two hours yesterday - long enough to grab my bike and explore some of Lille's adjoining suburbs and marvel once again at the extreme abundance of cycle paths (many of which leave the road system entirely and take you through green groves with wild flowering forget-me-nots). Golden sunlight filtering through the freshly rainwashed green leaves in the eternally gorgeous citadelle park/forest prompted me to think for the 680th time that I really should picnic there.

Earlier that morning I braved the tropical style downpour to visit the Vieux Lille markets (classed as one of the 100 prettiest markets in France). New seasons treats included fresh peas (which remind me of being a kid, my grandma always made me shell them), gariguette strawberries (a French variety I think, longer, sweeter and silkier than your standard strawberry - the best come from Plougastel in Brittany*). An unplanned 'treat' was the sweet talking cheese seller who skilfully bombarded me with a tasting a range of sheep milk cheese from the Alps, unpasteurized gruyere from Savoie and before I knew it had wrapped up a modest block in some waxed paper before I had asked the price. I shouldn't have asked the price. In these situations it's just best to hand over 20 euros and be happy if you get some change out of it.

*As an aside, the French apparently consume 2.5kg per person per year of strawberries. Considering I buy about 1/2 kilo a week for the entire season, I must be taking up the slack for a lot of people.


  1. Yeah, markets are one of our best feature, but I suspect they make up a pretty humongous portion of our GDP.
    I'm craving cheese and strawberries now.

  2. So much for me suggesting the market would be cheaper :)

    You're killing me talking about cheese. You know they only have *one* variety here (paneer), and even that original came from Persia. It's hardy stuff and doesn't even melt when you cook with it. Sob.

  3. Is it like haloumi? I used to have fun back when I was a waitress telling customers haloumi was made from camels milk. After they'd eaten it. Mostly just for the look on their faces.
    Still, you've got tropical fruits to console you!! And the shopping bill wouldn't really have been so much if I hadn't been sucked in by the cheese man.
    Anne, they were delish...the offer of a camp out on the sofa still stands ;p

  4. I brought Gariguettes to the historic picnic with Ms. Mac and her family when we first met in Dijon a year ago. They are still talking about the taste and the perfume of them!

  5. they are just the yummiest things aren't they? :)