French Resistance – a nation of #bookshops against the world

A book shop – a true symbol of modern French Resistance

In France there are book shops.  In England a few still cling on but they are hard to find. Whilst the French have embraced much of the out of town retail centre/shopping mall culture, the book trade is still in independent hands. The sale of books online lags far behind the UK and The USA. A few Parisian sophistogauls possess Kindles but I suspect even they read e books about propagating chic organic cucumbers in their attics.

Eventually I plucked up courage to enter my local “librairie”. After all, I am Anglaise and so are my books. I imagined they would not be impressed by some Femme Franglaise swaggering in to anounce myself as the only International Number One Best Seller of female fantasm in the village. So – I took in some respectable material – my series of children’s books and of course some serious poetry which I publish at Gallo-Romano media. I met a wonderful French lady.

“No one buys poetry or children’s books,” she said, selecting instead the crime soaked oversexed romance which is my more worldly genre. “There are many English in the region – this is the stuff they like,” she assured me. Obviously  she knows what appeals to the daring fantasy follicles of the Anglo Saxon lady.

The bookshop “Le Passage des Heures” is a little marvel. Books on The Forgotten Vegetables of France lounge casually on the shoulder of Emile Zola. The place is adorable for a book groupie like me. We talked about the price of my books. I mentioned Amazon. A Gallic eyebrow shot out the roof of the building. Seemingly, the affairs of Amazon are of no interest. 

“We resist!” said the lady. 

A Corner of a foreign fenetre that is whatever Emma

Indeed they do. France is still a very foreign country – no matter where you are from. Being French is a talent and I will never be equal to it. Generally they understand how awful it is to be foreign and are very kind. As a result there is a bookshop in Saint Savinien with my books in the window. Merci beaucoup.  Eat your heart out Waterstone’s. 

Emma Thinx: Foreign – a land of fear, spice and possibility. 

Emma’s Spare Tyre Tummy Award for Saint-Jean d’Angely

You can take away a pizza but you can’t take away the quality and value of Les Jacobins.

Followers of my spare tyre restaurant experiences will realise the width of my taste and indeed the widening effect of my selfless research into the ecstasy of eating. I am prepared to sacrifice my own perfect form to bring you the fullest insights possible. When not savouring foie gras and monkfish I cavort among the fried breakfasts and the fish and chips.

Today I turn my attention to pizza. The French love it. The English love it. It seems that everyone in the world has some kind of pizza format. The Italian pizza seems to have found its familiar form when tomatoes arrived in Europe in the 16th Century thanks to the Spanish colonisation of the Americas.This means that the Roman Empire rose and fell without ketchup. It also means that “Bloody Mary” queen of England 1553 – 1558 could never have added juice to her vodka. (She also would not have had any vodka because no potatoes had arrived from the Americas). Writing/researching a blog makes up for my complete lack of historical education.

If I go out for a pizza I’m looking for a big hit. I want flavour and savour. Like everyone I have used the pizza chain main street places. I’ve always found them clean and adequate but never special. Recently I went to the French town of Saint-Jean d’Angely to dine with friends. This was not my first time at Les Jacobins. At my last visit the place was at least fifty percent full of English diners. The menu has a large choice of beautifully cooked pizzas, the normal range of Italian dishes, salads and a very generous steak and fries option. There is a decent choice of wine by bottle, pichet, carafe or glass. There are desserts and everything you could ask for to make a wonderful convivial evening. 

I had the 30cm Clermentoise pizza and Oscar downed the Charentaise. The cost of each unit was about £8 – $13. The entire meal with wine, desserts and coffee was about £50 -$79 for three persons! However, we did not eat there just for the price. The service is great and friendly. The ambiance is welcoming with a real independently run family feel. It sure ain’t any kinda chain joint. There is an outdoor terrace for warm summer evenings. If you are holidaying in the Charente-Maritime region and fancy a take-out meal this is the place to come. The staff speak English if needed.

Les Jacobins is situated in the heart of the Saint-Jean d’Angely, close to the ninth century Royal Abbey. The town centre has a medieval authenticity and is worth a visit in itself. So – Les Jacobins receive an Emma’s five star Spare Tyre Tummy Award for value and excellence. Great job guys. 

Emma Thinx: You are born a pizza base. Get the toppings you want.

Postcard From Saintes

La cathedrale Saint Pierre

On a beautifully warm and still November day I wandered around the town of Saintes in Charente-Maritime France. It is only a few kilometres from my home. It is a place with a dignified charm and timeless sense of calm.

You can’t help but look up

The Charente river flows on through. In the summer folks on pleasure cruises wave as they pass. As I strolled along I kinda felt that the river itself was waving as it trailed a languid wistful hand along the banks on the way to the Atlantic.

Creating this much calm must have taken a lot of work

The day was perfect. The same sort of day must have warmed the Romans when they were the masters here. It would never surprise me to see a senator proclaiming a new decree by the Arch of Germanicus. In a novel this would be a place to let my characters fall in love. As always I had my camera and send you my little post card. There are many monuments and buildings in the town. I want only to convey a flavour of the place – it’s emotional quarter. As I got in the car to drive there I paused at my fig tree. There in the mellow kiss of the sun were ripened fruit. My heart and senses tacked on to the long queue that led from

My figurative baton

history to this very moment. Other eyes, other lovers, other hands had held such fruit as these for centuries. They are a baton in the relay race of life. Me – I won’t let go to waiting runners – I need more laps while there is such fruit to gather and to love.

Emma Thinx: There is no history of true love. Not one has yet died.

Emma’s Spare Tyre Tummy Award Goes Gourmet in France

Canard – The first bite is with the eyes. Then you taste with your heart and enjoy with your soul. 

The French have many words to express culinary excellence. They have cordon bleu chefs and haute cuisine. My favourite term is La Gourmandise which kinda expresses a perfection of pleasure. It takes into account the ambiance and the sheer joy of tasting a wonderful meal. 

Monk fish – too good to eat, so you savour slowly

A few days ago I had lunch in the village of Taillebourg which lies alongside the beautiful Charente river. This was not the first time I had visited “L’Auberge des Glycines”. You can check out my previous post here.

Between us we tasted duck, sea bass, filets de rouget, monk fish, souffle with grand marnier and on and on. We had a pichet of the house Bordeaux red which was as full and smooth as anything I’ve tasted anywhere.

An experience of beauty

Clearly the guys who run this place take pride in their work. It seems to me that they have a passion to provide an experience of beauty. They sure do succeed. 

Inside there’s chocolate and caramel…..

My warmest thanks to “L’Auberge des Glycines”. They top the list of Emma’s Spare Tyre Tummy Awards.

P.S. They have the cutest boxer dog!

Je suis français, but you can call me Winston.

Elsewhere in life, we are now in Movember. I’m gearing up the machine to draw attention to myself – this time for a good cause as a ‘Mo Sista’. The local press have just been on the phone. Oooh – let’s hope we sell truck loads of the Movember anthology ‘Let’s Hear it For the Boys’.

Emma thinx: Take the male out of Female and you find the iron lady

Life Came Out Of The Sea. That’s Why She’s A Beach.

If Life is a beach for Pete’s sake sit on a sandy one

Of course I am back home in France. I’ve been munching the molluscs, philandering with the fromages and crunching the crusts. I’m lost in an allegory of alimentary alliteration.  I tell everyone that I’m on a diet – well I am. It’s the French diet and it’s so easy that it’s gonna be the next Rockbuster. Before every meal you run upstairs and put on a beret and stripey jumper. The extra exercise compensates for those few additional calories. For best results you need to live in a lighthouse.

Oxytocin is the formula for love. You can.cook this up this at home! 

The diet only works if you take a vitamin D and serotonin supplement in the form of sunbathing. Charente-Maritime usually obliges with plenty of hot sun even at this time of year. The endless sandy beaches, the muscular young surfer dudes and dudettes put on a live show for us serious health freaks on the serotonin highway. As the sun shines through the top of the breaking waves you can feel the pulse of life all the way through to your oxytocins.  Oooh – it’s a real shudder in your rudder just to be alive here. 

This is my mo-man

You will have noted my intense interest in technical hormonal matters. Recently I’ve been involved in a secret project very much concerned with health consciousness. Today I am not able to reveal too much. I can’t resist a little tease. I took the hair cutting tools to my man and created a special Mohican style. I’ve called it the Mo-stash. Can you guess why?

Emma thinx:   Femme is fatale. Sistas get whiskas. 

Emma’s Spare Tyre Tummy Award goes to Port D’Envaux

There’s nothing flash but there’s a flood of flavour

Astonishing things still happen in this world. By the number of views on my spare tyre tummy restaurant awards blogs, I am now a serious rival to Michelin. Well – like me they are round,bouncy, have deep flexible grooves and take a lot of wear.

There is a newly opened restaurant in the village of Port d’Envaux, Charente-Maritime. It is called L’Auberge de la Charente and that is exactly what it is. It is the inn by the river. Somehow rivers draw us to them don’t they. The flow of time has always swept the salt of sea up to the purifying skies and on to the fall of rain as we spend our mortal lives in the mysteries of saline lust and pure conscience. But what a menu eh?

A chew with a view. 

If I seem a bit poetic that is because I’m recalling the food. Between us we had skate wings and filet de boeuf. There was a starter of salad and a dessert of chocolate sponge. It was less that £20. 

Everything was beautifully cooked and tasted of itself. Yes, of itself because it was top quality produce. The Auberge de la Charente only opened in July and was running a small menu. Believe me – small is beautiful.  Port d’Envaux is not a tourist trap. Most folk in the restaurant and on the nearby river beach are French. Well, except for the eccentric English romantic novelist riding about on a tandem with a poet. 

If I pose with my healthy bike the calories don’t count

I am thrilled to give my five star spare tyre award to L’Auberge de la Charente, Rue des Pecheurs, Port D’envaux, 17350, France. The premises allows fine views of the river and has a lovely local ambience. If you’re a francophile looking for France, then this is a corner of France looking for you. If you’re coming next year start thinking yourself  to walk slow, shrug big, taste long, drink deep and sleep late. Let the river flow on and do the work of time for you. It has far more experience.

Emma Thinx: The wider the menu the more the regret. 

Anouncing Emma’s Spare Tyre Tummy Restaurant Awards.

First winner of the Emma Calin Spare Tyre Tummy Award
Since my first chew on an edible mollusc, I’d wanted to go to La Rochelle. It even has the word shell built in as a type of subliminal tourist trap for Anglos to get your fruit de mer juices running. I munched succulent moules et frites at the Pass’port cafe which gets my spare tyre tummy award which is as near as I get to being a Michelin star. Top job guys and great staff. 

Flying the flag for France
I’ve got to give you a true tourist postcard pic of the famous harbour. La Rochelle is a picture waiting to offer itself to a camera lens. There is also some marvelous wall art which I suppose is either a mural or graffiti. 

Oooh – that first taste of juicy molusc.
Which ever banksy of the argument you are on, these artists are enormously talented. Probably no one will ever hear of them and they will join the boulevard buskers in the ranks of the virtual virtuosi in a million tourist albums. Who ever you are – thanks for the show. My special thanks also to the guy who keeps 24 hour surveillance on the car park. I’m sure he was watching me.

Supervised Parking.

Emma Thinks: Let them eat slugs.

Flowery Prose

Sure heats up the deep frying pagan in me. My Phoebus has sent me an earthly orgy of icons to contemplate

I’m at home in St. Savinien sur Charente never far from the Angelus bells of the eponymous eglise. Oooh – I do love a bit of the old Eponomy. I think there might be a publishing platform of the same name. They often invite me to do things. I’m not sure what and I’ve never gotten round to doing it. 

It’s like a landscape painting at every moment of the river

I’m just putting up a few pictures of my beautiful town. The air is heavy with the perfume of flowers. The swallows swoop and swerve back and forth along the surface of the flowing emerald Charente river. After a shower the air is warm and saturated with that deep lust of kisses, wine, fertile musk of passion and the warm plop plop spatter of cow dung. It’s a damask bath of purple prose sprinkled with succulent seed laden fruit and wasps. You know – one day I’m gonna stick all this stuff in a saucy novel and send it to Eponomy. 

Alleys of the world – ALLEZ!

Even a stroll to the local boulangerie takes me along an alley like many others. It is all so close to paradise that I get that urge to try out some original sin. The closest I’ve got so far is nibbling the newly baked bread before I get it home although once I scoffed two of the pains au chocolat. I told the family they’d only had two left. Well, they did when I’d subtracted two. 

Emma Thinx: To flower is mortality. To bloom is mentality.

Euro Politics – Twilight Of The Plods.

Stark choices on the horizon for Euro politics

My last  sortie onto these pages discussed the disconnection of regular folk from the elite controllers of modern ploditics. Since then there has been a Euro election. In France and Britain the public has voted for nationalistic parties. The following day, the suited supremos of the ruling elite had a Euro conference to decide what is wrong with these people. Why are these dim peasants not grateful? Did they not save them from the economic crisis that these sheep themselves had caused by seeking selfish trash like homes on credit? They only need credit because they’re losers. Why aren’t these morons rich? Everyone who comes to dinner is rich.  How can the spin doctors respond? How can their millionaire sophisticated clique hold on to the power and the lifestyle they deserve?

Politics grows no crops in itself. Fair markets are a balance of toil and need

The elite are so far removed from the lives of working class people that it is useless to highlight their struggles. Truck drivers and zero hour contract fast food workers are worthless schmucks – losers. Until now, few of them had ever voted. Few leaders know anyone real beyond their own domestic servants and chauffeurs.

I am committed to a true functioning Europe of peoples. I live between England and France. In France, I am French. It is their country, their traditions, their law. In England I am English for the same reasons. In Europe we are a union of respectful peoples, not a union of a political elite and their bureaucracies. We want our own identities. I am interesting in France because of my English cuisine and my accent. Why do we have to follow these wretched federalist ambitions of the elite? Why should a bus driver in England have to sell his possessions to afford a useless politically correct training regime demanded by clever- kid office boys in Brussels? Our supreme leaders may wonder what this about? You know – they just don’t get it! They just don’t get it. And the truth is they can’t get it. 

I want a politics and passion for working peoples to float my boat 

I’ve put up some pictures from my home in France. Things grow. The sky is up. The soil is down. The hand of man confronts the sunset. Do we need a federalist Europe to love the difference?

Emma Thinx: Vive la Life. Live la vie.

Winter Postcard From Saint Savinien Sur Charente

Thank you, thank you – I am alive and I can see.

I’m home in France. My dear dear Charente Maritime – I love you. You are always here waiting for me. The neighbours kiss me. Your beauty washes down through stone into river and sky. I am so lucky in my life to be here with eyes to see and a mind to abandon to you. Truly I am in awe of this place. It is a watercolour picture of the heart with a smile of church bells.

Winter sun , your fine pen of stark beauty draws a summer in my heart

To infinity and beyond those French films of avenues and kisses.

I am pausing today from the ding dong of Shannon’s Law and  blog tours. I took my camera for a walk to try to fix the atmospheric light of this winter’s day. Spring is nibbling at the edges now.The bare trees still expose that truth of  Nature’s skeleton. As any of my readers will know, I never hold back in talking openly about love and its worldly hit-man, sex. In a way, Winter is the truth of enduring love. It is the true uncompromising hardcore when all the dressing up, tease, promise and make-up is done.  If I’m being OTT Emma let me know. Here are a few shots I wanted to share.

Beauty on this scale is emotional. I’m not one of those posh Wordsworth guys who can express the intellectual power of Nature’s beauty. Even so, I’m a human bean planted in this soil to grow.

Emma thinx:  Life grows. You are life. Life is you.