Shopping à La Rochelle

On of the best things about all this walking is discovering wonderful little shops like this one:

Nicolas, rue des Merciers
Nicolas, rue des Merciers

We popped in here the other day to find a gift for our friends, Jacky and Pascale, to thank them for their great kindness last year. One of the gentlemen inside the shop helped us and we ended the exchange with the traditional, “Merci. Au revoir!” and left. Since “revoir” means to see again, people will often add the specifics of exactly when they expect to meet again, like “à demain” (see you tomorrow) or “à dimanche” (see you Sunday), but you only add that part if you are actually expecting to see someone at the specific time or day mentioned, so unless you’re a very regular customer, au revoir is usually all you hear and say when leaving a shop.

While making our purchase, I had admired a bottle bag with handy dividers, but left without buying it, then remembered all the bottles we’re constantly toting, changed my mind, and turned around and went back immediately. The vendeur was a bit surprised to see us back so soon, but of course sold me what I wanted and even told me the French for it–sac compartimenté, since I know you’re wondering–then concluded the transaction with the traditional “Au revoir” but this time added “À tout à l’heure!” (See you in a few minutes!) What a comedian. Made us laugh, though.

Wine Guy Comedian
Wine Guy Comedian

Shopping takes on a whole new feeling when you’re living sans voiture. Anything you decide you can’t live without must be fetched on foot from some distance, and everything you buy must be schlepped home. Beverage consumption has to be choreographed so you don’t run out of milk, juice, wine, vodka, etc. all on the same day. The water’s safe to drink, of course, but doesn’t taste fabulous, so we also buy bottles of drinking water.

On the plus side, we’re getting lots of exercise, seeing lots of gorgeous flowers along the way:



And there’s a posh new shopping bag in the house this year from the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, with a reproduction of Jan van Eyck’s The Madonna with Canon van der Paele (click link to find a better visual and the art history lesson). I’m sure the original is stunning: vibrant and colorful and unusual–since it depicts a vision–but I didn’t get it at all at first. I thought it was some sort of time-warp version of the classic adoration of the magi theme, with a priest in full jeweled splendor, a knight in armor, and some balding white guy (the canon) instead of the magi. Despite my ignorance, it classes up the schlepping considerably. I call it “Baby Jesus Goes Shopping.”

Baby Jesus Goes Shopping
Baby Jesus Goes Shopping

I don’t know if our nearest neighbor speaks English, but if so, she may have been surprised the other day to hear me call back to David in the house, “Don’t forget Baby Jesus!”    

7 thoughts on “Shopping à La Rochelle”

  1. So sorry I couldn’t make the link to the painting work quite the way I wanted, but when you get to the gallery site, you can click on E at the bottom, then choose Eyck, Jan van, then click on the name of the painting, then click on info to the right of the thumbnail of the painting, which should take you where I tried to send you with one click. Oh well. It’s interesting and worth a couple of extra clicks.

  2. I am SO enjoying your posts! You have a wonderful way of describing your experiences and the photos are fabulous! Next best thing to being there.

  3. Love your post! Especially the last part about not forgetting to take baby Jesus! We’re headed to Brugge this fall and will check out the original.

  4. Haha! Those wine bags are $. I got one at Trader Joes and it is a life saver if you aren’t just running to Safeway for the 6 bottles in the 20% off case. And I wish I had a Baby Jesus bag, because I always seem to forget mine!

    1. They’re great for anything in glass. We bought wine, balsamic vinegar, vodka, and then used the fourth compartment to stack jars of jam and honey. It’s also great for toting the empties a few blocks to the glass recycling bin. Well worth the 6 euros or whatever it was. Sounds like you need a couple Envirosax. They roll up and you can keep one or two in your purse.

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