Tuesday, 11 May 2010

When's my next holiday?


It is a bit sad to be back at work, but always lovely to see london again.

Yes, my short holiday in France, the western world’s capital of rude waitressing, has come to an end.
They have two categories of waiters in France: the acceptably friendly one, which tends to be very incompetent and ignore your order entirely until you remind them at least twice; and the slightly more efficient one, invariably very rude. And I’m sorry, but the food is not so consistently amazing as it is in Italy to justify such rubbish service.

But anyhow, I am not here to discuss the often wonderful French restaurants.

While on the other side of the channel, I was delighted to see the array of fair trade products so easily available.

Even humble Ibis joined the trend!

In case you’re wondering, a very committed smoker in our group meant we were not allowed to stay in hotels without smoking rooms. This in turn restricted us to a selection of Ibis hotels across Brittany, Normandy and Champagne. They seem to be the very last hotel on earth with entire smoking floors at hand. I am now seriously considering a sister site, reviewing the various Ibis across France. I have visited A Lot of them.
(there goes another one of my French holiday fantasies down the drain. No charming little gites or grand chateaus for me.)

Betty Bio in Rouen was a great find. You’d be wrong to assume this is a little niche, overpriced shop selling suspicious hippie tea.
Along with lovely Lulu in the picture, I found well stocked, reasonably priced places like this everywhere. Not to mention how much I loved the name Betty Bio. They have a really nice website and vast catalogues of organic food, drinks, cosmetics, clothes and plants. But what got me really excited about this place was my latest and favourite discovery: Aquanatura organic cotton. They make the softest towels you can imagine, on really lovely colours too. Would you believe the Eurostar staff don’t look at you kindly when you turn up with an extra (and gigantic) suitcase full of towels? Mon dieu!

A simple, but wonderful feature I found in all organic shops there, which I hope British retailers will take note: huge 1 litre bottles of organic maple syrup! Say goodbye to the maple syrup rationing we have over her. The simplest ideas really are often the best ones.

To end my back-to-work day on a high, here’s a selection of my organic food buying in France. The spring may have eluded us, but I managed to keep the shopping-for-garlic-asparagus-and-flowers-in-the-local-cute-market fantasy alive.

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