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In search of the best bargains in France.

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Our English neighbours returned from their trip to England and after several futile visits to each other’s houses I finally found them at home the evening after they arrived. My swift visit of introduction rapidly turned from a cup of tea to drinking the very delicious and sweet, local hooch. We soon discovered a love of Emmauss, Nozz and Vide Greniers and without further ado, arranged to go off for lunch to their ‘secret’ restaurant, where a five course lunch is €13, including wine. Their house is opposite ours, but due to the high stone walls on our side, topped with an even higher laurel hedge, we can’t see them and they can’t see us at the Priory. Our other neighbours, also opposite (we have a long wall!) are a retired couple from Paris. He is a sculptor, but so far we have heard nothing and seen nothing of them.

We set off on our jaunt to find the restaurant was full of men, several eating alone. Almost on the banks of the River Thouet, (which seems to wend its way through every town and village in the area!), the building was seconds from an ancient Roman bridge, which we crossed, taking care not to twist ankles on the uneven stone surface. It was incredible to think of the thousands of people who had crossed the bridge in the sunshine, as we were, soldiers, peasants and the rest. It pulsed with history. With no sticks to hand, we picked dandelions and played poo sticks, which I lost disastrously, picking completely the wrong part of the gap under the arches where the current was definitely the most sluggish. A’s dandelion shot through and we were able to see, quite clearly, smallish trout gathered in two places where the water had formed deeper pools. The lazy current and the reflection of the tall, straight trunked trees forming a wonderful reflection in the water, compounded the feeling of how lucky we were to be there.

Emmaus - the largest (and possibly best) charity shop in France

From there we headed to Tours, where there is a large Emmaus. Emmaus was started by a Catholic priest and apparently there are several in England now. It’s a charity shop, now found all over France. Some of the sites are enormous. It was set up to help the homeless and provides jobs and shelter. I first came across it when a brilliant friend who is an accomplished writer, photographer and artist did a photographic project on the people at her local Emmaus. Jayne also lives in France, in a completely eclectic house, more a glorious stage set than a conventional house, a couple of hours south west of Paris. Anyone wanting a stunningly different and interesting place to stay, should, without a doubt, go there. Added to which it is close to Guedelon, the mediaeval castle that is being rebuilt without using any modern machinery. But that is several hours from here and in the meantime, we were heading into our local branch of Emmaus.

River Loire running through Tour in France

There were several vehicles with English plates in the car park, which was slightly depressing. We spent quite some time there. Several lovely wardrobes and some 1950’s kitchen units that would sell like hot cakes in London. Very seriously thinking of buying a white van! A found a dress for her ball in June. Monsoon, just what she was looking for and three euros. Bingo!

Then we hit Nozz. There is so much to see and process at Emmaus and it was pretty warm, so we were getting quite tired by the end of the Nozz visit. It’s fascinating though. Lots of bizarre stuff, very cheap. From food to garden seed, it’s spread out in large white boxes on legs, sometimes with no justification as to why one item is next to another….sometimes organised. We picked up a few things and headed home, after a fun and mixed day out!


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