Today is 5 days away from my move back to the UK from Rennes in France where I have been studying since September(!). It still feels surreal that it’s come to an end, and I probably won’t get super reminiscent until I’m back, but I have been able to reflect a little bit on the things I’ll miss about this country. Especially in terms of cutting down waste and veganism, it has been interesting to compare the different approaches taken here. Here’s a list of things I’ve noticed based on my experience in Rennes:
Food is important- I just get the distinct impression that people take food more seriously in France than in the UK. Sure, people love food basically everywhere in the world, but you can tell by the abundance of restaurants, shops and markets that good quality food is more available and more valued here. People seem prepared to spend a bit more money for quality and taste.
Specialist shops- leading on from the previous point, the existence of patisseries, bakeries, cheese shops, butchers (which all technically exist in London but are rarer) is testament to the demand for traditional, good quality, local food. I sound a bit like a diva, but I really don’t know what I’m going to do without a patisserie on every corner! The great thing about small businesses like this, is that you can ask them to put your products in paper or to give them to you loose more easily than in a supermarket, where things are prepackaged.
Markets- France still loves its weekly markets, which initially felt like a step back 50 years, but I love it! Coming from London where a good farmers market is my ultimate quest, I stepped into this abundance of choice. The Saturday market at Place des Lices is the second largest in France (I’ve been so spoilt!) and it is the highlight of my week. Especially since becoming vegan in January, I have been experimenting with new ingredients and filling my basket with fresh herbs, delicious fruit and mysterious vegetables! It is a tradition for hundreds of Rennais to do their produce shopping here, and I don’t know if a market of this size would survive in the UK.. Lots of the stalls offer plastic or paper bags, but as I mentioned before in another post, they are more than happy to forgo the bags or fill my reusable ones, and they come to remember you if you’re a regular.
Organicness- Both at the market and the supermarkets in France, organic food is more readily available. Whilst you have to really go out of your way in the UK, in France there is a vast range of organic products in the supermarket and large sections of the farmers market too. Some weeks I can be 100% organic which is awesome!
Compost- Now, over the course of my time here I have seen SO MANY compost bins it’s unreal! It makes me so happy to know that even people who don’t have space to keep one for themselves can access one somewhere. I have passed several blocks of flats that have bins in their grounds for their tenants, (and a random english girl who rocks up every week..) schools, all sorts.
I could go on, but I think I covered the main things! Thanks for reading 🙂