An apple festival in Vernon
February 8, 2017
The nearest station to Giverny, Vernon is 45 minutes from Gare Saint-Lazare in central Paris (46 miles, very roughly equivalent to travelling from London to Newbury)
A prosperous market town, it supports a double fronted fishmonger’s shop, and a large choice of butchers, traiteurs and greengrocers, as well as a couple of supermarkets.
There was a Fete de la Pomme (apple festival) that weekend in a community centre. Outside was a pen of farm animals happily co-existing – geese, rabbits, goats, sheep, chickens – educational and no nonsense. Also an oyster stall.
Indoors there was an impressive display of apple varieties in the foyer, then a hall where there were tables occupied by small, local producers. There were makers of chocolate, macarons and so on, but much more emphasis on real ingredients and country products than you might find in an English country show, and “le street food” doesn’t seem to have taken over in the way it has here. There was an extraordinary range of honey, ice cream made on a Normandy farm, cider, fresh meat, and fruit preserves for cheese.
The town demonstrates how the culture of food shopping is surviving in France. There’s no shame in using a traiteur, patisserie or charcuterie to cater for a dinner party, but there’s less sign of the dependence on ready meals that we see in the UK. People clearly still cook, or fearlessly buy good quality products that are ready to eat (not least that convenience food, the oyster!)