You guys asked for it, and you're getting it.
Although I'm really intimidated because y'all just MAY have built up some unrealistic expectations about me.
Some profile things about me before I get down and into this post.
I've lived in France for 30 years now. I am an emigrant, and NOT an expatriate... There is a difference in my eyes, and surely in the govt's eyes too, while we're at it.
It has taken me mucho years to understand WHY I left the mother country, but I've got some pretty clear ideas about the issue, for the time being.
One of the things that I immediately fell in love with in France was the farmers' markets.
There is an enormous one in the Rue de Buci, in the Latin quarter in Paris, the Latin quarter where there is 24 hour activity, where the lights never go out, the beautiful, wild Latin Quarter that I always go back to whenever I go to Paris.
There is an enormous farmers' market on the hills of Lyon, at La Croix Rousse, where at this time of year, it stretches out for maybe a mile, down an entire street, and on a Saturday/Sunday morning you can leisurely shop at small, individual producers and find at least 4 or 5 different kinds of strawberries, all from France (at this time of year...). The teeny tiny ones that EXPLODE into your mouth, they have THAT MUCH FLAVOR.
The farmers' markets are what will stop France from tripping gaily down the path that the U.S. has taken.
3 : 00 AM : while Hell is padding around in his slippers, (I cheated, the time difference is no good on this one...), the revendeurs (people who go to a big market to buy their produce in the aim of reselling it on a smaller market with a profit) are already stirring and have hit the big Grenoble market to get their produce.
5 -6 :00 AM : I THINK that it's about this time that everybody starts arriving at my local farmers' market that sets up twice a week. They all have regular spots, and they pay a monthly fee to the local municipality for electricity, and their spot. Some of them are revendeurs. Some are small local producers who have been on the market for years. They gather around the local pizza guy where everybody hangs out. When it's hot, people down little plastic cups of white wine. When it's cold, coffee is more appreciated. Lots of white wine gets handed out.
Facing the pizza guy is a man who shows up on the market pretty regularly, but not all the time. He sells goat's milk cheese. Goats do NOT produce milk all the time, so for part of the year, he holes up in the mountains, and takes care of his goats. When the new ones arrive, he doesn't have time to come to the market...
I buy my meat from a woman who will have a short life. She has animals : cows, sheep, pigs ; she has an arrangement with her neighbors to slaughter THEIR animals, and they will slaughter hers. She cuts it all up, and manages to hit the farmers' markets to sell it too. Next week she has invited her clientele to her biannual transhumance : it is time to take the ewes and the newborn lambs up to pasture for the summer. She will bring them back down at the end of the summer...
12 : 30. Everybody breaks camp. The market is over. The municipality crew steps in to clean up.
One or two comments : doing business on the farmers' market is NOT like doing business at the supermarket. For one thing, most producers don't have those fancy credit card thingees, and they don't have fancy cash registers either. They will occasionally tell you to forget the 5 or 10 cents that you don't have on you, or to give it to them later. They will also occasionally give you FREE produce when they like you. (And many of them like ME...)
Lots of business gets done on the farmers' market. Lots of REAL business....
Maybe that's what we're missing in the States these days ?