Downs and Ups

Here are two boring facts that I have recently learned; Ones doors must swing open towards the outside if one is to have more than 50 people dining inside a building of my size, (a little problematic if the original doors can’t be changed because the historic monuments people don’t want them altered), and from July this year restaurants are not allowed to have signs displayed at the side of the road. Unless you already have one up of course. But we are not allowed to put one up because… from July this year restaurants are not allowed to have signs displayed at the side of the road…
But, I have also learned this week, that one of the best experiences of setting up a restaurant in rural France is meeting local suppliers. From vegetables and chickens, to pigs and goats cheeses (and don’t forget the wines) the joy is eventually finding them down hidden valleys, on ancient farms where generations old and new are continuing to provide high quality produce – and they are passionate about their products too. (Thank you to the friends who have taken the time out to introduce me). I spent a morning talking to the cleanest happiest calmest goats I have ever seen, and was today with my neighbour, who has kindly planted edible flowers, and herbs for me in his garden. Provenance, yes! Just down the road.

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Gourmet Reminders of Spring in France

You can’t miss spring here in deepest rural France. Explosions of coloured blossom. The sound of the cuckoo. Young deer coming out of the woods to eat the new grass in our fields, which means the end-of-season hunt meal (post 30.03.15), and another fabulous slow-cooked-lamb Easter meal (post 10.05.14), this year eaten in glorious sunshine.
The traffic gets busier on the school run,

And we have to stop off for supplies for baking.

And more explosions of colour, of course, it’s carnival time again (post 14.04.14)


Enjoying the Punishment

We have not quite yet survived the bureaucratic bungling of setting up a restaurant in France. We have just submitted ten copies of an enormous dossier to the mairie that needs to be presented to a load of different committees. First a planning department to change the official use of the building, (turns out that at some point after the restaurant last closed its doors in 1996, the building’s status was converted from commercial use to domestic), then a department to make sure it is fit for public use, then a meeting to look at all the fire and safety compliances, and then one to check out the handicap protocols. Oh, and don’t forget the notoriously fussy historic monuments division who have to have a peek too, because of the 700-year-old castle across the road – not that any of the reams of plans and descriptions have changed since the 1950s renovations.
No one in local officialdom is able to say exactly when or what bits of paper need to come back from all these places, but whether their pronouncements affect the planned opening at the beginning of June we are yet to see.
Meanwhile, back to the fun stuff! Shopping on a budget to equip and enhance a derelict restaurant that had been part of the community for 60 years.
The fire department couldn’t tell me where I can buy the appropriate fire extinguishers, but the old owner has lent me some wonderful photos dating back to when his grandmother first opened the restaurant doors in 1938. I need to get the facts in order before I can recount the history, but the photos are going to look fabulous on the walls…

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