June 6, 2007

English Voices

As the weather gets warmer and the summer approaches, the Tuesday market in Olonzac takes on a new appearance. Gone are the days when I can move freely through the stalls, paying for my purchases without long lines and without having to wait for the visitors who are unfamiliar with the Euro while they painstakingly look at each coin, trying to figure out what they need to pay the amazingly patient vendors. It's pretty amusing when they just hand over a bunch of coins and let the poor vendor sort it out!

During the summer, the market becomes almost twice the size of it's pared down, winter version.
A woman with olive oil soap in about thirty different scents suddenly appears one Tuesday, as does the man who brings vivid blue, yellow and green pottery from Spain. Vendors selling clothing from Africa and India, all those long flowing things that are perfect to throw on over a swimsuit, show up along with the man who has crates and crates of CD's for sale and blasts his music into the crowd through a little boom box that relies far too much on bass. Then there are the street musicians, serenading their victims, I mean, coffee and rosé drinkers soaking up the sun on the café's terrace. The music is usually pretty awful and they're never pleased when I don't drop coins into the hats they pass around.

What strikes me the most is the lack of French voices I hear when I go through the market during the summer. Yesterday it was as if there wasn't one single French person doing their weekly shopping. I know that isn't the case as I saw several of our neighbors buying their usual eggs, saucisson and vegetables, but it's always noticeable and somewhat surreal to hear so many English voices concentrated in one place.

And it makes me wonder what the French think about it all. Pin It


Samantha said...

Argh, I know it drives me crazy! I had the same experience at our local market today, and was planning on posting about it tomorrow.

wcs said...

I'm lucky not to live in a town that has a huge tourist invasion. There are many around here that do, but we're not on the trodden path. Still, the market is always more crowded in summer with tourists from all over - we hear english and dutch, german, italian, and languages I don't recognize.

Last summer there were japanese folks at the market buying things and taking photos of the displays. It was a little comforting to know that there are people who stand out more than we do (we really can't help looking like American guys and our accents give us away - but the difference is that the vendors know us as regulars now).

And yes, there are the seasonal vendors who show up for tourist euros, too. Their stuff is always over-priced.

It's all part of the charm, unless the market is your primary source of food and you have to deal with the long lines.

Our market is only once a week, so we're often at the Super U or Intermarché. We see a lot of campers there in summer.

katiez said...

We don't hear a lot of English voices in our little backwater. When I do it always startles me so I have to wander around until I identify them - could be someone I know!
We're definitely off the tourist path!

ken said...

The tourists help the people earn money, sell houses etc. but, it's only time before we all become the same and loose regional identity. We were in Olonzac in April and there were quite a few English builders obviously 'doing up' houses for 2nd homes - shame but I don't have an answer!!

Loulou said...

it doesn't bother me that much, I still enjoy going and in the summer I can sit in the café and watch some veeeeerrrrry interesting people walk by!

we rarely hear Italian! Lots and lots of Dutch and German though.
I don't mind the seasonal changes, but I really wonder what the people who have been here their whole lives must think about all the changes

I'm always startled by American accents as we rarely hear them, tons of English though

yes, there are a lot of English doing up houses here and selling them. Our village of 400 has Canadians, Americans (us), Beligians, Germans, Colombians, Dutch, English, Spanish, Swiss, Australians and of course French. Quite a mix!

Riana said...

A lot of times, Benji runs into the Intermarche or carrefour to get formula and i wait in the car and try to guess which country each couple is that walks out by cracking the window to eavesdrop. We have a lot of German and English tourists.

cara said...

poor corsica is overrun by tourists...the population triples at times. we get mostly italians and germans, although lately i've seen a lot of cars from eastern europe: czech republic, poland, hungary. there is the usual love-hate relationship between locals and tourists. with my accent, pasty white skin and blond hair i stick out most of the year, but come summer, i'm taken for a german constantly. i hate sticking out, but then i also hate being taken for a tourist. just can't win, i guess.

Loulou said...

I like to sit at the market and try to guess where each couple is by what they're wearing!

that would get very old, very fast. Makes you long for the winter when they're all gone, I bet

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It is such a great market.Seems to get bigger and bigger. As a Brit living in France, I sometimes like to hear the voices of other Brits- but not too often- lol.... I guess I fall into the category of escaping Blighty to become more French....
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Loulou said...

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noel said...

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