A day in Toulouse with my Australian friend Lee-anne who, with her husband John, runs L'Impasse du Temple, a gorgeous, Michelin-rated chambres d'hôtes in Léran, as well as a gîte you can rent for a week or weekend that's a French country cottage personified. Oh go on, go have a roam around www.chezfurness.com
Lee-anne is very busy over the summer so I grabbed at the chance to spend a whole day shopping with her. First stop, an Asian supermarket on the outskirts of Toulouse. It was like being back in Vancouver's Chinatown and I left laden with items I can't find locally (or at least at reasonable prices). Hoisin sauce, pickled ginger, sambal oelek, rice noodles (should have bought more of those) and a ton more. It was pushing 30 degress so I bypassed the--tah-dah--boxes of frozen frogs' legs doing the can-can.
Next stop, not far away, was a very big box store called Metro. You can only shop there if you run a business and you have to swipe your card as you enter. Owners of cafés, bistros, little shops and so on all come here buy giant quantities of everything needed to run a café etc. from fresh fish artfully displayed on ice and wild mushrooms to truffled sauce and powder for making candyfloss. Tables, chairs, umbrellas, boxes of little packets of sugar and little boxes of soap, tableware, table cloths: no wonder the carts are as big as gurneys.
Only in France I think would you find chunks of baguette, paté and salads to help yourself to as you left.