June 12, 2015

Oh, this French vacation is zooming by, making me feel nostalgic. So I went shopping for souvenirs — memories to take home as I explored Honfleur during a very rainy day.

Weather-wise, we’ve been lucky during this 10-day painting trip in northern France. It’s been sunny until now. The downpour started last night and it was crazy noisy. This morning, to intermittent rain storms, and the most remarkable gray sky. The drenching made the winding streets of this centuries-old port town look even more romantic:


Even the rain-slick cobblestoned streets conveyed an artful beauty. I took a whole bunch of pictures, similar to this one:


My morning of collecting retail memories started with a 15-minute walk to the waterfront. Down past the marina, I bought two ocean-fresh sole that just came off a boat. They cost me 16 euros, or about $16:


Since my daughter wants me to bring back cheese as a souvenir, I went to an adorable cheese shop around the corner from my apartment:


This place specializes in fromage from the region. The counter guy was very sweet to vacuum-wrap my two purchases ($18). Now they won’t stink up my luggage! I also bought local chestnut spread, mustard (the ceramic pot is cute) and amazing local yogurt (more cute jars to take home):


A quick visit to the neighborhood Carrefour supermarket filled my fridge with fresh French veggies. Then, I went out to sketch for a while with one of my new friends. In the afternoon, we joined the rest of the group for Frank’s talk on landscape painting and composition tips at Musee Municipal Eugene-Boudin.

As usual, Frank’s lecture was dynamic. But today, he had unbeatable competition: food. I couldn’t wait to get back to the apartment and make dinner:


The steamed sole, topped with chopped mushrooms and shallots cooked in olive oil, was outta this world. A bit of leftover sole broth in the pan was so delicious that from now on, I want to buy sole whole and cook the bones for fish soup.

Rounding out my meal were potatoes with parsley and more olive oil. I was also lucky enough to find radishes with the tops still on, which means making radish greens. They’re my favorite. (Click here for the recipe from an earlier, highly-popular blog post).

I’m hoping for more good food memories tomorrow. My high school-level French is pretty pathetic but I read the sign down the block correctly, the Saturday outdoor market starts tomorrow at 6 a.m.

Would love to check out the scene for local vendors and farmers before taking off for tomorrow’s field trip. We’re scheduled to visit D-Day Normandy beaches. During World War II, the landing of Allied forces on this coast began Europe’s liberation from the Nazis.

Since you already know that I hated painted flowers at Monet’s garden, I might as well also confess my lack of interest in D-Day. But just as the garden experience has been a turning point for me, I believe there might be something meaningful waiting for me at those beaches.

That’s been the message of this trip — everywhere I turn, there’s a new meditation, a new voyage, a new opportunity to open myself up. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Meantime, I’m getting ready for bed.