Becoming Audomaroise

Coucou, mes amis!!

We’re starting our last week in beautiful Saint-Omer, just as I was beginning to become a true “Audomaroise” – what they call people from Saint-Omer. We are accustoming to local habits, including those concerning retail shopping (see below) and will attend the upcoming Grande Braderie-Brocante de Saint-Omer on Sunday, where 200-300 merchants will display their wares all along rue de Dunkerque, rue des Clouteries and Place Victor Hugo.

Some customs are rather strange to us. Last week, every merchant had signs in their window announcing “Ventes Privées” and this week, those signs have been replaced by “Soldes”. Ventes Privées are sales for regular customers or those who receive an invitation from the retailer. In contrast the regular “Soldes” can only take place by law twice a year, on dates stipulated by government decree. The summer sales this year take place during a four week period, from June 22 to July 19.

Last weekend, we took a short excursion to the coastal city of Calais, just 30 kilometres from here. It was a quick 30 minute train ride from Gare to Gare. It was a super hot day, so we took shelter in a cool Brasserie, where we enjoyed a lovely seafood lunch.

Next day, we visited the Calais open market where fish and seafood of all kinds took the premier spot.

We took a walk down Rue Royale, where we were sure we visited over 30 years ago when we travelled on a day trip to France for the very first time from London, via train and Hovercraft. Still, we remembered little from that first trip, in part I think due to considerable redevelopment in the harbour area since.

We walked down to and through the port, where we could see the ferries plying their way to and fro, to Dover and beyond, carrying both vehicular traffic and now, we understand, foot passengers as well. Next time, maybe a ferry ride to Kent and Canterbury?

We were impressed by Calais, a lot of which (not all) was rebuilt after the World Wars. The town is now recovering from the effects of Covid and is hoping to see the return of some 60,000 visitors that used to frequent the beaches and other attractions.

We loved the city hall with its magnificent belfry, and the humorous spectacle of the beachside dragon attraction.


Two final pictures before I sign off this post. The first is a Flemish-style building in Saint-Omer, currently housing a hairdresser, built in 1614.

The second is a refreshing, pink, not-so-strong beer with its accompanying signature glass, brewed by Goudale, the local brewery. Gary tells me raspberry figures in the recipe. Do you find such things in Toronto?

So, off next Thursday to Arras for a few days and then Paris for a couple more. Until then!


8 thoughts on “Becoming Audomaroise”

  1. I hope you enjoy Arras. And if you have the time at some point (and haven’t already) I strongly recommend reading Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

    The city only plays a tangential role in the book, but Saint-Exupery’s real life mission as a pilot to Arras really helps enrich one’s view of The Little Prince, the French people, and in a way our present times.

  2. I’m travelling along with you…well wish I was! Enjoying the sights of France. Thank you for sending!

  3. Hi Libby and Gary, I so enjoy your post and pictures, and looking forward to the next one. A few questions, the sign UPcycleD is it English, and does it mean used clothing??? And does Gary eat the beautiful fish you pictured? Enjoy the rest of your trip, and your next post will allow us to enjoy it with you! Love you

    • Thanks for your comments. Upcycled is a new brand of Nelly Biche de Bere, a designer of French pret-a-porter and jewelry, using as its base, recycled clothing. In general, the French love to use English words, c’est cool, you know, often with meanings that do not align with their English ones. This time, however, it does reflect the nature of the product.
      At the lunch pictured, Gary had a chicken burger made from famous chickens from Licques, France which are supposed to be tender and tasty, which he told me it was. Gary also enjoyed a salmon salad in Calais. We bought canned sardines from the Brittany coast which we will likely bring home with us.

  4. Great pictures and great commentary. Wish I was there! I think it’s very funny that the French have regulated days for sales.

  5. It’s a vicarious vacation for me when I read your descriptions. My wife and I had some great times in our three visits to France. But we could have used some help in our trip planning. We encountered some challenges: slipping down Montmartre on slushy snow, as well as unknowingly arriving in Nancy on Victory in Europe Day and in Nice on All Saints Day, both with many public and private closures. As others have commented, your narrative and photos are admirable.


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