If you have any experience in the U.K., you may know that the indispensable way to learn about the weather for fishing areas is “The Shipping Forecast,”which is broadcast on radio by the BBC. But my title for today’s blog posting is not a typo.
That’s because this blog posting is about some welcome improvements in the shopping scene in the Greater Daglan Area, or GDA.
I realize that this posting may be of absolutely no interest if you don’t live in the GDA, or own a holiday home here, or regularly visit. But if you’re in any of those three categories, you’ll be delighted to learn about some improvements in our shopping experience.
I should explain that shopping (and driving) is a big part of our daily lives, in part because Daglan isn’t exactly teeming with stores. There are large supermarkets in both Sarlat and Gourdon, each of which is 20 or so kilometres away. There’s a mini-supermarket in Cénac, about 10 kilometres away. And there’s Daglan’s own convenience store, the 8 à Huit.
Of course there are smaller specialty stores nearby, such as the boutique of Fabrice le Chef (meats, cheeses and prepared foods) in Daglan, as well as bakeries and garden centres. But for basics like orange juice, paper towels and butter, it’s a question of either walking to the 8 à Huit or getting in the car for a longer drive.
All that explains why locals were delighted to receive this card in the mail recently:
“Discover your new store!” shouts the card.
Yes, there’s been a complete remodeling of the Huit à 8, located on the village’s main square. This project has been the talk of Daglan for more than a week, and Tuesday night saw the grand opening of the new and improved store.
Interestingly, the actual footprint of the store hasn’t been enlarged, but it seems quite a bit larger. The whole set-up and arrangement of the store has been greatly improved, more shelving has been installed, everything’s been polished and painted and prettied up, and more products are on offer. Here’s a look at some of the bright signage you’ll see around the store now:
Bright green signs are now all over the place.
And here’s a look at the enlarged cooler for perishable products:
Keeping things cool.
In many ways, the store has become the central meeting place and news room of Daglan. It’s run by a popular (and helpful) couple, Virginie and Christian Lefebvre, who always seem to know who’s moved into Daglan, when various ceremonies will begin and where they’ll take place, who’s getting married, and who’s selling their house. Daglan residents meet and greet in the store, share gossip, and generally enjoy themselves.
But while the 8 à Huit seems like very personal enterprise, it’s actually a part of the huge Carrefour shopping empire — which at the end of 2013, had a whopping 3,458 convenience stores in France. (That’s just the convenience stores, not including supermarkets and other outlets.) If you watch the Tour de France, you see the Carrefour name so often that you may have thought that they made bicycles.
In any case, a team of retail experts from Carrefour helped to make the changes in our 8 à Huit, and they were on hand for the inauguration or grand opening party on Tuesday night, when it seemed that just about everyone in the village showed up. At the back of this photo, in front of the new display of wines and spirits, you might be able to see Christian raised up above the crowd to make a short speech of welcome:
Addressing the assembled crowd.
My wife Jan and I are pretty sure that one of the key reasons for such a good turnout was the chance for villagers to nibble from several large trays of goodies, from pizza squares to sausages in pastry to cookies and macarons. Like these:
Trays of goodies for the crowd.
And, it almost goes without saying, the chance for a drink or two:
Ah! The drinks are being poured!
So a good time was had by all, and the new and improved store seems to be well and truly in business. And wonder of wonders, it now appears that it will be open on Mondays, instead of being closed on that day in the “off” (non-tourist) season. Hurrah!
And if that weren’t exciting enough, the other big change on the shopping scene is that the Shopi mini-supermarket in nearby Cénac has been closed for remodeling and a conversion into a Carrefour Contact.
We drove there this afternoon, and saw that there is now a shelter for shopping carts in the centre of the parking lot. We also peeked in an open door, and saw that a lot of remodeling has already taken place.
But there’s more to come, so stay tuned for details.