Travel notes from the real France. Carnet de Voyage is a weekly personal travel story in France sent in by readers. If you’d like to write a story for Carnet de Voyage, head here for details on how to submit.
Our first two days in Nice we were craving a good roast chicken with potatoes roasted in chicken fat and all the flavours that drip down from the chickens.
What we got was two nights of eating some surprisingly good lasagna from an Italian take out place down the street from three butchers, in a span of three blocks, that were closed for the following reasons:
- They’re on vacation.
- They’re on vacation but it’s Tuesday and it’s a moot point because they’re always closed on Tuesday
- They were open, but it’s after 4 or 4:30 which means they would usually be open but it’s Covid or employee issues, so they now close at 1 for lunch and never reopen unless it’s a Friday or Saturday.
- They were open but it’s after 4 or 4:30 and you’re still out of luck because it’s Wednesday which is the one day of the week when they close at 1.
- They were open, and it’s after 4, but just after 4 and this butcher doesn’t open until 4:30.
- They’re open at 8 in the morning, but the chickens won’t be ready until later and they close at 1 so there’s a long line.
- They’re open at 6:30 in the morning, but the chickens won’t be ready until later which doesn’t really matter because you didn’t order ahead of time (and they close at 1).
- They’re usually open, but it’s Saturday and they close at 7 instead of 7:30.
- They close at 1 for lunch, but it’s Wednesday, so they might close at noon, or they might close at 1:00, depending on their definition of “midi”.
- Or on your fifth or sixth attempt on what is now day 4, you get lucky and get the next-to-last roast chicken and potatoes. Phew (and yes, it was worth it).
As my friend Gary said, when it comes to butchers, you need to be a genius (or have an Excel spread sheet) to remember who is closed and when they’re closed. You know it’s subject to change because their hours are written in chalk in case they change their minds. Vacations usually rate a piece of paper, because once you’re gone there’s no turning back.
Please notice I did not say open, because that’s a fleeting thing–ethereal and wistful like the smell of a well-roasted bird wafting in the breeze.
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Anne Maxfield runs the blog Accidental Locavore in which she shows what she cooks with local and fresh produce with recipes, videos and a sense of humor. She also offers consulting services from building businesses to recipe development. She holds a B.F.A with honors from Rhode Island School of Design. After her studies at R.I.S.D., she spent a year in Paris and was awarded one of five national scholarships to attend the Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture. With a recent move to Nice, France, she’ll be facing new adventures eating great food and meeting new purveyors in her happy place.
Lead photo credit : The quest for a roast chicken in Nice © Anne Maxfield
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