If Terence Conran could sell French country style to the English in the 20th century, why shouldn't I sell English patisserie to the French in the 21st century?
If only it were that easy. I hadn't reckoned on French bureaucracy, weather and good old xenophobia. But hey, life on the traditional French markets is full of surprises so I thought I should share them with the wider world.
After 20 years living in the centre of uber style-conscious London, I shipped out to live in the rural bliss of west central France, leaving all semblance of chic and style behind me together with my manicured nails to live in muddy boots and ripped jeans to work on the 'renovation of our French country ruin'. Eventually finding a need for contact with humanity in whatever form, I came upon the idea of selling fairy cakes to the French. Only problem was; I didn't have a kitchen!
This blog will be a document to the success, or otherwise of my enterprise along with the tales, trials and emotional rollercoasters of life on the market in France. I hope you will enjoy.......

quintessentially English

quintessentially English
........but in France!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Perfect meringues, imperfect bureaucracy

There are many differences between the English and the French; dry, hard French meringues as opposed to my succulent and crisp English ones and differing bureaucratic tendencies, with simplicity definitely being more on the side of the Brits.

A cold, miserable day on the market was highlighted by the revelation by one of my girly colleagues that I really need a 'carte professionnelle' in order to sell my wares. It was an "Oh My God, didn't you know that!" moment with horrific stories of market traders being picked up by the police, spot checks and sting operations which completely freaked me out. Funnily enough in all my enquiries about what documentation I would need to sell my cakes on the market, no-one ever mentioned this! OK, just one more step along the French paper trail I thought, until of course I tried to get one done.
Clutching a myriad of documents, and the most appalling passport photo ever taken of a windswept and frazzled fairycake seller, I presented myself at the local Prefecture only to be informed after waiting in line for twenty minutes, that no, sorry the rules have changed and I would have to make a forty five minute drive to the regional office in order to make my request! Franz Kafka has nothing on this!
Having tried all afternoon and failed dismally to reach the required official by phone, I looked on-line to check what documents I would need to present, and was faced with an exhaustive list, most of which I didn't have. At this point I thought that maybe my career as a market trader was coming to a swift end, but, miraculously I had a follow up call from the prefecture lady who told me that my few papers would be absolutely fine and just to pop them in the post. As soon as she receives them I can carry on trading while I wait for the magical card to arrive. So, never assume that the official French line is the only one to follow, as there may be someone in an office somewhere who can help simplify the bureaucracy - isn't human contact great?

No comments:

Post a Comment