This one is about the experience of growing up holidaying in a caravan at French campsites. A typical holiday for British people, but probably weird and exotic for those from further away. Available for £2 from my shop (includes UK postage- international extra)
Ocean-going glamour of cross-channel ferries
Family arguments about putting tents up
The wonders of the French hypermarché
Wholesome Dutch people
Rubbish circuses where the attractions are one dog and one llama
My mother lives in a small town in Northern France called Lassay-les-Châteaux. For a few years she’s had a holiday caravan in a park nearby, and at Christmas she bought a house in the town. The English version of wikipedia has practically nothing to say about Lassay-les-Châteaux other than showing photos of two of the three local castles- one in the town centre, the other two just outside. (The town’s name also sounds like it means “leave the castles” in French). The French entry doesn’t tell you much more, except that a lot of people were guillotined there in the Revolution, the local mayor doesn’t belong to a political party (after a long line of right-wingers), and that Victor Hugo visited once. It’s just not a place where things happen. If you want the quiet life, you can find it in Lassay.
There’s a small town square with a pharmacy, bakers, convenience store, two bars, café, florists, hairdresser and an antique shop that’s rarely open, and a post office a short walk away. There’s a small supermarket and a vets just outside town, but for anything else you need to drive to the next towns, which are just over the border in Normandy.
The picture above is my mum’s street, just off the main square- Rue du Champ de Foire- Fairground Street (the green where they used to have the fairs is a short walk away). Her house is on the left. An old man lived there before, so builders are currently updating it, so no interior pictures yet. There’s steep wooden stairs up to the attic, and a nice walled garden with apple trees in.
I went to Mont St Michel last week for the first time in years. It’s a medieval abbey on an island on the border between Normandy and Brittany, about an hour’s drive from my mum’s house in France. We went there a few times when I was a kid, and the last time I was there was in the late 90s on a school trip. It has dramatically changed since then.
There was something a bit seedy and cynical about the place in the 90s despite the spectacular town itself. Buses and cars drove over the causeway to the island, and parked in a decrepit carpark on the shore, which had a tendency to flood. As you made your way up through the snaking medieval street to the abbey at the top of the peak, there were endless shops selling cheap replica hunting knives, saucy postcards and boxes of firecrackers. It must have been a nightmare for teachers supervising school groups.
I saw this recent Michel Gondry the other day. The Science of Sleep is one of my favourite films. Microbe et Gasoil is a lot more naturalistic than a lot of his other films, but it still has a lot of the same little touches. Two misfit 14 year old boys decide to build their own car. When it turns out to not be road legal, they turn it into a shed on wheels and go on a very slow road-trip round rural France, in the spirit of a Jacques Tati film. Lots of fun.
I’ve done some prints of this picture I drew of the Kerguëlen Islands off the coast of Antarctica. Nothing there but penguins, cabbages and the odd french scientist. What could be more delightful? They are available in two sizes- A4 for £7 + postage and A3 for £20 + postage (the small ones will be sent flat, the large rolled into a tube), and are printed on 250 gsm semi-gloss paper with a white border. Available now from the shop.