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It was a leisurely drive from the Baie of Mont St Michel to Chartres yesterday afternoon; door to door, three hours.

I am taking care of a family home in centre ville while my friend is off visiting, and felt I was truly in luck when I pulled up in front of the house to park the car.

A space right there. I didn’t notice the tow away zone sign. Luckily, it was still there when I went out after my promenade so I moved it quick but I’m not yet sure the price I will pay for that faux pas.

It is an extraordinary experience to live locally in a foreign country. It doesn’t happen overnight or by wishing it so. Over time, relationships develop. You meet new friends who last a lifetime. Chartres has been that for me. I was going to spend the day lazing and grazing — after all, it is my birthday. But it is Saturday and I suddenly remembered the market of Chartres that goes year round, on the south side of the cathedral, was in full swing until noon.

Off I went. The promenade there is just as you see it; golden.

It was alive with friends, relatives, elders having their weekly visit in the streets, all amid the waft of roasting coffee beans … croissants and baguettes literally, just out of the oven … raw fish on ice, mussels, fromage, feathered poultry — it is an endless display of life being lived.

Prices are *just* a little higher in the fresh market than at the grocery store — but this is farm to table and the value is huge. But. I could not find my entrecôte.

Entrecôte is a French cut of meat, what we call in the USA a rib steak.

Here in France, I’ve not found a better flavor.

Nor have I found it in the USA.
Someone please enlighten me.

Given the price, finding a piece that’s worth it turned out to be no small chore. I went to all the boucheries in the market … from the one with the longest line to the one that dealt primarily in porc … didn’t like what I saw.

I went to the grocery store … didn’t like what I saw there either.

So back to the market I went, remembering a small, tucked up-a-side-street butcher.

Found it … with a line out the door.

I have found similar proud establishments in the heart of Bruxelles, in Paris the 7th — food artisans — working dawn til midnight to perfect every single product that exchanges hands.

This one was tiny; 3 men working the counter, with perhaps the best Chartres has to offer. I’m sure they think so.

Hooks of hanging fresh cuts, hand crafted duck mousse to fois gras to — what is your pleasure.

It’s all there.

I’ll go back tomorrow to add pictures of it to this collage … at the time, I was focused on how to navigate in the smallest of spaces with a dozen people, a baby stroller, all in French, and who do I pay — NOT the butcher!

Right up the street? Windows full of trays just prepared … specialities from salmon servings to Coquille St Jacques to … you know the line …

So here I am, late in the day, tucked in for the evening with a superb cut of meat — and a bouquet of fresh flowers.