Yesterday I had to go to Bègles to meet a friend.
I never much like going to Bègles because it is one of those places where you have to go all the way into Bordeaux and out again to reach. And it is a town of many centres and none, so you never know where to get off, where to meet, where you are... I am always lost in Bègles.
I have never really understood Bègles either. It is a post-industrial town which borders the railway sidings of the main station in Bordeaux, the Gare Saint-Jean, but it has banned genetically modified crops.
Well I can tell you why. Because the mayor of Bègles is the flamboyant Noël Mamère, moustachioed member of the Green party and the first to conduct same-sex marriages at his town hall, way back when it was illegal.
Another thing I didn't quite understand is that Bègles, on the Garonne river, and about 50 miles from the sea, holds an annuel "Cod Festival" - la Fête de la Morue.
Yesterday a lady explained it to me. At Bègles, years ago, there were factories where cod was dried. So at the Fête de la Morue, Bègles is celebrating its past.
Anyway I met my friend and as is his habit he invited me to lunch in a restaurant. He has an eye for a bargain and so we went to a place where the decor is not the main attraction. You enter a rather plain looking shop-front and pass through the kitchen to the main dining area, which is a kind of marquee out the back that could hold perhaps 50 or 60 people seated, and where you lunch on:
Starter (I had champignons à la grecque, he had charcuterie)
Main course (the dish of the day was tendrons de veau forestière et frites maison (belly-veal, mushrooms and chips)
Dessert (I had ice-cream, my friend had nothing)
Unlimited wine (I had a glass and a half, my friend was not counting)
And all for 13€ - about £9.50.