During our week in the solidly rural Charente-Maritime region of France, I was struck by just how many villages and small towns had boarded-up shops and bars. Not closed for winter, but closed for good. The death of the small, independent business isn’t just a British problem. Carrefour and Intermarché had several shiny new megastores in the immediate area, which must be especially hard for the small boucherie et charcuterie – these shops were by far the most common derelict premises.
This alimenation générale seemed to be thriving, however. It’s in the lovely small town of Saint Savinien, with the river Charente the other side of the street. What is it that is so appealing about signage painted directly onto a wall?
Saint Savinien also had this smart and clearly much-loved little cinema further along the river. Le Florida really does look like it’s been transplanted from the art deco stretch of the Miami seafront.