SHOPPING IN LE VIEIL
The village square- not 50 metres from the front door of Father Pancake - boasts a Spar mini supermarket, a tabac selling newspapers, a café, a restaurant/bar - (Le Retro).....not to mention a design shop selling tea towels for that present to take home!
The Spar stocks everything you could possibly need (fruit, vegetables and all groceries and cleaning products) and bakes fresh bread and croissants every morning so breakfast is sorted without a trip to town. But be warned, they sell out quickly! It sells a good selection of beach goods and even hires out bikes.
Gustave Cafe on the corner of our road makes wonderful coffee and is open throughout the day and also in the evenings for drinks when there is sometimes a concert.
From April to September, there is a market three times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the main square of Noirmoutier. The rest of the year, it is just on Friday.
The covered central section boasts the most amazing selection of foodstuffs ranging from fish and seafood, to charcuterie, poultry, cheese, yoghourt and butter, home made cakes and quiches, vegetables, herbs and a delicatessen.
Outside in the square, there are countless other beautifully displayed vegetable and fruit stalls, opportunities to buy the local salt mixed with assorted herbs, baskets, knives, scarves, soap and everything else you can think of - as well as the most amusingly theatrical mop salesman whose animated sales pitch attracts huge crowds and many unplanned purchases.
Markets also take place in the other villages on the island on other days of the week.
Noirmoutier has good selection of supermarkets selling a far wider selection of goods. There's a big branch of Lidl on our side of town and a Super U Express in the centre - both are open 8am-8pm. In the centre of the island there are two hypermarkets - Super U and Intermarché - where you can find everything you have ever dreamed about and more. Both of these have petrol stations.
In the middle of town there is Tutti Frutti, the ice cream shop. Open from Easter until September, with over 50 different flavours you need never cook a pudding again. We fill our freezer with the half litre tubs and are constantly returning to the shop for more or to try new flavours. They don't last long.
Tutti Frutti also sell cones, and waffles so you can reward yourself after a tiring morning in the market or as we did, use it as a destination for bike rides with the children.
There are lots of bakeries in town. Our favourite is Prouteau opposite Super U Express which bakes baguettes "Fleur du Sel" which have a salty crust. But you should also try "La Noirmoutrine" and "Tradition".... You should also sample La Parisse from the newcomer Le Fourn' Ile in the main street.
There are several traiteurs, fishmongers and butchers in the main pedestrian street so you can always get fresh meat and fish even if it is not market day. It is also possible to buy the catch straight from the fishermen in L'Herbaudière. That'll test your French fish vocabulary!
Although the supermarkets have huge wine selections, there are also 2 wine shops that specialise in the wines of the Loire and the Vendée. The local wines are Muscadet and also the Fiefs Vendéens.