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Is there any better shopping experience than a Norman market in October? The apples and pears are ripe; the wild mushrooms have been collected; the ducks are plump; la chasse is in full swing, and the seafood from the Atlantic coast is bountiful.

Our local market is in Pont-Audemer, a country commercial centre that, while charming, doesn’t have the tourist appeal of its neighbours Honfleur and Deauville. Some have called Pont-Audemer the Venice of Normandy, for its canal system that once served its famous tanning trade (the Hermès family hailed from here). I think the comparison’s a stretch. No palazzos in sight: but plenty of half-timbered Norman houses, narrow cobbled streets, a gothic church noted for its stained glass, and a bustling, bountiful market on Mondays and Fridays.

We love these unusually shaped squashes that you can find in Norman markets. They decorate our table from October until the Christmas decorations come out in December.

I wish I had taken a picture of the neatly stuffed ducks lined up and glistening in their rows. There were all shapes and sizes of box balls, smartly manicured in their pots. A hundred varieties of goats cheese – some brand new and dewily mild, others aged and pungent.

And, should you have a rush chair that needs to be fixed, there is man here who will do that for you. Wonderful.

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