Letter: Claret in retreat

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Having just returned from a holiday in western France, I wholeheartedly agree with Simon Hopkinson ("Savoir fare", Magazine, 4 September) that one is surrounded by wonderful fresh food, attractively displayed and neatly wrapped for you on purchase. However, if you want to eat that food in a restaurant, rather than cooking it yourself, you may be in some difficulty finding a restaurant at all, let alone one that is open when you want to eat - unless you are prepared to stay in or near a tourist area.

Many restaurants open only for lunch, and even then not every day of the week. The minority that also open in the evening are as likely to be closed on the day you arrive for no given reason. I was reduced to eating pizza in a town of several thousand inhabitants because every other restaurant was closed. Even the smallest village in the UK will have at least one pub offering food that is more than likely these days to be better than just acceptable.

The experience of my French holiday reminded me of Britain in the 1960s, albeit with better weather and well-stocked shops and markets, but with the same towns that empty of human life by 5pm.