• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

So This is Paris: Madame Tomate #LeFrenchBook


Eiffel Tower Unconventional Librarian



Have you ever wondered how people in other countries live?  Ever wonder what their day to day life is like compared to yours?

I have an answer.  Ma bell amie Anne Trager, from Le French Book shared some pics with us about what is life for her in France. Also? Here’s a story about Madame Tomate.

Le French Book 1

Today is a happy day. After weeks of rain and cold, finally, at our weekly open-air market in the center of our little town here in southwest France, my all-time favorite vegie monger had her first tomatoes. Her name is Marie-Christine, but I very affectionately call her Madame Tomate (yes, yes, Mrs. Tomato), because of the delicious heirloom tomatoes she sells, of course. She’s at the stand across from Mrs. Chicken.

The weekly market is one of those seminal experiences of France. Having been here for so long, I sometimes wonder how it is that open-air markets are still so omnipresent. After all the French love their supermarkets. Did you know that out of the top six hypermarket chains in the world, three of them are French? That’s Carrefour, Auchan and E. Leclerc.


Yet, our market is far from deserted. I think it’s because the market is a social thing.  After all, I don’t actually buy my meat at the market but from the butcher in town (well, lamb there, beef in the town next to ours, and duck from the truck in the parking lot in front of the baker’s on Saturday morning, but hey, I’m a bit of an aficionado—have the French rubbed off on me?).

The market is a meeting place, a chance to have a coffee with the neighbor I never see anywhere else, a place to shoot the breeze in between buying carrots and charcuterie. Somewhere to build relationships, to throw in a good social media buzzword.


To our cheese man, I’m “the American,” who made the right decision marrying a French man, of course. I know his wife, his son and his grandson. He’s always giving out cheese to the kids. My favorite fruit lady is usually grumpy, but I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. The fish stand is sumptuous.

And there’s Madame Tomate. One day, just as I was starting up Le French Book, she and I got to talking about my favorite topic of all time—crime fiction. She told me that on Sundays she sells tomatoes to the two people who run Toulouse’s international crime fiction festival. She hooked me up with them, and I found myself meeting France’s most eminent specialist in noir. He has been an incredible resource and extremely supportive of my work translating France’s top mysteries and thrillers in English.

Who knows were Le French Book would have without Madame Tomate and her delicious tomatoes—no wonder my favorites are called noires de crimée.

I love tomatoes too, Anne.

P.S.  When I lived in Texas, they called me the Yankee.  So it’s all relative, right?

P.P.S.  My French is rusty.  What is the French word for chicken?  and can i be Madame Livre?