Finding the “perfect” gift for those on your list who seem to have everything is a chore. Here are two ideas for gifts from France you’ve probably never come across before.
Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France, has a holiday gift suggestion that tops the “bizarre” list. Before you find out about it, there’s another present that you can find at the Uzes Saturday market that’s certain to please — donkey milk.
Donkey milk has been a favorite for women of distinction since the time of Cleopatra. It is said that Cleopatra traveled with a team of 100 donkeys so that she could indulge in a bath of donkey milk. Personally, I love the soap, bath lotion and the cream shown above. It’s absolutely luxurious!
Nancy McGee has another totally unique idea for holiday gifts she discovered at the Wednesday Market in Sete — bat shit!
Bats in the belfry? No – under the tree! And Santa’s going Batshit Crazy this year, his sacks bulging with gifts ranging from bat-logo apparel to the actual guano — to use the polite term. No kidding, bat shit’s big business.
” I love Sète’s weekly Wednesday market” said Nancy, “last week I was searching for unique gifts amongst the food, household goods, clothing and flower stalls,” she continued. “Then I spotted it — a stall piled high with boxes of bat guano amongst the plants and flowers. You’d have to be blind a bat to miss it,” she exclaimed.
What is it for?
The merchant explained: ‘It’s an excellent natural soil conditioner and fertiliser – acts fast, hardly any odour and makes good tea.”
“Tea for the roses!’ he countered hastily. He packages the guano himself and sells around 25 boxes a day, with prices ranging from 2-5 euros.
Bats can be found in most countries but prefer warm climates and so many have made their home in southern France. They roost in tree holes or behind the bark, in caves, cellars, attics and crevices of buildings, as well as in man-made bat houses. Bats are really intelligent creatures with a sophisticated navigation system. Most use sound or biological sonar – echolocation – and emit noises that bounce back like an echo, enabling them to detect obstacles or and find food.
Yes, some do make a kind of tweeting sound and according to recent studies they form long lasting relationships through a social networking system! They know too that by sleeping upside down on a branch they’ll be well positioned for flight and safe from predators. How then do they – er, you know – if they wake up in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t that be messy. Not at all – they simply flip right way up and then back down again!
Where bats reside there will be plenty of guano and so for business and especially ecological reasons it’s in our interest then to protect the species. The Eurobats organisation of EU countries, including France, was formed for just that purpose. Each August they celebrate the International Night of the Bat. France is home to 34 species of bats including horseshoe, long-fingered and mouse-eared varieties — absolutely none of the bloodsucking types.
Myths, facts and superstitions
Bats were once believed to drive people insane, hence expressions such as ‘bats in the belfry,’ ‘batty’ and of course ‘bat crazy’. The battiest of all, of course, was Dracula – the bloodthirsty count who gave the reputation of bats a thorough “battering,” so to speak. Here are some of the facts and myths about bats:
- Bats live in huge numbers and the resulting heaps of Guano house small creatures, thus forming a new ecosystem
- Bats have been populating the earth for 50 million years
- Many bats eat insects – up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour, helping keep pests in check
- Others eat fruit and can play an important role as pollinators
- Vampire bats do not drink human blood
- Blind as a bat? No, bats aren’t blind
- The French name ‘chauve souris’ (bald mouse) is inaccurate.
What bizarre gifts are you giving this year? Please send a comment and share it with us!