Tasty takeaways bring a flavour of France to Aylesbury Vale village store

Villagers in Swanbourne are getting a taste for takeaways, as home-cooked dinners by a French chef increase the offer at their village post office.

By Hannah Richardson
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 2:05 pm

Now two years into their tenure, the latest owners of the Swanbourne Stores had no previous experience of running a post office.

Julie and Jean-Claude Blanc took over the Mursley Road store in March 2020, and it is fast becoming known for offering something different.

Trained chef Jean-Claude, who is from France, ran The French Horn in Steppingley, Bedfordshire, for two and a half years before the couple took over the store in Swanbourne.

Julie and Jean-Claude Blanc at the Swanbourne Stores

And JC, as he is affectionately known by his regulars, has brought his cooking skills with him, with the store offering homemade meals, such as Beef Bourguignon, Sea Bass in Watercress Sauce or Chicken Kyiv, every Thursday.

A growing email list of 140 people are messaged each Wednesday to let them know what’s on the menu that week.

The shop also sells quality takeaway coffee and pastries and stocks locally produced fruit and vegetables as well as a selection of gifts and cards.

Julie said: “We are really enjoying getting to know our new and old customers, having lived in the village 22 years ago, and hope we are offering the locals something of value.

Homemade meals are on sale every Thursday at the Swanbourne Stores

"We also have customers who come from as far as Leighton Buzzard to get Jean-Claude’s meals.”

Jean-Claude added: “We get people ringing up saying: ‘I’ve got eight people coming for supper. Can I book eight Halibut and eight Gratin Dauphinois?’

"A popular dessert is chocolate mousse – customers will bring a bowl and ask us to fill it up with mousse for dinner parties.”

The new owners are also enjoying getting involved in the local community.

Fresh vegetables on sale at the Swanbourne Stores

Recently, they invited pupils from Swanbourne House School to practise their French shopping vocabulary by ordering items from the shop.

Jean-Claude said: “I made the experience extra authentic by putting on my beret and trying to make the children as relaxed as possible, to offer them something different from the classroom.

"We had a lot of fun.”

The shop is open 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am to 1pm on Saturday.