France is famous for it's markets and the Perigord region is no exception. Today, as on every Saturday morning, I visited a little village market in a town about 15kms (10 miles) away. It is the preferred market of both my wife and I. It's a beautiful market and is in the village where we moved temporarily when we first came to live in France, so brings back fond memories and friends.
When I say small, I guess there were about a hundred stalls in total. A huge array of food, both fresh and preserved, of seafood, fish, meat, cheese, dairy and fresh sparkling vegetables from not very far away. People selling fresh bread and cakes, hot crepes and waffles, croissants, pain au raisin, pain au chocolat and brioche to die for. There was the old lady, standing in the rain, with her two baskets of leeks. She sells leeks every week at 1 euro a kilo - about $1.50 for over 2 lbs - right through the year. She never misses and never sells out yet always leaves with one basket empty and the other with one or two bunches of leaks ready in case someone stops her on her way home! The apple orchards were there selling about a dozen varieties of locally grown apples and of course dried plums, prunes, being sold on every corner.
Then there were the traders selling the household stuff, cleaners, cloths, pots and pans. Some wonderful hand woven wicker baskets, a silversmith venturing out to sell his winter produce of bracelets and rings, and the local Immobilier, trying to spot anyone not local and tempt them with a very nice property at less than a million euro. I counted about 5 vinyards represented, all selling wine by the bottle or by the bag (box?) and even one selling "en vrac" - basically loose. i.e you take your own container and they fill it with red, rose or white - AOC of course, not vin de table!!!
Of course the half a dozen cafes where normally you see people spilling off the sidewalk into the market were earily still today, as the heavy rain had driven all but the most hardy - or maybe foolhardy - inside to sheltered accomodation. I bought my fruit and my vegetables for the coming week then sheltered from the rain under one of the arches surrounding the market place and had coffee whilst my wife ran off and bought a birthday present for a niece. Over coffee / after coffee we chatted to several people, the weather halting just long enough to hold a conversation with a local pepiniére(nurseryman) about an almond tree growing on plum stock - no, apparently there isn't a problem with cross fertilisation from my other plum trees
And then we walked back to the car, via the little, narrow, back lanes, behind the 12th century houses, and looked at all the "potagers"(kitchen gardens) being prepared for the spring plantings. I marvelled at how many had already planted lettuce, onion, cabbage and other, not so easily identified, green things and wondered if I would get my tiny little plot planted in time to reap the harvest.
We drove home having done our shopping, relaxed with friends and generally had a pleasant morning despite the weather. Ah, France, c'est la vie n'est pas!
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