I love wandering around a French market. I always have! You might be wondering why? To me French markets are a symbol of French life and tradition. Not to mention that they are colourful, lively and full of tempting goods and interesting characters.
Our local market takes place on a Monday morning and I would say it’s fairly typical of a small French town market. It has local produce as well as products bought in from further afield. You can buy fruit, veg, wine, cheese, meat, bread, eggs and many other food items.
You can see, in the photo below, that the school holidays have already begun in France!
There are also stalls selling clothes, shoes, belts and other accessories. Not forgetting tools, kitchen items and baskets. Here is the basket I bought a couple of years ago. I mainly use it for transporting all the materials I need for my English lessons but I do take it to the market as well.
Markets are not necessarily cheaper than supermarkets and you are likely to pay extra for quality and freshness but you can’t put a price on the atmosphere!
When I first visited the market in Castelnaudary, I was overwhelmed by the choice. Although I knew it would be a useful indication to look out for the stalls that have queues.
Luckily one of my English students, who is very much a local resident and has been for many years, offered to give me an insiders guide to the market. We met up bright and early and she introduced me to the stalls that offered the best local produce (in her opinion!) and also to some of the stall holders. Very useful!
The stall pictured below has local produce. One of the clues is in the sign. Castelnaudary is in the Aude department of the Occitanie region. This was formerly known as Languedoc Roussillon. This area is well known for its link to the Cathars. I am fascinated by the history of the Cathars. Perhaps a future blog post?
The stall above only sold two products: apricots and nectarines. It was very popular and had a long queue. As Brits, we are stereotypically known for our queuing abilities. I have to confess that I find it hard to accept the inability of some nationalities to queue ‘properly’!!
I was most impressed by the person in front of me. She took out her brown paper bags for reuse.
The original market was, and still is, held in the Place de Verdun. It has recently been renovated but remains a shady square edged with shops and cafés . This is just one part of the market which extends into the Place de La République.
The square and surrounding streets also have some interesting and decorative 18th – 19th century grand townhouses. Not in these photos, however!
As we walked from Place Verdun, we looked up to see these colourful kites.
To make the most of the market, we had got up early and going from stall to stall is hungry work. We decided a pain aux raisins and a strong coffee was needed.
It was now time to make our final purchases, a jar of honey and a rotisserie chicken.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief glimpse of our local market.