Monday market, Castelnaudary.

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.

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Photo by Dennis Dude: freeimages.com

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!

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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.

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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!img_0174.jpeg

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?

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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’!!

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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.

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The square and surrounding streets also have  some interesting and decorative 18th – 19th century grand townhouses. Not in these photos, however!

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As we walked from Place Verdun, we looked up to see these colourful kites.

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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.

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It was now time to make our final purchases, a jar of honey and a rotisserie chicken.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief glimpse of our local market.

A shopping spree…

What are you thinking? Designer handbags, fabulous French fashion, perfume…

These suggestions couldn’t be further from reality!

a-shopping-spreeThese are the first purchases for the new home.

You may spot rubber gloves, toilet paper, kitchen towels, a toilet brush – to name but a few items – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m not complaining, however. I’m delighted!

Random!

 

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Imagine our surprise when exiting a restaurant in Castelnaudary and seeing these!

Especially in a supermarket (Géant) car park.

We’d only had half a bottle of white wine – honest!

I’m sure you can work out some of the scenarios going through our minds…

Turns out, they were advertising a circus that was in town that week.

I’m no fan of the circus, I’m afraid, and those that have live animals are particularly offensive to me, as a massive animal lover.

Enough said. Perhaps I should run a slogan competition for the wittiest caption to accompany my rather poor photos but then again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for something completely different…

Although we now have a house we don’t have any beds! As a result, we have been staying in a local hotel. However, there was one night when the hotel was unable to accommodate us and so we succumbed to the charms of a night on water. The ultimate way to experience the Canal du Midi.

Our Dutch barge was called ‘Péniche Kapadokya’ and is owned by a delightful couple of professional photographers, Patrick and Mado. They live on the barge with their son and dachshund.

On arrival, we were welcomed with an apéro which we took on deck; a wonderful opportunity to watch the boats navigate the nearby lock.

Our cabin, although bijou, was beautifully decorated and had everything one could need, including a full size shower. The bed was extremely comfortable and we slept like logs!

If you ever have the opportunity to spend a night on this part of the Canal du Midi, I can thoroughly recommend the Péniche Kapadokya.

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Evening view of the barge

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Our delightful hosts

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Péniche Kapadokya

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Breakfast on deck

Well, we’ve only gone and done it!

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Bought a house in France. Should I change the name of this blog, I wonder? Should FancyingFrance become LivingthedreamFrance? I’ve no idea! Any suggestions welcome.

Our house is in SW France, in Castelnaudary , in between Toulouse and Carcassone. If we stand in the front garden we can see the Pyrénées on the horizon and if we walk out of our back garden gate, we are on the towpath alongside the Canal du Midi. More details to follow!

Having a home here is somewhat bitter sweet as my dream has been financed by an inheritance. Enough said…

Anyway, I’m having moments of sheer joy, followed by others of feeling overwhelmed with everything we have to do and, equally, appreciating so much what we have. Watch this space!

Le quatorze juillet!

 

Fireworks in Castenaudary to celebrate the quatorze juillet…We won’t be watching them today but we may be next year as we are in the process of buying a house there.Watch this space!

But what are the 14th July celebrations all about? What is Bastille day?

Here is a tongue-in-cheek video clip that might clarify the reasons for the celebrations!

Interesting door knockers!

I find as I get older, I am much more aware of small details around me. I guess it’s because I don’t have any young children competing for my attention! On a recent trip to Castelnaudary, I was very taken by this door knocker…
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And here is the door on which it stands…

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Do you notice the small details too?

I’d love to know!