In France, markets are still very much part of the way of life…..
Most towns and villages of any size have a weekly market, and for a few brief hours the sleepy countryside settlements become a buzzing hub of activity as locals from miles around gather to get their provisions for the coming week.
Markets start early – If you leave it until 10h00 you have probably already missed the best and freshest produce, but also if you are shopping for a freshly cooked take away meal, they will just about be ready by then!
Stallholders range from ordinary individuals with a small amount of excess produce from their own gardens, through artisan producers of bread, cheese, wine, oils and more, butchers, patissiers, greengrocers and at some larger markets there are more general fare on offer such as fabrics, clothes and much more besides.
Wander through the market without obligation – There is little of the persistent heckling common in the Mediteranean and Middle Eastern markets: Stallholders are usually too busy with customers!
Look for the queues – these are the most popular stalls, and so probably the best: Fruit and vegetables always seem to command much attention, and it is easy to work out who is the best butcher!
Soon after midday it all begins to wind down, and by 14h00 little remains…. and for the next six and three quarter days the easy pace of life resumes.
When are markets held?
There will be a market nearby somewhere every day of the week, and some have been in the same place on the same days for hundred of years: Monflanquin for example has had its market in the impressive medieval square every Thursday morning for 900 years.
The following list is not complete, but shows the main markets in the area. More information is easily found either from the Internet or from Tourist Information.
Agen: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday morning
Bourg-de-Visa: Sunday morning
Cahors: Wednesday and Saturday mornings
Caussade: Monday morning
Fumel: Sunday morning
Lauzerte: Saturday morning
Moissac: Saturday and Sunday mornings
Monsempron Libos: Thursday morning
Montaigu-de-Quercy: Saturday morning
Montcuq: Sunday morning
Penne d’Agenais: Sunday morning
Prayssac: Friday morning
Puy l’Eveque: Tuesday & Saturday mornings
Roquecor: Sunday morning
Septfond: Wednesday morning
St.Antonin-Noble-Val: Sunday morning (one of the larger and busier general markets)
Tournon d’Agenais: Friday evening
Valence d’Agen: Tuesday morning
Villeneuve-sur-Lot: Tuesday and Saturday mornings
These are held on summer evenings in many villages, usually in those with a square. They are widely advertised, and many villages will hold marchés gourmandes on the same evening for a few weeks in succession between late June and the end of August.
The square is filled with long tables, and around the side of the square are several stalls offering a variety of dishes from simple chicken and chips, cassoulet, sausages, steaks, salads and more….
One local speciality to try that isnt well known outside France is Aligot – a combination of mashed potato with local cheese: Extremely tasty, and when served with some local Toulouse type sausage, a real hearty meal.
Just bring yourself and some decent cutlery, and your drinks if you wish… bag a spot on a table, and tuck in.
There is usually some entertainment by way of music and dancing, and on a summer evening with the swifts swooping and screaming overhead very pleasant evenings can be had.