Market a la France!
As promised here is the third part of my little holiday in France story. It is centred in a beautiful town called Saumur, again on the Loire, and is all about food!
You won’t be surprised to know that the French love food and they love it to be fresh. As mentioned in Part 2, we are used to seeing farmers around the towns, often drinking what appears to rose wine from 9am wearing overall trousers on bright blue. That should indicate that growing has a high status and should also lead you to expect ‘farmers’ markets.
The one we experienced in Saumur was huge! It wound round all the narrow streets with stall holders grabbing every nook and cranny. There was the usual selection of clothes, bags, jewellery and knick-knack stalls, mostly served by Eastern Europeans rather than French folk. These stalls were situated right in the main high street near the tourist centre which led me to wonder if their position was to tempt the many tourists there.
As you came off the main thoroughfare, the fresh food stalls started and what an array! My first thoughts were that in England it would be a health and safety officer’s nightmare! Seeing all the wires trialling from stall to shop front, across the slippery cobbles that were pedestrian walk-ways would give them an apoplectic fit! All that before even looking at the stalls, many of which would be closed down because of the lack of packaging on the produce.
As you wandered around your nasal passages were treated to such a variety of smells and aromas which then tickled the taste buds and before long you were really hungry but spoilt for choice. There was everything from spices, vegetables, fish, sausages, olives as well as the array of salads (with the hugest toms I’ve ever seen!) and fruit that you would expect. One thing that really interested me was that folks had come and set up a stall just to sell the few bits of produce from their gardens. Not all of the stalls were huge affairs. At one o’clock as if by magic, everyone started packing up and within a short time, there was no evidence of the hustle and bustle of the past few hours.
The one thing that stood out though was how proud they are of their wares. Market day is a social affair when you not only buy many of the food items you will need that week but also a time for seeing friends, chatting and putting the world to rights.
Here is a selection of photos that won’t go anyway near taking you there but maybe you will be encouraged to visit yourself!