There is something very special about shopping in a market in France. Not sure whether it is the weather, the variety and quality of produce or perhaps just the fact that everyone has time to peruse the stalls, catch up with friends or just sit and people watch. It’s just a very social way of shopping. All the sellers, take pride in what they sell and are a mine of information.
I don’t know about you, but I can go to a market needing nothing in particular and always end up buying something – usually edible or certainly drinkable. The Sunday market in Montcuq is always a joy to experience – I say experience because it is so much more than just a trip out to buy food. The lovely smell of strawberries, as you pass the fruit stall, is so overpowering that I would defy anyone to walk past without being tempted. Then you get the aroma of the cured meat stand, the countless cheese stalls and today there was a girl selling Madagascan vanilla – delicious!
Then of course there is the saffron man – selling everything connected with saffron – from the bulbs themselves or saffron infused jams, risotto rice and of course varying quantities of the red gold itself – if that doesn’t inspire the creation of a saffron based dish, I don’t know what will.
Even the vegetable stalls are wonderful as there is always something that you have nt seen before and when in season, the choice of vegetables is outstanding – one stall was selling three types of French beans – white, green and black – cook them with a bit of onion, butter, garlic and a sprinkling of lardons and you have a lovely tricolour bean dish to enjoy.
And who says you can’t buy spices and chillies in France? There was an amazing stall selling a wonderful selection of spices including Himalayan salt crystals and look at this selection of chillies from a local vegetable stall.
I know I am going on about the food but Montcuq has so much more to offer such as handmade jewellery, clothes, hats, leather goods, crockery, art, books not to mention the many stalls selling hot food like paella, roast chicken, crepes and even samosas cooked to order.
Of course all this shopping is quite thirsty work on a hot sunny day so you have to stop at a local wine or beer stall for a tasting or grab a coffee at one of the cafes. The thing I like most about a trip to a market is that you leave feeling inspired, entertained and relaxed – if only I could say the same about visiting a supermarket!
Click here to find out more about Bijou Barn, a holiday rental near Montcuq.