Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Bourgueil market

One thing I absolutely don’t want to miss when staying in the Loire Valley is the Bourgueil market on Tuesday. It’s a very attractive market, with lots of stalls scattered over several streets that all lead to the central historic market hall near the church.

Historic market hall of Bourgueil.

Most of the vendors from our first Loire Valley trip in 1999 are still there: the smiling honey lady, the elderly onion and garlic lady, the funny and talkative man who sells warm ‘boudin noir’ (black pudding) and warm rillons, a local specialty, … Unfortunately, the young woman selling fresh goat’s cheeses is gone. We’ve only seen her twice, in the early years. I remember buying some excellent fresh cheese with spicy garden herbs one year and a delicately matured goat’s cheese the second. Her place has been taken by a man selling dried sausages.

This year I took B. and J.L. to see the honey lady. As usual, I stocked up on some excellent honey vinegar with garlic and I bought of jar of chestnut honey for my mother. B. also got a bottle of strawberry vinegar. The garlic lady was there too, but apparently it was too early days for her home-grown garlic as she was only selling spring onions this time.

Colourful and crunchy radishes.

We left the market hall and ventured on, marvelling over the variety and freshness of the vegetables. The asparagus and strawberries, which are in season, looked particularly attractive. So did the radishes. We also saw some ‘gallipettes’ mushrooms. The tantalizing smell of roasted chickens, sautéed potatoes and warm ‘boudin noir’ filled the air. It’s definitely not a good idea to visit this market on an empty stomach as you are tempted to buy more than you can eat.

In one of the streets a young man was playing the accordion; old-time favourites such as Edith Piaf’s ‘Mylord’. The atmosphere was very relaxed with people strolling from stall to stall; sometimes stopping to talk to someone they knew. Before going down to the clothes’ section we bought some ‘rillettes de poulet’ for our evening picnic.

In the clothes’ section I was surprised to see vendors actually selling wedding gowns and cute, but in my opinion slightly too adult-looking, communion dresses. When B. stopped to take a closer look at a pretty turquoise and white suit for her six year old granddaughter, she was immediately approached by the vendor. He explained that all these items were ‘made in France’: “Toute ma merchandise est faite en France, pas en Chine …” (All my merchandise is made in France, not in China …) he insisted. He kept repeating that it was important to check both sides of the label, as it was the only guarantee that the article was genuine, “comme vous les voyez à la télévison” (as the ones you see on TV).

Ceremonial dress for a four-year-old:
'Made in France', cost: 45 euros!

B. was tempted to buy the suit as it was really cute and not expensive at all. Unfortunately, the six-year-old size was missing and so we left empty-handed. As we walked away, the man insisted once again that we should always check the labels on both sides!

I saw a nice pair of jeans that I really liked (of which I carelessly forget to check the label!), but refrained from buying them as there was no private place to try them on, except for the saleslady’s little van!

The Mickey bar in Bourgueil.

It was almost noon when we found an empty table on the terrace of the Mickey bar facing the church. We all had a cool drink discussing our plans for the rest of the day.

Do you buy clothes in an outdoor market without trying them on or do you get into the little van to do so? And how about ceremonial clothing?



Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I love markets this one, the fact that anyone can go.. and just sell say for instance Spring Onions, or Radish etc..

I wouldn't normally buy from the market here in the Uk either, no where to try on.... I like to get from the shops. On the ceremonial dresses , no way would I let a 4 year old wear that .. and I think your friend was wise not to buy as it might not of fitted the 6 year old, you have to be so careful too, where items are made.

ladybird said...

Ann, I can't remember ever going to an outdoor market in the UK, although I spent ten or eleven summers on the Kentish coast in the seventies! I should try it one day ... not to buy clothes though :)

Lynn said...

At the market at Selles-sur-Cher this week I actually bought a pair of pants without trying them on and I'm not easy to fit. I knew it was a risk as I figured by next Thursday I doubted that the lady would offer a refund if they didn't fit, but they did and I'm going to buy another pair next week in a different color.

ladybird said...

Lynn, Lucky you! Not only because the pants fit (which is a good thing!) but also because you're actually France ,)! Enjoy your stay!

Btw: In case you're planning to visit the mediaval 'foodies' exhibition at Langeais castle - It is a bit disappointing as there is too much text and too little 'action'. Martine