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

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Amboise market

Ever since my first visit to the Loire Valley in 1999 our opening activity has been visiting the outdoor market. Amboise has a market on Fridays and Sundays, the Sunday edition being the largest outdoor market of the Indre & Loire department.

The stalls are set up along the banks of the river. They are roughly divided into two sections: the first part which is mainly flowers and plants and food (vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, meat) the second, and also the largest part, which consists of vendors selling clothes, (hand)bags, mattresses, furniture and hardware. The part that interests us of course is the food. I’ve visited the cloths section only once, in 2010 when I was in Amboise with my friends Béa and Jean-Luc.

My friends were very intrigued by some of the meat in this counter.

This year Vera and Mats were quite happy to limit our visit to the food section to get goodies for our evening picnic at the B and B. We started by buying a selection of olives: garlic flavoured, stuffed with strips of spicy red peppers and small purplish ‘niçoises’. Next we bought a bunch of crunchy grape tomatoes, a baguette, a lump of farm butter, a cavaillon melon from Spain, 10 slices of ham, 100 gr. of pork rillettes and a goat’s cheese. Little did we know then that this cheese would become a recurrent conversation topic for the rest of our trip! 

Mats and Vera really enjoyed the market ambiance. From what they told me, outdoor markets hardly exist in Sweden and if they do, they are not as lively as the ones in France. We therefore wandered around for a while, enjoying the sounds, aromas and colours, until we decided that it was time to walk back to the car and put our loot in the cool box that my friends had brought along.

The red car in the background on the left was the one causing the commotion.

There was some commotion in the car park as a driver had abandoned his car, engine running, in the middle of the exit way, blocking the path. The drivers in the waiting cars were getting nervous and impatient and started honking their horns. While we were putting our groceries in the car the driver of the abandoned car suddenly showed up out of nowhere – it is possible that he had been using the nearby public toilet – and drove off, followed by a long line of cars.

Lately you see more and more of these typical flat bottomed boats moored in the middle of the River. I think they are just there for aesthetic reasons because
I've never seen anyone actually sailing in one of them.

My first idea was to take the car and drive it up to the castle, but Mats and Vera thought is wiser to leave it just where it was, as there was the risk that we wouldn’t find another convenient parking spot. So we strolled down the river bank, shooting photos and chatting about our first experience of the day. When we walked up the road leading to the square Michel Debré at the foot of the castle, leaving the car where it was, turned out to be a wise decision as the road ahead of us was blocked. We would soon learn why 


Susan said...

Although the boats are often just moored out in the river, they are definitely used and I see them in action from time to time. Some of them you can book a trip on.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Interesting that Susan has seen the boats in use. We've only ever seen them 'looking decorative'.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I just love French markets, i still have to experience the one further North from us. Great photos. Keep well Diane

chm said...

It was market days on avenue de Saxe next to the restaurant where we had lunch last Saturday. It is also a mix bag, everything from toys to furniture interspersed with food: fish, meats, cheeses, bread and pastries, vegetables and fruits. But I don’t think it can compete with the one in Amboise. So you didn’t miss much.

GaynorB said...

we've not been to a Sunday market for about five years. Something to remedy in the summer...

Anonymous said...

I love these markets too and although a type of similar market is becoming more popular in the UK, they are not all as well established as the ones in France. It does seem strange to me why they sell mattresses at these do people get them home? Much enjoying the beginning of the Loirelog.

ladybird said...

Susan, I have seen a similar motorised tourist boat near Candes Saint-Martin navigating up and down the river, but never a sailing boat.

A&N, Maybe we were never in the right place at the right time ;)

Diane, You just can't visit France without going to an outdoor market. That's why I took Mats and Vera to Amboise and Bourgeuil ... just to savour the ambiance.

Chm, There was a market in full swing near the bistro when we arrived in Paris on Saturday. By the time we left, the stalls were empty and a garbage truck was picking up all the empty cases and cartons. Is that the same market?

Gaynor, I warmly recommend Amboise on Sunday and Bourgeuil on Tuesday.

Veronica, I've never seen anybody actually buying a mattress at the market, but I have seen cars with mattresses strapped to the roof :)