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

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

One of the locals ... well, almost!

On Tuesday morning, we set out for Bourgueil and the area West of Tours at the usual time: sometime between half past nine and ten. On the day’s program: Bourgueil market to get some honey for my mother and fresh garlic for me. I have two faithful suppliers for these who, unfortunately, don’t come to Amboise.

When we used to stay in Tours and later in Vouvray, the ride to Bourgueil would take little over an hour. The Route Nationale N952 runs parallel to the Loire River and there are some pretty sights to be seen. Here and there the river is dotted with replica of old wooden river boats, which lie there, still in the middle of the stream, gently caressed by the current.

The Bourgueil vineyard early June 2013.

About 15 km or so from Bourgueil you leave the main road, turning right (turning left would put you smack in the middle of the Loire River, something our GPS Mauricette advised us to do some years ago). The last part of the ride takes you through the Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil vineyards. This year, despite the fact that it was already early June, the vineyards still had a long way to go, before producing the grapes that would be turned into some of the finest Loire Valley wines. Having said this, I remain an ardent Saumur-Champigny fan. But more about that later.

Bourgueil market at half past eleven, with thinning crowds.

Despite our early start, we arrived at the market much later than usual. I had overlooked the fact that B. and J.L.’s house is located at more than 60 km further to the south-east, adding almost an hour to the ride. Most of the vegetables stall holders had already sold their fresh produce, and some clothes and house ware goods vendors were beginning to pack up by the time we got to the main market place.

Luckily my familiar honey and garlic ladies were still there, in their usual spot, beneath the old rafters of the historic ‘halles’. Much to my surprise the honey lady recognized me … for the first time in 14 years!! “You come here every year, don’t you?” she said. For a moment I was totally flabbergasted and lost for words. We chatted for a while before concentrating on my purchase: two kinds of honey, some ‘gélée royale’ (Queen Bee’s nectar and a source of all things that are good for you) and a jar of Propolis. B. and J.L. bought some honey sweets …

The garlic lady on the left, in the red jumper
and further down the aisle, in brown the honey lady.

I think the garlic lady who has her stall – a simple wooden board placed on easels – next to the honey lady must have overheard our conversation, because when I walked over to buy my usual bushel of four heads of purple garlic, she greeted me in a more than usual ‘commercial’ way. She was too shy though to venture an extra comment. She’s a sweet elderly peasant woman, trying to make some extra income selling her home grown garlic and spring onions. I bet she has a faithful group of regular customers who appreciate her fresh and organic produce and who show up every week at the market to get their weekly supply. She has been there for as long as I can remember. By the time we usually arrive there are just a few bushels left, so I think her weekly trip to the market must be worth her while. Otherwise she wouldn’t do it, given her age and reduced mobility. The next time I go to Bourgueil, I must remember to take my time to talk to her and tell her how much I like her produce.

The 'halles' and the same lettuces I posted yesterday.

I wonder what is written on the green cloth 'PISCI...'
Any suggestions?

Anyway, I almost felt like one of the locals. Maybe an ‘avant-goût’ of what is yet to come. Let’s hope!

We did the full tour of the market and J.L. bought some beans which he will plant in his ‘France’ garden next year after trying them out in his garden in Belgium where he can see how they react to heat, rain, cold, hail … and all the other surprises nature has in store for us.

Speaking of the weather, ours has turned quite ‘Belgian’ summery, meaning 20° to 23° C, mainly sunny, some clouds and the occasional drop of rain. Warmer weather is expected for the second part of the week. Just perfect for my week’s holiday … mainly meant to get my apartment organized, do some washing and take care of my mum, who’s still feeling poorly due to her still reduced mobility. We’ve celebrated her 85th birthday last week somewhat ‘en mineur’ (without much ado), given the circumstances). Maybe more about that later too.


VirginiaC said...

I just adore the outdoor markets, they're always so much fun.
I'm glad that you were able to purchase your regular staples of honey and garlic to keep you happy.

Nadege said...

Martine, what a sweet post about the open air market! I miss walking among the stalls and listening to the chatter of the people, missing as well as all the live ducks, pigeons, rabbits... Nothing like that in the US were everything is very sterile. They even remove the fuzz off the peaches (organic or not).
My parents are 86 and 87 so I know what you are going through. Not easy at all and it takes so much courage on your mom's part, and yours.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

How wonderful of the lady to actually speak to yo, u and recognise you too. Love the markets over there and how they are able to just set up a little stall with their home grown vegs,, would not be able to do that here, the council would be on to you everything has to go through the proper channels , load of rubbish.

I am happy that your mum was still able to celebrate , even though just a little..

Jean said...

I hope you have a nice holiday next week. Sometimes it can be good to stay at home and get stuff done at a leisurely pace instead of rushing, then you go back to work feeling you've achieved something, which is quite refreshing.

I also hope your mum had a nice birthday, even though she's not up to partying!

Craig said...

It must have been lovely to be recognized like that.
All the best for your Mum - I'm sorry that she is experiencing mobility issues still.

Louise said...

I am leaving for a two week "language holiday" in Noumea on Sunday...and I am so looking forward to shopping at the fresh food Saturday market. A little piece of France in the Pacific!

Carolyn said...

I'm sending a belated Happy Birthday to your mother. Hope she feels better soon.

ladybird said...

Virginia, The honey and garlic are delicious ... not together though :)!

Nadege, My mother is very brave and I admire her for the way in which she's trying to cope despite her (temporary, I hope) handicap.

Anne, My mother is still enjoying her food, especially when it's prepared by a top chef from Rob's gourmet market.

Jean, You're right ... no dancing for my mum. Not that she's missing it as my late father never set foot on a dance floor!

Craig, Thank you from both of us. I'm afraid the mobility problems will be hard to overcome ... if ever.

Louise, I like the way in which you manage to 'joindre l'utile à l'agréable'. Bonnes vacances!

Carolyn, Thank you for your sweet birthday and get-better wishes. Much appreciated by mother and daughter.