Sunday, 28 August 2016

Market Day at Lorgues

The market meanders along several streets in the centre of Lorgues
We visited Lorgues on a Tuesday - market day - and navigating the narrow streets in our hire car I found myself confronted by a plethora of market stalls and the car I was following rapidly reversing towards me.

Trying shoes for size at the market's leather stall.
I’m a fairly confident driver, but reversing down a narrow street with parked cars either side and pedestrians wandering along with arms full of bags and baskets from the market, is not my idea of a gentle drive.

Luckily a car behind paused long enough for me to make a reverse two-point turn and escape, followed by the other reversing vehicle.

So it’s not surprising that I found a park just outside the town and we walked back in.

We were well rewarded. Lorgues has one of the best ever markets in Dracenie! The town is just 12km north-west of Les Arcs and is accessible by the No 9 bus for just over one euro each way.

The narrow streets were lined for blocks with an amazing array of different stalls selling shoes, clothes, trinkets, jewellery, lavender products, olive wood products – all interspersed by brasseries with tables and chairs in the shade inviting you to pause for a cold drink, before continuing up the main avenue towards the food.
Sacks full of herbs and spices tempt those culinary skills. 
And what food!

Fresh vegetables, ripened under the Provenҫal sun, tongue-zinging raspberries, juicy flat peaches and tree-ripened apricots like my mother used to grow. I felt a glow of health just looking at them.

Then of course were the cheeses, the stalls stacked with all kinds of sausage, sacks of bright spices and pungent herbs, the nougat – every kind you can imagine, lavender and acacia honeys, an array of hand-made ‘sirops’ (cordials) with exotic-sounding flavours of elderflower, tilleul (linden flower), or blackcurrant.
Colourful baskets by the hundreds.
There were hats and baskets, and scented terracotta shapes for your wardrobe. There were belts, and bathers and buckets and spades for the children. There were soaps - the special Savon de Marseille - and perfumes, kitchen utensils and tea towels and beautiful quilts and table cloths. There were even mattresses!
There was just so much, far too much to take in.
It called for a pause to collect our thoughts and to stop buying everything we saw. So the dark shade of a spreading plane tree beckoned with an ice cold beer for him and cider for me.
Just sitting back and watching the people as they meandered along the street, past the stalls - pausing to look and discuss whether to buy, dodging young children and dogs, making way for the odd pram or scooter - is a feast in itself.
Welcome respite after a morning browsing and shopping.
You see families with small children – so many prams; and teenagers, ears plugged and thumbs scrolling or tapping; and older people catching up with each other and setting the world – or maybe just the village - to right, is part of what makes France so special.

We ate a delicious ‘formule’ lunch at a beautiful little restaurant – featuring wines from the famous Château Berne (another place to visit just outside the town).

The market umbrellas were being folded away, the metal stands taken apart, wares packed away in vans, as the vendors closed and prepared to travel to wherever the market would be next morning.
The street slowly returned to normal as the crowds dispersed into homes or restaurants to spend the next two hours ‘à la table’ for lunch.  

It is a market I will return to – but maybe next time I’ll take the bus. 

* To explore the central Var region, why not spend some time at Maison Les Arcs in Les Arcs-sur-Argens?



No comments:

Post a Comment