Market day in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande

We’ve heard many people describe the Saturday market in Ste Foy as the biggest and best in the region. Today was the day when we decided to go and see for ourselves. We’ve driven around the town a few times en route for other places but never stopped. Parking, in true French (small town at least) fashion, was easy. We were late arrivals (characteristic of the Brits I’m sorry to say) so all the shady spots were long since taken by French drivers, but we were just a short walk to the old town/centre where we (correctly) assumed the market would be.

There’s a life and bustle about French markets that is hard to beat. This one was very busy indeed.

The first thing that caught my eye was this plant in a large tub. I’ve put the photo out on Twitter but as I write this I still don’t know what it is. It was verbena bonariensis like in its growth form, but with a flower rather clover-like.

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A short walk further on we looked through an old doorway, propped open, to see this lushly-planted courtyard. Fortunately the child in the pushchair is obscured by the balloons s/he is holding and the parents had briefly stepped back inside so I felt I could sneak a photo.

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Old towns often have these hidden gems if one keeps one’s eyes open. We stopped for coffee (black and strong) and some people-watching.

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And then I raised my eyes above the chairs in front of me and saw a much better-framed picture.

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After quickly nipping over to Steve, the excellent English butcher (“A Flavour to Savour”) who has a regular stall here and at Eymet market, for some of his wonderful sausages, we walked down to the river, the Dordogne, where it was quiet and peaceful.

Looking east we saw one of the river beaches the French are so good at creating.

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And looking down into the river itself, quite low after the dry summer, I was fascinated by the patterns in the water. Rather Monet-esque don’t you think?

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We retraced our steps back through the market, this time looking at the old buildings.

Many of the buildings in the town had iron balconies, but I didn’t photograph any this time. Next time.

This doorway intrigued us, looking as though it had been constructed from materials much more ancient. Roman perhaps?

We made more purchases than just English sausages: small, fine green beans (always better in the market than from the supermarket), and a kilo each of dark cherries and mirabelles, both destined for jam to join the apricot jam made a couple of weeks ago from fruit our neighbour kindly gave us.

Then it was home for a lunch of thinly-sliced differently-coloured tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella. After an evening out at Levignac Night Market yesterday (and a bit of a sore throat too) a gentle, slow and quiet afternoon now feels just right.

I’ll write about Night Markets another time.

If you know what that plant is please let me know?