Tempted to stay home by the pool, we headed off instead on this very warm day to Sarlat, in the Perigord-Noir, famous for its Saturday market – the most extensive in the Lot-Dordogne area. Sarlat also has the best preserved precinct of medieval and renaissance buildings (with cobbled streets) of anywhere in France. You feel that if you opened a door into one of the buildings around the edge of the Place, or in one of the little streets, you would suddenly not just be trying to converse in French, but hearing a medieval version of Langue D’Oc with people dressed very differently, though perhaps engaged in similar gastronomic pursuits or seeling cheese, wine, foie gras, truffles, girolles, and the other wonderful novelties the Perigord is known for.
The crowds were as huge as the markets, spilling all through the streets and laneways of the town, then out along the main road. They seemed to go on forever. There is always something new at these markets. For a start, the new things currently in season, or in this region (walnuts were being harvested) other things like linen, clothing, home and kitchen wears. Handbags – anything you could possibly think of. Street musicians added to the atmosphere as did dogs with their ‘families’ waiting patiently to move on…
It became really hot during the day and even intrepid shoppers like Sharon and I got weary in the end. We found a quiet little courtyard with and gratefully sat in the shade while we had lunch and gathered strength and fortitude to complete our mission of seeing the whole market, though alas we weren’t successful – we left with the stalls seeming to go on forever. And people (customers and vendors) still seemed to be arriving as we were leaving.
In spite of the crush though, people were really friendly. There queues at some stalls but they were quite social and festive rather than people being crotchety. One chap was selling roast poultry – chickens of various varieties, ducks, and turkeys. He told us the two turkeys were Bush and Sarkozy… and that we could have the real Sarkozy for free – maybe we could even be paid to take him away? There was much merriment amongst the crowd. Maybe standup comedy in his day job. And maybe everyone seemed to be in a good mood because we realised how lucky we were to be there!
Heather, Tina and Sharon