It isn’t often that a little tiny town, such as Sainte-Foy-La-Grande, has reason to trumpet success over the rest of France, but this month we do. A national cheese brand holds an annual Internet competition to find France’s favourite local market. Sainte-Foy-La-Grande was the 2014 winner. Granted, there were not many more than 100,000 votes cast. But, even so, for France’s smallest commune to beat the likes of Dijon, Marseille, and Lille (to name a few of the rest of the top 10) is pretty awesome. In fact, awesome is an understatement in so many ways.
Those of you who have read this blog before know how much I enjoy Market Day. When we arrived home this spring I stepped out of the front door of Les Terraces looking forward to my scout around the stalls. Our milk lady, Liziane from Chateau le Pis, was the first to wish me “bon retour!” and exchange my empty bottle for a litre of her finest whole milk (Graham’s breakfast treat). Next, I trundled down rue Victor Hugo to see the lovely German baker who runs the June’s Bakery stall. He and I maintain an ongoing banter abut when is the right time of year for him to sell his yummy forestière pasties (duck confit, foie gras & ceps (yummo)). He swears blind that the French won’t buy them outside of the coldest of winter months, and there have to be enough tourists around to warrant making them later in the year, which means June-September. We’re waiting with bated taste-buds! He always has tasters of innovative cakes, with which he never fails to try and tempt me. That too is part of the ritual and badinage, as he knows I’ll never take him up on it.
The rotisserie stall on the junction of rue Chanzy & Victor Hugo is excellent too. We particularly like her chicken and jambonneau (little boneless ham) and every once in a while I’ll order a scoop of the potatoes that are cooked in the fat that drips from the roasting meats. Sinfully good, and often snaffled from the bag on the way home!
Clearly, I could continue. But I think that it’s best for you to come and experience the joy of Sainte-Foy-La-Grande’s market for yourself. No need for you to stay at Les Terraces (although we’d love to welcome you). This weekend I’ll beetle around early, as I’m sure that the crowds thronging the streets will be extra-thick: M. le Maire will be receiving official recognition of the town’s achievement mid-morning. Hopefully, I’ll manage to get some photos. But maybe we’ll just sit and people-watch instead!