June 14, 2010

Olonzac Market Day

We got incredibly lucky when we found our petit village in France.

Our original house search was over near Pézenas, a charming town with loads of history and a rollicking Saturday market, just the kind of place we were looking to move to.  At that time we had never even heard of the Minervois.
After several, costly house hunting trips to and from the States, each time the house prices rising at an alarming rate, we made a final, desperate trip over to find our place in France before it became unaffordable.

Driving toward the remote dot on the map where we were to meet our realtor, totally jet lagged and running late because those little dots on the map seem much closer together distance-wise than the actually are, we became enchanted by the garrigue covered hills and the orderly rows of vines that seemed to cover every inch of available land.
She showed us a small house that was bright, light and not needing complete renovation like so many others we had seen.  The village even had a bar and an épicerie, two services in rural France that make life a little more comfortable.
We made an offer that afternoon.  It was accepted later that evening and we spent the next ten days celebrating our purchase and enjoying a relaxing vacation instead of house hunting.

We spent a good part of those ten days exploring the area that we would one day call home.  There were restaurants to try and wine to taste and furniture stores to find.  And we quickly made an important discovery;  the lively little market town of Olonzac was just five minutes down the road..

The buzzing metropolis of Olonzac - I say that very tongue in cheek, but admittedly anything around here with three boulangeries, several doctors, two pharmacies, a handful of cafés and a couple of banks is considered buzzing - puts on a great show every Tuesday morning.
The sprawling, L-shaped market takes over the center of town.  Half of it is dry goods - clothes, shoes, soap, CD's, hats, kitchenware, jewelry, books, pet toys and even pastel colored bras and panties, while the other half, on a tiny street that winds up through the center of the circulade, is everything food related.

I like to taste as I shop.  Samples of olives, saucisson, fruit, cheese and even a little glass of local wine are all available from persuasive vendors.  And by 11am, a morsel of local fromage de brebis or saucisson au Roquefort is impossible to resist.
Most of our weekly food shopping is done at the market.  There are several vendors who I trust to offer the best fruit and vegetables of the season, the freshest pork and sausages, farm fresh eggs or exquisitely made local cheeses.  Shopping definitely takes more time at le marché, but I think it is worth every minute.

For a town with (what I consider) a tiny population of about 1600 people, Olonzac, the "Capital of the Minervois," is a fantastic neighbor.

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