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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PridePress said...

Gorgeous. Every time I read your page, I think of moving!

Leesa said...

WOW!!! I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEE your photos!!!!!

croquecamille said...

Oh, please tell me that's a giant pot of aligot. :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

My favourite day in France. We have two weekly markets but the monthly one is where I like to be. Somehow I am always drawn to the seafood counter and the oysters:) Great photographs. Diane

Wendl said...

These are wonderful pictures! I agree with PridePress-every time I read your blog, I think: how can I get all of us over there, even for a year? Beautiful!

Paulita said...

Lovely. I want to inhale every scent there. Do you tell your story, how and why you moved to France, somewhere in the blog?

Betty C. said...

I was just going to say, isn't that aligot? What is that doing in your market, lol?

This is a lovely post. You know, I have not yet set foot in Olonzac...I guess I will miss the market if I come down on a weekend in the fall...is there no weekend market action?

Chez Loulou said...

C'mon over! We'd love to have you as our neighbors!


It is. A beautiful sight, isn't it? :)

There's only one seafood stall and another guy selling mussels. I wish there were more to choose from.
I think you have a much better selection of seafood up there near the Atlantic.

It is indeed! First time I'd ever seen the guy and I've never seen him since. I hope he returns next winter.
There's a fabulous market in Carcassonne on Sunday mornings so we'll have to go. One of my favorite cheesemakers from the Corbières is always there.

meredith said...

Ha...no need for Victoria's Secret there :)
I sent a tourist off to Pezenas the other day. It looks like a beautiful region that I NEED to visit.

Jenny P said...

Oh I can't wait to visit such a beautiful market. Thank you for these tempting photos.

Kirpikteki Gözyaşı said...

Such a nice photos:)) I wish i could see this place:)

Dale said...

You women of Olonzac have rather large bossoms it appears!!! must be the cheese!!

Chez Loulou said...

I wish you would. :) If you're serious just let me know and I'll try to help in any way I can. Would love to have you here for a year!
How are you hon? How are Bill and the girls? One day I'll get back to Portland and see you. Haven't been to Seattle or even Spokane in a couple of years.

I don't think I've ever told my story about why and how we moved to France in one post. Some of the story is there, scattered about in different posts. Must do that one day.
Glad you enjoyed the photos!

The region around Pézenas is gorgeous. And the towns along the coast as well, Mèze and Marseillan.
If you ever decide to head over this way, please let me know so we can meet up!

You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed them! :)

It is a beautiful place. I never get tired of taking photos of the market during the different seasons.

Must admit that when I snapped that photo I didn't notice the size of the bras, just the colors.

Tuula said...

Great photos; think I love the cheese guy the best! Ohh, & the olives look totally amazing...love shopping the Provencale markets!

Danielle said...

What a colorful and vibrant experience... it makes me happy just to see your photos!

spacedlaw said...

What is this nice man doing with the melted cheese?

Cathy said...

Another wonderful market post, Loulou. It's the cheeses that I would be looking for.

I did a post today about your delicious pad thai that you wrote about last November. It's so delicious and a favorite here. Thanks again.

Chez Loulou said...

The cheese guy was nice enough to pose for the photo. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Thanks for letting me know that you liked the photos. I appreciate it!

Trying to tempt us, of course! (and it works!)

Thanks again for the Pad Thai post. So glad that you liked the recipe and shared it with others. You got some fabulous comments.

Will said...

You had me at three boulangeries! A market town is exactly what most of us envision when dreaming about moving to France. For now I'll just have to live vicariously through your blog.

Chez Loulou said...

One of those boulangeries still uses a wood fired oven. They make the most amazing bread!
I can't imagine living in rural France without a market town nearby.

Sarah said...

what a great virtual tour of the market! I especially love the bra-mobile, that's hilarious

Chez Loulou said...

Glad you enjoyed it! Those bras crack me up every time I see them. What colors!

Rebecca said...

Just found your lovely blog ! Can you help !!I am viewing properties to buy and flying ito Carcassone for one night 7th May and looking in an 8 mile radius of Olonzac.I can't find a lovely local place to stay for one night with food as being a Monday..... ??
Any help greatly appreciated.

Loulou in France said...

I would try the Auberge de l'Arbousier in Homps, the Villa Limonade in Olonzac or the Eloi Merle in Olonzac. Good luck house hunting!

kim said...

Hi I am coming for a week in August staying at Eloi Merle. Unfortunatly we will miss the market as we dont arrive until Tuesday afternoon. Is there a good market on a Wednesday/Thursday in the region? We will have a car.


Loulou in France said...

Enjoy your stay in Olonzac!
There's a market in Lézignan-Corbières on Wednesday morning and a fantastic market along the Canal in Narbonne on Thursday.

Gil Larin said...

I'm the webmaster of www.eloimerle.com ( an enchanting Hotel and Gite in the middle of town)and a Canadian based in Brossard Qc! Been to Olonzac several times over the last 14 years and LOVE IT!

Jennifer Greco said...

Hi Gil!
I knew the previous owners, Glyn and Lynn. It's a lovely B&B.
Olonzac does have everything, doesn't it? :)