An old friend from my university days visited this week. Time and distance had lessened the contact we’d had over the years and it was lovely to see Sharon again and get to know Zofie, her 30 year old daughter, whom I remembered from the last time I had seen her as a surly teenager sprawled bored on the sofa – now an attractive, sparky and talkatively entertaining young woman. We both live in remote environs, them in a house in the dunes of Norfolk, a stone’s throw from the beach and us, of course, in deepest rural France perdu (lost France).
Walking into Châlus, poping up to Rochechouart, squeezing in as much as possible in the 3 days they were here for. Anyway, their visit had been timed to allow a visit to Christmas market. I have visited many of these Lubeck, Hamburg, Nottingham, Leicester, Rhayader, Haywards Heath etc and all had blurred into sameness (Nottingham seemed to actually be the same as Hamburg having been shipped across the North Sea in a container) with all the cabins and produce being identical.
So this time, since we had missed some of the allegedly good one day markets elsewhere, we went into Limoges. After a walk through bits of Limoges, ranging from medieval to art noveau then lunch in a creperie (courtesy of our visitors). We visited the first of the two markets, both running for the fortnight before Christmas . One in place de la republique had cabins (but that’s where the similarity with all the other markets ended) the produce was much more varied, different even from all the summer markets we have in this region for the tourists. There was an ice rink (not too unusual I guess) but there were also two ski runs, one downhill and another cross-country. Plenty of artisans purveying their wares, and our visitors caught up on their Christmas pressie shopping.
Then a short walk through medieval Limoges streets to place de la motte where there was a larger area, covered (it rained a bit but mostly blue skies) and even more crafts, art, food and drink. I have never been to a better Christmas market.
The next day it was just me as the tour guide. We were off to yet another market, Piegut, the best ‘general’ market in the region. Many more people than Limoges and at least a kilometre of stalls. On the way we had stopped at Châteaux Cromières and Rocher (now with water and beautiful reflections but I had forgotten my camera). In Piegut itself, after a vietnamese samosa (again courtesy of our guests, from a food stand), we went behind the stalls to see something I had accidentally seen on Google earth when checking our route… an 11th century donjon, a stone tower built during the reign of Henry II in 1198.
Château Montbron, then Château de Brie and home for packing, a quick walk through the chestnut grove and off to the airport.
By the way, I have caught 4 mice so far, only one from the loft. A larger rat trap arrived via ebay but I guess its just mice (there’s another one up there I heard last night!). I think the cave (our basement) is clear now (nothing for a few days now so our spelt flour is safe (in a solid plastic sealed container anyway).
So far, an unseasonably warm and sunny December, magical thinkers telling me that means its going to be a hard winter (if it is they’ll be right, if not they’ll forget until their next negativity – you gotta love confirmation bias)…
From here in the middle of France – until next year…